Sunday, July 27, 2014

Hey, Sarah Palin, Whom Did You Kill?

A few readers may remember the rifle sights imposed over the faces of political leaders on Sarah's
website a few years back and the subsequent shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords, a federal judge, and members of her staff. These were political leaders that Sarah in her infinite wisdom, deemed too liberal.

Well, dear Sarah has pulled the metaphorical trigger again only this time it is random shots at the entire American public. She seems to forget that as a public figure, one that refuses to fade away, and one that most assuredly is the source of many a nightmare for John McCain and his former staffers, she has an impact on the misguided and the uninformed.

She recently stated after receiving a speeding ticket in her home state of Alaska, that she was not speeding, she was qualifying, making reference to NASCAR. Implicit in her statement is the notion that laws, including speed limits, are bad and should not be obeyed. With our current Culture of Media I wonder how many misguided young people will ignore speed limits and kill or harm themselves or innocent bystanders, because they are "qualifying". I wonder how many urban cowboys will "race" home from the local bar and not make the finish line. And I won't even get into the increases in auto insurance rates for local communities.

Four years ago when I started writing the political posts for this website, I received a critique from the founder of the Commonweal Institute. She told me that I should tone down the rants so as to sway those people that will consider, or at least look at, my arguments and point-of-view. Over the course of the four years my truths and positions have shifted moderately. And at times I have tried to lighten up on the harsh criticism.

However, I truly believe that the entire Republican Tea Party, Sarah included, is almost pathological and that no argument or fact can change them.  The only remedy for our country is to get them out and keep them out of positions of power.

Climate change deniers are now using a familiar talking point to support their position. They merely respond to questions about climate change by stating that they are not scientists. This is perplexing to me as many of the deniers are on the Congressional Science Committee. Most Tea Party members of Congress are not doctors either. When they have a ailment, they go to doctors for analysis and treatment. When they or one of their family members or loved ones is diagnosed with a serious illness, I'm sure they do not tell the doctor that it is balderdash and that they are not doctors!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Tea Party Fiddles While America Burns

The saying, "Nero fiddled while Rome Burned" makes reference to the Roman Emperor Nero who in actuality was not playing the fiddle while Rome was burning. Ancient Rome did not even have "fiddles". Nero actually was performing in a play. He was acting on a stage, while Rome was burning.

I believe the actions of the Tea Party officials in our Congress, both in the House and Senate, strongly parallel the actions of Nero.

This week, three of the most successful and wealthy America businessmen, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Sheldon Adelson, three billionaires with divergent political views, got together and collaborated on an op-ed piece for the New York Times. In the piece these Job Creators chastised members of the US Congress for shirking their responsibilities and not doing the job they were hired for. The focus of the article was on the implementation of immigration policy, and the three wise men reiterated that all parties are very close to agreement in terms of policy and solution; and that it is wrong to do nothing and sabotage progress for political gain.

Like the right-wing commentators they model themselves after, Tea Party politicians make for great theater. But like the entertainers they emulate, they lack substance and are ineffectual on their own. It is shameful and disgraceful that they use their jobs, not to enact laws and carry out America's business, but rather for self-promotion, to pander to their base, and for profit. And while the Tea Party officials do all this America is burning.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Rise and Decline of the Middle Class

My first "real" job out of college was working for a plastics manufacturing corporation located in Manchester, Connecticut. One of my managers was an organization specialist from Gent, Belgium. During the course of one long conversation he explained to me how America had benefited from World War Two. He told me that as a result of the war, the manufacturing capabilities of the entire world had been wiped out. From England, to the rest of Europe, and from Russia to Japan, factories were in ruins. After the war, if you wanted to buy a toaster, you had to buy American.

This one factor greatly stimulated the expansion of the middle class. Coupled with the array of social programs and "safety nets" that were instituted decades earlier by the American government as a result of the Great Depression, as well as the ensuing baby boom, the American middle class grew and prospered.

My conversation with Abe was in the early 1980's, during a recession, much milder than our most recent one. Abe warned me that the rest of the world had rebuilt their factories since the war. They had "modernized", and were in an advantageous position to compete with American manufacturing, which had not, modernized that is.

Decades have passed since my conversation with Abe. There has been a revolution of technology and information. New products have been designed and new factories have been built. Though most great inventions are born in the United States, more often then not as a result of subsidies from America taxpayers, manufacturing and distribution continues to be relegated to the rest of the world. And this is a result of politics and business practices, and has nothing to do with modernization.  Remember that Henry Ford realized it was good business to pay employees enough to buy the products they built.

Ironically, or maybe not so, the Counterculture of the 60's and 70's was primarily comprised of baby boomers, a product of the thriving middle class. Despite the many defects of the movement, it caused indelible changes to our societal structure in the realm of civil rights, sexual mores, women's rights, and our attitudes towards war. One of the factors that ended the Counterculture movement, and at the same time cemented in place many of the "causes" and social issues fostered by the movement, were the actions of Patty Hearst and those of the Mansion family. The establishment through compromise and change, and a sort of "bringing into the fold", absorbed positive elements of the movement and, at the same time, condemned and ended the violence.

The middle class, a source of change in recent American history, is rapidly declining. And much of the progress is being undone. Perhaps this is why the Republicans and the financial aristocracy are doing everything they can to destroy it.