28 June 2012

If America were a person, she'd be a Psychopath

The ultimate symbol of America is the Statue of Liberty. At the end of the cult-classic, “The Planet of the Apes,” Charlton Heston screams in anguish and shock at the sight of the crumbled lady buried in the sand.  The Statue is America’s promise of freedom and wealth; she is the embodiment of the republic.  Lady Liberty is the beacon of freedom rising up out of the revolutionary dust.  In her upraised arm, is the torch, a symbol of a light always burning, and at her feet the enduring words dedicated to Emma Lazarus:

 Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free, 
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, 
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, 
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Unlike the humility of the poem at her feet, America has been a bully throughout her short life.  Whether she was committing genocide of the native people’s of this continent, waging war against poorer nations, or toppling foreign governments, America has been built by capitalizing on the weak.  She prides herself on being self-righteous, advertising that her brand of democracy is the “best”, yet she is also callous, uncaring, and hegemonic.  On the surface, she invites all of the destitute to her shores but when they arrive, there’s no room in the inn.  Recent draconian anti-immigration laws bar any path toward citizenship and Pres. Obama’s executive order has been met with derision.  

While life in America may comprise more conveniences than life in Niger or Iraq, America cares little for her citizenry.  The gulf between the richest among us and the poor has continued to grow, and the numbers of people living in poverty is growing.  As Prof. Cornell West explains, “That 1 out of 5 children live in poverty in the richest nation in the world is a moral obscenity; it’s an ethical abomination.”  

The health care sector has become a place of business rather than human welfare.   The dichotomy between rich and poor has not been more clear-cut than when it comes to health care.  Americans with money may be able to obtain quality health care while millions of Americans with little money receive inadequate care.  
That seems okay in America.  While some people are working to defend the impoverished and mend the dysfunctional health care system, others align themselves to cutting social programs designed to help the needy, and prefer privatization of health coverage in which insurance companies and their leaders reap the massive financial rewards.  The most recent attempt at health care reform, the Affordable Care Act, teeters on the brink of repeal thanks mostly to the radical politics of the new right, which is bent on slashing taxes and funding military excursions, like insanely bombing Iran, rather than addressing our core problems at home.  Should we trust corporate chiefs over governmental officials?  The government’s responsibility is to provide for the welfare of the people.  A corporation’s responsibility is to earn money.  

America today floats out ambiguous ideas like “liberty,” “freedom,” and “democracy” as values yet boasts the largest population of incarcerated people in the world.  In 2010, there were 2.5 million adults locked up in our prison system, many for non-violent second or third strike drug offenses.  Millions more are on parole or probation and many of those ex-cons have been stripped of the right to vote or qualify for federal or state assistance. Michelle Alexander’s great contemporary analysis of the legal system, “The New Jim Crow,” details the policies that have disenfranchised millions and setup a harsh legal system for minorities and the impoverished.  

In addition, America detains thousands of people each year, houses them in prison without charges, and without due process let alone habeus corpus.  The pedantic chant of freedom has become totally meaningless.  What can freedom mean to a country that imprisons millions?  How can America teach justice when she regularly metes out injustice and revenge? 

Along with the hundreds imprisoned, illegally detained, in Guantanamo Bay and Bagram, there are the uncounted immigrants seeking refuge on our shores that are turned away, sent back to repressive regimes where America is fully aware that torture is practiced. 

All of these contradictory descriptions sound like irrational lunacy.  If America were a person, she’d be locked up indefinitely and placed under 24-hour observation.  

Not only is America uncaring and inconsiderate toward the welfare of humanity, she is violent and destructive.  

America’s prisons have become dens of punishment rather than rehabilitation.  According to the Economist, “(a) total of 12% of juvenile detainees, 4.4% of prison inmates and 3.1% of jail inmates surveyed between 2008 and 2009 reported being forced into sex.”  Not much has been done to combat these trends.  An even more disturbing and frightening development is to hear people joke about prison rape such as warnings not “to drop the soap” in the shower or the knowing glance about what happens in prison.  It’s completely irrational behavior but leads to the downplaying of a brutal crime. 

America has done nothing to stop the torture in military prisons either.  Waterboarding is common place and the military defends its abuses by claiming national security interests are at stake.  The public and its congressional representatives have for the most part bit this hoax hook, line, and sinker.  America should not let this line of argumentation justify torture.  But it does.  The use of "enhanced techniques" at Guantanamo was approved by Donald Rumsfeld, despite resistance from the army and FBI who argued that the methods were illegal.  Torture continues in Iraq and Afghanistan where presumably the Geneva Convention would add layers of protection.  America has repeatedly disregarded those ethical obligations.  If another country were torturing our American citizens, there’d be talk of retaliation regardless of “collateral damage”.

Open a daily paper or turn on the television in America, you’re more likely to see two people disemboweling each other than disrobing each other.  America’s hunger for violence seems insatiable.  Two recent wars, murders in the streets, mass killings, bombings of sovereign nations, and now Abraham Lincoln hunting vampires still hasn’t satisfied her desire for bursting guts, blasting guns, exploding cars, and splattering blood.  And that’s not including the “Paul Ryan Budget” plan.  Even the theatrical release of the tame, reflective, and didactic Seuss classic, “The Lorax,” when transferred to the silver screen, had to have sequences of action and violence inserted.  There are few video games or movies released today that do not feature violent sequences such as car chases, shootings, explosions, fighting, etc.  Violence is ubiquitous and many Americans have grown so desensitized to it all that they don’t even notice it.  

The extent of violence entwined in the fabric of America’s culture ought to be alarming and distressing to the populace but it isn’t. Politicians let the ban on assault weapons lapse; they’ve passed concealed carry laws in almost every state; a homicide occurs just about every 8 minutes in America; and America is killing civilians of other countries every day.  Yet Americans keep voting for politicians that support the system in place.  Republicans are pushing for less and less regulations on guns and deeper cuts to welfare programs like food stamps.   Over the last three years, gun companies have posted record sales.  There are twice as many guns banging around America than there are people.  Guns are responsible for 70% of the nearly 16,000 homicides in America, that’s twice as many homicides as the Euro zone and the UK combined.

America is obsessed with guns and with killing.  More than half the states have passed similar legislation to Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.  Recently a drug dealer escaped murder charges.  In Wisconsin, a young man whose blood alcohol content was twice the legal limit hid in a neighbor’s house and was shot and killed for it.  There was no trial.  No charges were pressed by the DA because the Castle Doctrine would have preempted any charges.  These are dangerous precedents.

On the same day that a report was released detailing how 26,000 Americans die each year due to inadequate access to health care, 44 senators wrote a letter to Pres. Obama urging America to wage war on Iran.  While millions of Americans struggle with poverty, America debates waging yet another war.  Something is wrong with this picture.

America’s foreign policy hasn’t been much different.  Violence seems to be a first choice selection by many in the Republican Party.  Neither party has forced or acted to stop the increasing drone attacks that have killed thousands of innocent people in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Either due to diffidence or cowardice, elected officials have chosen not to oppose the government’s plan to bomb nearly indiscriminately.

The question every American should be asking is: What would America do if another country were dropping bombs on the USA?

If all of this sounds completely insane, that’s because it is.   
While violence is ubiquitous, love is virtually unseen.  Instead, America has erected a booming porn industry that, much like the gun industry, has also been recording record profits.  Since the end of the 60s peace and love movement, violence has been condoned, love has been ridiculed, nudity vilified, and poverty has been ignored, while seedy, loveless pornography is more widely available than any time in America’s brief history. 

To put all of these characteristics into perspective, turn to Robert Hare who designed the psychopath test.  Hare created a diagnostic tool called the Psychopathy Checklist (PCL) in 1980.  It would later become known as the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R).  The PCL-R measures psychopathy on a forty-point scale.  The test itself is more of an inventory than an examination.  Each type of category is rated on a scale of 0, 1, or 2 points; the more points, the more psychopathic.  After reading about the psychopath test, it’s nearly impossible not to analyze everyone as either teetering on the edge of psychopathy or as psychopathic.  The line between normal and abnormal becomes incontrovertibly blurred, reminiscent of the Zimbardo prison experiment.  But that shouldn’t prevent us from using the test. 

Describing America and analyzing her through the lens of the PCL-R reveals concerning results.  She scores a very high score on the test.  Not only is she demonstrably violent and callous, she is also irresponsible, impulsive, refuses to accept responsibility for her actions, blatantly lies and deceives, holds grandiose opinions of herself, exploits other countries, and has no control over her own behavior.   

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reports that in America today “there are 1,002 known hate groups operating across the country, including neo-Nazis, Klansmen, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, black separatists, border vigilantes and others. And their numbers are growing.” (And that's just the Republican Party). These are armed militants who openly despise anyone and everyone who doesn’t fit their American model.  If this isn’t crazy enough, America is currently doing nothing about these organizations.  They are encouraged in their rage by hate mongers on television and commercial radio.  Lack of gun control legislation ensures that militant hate groups are well armed with explosives and high powered weapons.  The SPLC has documented nearly 100 plots, conspiracies and racist rampages since 1995 — plots and violence waged against a democratic America.”

To add to the rising numbers of hate groups, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center reports that there are more humans trafficked in the US today than at the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.  The numbers of humans trafficked include American citizens as well as foreign nationals held against their wills.  These numbers are increasing not waning.

Just as disconcerting as her lack of control over her actions is America’s lack of remorse.  America feels no remorse for her actions.   She coldly defends her decisions even when they’ve been proven to be wrong.  Remember Iraq.  Remember WMDs.  Remember any apologies or accountability at all?  Nah. Remember George HW Bush’s infamous pronouncement, “We must never apologize for the United States of America.” Mitt Romney recently repeated the same sentiment and Leon Panetta made the same remark regarding Pakistan.  Pres. Obama continues to approve killing hundreds of thousands in drone attacks and, unbelievably, openly takes credit for murdering bin Laden and Awlaki.  No remorse.

America reveals no remorse for the mining and bombing raids of Cambodia, or the buried DDT in Korea, or the destruction of Iraq.  No empathy for the thousands who have died in drone attacks and in wars.  If it sounds sick, that’s because it is. Instead of regretting deaths, America celebrates them.

During the republican primary debates, crowds cheered when one candidate advocated letting a sick person without insurance die. On Bill Maher’s HBO show, the audience cheers whenever he mentions the killing of bin Laden.  When did killing become a celebratory act?

These are signs of a depraved nation like the pacing cheetahs at the zoo. America continues to commit murders around the world, blatantly lies about the nature of her behavior, refuses to apologize or empathize with her victims, and ignores the problems within her own borders.

Who acts like this?  A psychopath would.  America fits the bill; if America were a person, she’d be a psychopath.  Lady Liberty’s got a new sobriquet, Lady Lunacy. It's not the land of freedom, it's the land of ferocity.
America's PCL-R Diagnosis: Prototypical Psychopath

18 June 2012

Fareed Zakaria's interview of Simpson and Bowles

This is worth a look if you haven't watched it. Some of people get more conservative as they age. Others seem to loosen up a bit. Alan Simpson was a conservative for as long as I can remember. He doesn't seem it in this interview.

Full Transcript: The former Republican Senator, Alan Simpson, and the former Clinton White House Chief of Staff, Erskine Bowles may forever be remembered for their great idea that was never put into practice.

In 2010, President Obama challenged the bipartisan duo to chair a commission to develop policies to bring America back to fiscal sustainability and they did. Many powerful Washingtonians on both sides of the fence applauded the proposal from the two chairs, but nobody ever did anything about it and this week, the dangerous carping over the debt limit began anew.

Who better to talk about this than Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles who are joining me now from North Carolina?

Thank you so much for joining me, folks.



Senator Simpson, you've seen what's been going on these last few months. The House actually voted on the Simpson-Bowles proposal and it went down decisively.

Paul Ryan, the leader of the House on fiscal issues, I suppose, said that Simpson-Bowles was the wrong way to go because there weren't enough spending cuts and there were too many tax increases.

What was your reaction? That's your party.

SIMPSON: Well, I think my party and I have different views on a lot of things. I guess I'm known as a "rhino" now, which means a Republican in name only because I guess of social views perhaps or common sense would be another one which seems to escape members of our party.

Abortion is a horrible thing, but, for heaven's sakes, a deeply intimate and personal decision and men legislators shouldn't even vote on it. Gay-lesbian issues, we're all human beings. We're all God's children. What is that?

And for heaven's sakes, you have Grover Norquist wandering the Earth in his white robes saying that if you raise taxes one penny, he'll defeat you. He can't murder you, he can't burn your house, the only thing he can do to you, as an elected official, is defeat you for reelection.

And if that means more to you than your country when we need patriots to come out in a situation when we're in extremity, you shouldn't even be in Congress.

ZAKARIA: But talk about Ryan particularly, because what I'm struck by is the Simpson-Bowles plan calls for an awful lot of spending cuts and, yet, those weren't enough.

SIMPSON: Well, Erskine can tell you we don't call for -- You can't cut spending your way out of this hole. You can't grow your way out of this hole and you can't tax your way out of this hole "Put that in your pipe and smoke it," we tell these people.

This is madness. If you want to be a purest, go somewhere on a mountain top and praise the east or something, but if you want to be in politics, you learn to compromise and you learn to compromise an issue without compromising yourself. Show me a guy who won't compromise and I'll show you a guy with rock for brains.

ZAKARIA: Erskine, you're hopeful. You think that some of the ideas gaining fraction and, you know, there's a kind of inevitability if you're going to do this, there has to be some approach that's pretty close to what you're describing.

BOWLES: Fareed, I believe the markets will force us to. I've spent my life in the markets, as you know, and look at what's happening at the end of the year.

We have about $7 trillion worth of economic events that are happening. We have expiration of the Bush tax cuts, we have the patch that's been placed on the alternative minimum tax that'll affect so many middle-class taxpayers, we have the payroll tax deduction that's expiring.

We have these senseless, mindless, across-the-board cuts that come from the sequester that comes as a result of a failed super committee. You know, all of those are hitting at once and the economic effect of those just next year, about 2 percent of GDP.

If we have a negative effect of 2 percent of GDP, we'll be right back in recession and you better believe that the people of America will be calling on these members of Congress to do something.

So we think something will happen in the lame duck session. We believe it'll probably be a two-step process where we end up setting up a framework with a time-frame in order to get something done.

ZAKARIA: Boy, that's pretty optimistic.

BOWLES: And don't forget it doesn't have to be exactly what the Simpson-Bowles plan has, but it's got to be a balanced plan. You've got to have some small amount of revenue that comes from reforming the tax code and there's broad agreement that the tax code needs to be reformed.

So I believe that you will find -- if, in fact, we can get the right kind of momentum going, I think I'll find strong support. We've been working with 47 members of the Senate, an equal number of Republicans and Democrats, the same kind of group in the House of Representatives.

And I believe these -- this group will come together during the lame duck to put forward a plan like this. Now, I don't think the plan itself will be implemented during the lame duck, but I think there will be an agreement that we have to do some kind of balanced plan.

If we don't, then I think you will see the markets really take a really adverse look at the country and I think you'll see us lose another downgrade in our credit and I think you'll see interest rates pop up and, before long, you'll see the availability of credit lessen. So I think we could have a real problem if we don't do something and do something relatively quick.

SIMPSON: And you know who will get hurt the worst in that process when interest rates go up and inflation kicks in, the little guy, the one that everybody on their hind legs talks about, "We're doing this for the little guy, the most vulnerable, the unfortunate." Well, Merry Christmas, those guys are going to get eaten when interest rates and inflation kicks in.

ZAKARIA: Gentlemen, stay with us. When we come back, we're going to ask Senator Simpson and Erskine Bowles what they think of President Obama's leadership on this issue, what they think of Mitt Romney and there'll be a few other things as well.


ZAKARIA: And we are back with Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, the authors of the Simpson-Bowles plan for a rare opportunity to have a conversation.

Senator Simpson, I want to ask you -- I want to ask both of you, but I want to ask you what you think of President Obama's embrace of your plan or lack thereof.

And I'm going to start by asking you -- just bear with me because I talked to him in January, mostly about foreign policy, but I did ask him about Simpson-Bowles. And he probably got -- this got him more agitated than at any point in our conversation.

This is what he said. He said, "I've got to tell you most of the people who say it if you ask them, "What's in Simpson-Bowles," they couldn't tell you. First of all, I did embrace Simpson-Bowles. I'm the one who created the commission. If I hadn't pushed it wouldn't have happened because the Congressional sponsors, including a whole bunch of Republicans, walked away."

"The basic premise of Simpson-Bowles was we have to take balanced approach in which we have spending cuts and we have revenue increases. And although I did not agree with every particular thing that was in it, what I did do is take the framework and present a balanced plan of entitlement changes, discretionary cuts, went ready to make a deal."

"I presented this plan three times to Congress. The core of Simpson-Bowles, the idea of a balanced deficit reduction plan, I have consistently argued for, presented to the American people, presented to Congress."

Is that fair?

SIMPSON: Well, he does get a little testy and we all get a little testy, but the president -- I wouldn't have done this if I didn't regard him as our president. I accept that. He's my president, too. And it's ugly stuff out there.

There's a lot of hatred in the world, hatred toward politicians, hatred toward the president, hatred toward Democrats, hatred toward Republicans, but I can tell you this. If he had embraced our plan, he would have been ripped to shreds.

Erskine can tell you a little more. He visited with him personally alone for an hour-and-a-half, but he would have been ripped by the Democrats saying, "Why you rotten -- you're digging into the precious, precious Medicare."

And the Republicans would have rejected -- if he'd embraced the Republicans, en mass, in the House would have rejected it. So, either way he's going to get hammered so he's playing the waiting game.

ZAKARIA: Erskine, a lot of economic experts say, look, the right solution for the United States right now is obvious, which is you need some stimulus now, particularly given the very low interest rates, the very high levels of unemployment in the construction sector.

The government should spend some money repairing and rebuilding the infrastructure, but that would only be viable and particularly something the markets would celebrate if it was tied to a long-term deficit reduction plan like Simpson-Bowles.

Do you buy that basic idea that if your plan were adopted as a ten-year plan, it actually gives the U.S. government some leeway to make some necessary investments now?

BOWLES: Yes, I truly believe that the only thing standing between the U.S. and sustainable growth is having a sensible, responsible, long-term fiscal plan. I believe if the world believed that we were going to put our fiscal house in order that you would see substantial economic growth in the future.

But, again, I got back to what's happening at the end of this year. We have $7 trillion worth of economic events that are going to hit the fan in December.

And if we don't set up to them -- if we don't stand up for them and we don't do the right thing, if Congress doesn't act, it doesn't put this partisanship aside and doesn't make some compromise, you'll have a negative impact on GDP next year of at least 2 percent. That doesn't make any sense.

ZAKARIA: Alan, what do you make of Mitt Romney? Romney's first ads are out and when he says, on day one what is he going to do and he says he's going to approve the Keystone Pipeline, fine. But then he says and, then, we're going to have tax cuts.

This has, of course, been the, you know, kind of a Republican strategy for a while. Do you think -- given what you're describing, I can't imagine you think day one what a Republican president should do is propose tax cuts?

SIMPSON: Well, I wouldn't have voted for him if I'd have been in Congress. How could you vote for a tax cut when you were doing two wars on the cheap? You had two wars you were fighting. You had things that were -- the government -- all the income from the government was only taking care of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and you do a tax cut.

Every time there was a surplus and the last time was when this fine gentleman was doing it in '96, you can't get there. But you don't have to do a tax cut, get that out of your gourd. You go into the tax expenditures and start knocking that stuff off and that's where you get your revenue.

BOWLES: Fareed, we have the most inefficient, ineffective, globally anti-competitive tax code that man could dream up and what we need to do is broaden the base, simplify the code, use -- get rid of this spending in the tax code and use about 90 percent of the money to reduce income tax rates for everybody and use about 10 percent of the money to reduce this deficit.

You know if you think about the debt today and the interest on the debt, it's kind of -- you know and put it in relationship to something else, we spend about $230, $240 billion a year on interest on the debt today even at these current low rates.

Fareed, that is more than we're spending today at the Department of Commerce, Energy, Education, Homeland Security, Interior, Justice and State combined. And if we don't do anything, if we just, you know, put our heads in the sand and hope things will get better, we'll be spending over a trillion dollars on interest by the year 2020.

That's a trillion dollars we can't spend on this country on education or infrastructure or high valued-added research. And worst of all, it's a trillion dollars we will be spending principally in Asia to educate their kids and to build their infrastructure and to do high value-added research over there so that the next new thing is created there and the jobs of the future are there not here. That's crazy.

ZAKARIA: All right, final question. Erskine, there are rumors in Washington that President Obama has asked you whether you would be interested in being the Secretary of Treasury. Do you have a comment?

BOWLES: He hasn't asked me to be Secretary of Treasury for sure.

ZAKARIA: If he were to ask you, would you accept?

BOWLES: No, I'm living in North Carolina and that's where I want to live. I'm the happiest in my whole life, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: Gentlemen, pleasure to have you.

SIMPSON: I would just say we -- all we do, Erskine and I, is math. We don't do Power Points. We don't know charts. We do math, but we don't do BS or mush so join us.

ZAKARIA: Maybe what we should try and get -- and do is for the first time in the history of the republic, have co-Secretaries of the Treasury, one Republican and one Democrat. SIMPSON: Boy, if we could get our hands on that script.

BOWLES: I don't want a job, thank you.

ZAKARIA: Thank you very much, gentlemen.

SIMPSON: Thank you.

BOWLES: Thank you.

13 June 2012

Fickle Memories, or how quickly we forget

Noam Chomsky has famously called Richard Nixon our "last liberal president" in part for his declaration of a war on drugs back in 1971.  The war that Nixon initiated was vastly different than what we see today.  As Chomsky pointed out, "two-thirds of the funding went to treatment, which reached record numbers of addicts; there was a sharp drop in drug-related arrests and number of federal prison inmates, as well as crime rates."

The other fairly liberal minded move that Nixon made was in 1969 when he signed the Tax Reform Act.  Fairly few citizens who call themselves Republicans or Conservatives must remember the days when even Republicans recognized that the wealthy needed to pay more in taxes.

In 1969, Nixon signed the Act and gave a pretty damn insightful speech in which he bemoaned the fact that "(a) large number of high-income persons ... have paid little or no Federal income taxes".   The Tax Reform Act was enacted to close those loopholes.

A significant piece of Nixon's legislation was that "(m)ore than 9 million low-income people who pay taxes will be dropped from the tax rolls. This results primarily from the special low income allowance that I proposed last April as a means of making sure that people at or below the poverty level do not have to pay Federal income taxes."
This was from a Republican president.  He raised taxes on the wealthy, something unheard of in today's new right.
As citizens, we have the right to be outraged by the obstinate behavior of elected officials who disregard prior public policy.  We have a precedence in this country to take care of those who lack the necessary means for which they need to take care of themselves.  The new right would have us throw that all away.  And they've sold that to the American public (whom they call tax payers and consumers) as savings.  In actuality tax cuts lead to future losses as public entities lose funding.  Think about what that means - public entities - these are roads, parks, libraries, courthouses, municipal shelters, firehouses, police stations, schools, universities, colleges, and on and on.  No money no roads.
The United States is a society built by people yet today many of us have chosen not to support this society.  Instead we are locked in rhetorical struggle fueled by incessant self-absorbed propaganda.  (For example, a new ABC television program proclaims to make You the director - sounds foolish).  This self-absorbed propaganda purports to make you the taxpayer and that you get more money through tax cuts.  The reality is that we get little from tax cuts but the wealthy get much much more.
As anyone can see by searching the internets even Reagan raised taxes.

10 June 2012

Too Out of Touch

Mitt Romney described President Obama this week as "out of touch" because of Mr. Obama's remark that the private sector economy is "doing fine."

It's hard not to take Mr. Romney on his word.  I mean, if anyone would know if someone were out of touch, it's this guy. This is the guy who showed up in Detroit bragging about how many Cadillacs and homes he owns.

Romney's the guy who talked off camera with Sean Hannity about his wife needing to ride her "dressage" horse and the incomparable gait of his own mule.

This is the guy who thinks the poor are being so well taken care of by our government's safety nets that he's not concerned about them.  That's the same poor who are enemy number four on the Republican hit list, after Obama, unions, and teachers, and just ahead of defense lawyers, and environmental regulations.

This is the guy, Mr. Robomney, I mean, Romney is, who straps his dog to the roof of his car because it wasn't feeling well.  Obviously he was unaware of polls on which animal is America's favorite pet.

This is the guy who called pinning down a gay classmate and supplying a forced haircut one of his "pranks and hijinks."  But he didn't remember that particular, specific incident.

If anyone knows about being out of touch, it's Mitt Romney.  If Mitt Romney were any more out of touch, he'd be a moon rock.

If anyone can call Mr. Obama out of touch, it's Mr. Romney.  I mean, who knows out of touch any better than Mitt?  He's practically in orbit.  He definitely doesn't live up to his namesake - the catcher's mitt. 

The real question about choosing between which billionaire will lead our country for the next four years is not which one is more out of touch, what are billionaires in touch with anyway - teams of accountants and lawyers, and if your Chas Sheen, teams of whores, but the real question is which one gets more touch - because that's more human.  I think having a human for a President is probably a good thing. 

It's pretty clear that Obama's gettin' more lovin' than Romney.  A simple Google search reveals which of these candidates is more in touch.  There are the Obama results and the Romney results.  I thinks it's clear, everyone's in touch or wanting to "get some" of the Pres.

If the voting comes down to who's more in touch - gotta go with the black guy.  They are making more babies than white folks these days, even those with 3 or 4 wives.

07 June 2012

BBC Captures the Brutality of Extreme Right Hate Groups in Poland and Ukraine ahead of Euro 2012

This is a broadcast called Stadiums of Hate recently released by the BBC. Reporter Chris Rogers and cameraman Jon Hillyer present video and commentary after witnessing devastatingly nefarious acts of extreme racism, abuse, antisemitism, and barbaric violence. Sol Campbell advises not to attend the football matches but instead watch from home.
The new radical right movement in Ukraine and Poland paints a worse than ugly picture of what we very well could see develop here in the States. The footage captured by the BBC in the buildup to Euro 2012 is shocking and brutal. The new great (as in widespread and massive not as in good or beneficial) movement of our time is a call to nativism and nationalism. And it's scary stuff. The interviews and chantings are chilling, the video footage purely wicked and reprehensible.

If the video below doesn't work, try here.

Panorama - Euro 2012 Stadiums of Hate from Rosiboj on Vimeo.

Frightening glimpses of what could be at Euro 2012. Now extend the imagination just a bit.

Just imagine if this type of violent movement were to spread to America, if it has not already, where there are more guns than people. It's more likely than many of us wish to acknowledge. Investigate similar hate groups in the US by visiting the Southern Poverty Law Center.

05 June 2012

What this means for Wisconsin

Along the streets of northwestern Milwaukee today people were out and about actively engaging and shouting (yes, shouting in the streets - yelling to neighbors to get to the polls) about voting; some were explaining to anyone who'd listen how they voted for the first time today.  Throughout the bustling day, people were overflowing with optimism that the Walker administration, an administration that chooses to defund public education, to attack the impoverished, and punish the needy while rewarding the wealthy and well-to-do, might just be defeated and tossed out of office.

There was hope.  I can't claim to have seen that much hope for some time, since 2008 for sure.  Even though I know this country is in the midst of a great new movement from the far right, I also believe there are the downtrodden and the working class, the indigent and the working poor who believe in  a progressive, equal, fair and just United States.

Tonight we know that the revolt against the greed, inequality, and abuse of the new regime represented by the far right will not begin with the removal of the autocrat Scott Walker.  We also know that the State Senate will probably remain in Republican hands.  The voters will get what they ask for.

Workers of this state who have spent the last year bashing fellow workers and unions will slowly begin to understand what Walker's message "Open for business" truly means.  Already many tradesmen have reported taking lower wages in order to retain their jobs.  This trend will continue.  The aces are now all held by corporate leaders and they have the support of a corrupt government that rewards its lackeys and henchmen well.  Because if Republicans know anything, they know loyalty well.  And they did loyalty well today. 

But this is just the beginning of drastic change in Wisconsin.  The far right regime buoyed by the racist and divisive rants of talk-radio shock jocks like the intolerable Limbaugh and equally repulsive C. Sykes will continue to wage a violent effort to exert control over the workers of this state and in the country and to further separate the impoverished from the privileged.  These are sad days for workers who earn a fraction of the corporate bosses.  The robber barons have taken control of the moral compass and are funding political campaigns that promise to pay them back in full. Wisconsin has been home to some of the worst fighting over the last year between fellow workers, between family members and friends.  Yet, the voters reelected the regime that started it all and in the process affirmed the divisive and regressive tactics.  How quickly we forgot Walker's real motto, "This is non-negotiable."  

For the country, today was also momentous.  Mitt Romney must be creaming his suit with glee; his power hungry cravings are right now transforming him into a giddy school boy contemplating his next prank or bit of tomfoolery.   Leading up to today, neo-cons around the country were preaching about Wisconsin; preaching about the importance of this vote.  And Wisconsin witnessed a flood of neo-con, far right money splattered like dung across the dairy farms and air waves and county fairs.  It energized a lot of hatred and anger on the right.  People spouted off that they were upset they were being forced to vote again by "union thugs".  What mishmash! 

All the fueled rhetoric amounts to for the tea party and Republicans who turned out en masse is a few saved tax dollars, about $20 off property taxes by recent estimates.  Although, Walker's next move will be to lower state capital gains tax to 0, a nice fatty bone for recent large donors to his recall campaign.

The message for the people of Wisconsin in this recall race is that more than 50% of Wisconsinites prefer to save a few dollars on their taxes than to see quality public education.  That more than 50% of Wisconsinites think more about themselves than others - like those who rely on BadgerCare or Medicaid, like those who rely on public social programs for food and shelter - because that is what the new far right stands for.   A celebration of greed.  What it will eventually boil down to is far more poverty and a few more very wealthy plutocrats.

The issues that we continue to ignore are the alarming poverty rates, the out of control imprisonment rates, and the run away income inequality rate.  The saddest part of all of this is that rural poor seem to have been lured in to believing the propaganda of the right - that their enemies were the unions.  No working poor person should ever believe that.  Without the unions we wouldn't have a 40-hour, 5-day work week.  We wouldn't have child labor laws or OSHA.  We wouldn't have a minimum wage.  Those gluttons for punishment (the poor, the workers, the middle class, women) who just reaffirmed Walker's and his cronies' politics have ultimately attacked themselves.  Like most things, the consequences of these actions will not be felt immediately.  But citizens of Wisconsin will feel the pain of these destructive policies.

A year ago, this blog began by describing Wisconsin in a dark, dark place.  Unbelievably, it has got darker.  These neo-cons hate equality - they despise gay marriage and equal pay for women.  They hate science and the environment - they cut investment in stem-cell research and protections for wetlands.  They hate average citizens - they passed tort reform that effectively eliminates a citizen's recourse to sue for damages. 

Yet, this is the group of wealth-backers that Wisconsites reelected.  It's a sad day for Wisconsin.

What it feels like in Wisconsin is a collective slap across the faces of public instructors and public workers.  

Well, Wisconsin, prepare.  The policies enacted over the last year were the beginning.  More cuts are coming.  More cuts to education, more cuts to health care, and more privatization, more division, more isolationism as a result of the dog-eat-dog philosophy, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps claptrap that these neo-cons and tea partiers tout.

Consider the divisions that have been created.  Look at Waukesha county where nearly 75% of the vote went Republican.  3 of 4 voters voted against teachers' rights to collectively bargain for a safe environment; 3 of 4 voters voted against protecting our environment; 3 of 4 voters approved Walker's budget that hands out money to people like Ron Johnson and deprives assistance from people that need it.  They voted against their own neighbors and friends and family members.  How will overturned communities like that reunite?  The short answer is that they won't.  Grudges and lines have been fixed.

For what has traditionally been a progressive, forward thinking state, we have truly 'advanced' backwards and created an unequal playing field that clearly will take decades to repair.  In the meantime, we will witness worse suffering.

Wisconsites have also set the bar for November.  Prepare for a barrage of vicious attack ads - a continuation of the past few months - because you supported the unprecedented amounts of money that poured into the divisive and derisive political campaigning.  Because those tactics worked for Walker, they'll be more repulsive against Obama.  Prepare for a stark future, Wisconsin.  Many of us today wish we weren't Wisconsinites.

I can't seem to get the iconic Sinead O'Connor tune "Black Boys on Mopeds" out of my head.  So here it is for all to recall.
Margaret Thatcher on TV
Shocked by the deaths that took place in Beijing
It seems strange that she should be offended
The same orders are given by her

I've said this before now
You said I was childish and you'll say it now
Remember what I told you:
If they hated me they will hate you

England's not the mythical land of Madame George and roses
It's the home of police who kill black boys on mopeds
And I love my boy and that's why I'm leaving
I don't want him to be aware that there's
Any such thing as grieving

Young mother down at Smithfield
5 am, looking for food for her kids
In her arms she holds three cold babies
And the first word that they learned was "please"

These are dangerous days
To say what you feel is to dig your own grave
Remember what I told you:
If you were of the world they would love you

England's not the mythical land of Madame George and roses
It's the home of police who kill blacks boys on mopeds
And I love my boy and that's why I'm leaving
I don't want him to be aware that there's
Any such thing as grieving.