Saturday, June 27, 2015

Fantastic Friday

Yeah, Friday was fantastic. The same Supreme Court that crowned George Bush President in 2000 and declared corporations were people came through in a very big way on Friday.  In one day, this Court with a conservative majority declared same-sex marriage legal in all states, knocked down another challenge to the Affordable Care Act and helped strengthen fair housing discrimination protections. It’s like the Mississippi River changed course for a day. Unbelievable.

Of course, the heads of Scalia, Thomas and everyone at FOX News are still exploding and it’s a beautiful sight to see. After fifteen years of Bush and Bush’s legacy under Obama, those of us on the Left finally have something to cheer about.  And on top of everything else, Bernie Sanders is proving to be a viable candidate for President.

We have to savor the taste of victory while we can, because the Supreme Court still has a conservative majority, Obama is getting his way on TPP and we are still following a failed Middle East policy. But for a day or two, we can cheer our successes and thank all of those Americans who actively pushed, agitated and demonstrated for these major steps forward.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Bobby Jindal Announces His Presidential Candidacy. (crickets)

Wow. I mean, wow. John Stewart, among many others, has been skewering Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindals’ presidential announcement ad, so I new I needed to see it for myself. I just watched it, and…wow.

Shot from the perspective of a Go Pro wearing cat caught in a tree, the video is a one long take of Jindal and his family sitting around a table in their backyard. Bobby, his face obscured by a tree limb, announces TO HIS CHILDREN that he’s going to run for President.  The kids respond with the same enthusiasm you might expect from a “Mommy and Daddy are getting a divorce” announcement, which is pretty much total silence.

From the man who once said the Republican Party should stop being the “stupid” party, this is one of the dumbest stunts I’ve ever seen from a politician in any party.  It’s wrong on so many levels you’d need a calculator to count them all.

It’s clear that this was an attempt by handlers to make Jindal look “folksy” and “genuine” within a casual family gathering. Got it. And that is the first problem with this video. Casual family gatherings are normally where people talk about very mundane, day-to-day activities, like what happened at school or work or who’s dating whom. How many family gatherings have you been to where someone announces he is running for President of the United States? That would be zero.  Okay, Jindal makes one, which is what makes this concept so preposterous and contrived.

Now, if you were taping a Presidential announcement vid, and the premise is that you are making the announcement first to your family, wouldn’t you want the children to be excited that Daddy might one day be President of the U.S.? In Jindal’s video, however, the kids sit in stunned silence, with one of the boy’s giving his Dad an awkward thumbs up.  Now you or I or anyone with an IQ over 70 would say, “Hey, let’s try that again with a little more enthusiasm.” But the geniuses in the Jindal camp must have thought the genuineness of the moment was a positive thing. How very, very wrong they were.

And what are we to make of Jindal announcing his presidential ambitions to children, and using that as his announcement to the nation at large? Is he comparing the American voters to children? Does he think he needs to make his announcement simple enough for a seven-year old to understand?

I could go on, but I’ll end with a technical issue, but a rather large one in my opinion. I don’t know how much the media buy was for Bobby’s announcement, but would you or anyone else spend tens of thousands of dollars placing a video promoting your candidate in prime time where his face is obscured by a tree limb?  Genuine moment or not, this is a major no no. It comes off as totally amateurish rather than a warm family moment. Do you think the American people are so familiar with Jindal that he doesn’t need to show his face? Bobby Jindal?

Jindal’s announcement ad deserves all of the ridicule it is getting. It’s mawkish, amateurish and displays an epic amount of poor judgment on the part of the candidate and his team. And, I’m sure, accurately reflects Bobby Jindal’s character to a T.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

BREAKING: Racist Right Wing Media Denies Americans are Racist

The Right Wing media’s reaction to the murder of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, SC by an avowed white racist has been horrifying, embarrassing and predictable.  They have spun out and discussed every possible excuse for Dylann Roofs’ killing spree, from drugs to mental illness to an anti-Christian bias, except the correct one; Roof is a virulent racist intent on starting a race war pitting whites against blacks. Whether Roof even understands the Christian Identity roots of his beliefs, they were watered and nurtured by the insidious, coded racism of the mainstream conservative media, from FOX News to Limbaugh to the Drudge Report.

America’s favorite crazy uncle, Bill O’Reilly, went on a tirade recently claiming anyone who thinks we are a racist country is anti-American, and that the actions of Roof do not reflect the feelings of the vast majority of whites. As a Salon writer points out, that same argument doesn’t seem to hold much water when the perpetrator is Muslim or a minority.

The attempt by conservatives to whitewash institutional racism in America is disingenuous at best, as day in and day out they continuously use broad brush strokes to characterize immigrants, Muslims, African Americans, etc. as all members of the same herd with the ultimate goal of destroying traditional (white) America. This theme is incessant and no one who understands the code words and inferences believes it is anything other than thinly cloaked racism. That’s why the term “bully” is so appropriate for people like O’Reilly and Limbaugh, because like their schoolyard counterparts, they tease, harass and verbally insult their victims on a daily basis, yet when the person being persecuted finally turns around and punches them in the nose, they whine and cry that “I didn’t do nothin’.”

Institutional racism continues to exist in America, and there are libraries of research and data to confirm this. That the Right Wing media is working so hard to deny this makes them look even more out of touch with reality than ever.  Dylann Roof is no Lone Wolf, but the product of a conservative media machine that feeds its consumers a steady diet of hate and anger and victimization that is bound to be acted on by one of the tribe. And, if nothing changes, there is no reason to believe it won’t happen again.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Want to buy a vote in the U.S. Senate? Here’s how much money you need

So how much does it take to buy a vote in the Senate? The Guardian did us the favor of crunching the numbers related to the recent passing of the odious Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the Senate. Here's the going rate for a Congressional vote:

  • Out of the total $1,148,971 given, an average of $17,676.48 was donated to each of the 65 “yea” votes.
  • The average Republican member received $19,673.28 from corporate TPP supporters.
  • The average Democrat received $9,689.23 from those same donors.

The amounts given rise dramatically when looking at how much each senator running for re-election received.

Why the traitorous Democrats settled for less cash than Republicans is a mystery, but it seems it was enough to get a vote.  We Californians must get rid of Dianne Feinstein when she comes up for reelection.  She has become a shameless tool of the oligarchy/surveillance state who continues to turn her back on the desires of her constituents.  She has thrown her lot in with the 1% and has to go.

All of the Democrats who voted with the Republican majority should be ashamed of themselves. TPP is an agreement crafted by corporations to benefit corporations and it will most certainly screw everyone else as well as threaten our sovereignty as a nation.

Just remember, if you have a spare 10 grand lying around you don't know what to do with, you can always buy a vote in the U.S. Senate.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact*

At the Research Digest, a site sponsored by the British Psychological Society, there is an article titled: “Correcting False Beliefs about Vaccines Can Be Surprisingly Counterproductive.” The brief articles looks at the findings of a recent study examining how attempts to debunk myths about vaccines, namely that they can give you the flue, can be counterproductive among the most vehement vaccine skeptics. When presented with facts about vaccines that debunk popular myths, the quarter of the adults who questioned vaccine safety still did not intend to get vaccinated after being educated on the topic. They merely came up with other new concerns about vaccinations. It’s called the Backfire Effect.

The rest of the article discusses approaches one might use to get through to these intense skeptics and avoid the Backfire Effect. In my opinion, there are additional issues and concerns about myths and myth busting that go beyond those discussed in the article.

The author considers the facts about vaccines that were used in the research to be true, and I don’t doubt that they are based on solid science. A problem arises, however, when the “facts” used to debunk a belief are
  • Scientifically questionable
  • Only partially true
  • Being used to cover up something or for political gain
  • Actually beliefs themselves
 In many instances, people disagree on the most fundamental facts in our lives; Christians and atheists, conservatives and liberals, socialists and capitalists, etc.  What one person believes is a fact is seen by another person as a myth. Even in the scientific realm there is an ever shifting array of research and “facts” telling us, for instance, that wine is both good for us and bad for us, depending on the study. Many believe that what the government or the news media tells us is factual, despite volumes of evidence to the contrary.

We should always rely on provable facts over superstition and conventional wisdom, but we must also be careful in our assumptions about what the facts are. 

*Arthur Conan Doyle

Friday, June 12, 2015

The State of Michigan: Another Republican Failure

There’s an excellent Salon article today exposing the failed policies and resulting human devastation of yet another Republican governor, Michigan’s Rick Snyder. Despite the reality that his state is in an economic free-fall, Snyder is touring the country trying to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse with highly selective and dubious claims about his austerity program. Like Brownback in Kansas, Walker in Wisconsin and Scott in Florida, Snyder is using slight of hand and verbal obfuscation to confuse the rest of the country about what is actually going on in his state.

Like his fellow Republican governors, Snyder has cut taxes for the wealthy, drained money from public education and social services, attacked unions, ignored or repealed corporate safety and environmental regulations, and disenfranchised minority residents even more than they already were. Snyder, however, has upped the anti by instituting “emergency management legislation” that allows him to send in self-appointed “managers” to take over the running of school districts and, in some cases, entire cities.

Despite the fact that the austerity policies of all these Tea Party Republican governors have proven to be dismal failures and caused significant hardship for the citizens of their states, the corporate media is paying scant attention to this disaster in the making. The reason why is quite simple. The oligarchy running this country loves what Snyder and his colleagues are doing. The human toll is of no importance to them, as long as the corporate monster is being fed and obeyed. Snyder, Brownback, Walker and Scott are the best friends a CEO ever had, and the worst governors the people have ever had to endure.