Wednesday, October 07, 2015

How Does Your Ideological Team Stack Up?

Sports metaphors are used often in political commentary. “The race is neck and neck.” “Joe threw a hail Mary pass during the debate.” “Jane’s moved up to the big leagues in her new position at the White House.” What if we took the sports metaphor a step further and looked at the win/loss record for the two largest political factions in America — Liberals/Progressives and Conservatives. Just how have these two teams stacked up over say, the last 150 years of America history? Let's look at the record.

Civil War
Child Labor Laws
Workplace Safety Regulations
Women’s Right to Vote
The New Deal
Ending Jim Crow
Civil Rights Legislation
Ending the Vietnam War
Opposed Patriot Act that has led to the American Surveillance State
Long opposed to the War on Drugs that is now being recognized as a disaster
Knew starting wars in the Middle East was a terrible idea
Opposed austerity measures
Opposed privatizing Social Security

Wow, that’s quite a record. Over and over and over, conservatives have been on the wrong side of history. There are still major issues that the two sides are battling over right now, such as a woman’s right to an abortion, equal pay and rational gun control, but if the record is any indication, the outcome can be predicted.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

My Personal Top Ten Lists

I like lists. Everyone likes lists. So I decided to create my own personal lists. These aren’t lists of what movies or books or TV shows I think are objectively the best, but the ones that I personally like the best. That’s the fun of it, to see if we agree or disagree on our faves. So here we go.

Top Ten Movies

The Godfather 1 & 2
Silence of the Lambs
The Magnificent Seven
Crimes and Misdemeanors
Strangers on a Train
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
The Exorcist

Top Ten TV Shows

The Dick Van Dyke Show
The Sopranos
The Twilight Zone
Chicago Blue
I love Lucy
The Simpsons
Saturday Night Live (first ten years or so)
Mission Impossible
Star Trek

Top Ten Musical Groups/Musicians

The Beatles
The Rolling Stones
Jimi Hendrix
Led Zeppelin
James Brown
Neil Young
Stevie Ray Vaughn
Janice Joplin
Buddy Guy

Top Ten Books

The Catcher in the Rye
Skinny Legs and All
The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Huckleberry Finn
White Noise
The Divine Comedy
The Name of the Rose
Invisible Man
The stories of Edgar Allen Poe
Gone Girl

Top Ten Websites

The Huffington Post
Boing Boing
That’s Going Too Far!
Daily Kos

Thursday, October 01, 2015

The Corrupt, Dysfunctional Mess We Call the Federal Government

A Salon headline asks, “The Secret Service’s Mind-blowing Abuse of Power: Why do Government Agencies Keep Spying on Lawmakers?” The article focuses on a report from Homeland Security detailing how Secret Service employees hacked into private databases in an effort to find and leak intimidating and embarrassing information about a vocal critic of the agency, Chair of the House Oversight Committee Jason Chavetz.

The answer to Salon’s headline question is very simple, government agencies spy on lawmakers to intimidate them and keep the money pipeline flowing into their agencies’ coffers. It’s a form of blackmail, and it works extremely well. Despite the occasional outburst of indignation when the spooks get publically caught with their hand in the cookie jar, the system in place to keep elected officials quiet and generous runs smoothly. Heck, no one even knows exactly how much money Congress gives our surveillance agencies because it’s all top secret, you understand.

Everyone has skeletons in their closets and, if you’re a Congressperson, you are acutely aware that the NSA, CIA, Secret Service and other organizations have access to every detail of your past, and won’t be afraid to reveal it if necessary. So, when funding time rolls around, you’re more than happy to give our spies whatever they desire.

This is definitely not the type of check and balance our forefathers had in mind.  In fact, they would be appalled at what only nominally passes for a federal government in the United States. The Supreme Court is in the clutches of partisan ideologues beholden to the one percent, the executive branch (since George Bush) has given itself unprecedented powers to wage war any damn place it wants and murder anyone it pleases, and Congress is a dysfunctional mental asylum made up of half-wits and demagogues who are the property of America’s billionaires.

The “why” in the Salon headline is simple to answer, but the “how,” as in how do we fix the corrupt mess we call our government, is nearly impossible to answer without some very drastic changes.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Dark Side of Contract to Hire

I don’t often blog about myself, I don’t want to drive away the few readers I have, but a recent experience of mine deserves some attention.

At the beginning of June I was hired by a small company as a senior copywriter. The latest trend in hiring, at least here in California, is to bring someone on under a contract lasting usually three or six months. During the contract period, you receive no benefits or regular employee privileges. You’re essentially a freelancer. I was hired on a three-month contract basis and was paid a straight hourly salary with the carrot that I could be hired as an employee once my contract was up.

From a company perspective, the line is that hiring a person under contract allows them to see if the employee is a good fit before investing money in that person through benefits. That sounds logical, but there’s a darker side to contract work.

The opportunity for companies to abuse this process is great and works only in the organization’s favor. When I was hired in June, the company was in the middle of redoing their website. For two-and-a-half months I worked daily on copy for their website then, when the majority of the site was finished, I was told there wasn’t enough work to keep me on.  Ironically, my boss told me she had gone through a similar experience of being hired on contract by a company, did a buttload of work for them, and was then let go before her contract was up.

Like my boss, I was brought on to do a particular task, then let go before any benefits were issued.  So I was essentially a fee-lancer, although under stricter control than I would be with that title. The problem is that the pretense was that I would probably be hired full-time at the end of the contract. Of course, I wasn’t.

The bottom line is that companies are exploiting talent at all levels of experience using the contract process to get work done without having to pay for benefits. In my opinion, this is one result of the weakening of unions over the past thirty years. Companies can and do get away with exploiting employees because we are powerless to do anything about it. It’s become an environment where the Koch Brothers and Walton’s have the upper hand, and workers are left holding the bag. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Crazy, Creepy Cruz Wants to Arrest Obama

We certainly have to present Ted Cruz the “Republican-Presidential-Candidates-Saying-Stupid-Shit” award for this week.  Speaking to an equally vile crowd of cretins at something called the Values Voter Summit this morning, Cruz said Obama was “The world’s most powerful communist,” and called for the President’s arrest. And he didn’t stop there. He said that if he were elected President, he would tear the Iran Nuclear deal to shreds and would consider assassinating Iran’s leading ayatollah. And, of course, he got standing ovations.

Anyone who thinks Ted Cruz is presidential material (or any of the Republicans running for office) needs to be given a lobotomy and a box of crayons. They should under no circumstances be allowed to vote. They are not capable of reasoning or thinking rationally and are a true threat to what’s left of our democracy. Cruz is a crazy Christian tool of the elites who wants to help turn this country into Mordor for his masters’ sick enjoyment.

Where’s the mainstream media’s outrage at such traitorous talk? If the media is as liberal as people like Cruz claim it is, where’s the blistering take down of his mind-numbing stupidity? In reality, the media loves the traveling circus of Republican presidential candidates. Public figures making idiotic statements apparently has huge entertainment value in America, and the Republicans never disappoint.

Creepy Cruz is an ugly, hateful piece of work who apparently feels that the citizens of this country hate democracy and the Constitution as much as he does. The irony is that he yearns for the same type of theocracy that exists in Iran, where religious dogma overrules reason and freedom.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Jeb Tries to Re-write Family History During the Debate

I didn’t watch last night’s Republican debate, and if you did you have my condolences, but there are enough recaps floating around that the stomach-churning, mind-numbing, soul-killing essence of the event is fairly evident. The one statement from the debate that jumped out at me wasn’t from the Donald oddly enough, but from Jeb Bush. In response to a Trump jab about brother George’s disastrous presidency, Jeb huffed and puffed and told the billionaire huckster that his older sibling “kept America safe.”

George Bush kept America safe. Okay. On what planet is that true? Certainly not this one. As I remember, and let me know if I have this wrong, the worst terrorist attack in America’s history happened during George Bush’s watch. His administration ignored numerous warnings that an attack against us was likely, and then lied about that after the fact. He then used the attack as a pretext to set the Middle East on fire and attack a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. In addition to all of this, his lackadaisical response to hurricane Katrina was a disaster on top of a disaster.

Whether historians place GW at, or a name or two away from, the top of the “Worst American Presidents” list, no one other than immediate family will ever say or believe that George Bush kept this country safe. His wars in the Middle East greatly intensified anti-American feelings in that region and around the world, placing us at a much greater risk of another attack. His invasion of Iraq is considered an 8.0 on the Richter Scale of international policy blunders by virtually everyone on the planet except Dick Cheney and brother Jeb. Bush’s presidency was a disaster for America, and its ramifications – the creation of a totally unconstitutional police/surveillance state – live on like a monster that can’t be destroyed.

Let’s be honest, the problem isn’t just with George W. The entire Bush clan, from Prescott to George H. W. to GW to Jeb to the lesser known Marvin, have consistently pushed an undemocratic, elitist agenda that is in stark contrast to the democratic ideals on which this country was founded. Prescott Bush was a member of a group of elitists during the thirties who wanted to overthrow the government and institute a fascist state, and the Bush apples haven’t fallen very far from the tree.

Jeb can lie to himself about his brother if he wants, but the rest of us have to keep setting the record straight until the lie dies a quiet death.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Fourteen Years Without Justice

As we spend another 9/11 remembering the horrible death and destruction of that morning 14 years ago, it’s also important to call attention to the ever growing body of evidence that disputes the official narrative of that day’s events. I am more convinced than ever that 9/11 was carried out by a faction of neoconservatives inside and outside of Washington, D.C., headed by Dick Cheney, who needed a pretext to send the U.S. military into the Middle East to secure oil fields and facilities and dispose of Saddam Hussein.

For those of you who still find that assertion shocking, all I can do is urge you to study the evidence presented on various 9/11 Truth websites, especially Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth and Pilots for 9/11 Truth. There you will find experts in their respective fields presenting compelling, and in some cases, irrefutable evidence that the 9/11 Commission’s official report is deeply flawed and inaccurate. The report, you’ll learn, was a sham, conducted not to learn the truth, but to reinforce a pre-drawn conclusion supplied by Bush and Cheney. Its assertions were so spurious and contrived that even former members of the commission today admit it got a whole lot of things wrong.

The question that many people have about 9/11 is how could American’s do such a horrible thing to other Americans? How could they possibly live with themselves after murdering 3,000 innocent people? It’s not a mystery to me at all. They believed what they were doing was right and necessary. In their deluded worldview, expounded on in the 1997 report Rebuilding America’s Defenses, taking out unfriendly Middle East rulers and seizing their oil was a neocon (and Israeli) top priority, but they knew the American people would not support an unprovoked invasion, so they needed a new Pearl Harbor, and they created one. They had to create an incident so horrible, so stigmatizing that the Americans would demand military action. Killing thousands of Americans and attacking the Pentagon did the trick.

As we all know, the neocons who were so successful in starting a war had no idea what to do once we got there or how our actions would impact the larger region. Our occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan proved to be a disaster that Cheney and other criminals are now trying to blame on Obama. Instead of spending their life behind bars where they belong, Cheney and his cronies are being hosted on talk shows and treated like political wise men. 

The truth is, 9/11 was an inside job and the criminals who committed the crime of the new century are still at large. That’s what this day should be significant for.