Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Republicans rely on poorly informed voters to win office

The headline for an article at Campaign for America’s Future says it all: “Polling Irony: People Think the Economy is Rigged; Trust the GOP to Fix It.” While the economy is not in great shape, it’s better than it was when George Bush left office and the deficit is down two-thirds from 2008, yet voters are still under the impression that the economy is worse now than it was under Bush.

Apparently Americans have been in a coma for the past six years. They seem to have no understanding of what’s happened in Washington D.C., of the Republican obstructionists in Congress who did everything in their power to make sure the economy did not improve under Obama. They shut down the freaking government, yet voters still think they will fix our broken economy.

And why can’t the Democrats get the very simple, straightforward message across to voters that Republicans in Congress are to blame for our current economic stagnation? What is so difficult about that? The facts are the facts, yet candidates can’t seem to articulate this argument in a way that resonates with voters.

Then there is the failure of the mainstream media to provide voters with a true picture of what has transpired in Washington since Obama took office. Afraid to offend viewers and lose ratings share, the networks offer up a slushy “he said, she said” analysis of politics that avoids any truth that might be construed as partisan.

I have to admit that the Republicans hatched a brilliantly simple plan right after Obama was elected and it has worked to perfection: Wreck the economy and blame it on the President. They bet that fickle, poorly informed voters would focus their anger and frustration on Obama, not Congress, and, unfortunately, they were right.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The disastrous legacy of climate change deniers

Yesterday The Nation published a list of the ten top donors to climate change deniers in Congress. It’s the usual suspects we’ve come to expect, the Koch’s, Exxon Mobile, General Electric, and assorted other villains.

The thing about this that I find most troubling is the absolute disregard the people who authorize these donations have for their own families. They clearly don’t care that they are condemning their children and grandchildren and great grandchildren to lives on a dangerously toxic and unpredictable planet. Everything that we are just beginning to experience now — rising sea levels, severe temperatures, droughts, ever more powerful storms, species of animals dying off — will only increase as the years go by. The only conclusion a person can come to is that money is more important to them than their families.

Let’s say you own a home and you have it inspected. The inspector tells you that termites have been eating at the foundation of the house, and that if you don’t have them exterminated soon, the house will eventually collapse. If you’re Charles Koch, not only do you refuse to have the pests exterminated because it’s too expensive, you then give the damaged house to your children in your will. What kind of human being would do that?

It’s difficult to fathom such greed and callousness. These people didn’t get where they are by being gullible idiots, so it’s impossible for me to believe that they don’t know climate change is real. They are cynical capitalists who worship money over everything else. They have no allegiance to a country, a religion, an ideology or even their own family. Money is their god, and it’s destroying the planet.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Local Terrorist Cell Thwarted

MINNEAPOLIS, MN — Drones and police helicopters filled the night sky over the modest ranch house in a Minneapolis suburb. Two armored vehicles were parked at either end of the block and dozens of SWAT team members crouched behind trees and shrubs, weapons pointed at the home of Jim and Tina Blaylock. According to a neighbor who wished to remain anonymous, he alerted police to what he called suspicious behavior exhibited by the Blaylocks.

“They’ve had their curtains drawn for three days now,” said the neighbor. “I’ve always had my concerns about them. See that lawn sign? It’s for a Democrat. And they’ve got a bumper sticker on their car that reads, “Practice Tolerance.” Might as well be flying the ISIS flag.”

When the Blaylock’s failed to respond to calls from the commander of the SWAT team to exit the house, shock grenades and tear gas were thrown in.

“See that?” added the neighbor. “Those are some hardcore terrorist SOBs.

Several bursts of gunfire suddenly erupted, but the target turned out to be a Halloween decoration on the porch. The life-size scarecrow was wrestled to the ground and cuffed by team members after it failed to respond to repeated orders to show its hands, even though, as this reporter noted, it did not have hands.

As the battering ram was being prepared near the front door, a vehicle pulled up and stopped near the house. The man and woman exiting the car claimed to be the Blaylocks who said they had been out of town visiting relatives for the past three days. A member of the SWAT team, who later claimed he heard them shout, “Alahu Akbar,” shot Mr. Blaylock in the leg and knocked Mrs. Blaylock out with the butt of his rifle.

In a follow up to the incident, Homeland Security told the Star Tribune that Mr. Blaylock has been sent to GITMO and Mrs. Blaylock has been admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Nome, Alaska.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Secession? Maybe it’s not such a bad idea after all

Unfurl the banners. Sound the trumpets. Welcome to the Republic of Reagan, the world’s newest country. Comprising the former states of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, Reagan is dedicated to all that used to be good and beautiful about America — God, guns and guts. All white Christians are welcome. You others, there’s a line for you over there. Gays? Don’t bother. Here we wear our religion on our sleeves and our guns on our hips. All hail the Republic of Reagan.

This is the grandiose dream (nightmare?) of former Reagan aide Douglas MacKinnon who is promoting his new book, “The Secessionist States of America…the Blueprint for Creating a Traditionalist Country…Now.” Although MacKinnon insists the book is only an academic exercise, the dramatic and lengthy title alone leaves little doubt there is a lot of wishful thinking here. How hardcore traditionalist Christian would the new nation be? MacKinnon won’t allow Texas in because…immigrants. Perry and his minions will have to form their own country.

My response? I’m all for it. In fact, I wish it would happen. Despite the failures of boneheaded conservative economic and social policies instituted by the governors of Kansas and Wisconsin, voters in Red States still seem eager to hand Republicans the reins of government. Perhaps, just perhaps, if they witnessed the collapse of an entire country run by Republicans, it might start ringing some bells.

This is MacKinnon’s dream: In Reagan, everyone gets to carry a weapon anywhere. Christianity is the official religion. There’s no government welfare or safety net or social security and virtually all institutions and utilities are privately owned. Racism is condoned, being gay is illegal and women are second-class citizens. Only white males can vote or hold office. All media, from TV to movies to theatre, is strictly monitored and controlled by the central government. There are no unions, no minimum wage, no workplace safety rules, no food inspectors and no environmental protections. The government’s sole responsibility is the military, which is enormous.

Yes, it sounds like hell on earth, but this is what conservatives believe in. Let them have it. Give them the rope. Let them put their policies into action on a large scale so that the eventual crash is big enough, loud enough to wake up the slumbering masses. Some of you will claim that the above paragraph describes America today, but we’re not there, not yet at least, and perhaps the only way we won’t end up there is to allow conservatives to run their experiment somewhere else. Like the Republic of Reagan.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Unmasking Barack Obama

This is something of an addendum to Monday’s blog post as I find more and more people realizing that Barack Obama has been mislabeled, mischaracterized and misidentified. Not only is the President clearly not a socialist or Marxist, he’s not even a Liberal (although I understand all of these terms are synonymous to conservatives).

In an essay by former Reagan administration domestic policy advisor Bruce Bartlett in the American Conservative magazine, he asserts that Obama “has governed as a moderate conservative.” From an aggressive and brutish foreign policy to his crackdown on national security leaks to his fiscal policies, Bartlett correctly notes that the President’s actions (as opposed to his words) have been to the right of center in almost every case.

Progressives and liberals were duped by a man who sounded liberal on the campaign trail, but who has much more in common with the hawkish Hillary Clinton, and in some cases George Bush, than actual liberals like Alan Grayson, Dennis Kucinich or Elizabeth Warren. It’s late in the game, but people are finally starting to see past the rhetoric to the true Barack Obama, and it ain’t a pretty sight. Sorry, Mr. Krugman.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Our corporate media keeps Americans in the dark

There is fresh scientific evidence that the rate of global warming is accelerating faster than we imagined. A recent major study from New Scientists states that anthropogenic climate disruption (APD) is “worse than we thought” because it is happening “faster than we realized.” In other words, our failure as a global community to significantly reduce emissions of carbon dioxide is causing massive negative impacts on the air, water and earth of our planet.

Looking for good news? Don’t focus on the U.S. economy. Things are worse than most people realize. This article lays out the bad news in an easily digestible list. Just one of its tragic tidbits: According the New York Times, the “typical American household” is now worth 36 percent less than it was a decade ago.

This is real news that should greatly concern Americans, but what is the mainstream media focusing on? Ebola, a disease that has infected three U.S. citizens out of 317 million people. Is it a horrible, deadly disease? Yes. Should the average American be concerned about catching it? No. Does it make for blood curdling, alarmist headlines? Most definitely.

Once again the corporate media latches onto the latest shiny object while the real news is reported by a handful of liberal and progressive websites with limited readership. Americans are dangerously ill informed about what is really important, and that is by design. Reengineering to reduce toxic emissions will cost corporations a lot of money, even though doing nothing could cost us our planet. The callous indifference of the Koch’s and others to the damage they are causing is in my mind criminal and generations of future humans will pay the price. Same thing applies to the economy. Not doing anything about income equality and joblessness and the minimum wage means an escalating descent into the economic abyss of poverty and despair.

The question is: How long can the mainstream media keep the American people’s attention focused on the waterskiing squirrel and away from issues that really matter?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Krugman’s last ditch effort to save Obama is too little too late

In today’s Salon, Frank Rich writes a lengthy rebuttal to Paul Krugman’s odd and counterintuitive Rolling Stone article lavishing praise on Obama’s presidency. Rich was an enthusiastic supporter of the Senator from Illinois when he ran for the nation’s top office in 2008, and tried to hold on to it through Obama’s early years, but, like many on the Left, he had to eventually succumb to reality. Obama has been a great disappointment. For me, all of Rich’s arguments boil down to a simple fact: Obama is not a leader.

For all of his oratorical skills, Obama simply could not or would not back up his words with action. Unlike another great orator, Martin Luther King, Jr., Obama talked the talk but didn’t walk the walk. He didn’t lead the march or galvanize the community or put his personal safety on the line for his beliefs. His words were intended to inspire, but his actions were consistently weak and ineffectual. Maybe we’ll learn from some tell all book in the future that Obama was surrounded by advisors who gave consistently bad advice, but if Obama is one thing, he’s intelligent. It’s just hard to imagine the man meekly taking orders from others, orders that he knew were wrong or mistaken.

As Rich points out, Obama had a real opportunity to move this country in a new direction during his first years in office, but instead he hedged and hawed, instituted half-measures and continued hoping for bipartisanship long after that ship had sailed. For reasons that still baffle me, right from the beginning he surrounded himself with Washington and Wall Street insiders, men and women who had no interest in the “change” he talked about in his campaign, and the results bear that out.

Being President of the United States can’t be easy, and turning a ship as large as this country in a new direction has to be daunting. The point that Rich makes and that I have made in the past, is that Obama never really tried. He never challenged Republicans in any meaningful way, never went to the American people to garner support, never stood his ground and fought for what was clearly right.

Obama’s opportunities as President have slipped away, despite Krugman’s late attempt to inject some energy into his administration. If predictions about the mid-term election prove true, he won’t be able to get anything through Congress and the bright torch of hope that has been dimming over the past six years will be permanently extinguished.