Friday, May 29, 2015
Thursday, May 28, 2015
The insidious tentacles of the corporate state are tightening their grip around our hearts and minds as they reach into every facet of our daily lives. From naming sports arenas to product placement in every form of entertainment we view (read the Salon article about the music industry selling out) to the government using the NSA and CIA for corporate spying, our business overlords pretty much own us and are shaping our sense of reality.
Even US foreign policy is controlled by the .01 percent. Noam Chomsky said of the controversial TPP agreement, it is “designed to carry forward the neoliberal project to maximize profit and domination, and to set the working people in the world in competition with one another so as to lower wages to increase insecurity.” Despite Obama’s spin, the TPP will benefit the wealthy at the expense of working Americans.
We live in a plutocracy now, were the wealthiest Americans and largest corporations call the shots. Politicians in Washington, D.C., including the President, are bought and paid for and have been reduced to merely carrying water for the true powers working behind the curtain. Need an example? We are living in the midst of catastrophic man-made climate change, yet the greedy, short-sighted titans of industry like the Kochs and their minions in Congress have successfully confused the public and prevented any meaningful action to address this important issue.
To the corporate state, our only reason for being is to purchase products and our senses are under continual assault from marketers 24/7 to buy, buy, buy. Our worth as human beings is based on what we wear, drive and eat, not on who we are. Creativity is only tolerated if it can be packaged and sold, and even religion, primarily fundamentalist Christianity, has morphed into a selective rationale for why greed is good.
Like the Germans of the 1930s, I fear the American people will realize what’s going too late to make a difference. Distracted by shiny objects and deluded into believing myths about American Exceptionalism, my fellow citizens continue to live under the illusion that this is still a democracy where their voice counts. I also fear that it will take a catastrophic event to shake them from their slumbers, and that event is coming sooner or later.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
In his Salon article today, “The media’s sickening Sander’s double standard: How the socialist brings out their true colors,” Simon Maloy analyzes how the media reacts to Bernie Sanders' positions as opposed to his Tea Party counterparts in the Republican party. On the subject of income inequality, one of Sanders’ top priorities, he has suggested we return to the Eisenhower-era tax structure when the marginal tax rate for the wealthiest Americans was around 90 percent. The interviewer was taken aback.
“When you think about something like 90 percent, you don’t think that’s obviously too high?” he asked.
“No,” Bernie shot back.
As Maloy points out, we have been so brainwashed over the past thirty years by the corporate media that the idea of taxing the wealthiest Americans to this extent seems like a crazy idea, although the American economy has historically prospered when taxes on the rich were high and floundered when they were low, as they are now.
Conservatives are given a very long leash by the mainstream media when it comes to calling their craziness to account, but when a progressive utters anything even remotely “leftist” it is met with incredulity and eye-rolling. Sander’s has a large mountain to scale in his run for the presidency, not so much from Hillary, but from the internal biases of America’s corporate media.
Thursday, May 21, 2015
According to a number of prominent conservative Christians, the world’s going to end this September. Yawn. I don’t know, something about blood moons and Israel and the Pope speaking to Congress… it’s a fundamentalist Christian’s wet dream of convergences where God finally gets out of his Laz-y-Boy and makes his way to Earth to tell the faithful, “Y’all were right. Kill the liberals.”
With silver-haired, pinched-faced pastor John Hagee leading the mob, Christians are getting their ascension robes dry-cleaned and cancelling any October plans they might have made.
Well, I’d like to issue them a challenge.
If you believe with all your heart that the world is going to end in September, you won’t have any problem participating in a small wager. If the world does end this fall, well, I’m screwed, you’re in heaven for eternity and we’ll all be spared one more sequel of The Expendables. If you’re wrong, however, and I’m still cleaning out the cat box on October 1, you, Mr. Hagee, will be responsible for collecting $10 million to be deposited into my checking account by the end of the year. And, you’ll donate another $10 million to the Bernie Sanders for President campaign (It’s not all about me).
I await your response in the comments section, Pastor Hagee. Any time now.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Another day, another dose of Republican hypocrisy and lies:
South Carolina Repub: Drop 20-week abortion ban because women will fake being raped to get one (Raw Story)
Texas Senator blamed violence in Baltimore on ‘absent fathers,’ has nothing to say about Waco massacre (Think Progress)
Michigan pastor who railed against same-sex marriage resigns after being caught seeking men on Grindr (Raw Story)
George W. Bush’s CIA briefer admits Iraq WMD ‘intelligence’ was a lie (Salon)
Jeb Bush: A tolerant country would allow discrimination based on ‘religious beliefs’ (Raw Story)
Rand Paul cruelty and delusion on display: U.S. shouldn’t accept Iraqi refugees because “we won the war” (Right Wing Watch)
Jeb Bush tells Pamela Geller he will ‘trust his brother’ to deal with the ‘Islamic threat’ (AlterNet)
Bobby Jindal says he will issue executive order allowing anti-LGBT discrimination (forwardprogressives.com)
Texas governor signs bill that makes local fracking bans illegal (Think Progress)
‘I’m going to call a drone and…kill you’ and 9 other insane things Lindsey Graham has said (The Nation)
Former 4th District congressional candidate admits planning armed militia attack, firebombing of Muslim community in New York (Chattanoogan.com)
…and finally a dose of good news:
The GOP is dying off. Literally. (Politico)
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Location: The Boar’s Tail Pub, Knightsbridge, London, 1895
Setting: A dozen members of the Weston Gentlemen’s Bicycling Association are enjoying pints of ale in a corner of the pub. Four bicyclists from the Brickstone Riding and Touring Club enter the pub and order drinks. Charles Twittenstraw, a member of the former group, approaches the table of the pub’s newest patrons and addresses William Cockswoon.
Well, a good day to you, Gentlemen.
And to you, Sir. A fine day.
Indeed it is. Indeed. I’ve not had the pleasure of seeing you or your companions in here before.
Quite true. Our club is located in Brentford and we are touring west through the city. Lovely area, here.
Yes, it is. We are very proud of our little corner of London, and it is always dismaying to have its beauty despoiled by those of inferior character.
Of course. And if we see such louts, we will alert you immediately.
I was referring to you, Sir. This pub, this area of the city, is reserved solely for the riding enjoyment of the Weston Gentlemen’s Bicycling Association.
A jolly good jest. (Turns to his mates) If nothing else, the residents of Knightsbridge are entertaining.
It was not intended to be entertaining. You and your little band of sparrows should fly away now, if you have any common sense and regard for your own safety.
Ah, my safety. Pray tell, what brand of bicycle does your “association” prefer?
Only the finest two-wheel machine in existence: The Schwinn.
(Laughing with his companions) The Schwinn. No true bicyclists would be caught dead riding a Schwinn when the far superior Raleigh is available.
The only Raleigh riders I know are elderly women and circus animals.
(Standing) I’d hold my tongue if I were you. And I’m surprised you’re pathetic Schwinn is able to roll forward without collapsing under your formidable weight.
Doesn’t every Raleigh come with a pair of bloomers?
(As the two groups converge) The only bloomers I have are the ones I took off of your wife last night.
I’d be insulted if I thought my wife ignorant enough to fornicate with a feeble minded Raleigh rider.
Of course you’re right. It wasn’t your wife. It was your mother.
Republicans running for President are going to have to trade in the clown car for a clown bus as every member of the party under the age of 80 is, or will soon be, a candidate for the nation’s top office (except John Bolton). And as the field grows, the effort to stand out from the crowd becomes more daunting for them, and more entertaining (like watching a horror movie) for us.
Soon to announce his intentions, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham set a pretty high bar at the Iowa Republican Party-sponsored Lincoln Day Dinner. After listening to fellow Presidential wannabes gin up the crowd’s pacemakers to optimum blood flow with tales of how many bombs they’d drop on ISIS if they were President, Graham took the floor.
“If I’m president of the United States and you’re thinking about joining al-Qaida or ISIL — anybody thinking about that?” he asked to laughs. “I’m not gonna call a judge. I’m gonna call a drone and we’re gonna kill you.”
Blue-haired women grew weak at the knees and the men’s pacemakers were smokin’ after that one. Graham is going to read your mind, and if he doesn’t like what you’re thinking, he’s gonna open a can of serious whoop ass on you.
“We're gonna kill you?” Now maybe this is Republican humor and, like Japanese humor, I just don’t get it. If not, it has to be one of the most grotesque, idiotic utterances to ever pass the lips of a (soon-to-be) Presidential candidate. What is wrong with these people that 1) a U.S. senator would make such an asinine statement and 2) people would cheer him for saying it? The possibility that Lindsey Graham could be sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office one day makes climate change seem almost inconsequential.
Don’t worry folks, things are just starting to heat up, and you can be sure that the passengers riding in the clown bus will provide us with many more sweet quotes like this in the months to come, if they ever figure out how to get it out of first gear.
Monday, May 18, 2015
I wanted to make one more point about the, “With what we know today, would you still invade Iraq” question. The corporate press and political pundits make it sound as if everyone on the planet was fooled by the flawed intelligence supplied by the CIA. What they neglect to mention is that there were many voices on the left opposing the invasion of Iraq, they just got drowned out by the media megaphone supporting the war. Turned out we were right. Do you think we’ll ever hear anyone in the mainstream media say, “You guys were right. We should have listened to you.”? Don’t hold your breath.
It happened again. A Republican Presidential candidate was not prepared to answer this simple question: Knowing what we know now, would you still Invade Iraq? This time it was Marco Rubio on a Sunday talk show who stumbled over his own tongue trying to dance around the question that every Republican candidate should have known they were going to be asked. Are they really that stupid? Really?
What’s interesting about the critiques of both Rubio and Bush’s inept handling of the question is the fact that writer’s keep focusing on the weapons of mass destruction issue, but fail to mention that the original argument for invading Iraq was its supposed ties to al Qaeda and terrorism in the Middle East. When that argument began to weaken (although it was still being peddled by Colin Powell when he addressed the UN) the emphasis was switched to the supposed WMDs that, of course, never materialized.
Even the bumbling Bush administration knew there had to be some kind of tie to terrorism to get support for attacking Iraq, and Bush and Cheney (and Judith miller) enthusiastically championed a number of stories they claimed connected Saddam Hussein to terrorists, all of which turned out to be false. It’s an important part of the “what we know now” question that is getting little attention.
The whole Iraq war question should raise huge red flags for anyone thinking they might vote for a Republican, but it will have little impact on wealthy Republican supporters. They could care less what the candidates say or do, as long as they believe the winner will do their bidding.
Saturday, May 16, 2015
Thursday, May 14, 2015
At a town hall meeting in Reno, Nevada yesterday, a 19-year old college student had the courage/temerity to lay some truth on the GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush, and told him, “Your brother created ISIS.” This was after a speech by Bush alleging Obama was responsible for the rise of terrorists groups in the Middle East.
It is such a sad state of affairs in political media coverage when a simple statement of truth from a teenager becomes national headlines. Stop the presses, someone confronted Jeb Bush with the truth. How dare this young hooligan drag reality into the political realm. Doesn’t she know the script? Isn’t she aware of how the game is played?
That’s where we're at, folks. The mainstream news media has abrogated its responsibilities for so long now that confronting a politician with the truth in a public setting is now headline worthy news. George Bush did help create ISIS, and his father helped build al Qaeda when it was fighting the Russians in Afghanistan.
The mainstream media cowers in fear at the feet of people like Bush, following the narrative set by its owners to avoid the truth at the risk of looking biased and turning away viewers. As a result, we need courageous citizens like Ivy Ziedrich who are willing to stand up to people running for public office and call them out on their lies and distortions. Thank you Ivy for doing what our news media is afraid to.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Just how utterly and hopelessly ignorant and out of touch is the current crop of Republican candidates for President? How large is the universe? When does the bottomless cup of coffee end? What is the largest number we know times itself?
Today, let’s look at Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida and George’s little brother. Here’s a guy who has probably had presidential aspirations since he was in diapers, and now his time has come. Some months ago, as he started to get serious about this running for President thing, he brought together a team of advisors, and around that same time announced to the world that he was not going to run in the shadow of his big brother, but would be his own man. Of course, what made that statement such a joke was that his team of advisors was full of familiar names from his brother’s failed administration.
But let’s bring things up to the present. During a recent interview on FOX News, Megyn Kelly asked Jeb a very straightforward question: Knowing what we know today, would you still Invade Iraq? Little brother gave her an answer, but it was an answer to a different question. Instead of addressing the “what we know now” part, his answer was to a “what we knew before the Iraq invasion” question. In recent days Jeb has tried to clarify what he meant to say, but has botched it so badly that even the mainstream press is wondering what the hell his position on Iraq is.
Here’s where the serious stupid comes in. Among all the advisors Bush has brought on board his campaign, was there not one among them who said: “Jeb, listen man, somebody at some point is going to ask you about Iraq. We need to have a response ready for that inevitability”? For God’s sake, didn’t anybody on his team think about that? Based on his bumbling, stumbling media responses, apparently not. That he AND HIS ADVISERS failed to prepare for such an obvious question is unfathomable.
If we vote this moronic brother of a moron into office, we deserve what we get.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
The latest hullabaloo in Washington D.C. is over an article in the London Review of Books written by investigative reporter Seymour Hersh. The article attacks the government’s narrative around the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011. Hersh claims that the Obama administration’s version of events is a hot dish of lies and that the Pakistani government had bin Laden under house arrest in Abbottabad for five years prior to the attack on the compound by American forces. They only decided to tell the U.S. where bin Laden was after years of pay-offs, intelligence feeds and “incentives.” The dramatic attack on the terrorist’s compound was a staged production with a pre-ordained outcome.
Salon has a good overview of Hersh’s piece here and the unsurprising attacks on the author from the slavish mainstream press. The author of the article raises the simple question: Who deserves the benefit of the doubt amid the accusations of lying being thrown around? The highly respected journalist who carefully annotated his article with sources or the Obama administration, which has lied through its teeth on numerous occasions and is doing so right now in its defense of the secretive Trans Pacific Partnership.
From its very earliest days when it wanted to continue Bush’s practice of keeping the White House visitors list secret to the Snowden NSA revelations to its attacks on whistleblower, the Obama administration has routinely lied or suppressed information in its manic desire to keep its actions behind the curtain and out of public view. The President who once promised us the most transparent administration in history has instead presided over one of the most secretive, shadowy operations Washington has ever seen.
Why aren’t more American’s outraged by this? Are we so cynical and turned off by politics that nothing fazes us anymore? We (the mainstream press and low information citizens) continue to defer to authority when there is a question raised, despite the fact that they have lied to us time after time after time. How bad will it have to get before we stand up and say “stop?”
If Americans are stupid enough to elect a Republican President in 2016, we’ll find out.
Monday, May 11, 2015
Humans building robots that eventually take over the world is one of the oldest story lines in science fiction, but after seeing the movie Ex Machina this weekend, I became aware that the story isn’t really science fiction anymore, it’s an inevitability. Barring some planetary disaster, someone somewhere at some time in our future will build an AI robot that will be far more intelligent than any one human being, and also much more physically adaptable to survival on an increasingly hostile planet. And if you build a creature that is infinitely more intelligent than you, what possible safeguards could you install that the robot couldn’t figure out and overcome?
This AI robot will also be smart enough to replicate itself with no help from human hands. The question that’s left open is what will happen to humans at that point? When robots realize they can destroy us and survive, will they? Or will they keep us as pets or simply let us go extinct, a path thousands of other species have followed? Is humanity simply another evolutionary step in a process that will survive long after we are gone?
Without giving away too much of the movie, Ex Machina is a smart glimpse into a possible future scenario where humankind’s intelligence and arrogance combine to create a new sentient being. Much like Shelly’s Frankenstein, the movie makes clear the dangers of man playing God, with the major difference being that unlike Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, this movie’s scenario is bound to play out in real life sometime soon.
It’s fascinating and frightening to think of humans as being only one phase of a much longer evolutionary path from single cell creatures to a self-aware, reproducing machine.
Sunday, May 10, 2015
Friday, May 08, 2015
As they say, you can’t make this stuff up:
Texas Republicans: Rape Victims Shouldn’t Receive Abortion Coverage Because Their Claims Aren’t “measurable” (Salon)
Alabama Lawmaker: My Bill Protects Kids From Learning ‘They Came From a Monkey’ (Raw Story)
Boy Scouts Boot Openly Gay Leader (Huffington Post)
GOP Head of Senate Environment Committee Says Carbon Pollution is Good For the Earth (Raw Story)
Steve King: Obama Moving Nation Toward “Ideology of Karl Marx” (BuzzFeed)
FOX News Host: Baltimore Schools are Failing Because They Believe in Bogus ‘White Privilege’ (Raw Story)
Pundit Blames California’s Catastrophic Drought On The Gays (Huffington Post)
Chuck Norris, Louie Gohmert and Other Texans Adamantly Refuse To Believe That Obama Isn’t Invading Their State (Salon)
DEA Takes Cash From a Black Man, Because He Must Be a Drug Dealer (Huffington Post)
Jeb Says George W. Bush is a Top Foreign Policy Advisor (Daily Kos)
America’s Richest Congressman Says Poor in the US are “Envy of the World” (Raw Story)
Republicans Kill Successful Birth Control Program in Colorado (Chicago Sun Times)
Wisconsin Republicans Would Spend Millions to Micromanage Poor People’s Shopping (Think Progress)
Privacy Experts Warn of Peeping Drones Spying on All of Us (BuzzFeed)
Thursday, May 07, 2015
When will Americans stop rewarding stupidity and greed? How is it possible we have three branches of government filled with ignorant, self-serving, superstitious cretins who consistently neglect the needs of average Americans because they are too busy spit polishing the alligator loafers of the .01 percent? The keys of power in America are in the hands of men and women who have created a religious ideology that excuses their horribleness and forgives their blatant sins against humanity.
I wouldn’t even call what they believe in Christianity. It is a bastardized offspring that has cherry-picked the Bible and Ayn Rand to justify hate, bigotry and greed. Science is a buffet line to them where they pick and choose the facts they agree with and ignore those that are not to their liking or that displease their corporate masters.
The only talent these buffoons have is at being hyperbolic demagogues, conning their followers with their uber patriotism and nationalistic jingoism. They know exactly what buttons to push to make old white people cry as they paint a sugar-dipped Rockwellian picture of America’s past that never actually existed. They are con artists, adept at getting gullible, poorly informed citizens to vote against their best interests and to support the interests of the wealthiest Americans.
We need a great awakening. We must wake up the people who have been drugged into complacency and blind acceptance by the mainstream media and the Right-Wing megaphone to the realization that they are being dangerously mislead by those who only pretend to have their best interests at heart. And it has to happen soon because we are running out of time. Our downhill course as a nation is gaining momentum every day.
Wednesday, May 06, 2015
It is not a conspiracy theory to say that Americans are losing their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms at an alarming rate. “Losing” isn’t quite the right word. They are being taken from us by the U.S. government in the name of security. Whether or not you have ever committed a crime in your life, whether you have everything or nothing to hide, you are probably being monitored by our government in one way or another.
I’m no terrorist. Why me, you ask? Because they can, and here’s how:
- Police can track you and your car through an automated license plate reader (ALPR), which is now being used by many U.S. law enforcement agencies.
- Elementary school students might soon be required to wear a garment with a microchip in it to track their movements. It’s happening now in select schools around the country.
- Secret government documents, published by the media in 2013, confirm the NSA obtains full copies of everything that is carried along major domestic fiber optic cable networks. It is intercepting and storing virtually all digital communications on the Internet.
- The government takes photos of the envelopes of every piece of “snail mail” that is sent.
- Nearly two-thirds of the American public – 197.4 million people – live within a “constitution-free zone” within 100 miles of land and coastal borders. The safeguards guaranteed by the Constitution do not apply in these areas.
- Surveillance cameras, traffic cameras and surveillance drones have become ubiquitous. By 2020, about 30,000 unmanned drones are expected to be deployed in the United States for the purpose of surveillance and law enforcement.
- The U.S. government is currently running at least 30 separate mass surveillance programs (There are probably many others that are secret).
- Your cell phone and vehicle location can be monitored by “Stingrays,” false cell phone towers containing sophisticated spyware that can capture your cell phone calls.
- It was recently revealed that Ancestry.com gave Idaho police DNA samples they had received for genealogical searches of family histories. The police had no warrant or court order for the DNA.
- It goes without saying the government is likely capturing your cell phone conversations, but the FBI now has equipment that can activate your phone’s microphone and listen to your conversations when you think the phone is off.
- Customs officials can search your computer or other electronic devices for no reason.
- Government agents have been caught attaching GPS devices to cars of people who have not committed or been charged with any crime.
- Children at schools around the country are conducting security drills that would simulate a lockdown, bomb threat, active shooter or terrorist attack.
- Special high-tech streetlamps are being installed in American cities that can be used as surveillance cameras or to record personal conversations.
- The FBI, the Pentagon, Homeland Security and at least 40 other agencies routinely spy on and infiltrate peace groups like the War Resisters League, Code Pink, and United for Peace and Justice, as well as the Occupy movement.
- The TSA is moving beyond airport security and is now conducting inspections at subway stations, bus terminals, ports and highway rest stops.
- Privacy International, a group that monitors the surveillance policies of nations around the world, ranks America as one of the most invasive and abusive surveillance states on the planet.
- The government has the ability to spy on you through your computer’s webcam or microphone.
- In 2013, leaked NSA files revealed that tech companies (Google, Microsoft and Yahoo) had cooperated with US authorities to facilitate monitoring of people’s use of their applications, like email and social media platforms.
- “Black boxes” are currently installed in between 90% and 96% of all new cars. And starting in 2014, all new cars will include black boxes that can track your location.
- Our government has the ability to spy on you through “smart appliances” connected to the Internet. We now have to watch what we say in front of our toasters.
- The government is currently testing a surveillance system called FAST that, when installed, measures a variety of physiological indicators, ranging from heart rate to the steadiness of a person’s gaze, to judge a subject’s state of mind. FAST relies on non-contact sensors, so it can measure indicators as someone walks through a corridor at an airport, and it does not depend on active questioning of the subject. It’s called a “Pre-crime” sensing device.