Sunday, January 25, 2015

What Do American Football and Capitalism Have in Common?

American football is a very competitive fast-paced sport that incorporates aggression with complex planning, preparation, and strategy. Because of the nature of the competition it requires evolving rules and codes of conduct; and referees, boards and offices to enforce those rules and codes.

Players on the teams, seeking to maximize their economic value, seek to be "accomplished"; and the teams seek to win, again for economic value, and to satisfy complex human needs.

In the game of football, without rules and regulations, it is not inconceivable that chaos would ensue, on all levels, and the games would cease to exist in a season or two. Professional football would cease to be economically viable on the legitimate and "underground" markets.

Capitalism is a competitive economic system that incorporates assertive, confident behavior with planning, preparation, and strategy. Idealists postulate that through hard work and merit, exhibited by the individual or organization, success will be achieved. They also believe that capitalism is inhibited by rules and government regulations. Some go so far as to argue that government involvement forces out "private sector" participation.

The ugly truth of our "free" market system is that it would simply not exist as we know it without the presence of an active government that creates and maintains the rules and conditions that allow it to operate efficiently, anymore than football would exist without highly circumscribed detail and regulation.

Staying with football, last year there was much talk about the name of the Washington football team and the use of the name "Redskins". Though the term redskin most definitely could be construed to have pejorative connotations, somehow I feel that changing the name of the team will not improve the plight of America Indians, or improve the game of football, or significantly improve our country in any way. The New England Patriots haven't gotten any outrage over their name from anyone that I'm aware of.

We Americans tend to be reactive. Decades from now, if we continue to allow ourselves to be manipulated by Conservatives, and we are living with the effects of global warming, and it is apparent that we are killing the oceans and mankind in the process, nobody will give a damn if the Washington football team changed its name or not.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Why Congressman Patrick Murphy Withstood GOP Sweep


In the wake of the Republican tsunami nationally, many may find it surprising that Congressman Patrick Murphy, a Democrat, won reelection in a Republican leaning district, in a decidedly Red state. And he won the election by almost 20 points.

As a former registered Republican I, along with many voters in Florida's 18th district, recognized that Murphy, during his first term, put politics aside and worked across the aisle to accomplish many things for the benefit of our veterans, small businesses and the environment. He exhibited effective leadership through  keen focus and positive action. Though criticism is an essential part of policy, Murphy zeroed in on tangible plans of action.

I hope that others learn from this election and recognize that when an elected official represents his constituents, and essentially does what he is elected to do, without regard for political labels, he will get the support of the majority of the people he represents.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Somebody Get Obama A Cowboy Hat

Sources from the underground media are bringing to the surface "facts" that show that President Obama is running this country right off the range.

In a brazen attempt to arm the 99%, using a misconstrued interpretation of the Second Amendment, a secret committee is crafting a proposal aimed at a government funded gun give to provide every man, woman, and child, over the age of seven, with a gun of their choice.

It has also come to light that Obama's multi-faceted energy policy was instituted solely to undermine the Keystone Pipeline System by rendering it not economically viable, thus costing jobs and corporate profits. Hussein Obama betrayed his Arab brethren and brought down the price of gasoline solely for this purpose.

And, without much coverage from the lamestream media, Obama recently entered into a pact with Communist China regarding carbon omissions and global warming. Surely he must realize that this will directly impact the bottled water industry and cost jobs, or at least corporate profits.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Letter to Jim

Politics/History/Economics are all linked. Your education and genes have enabled you to have great evaluative powers and foresight. And they have given you the ability to live a good life regardless of the state of the current body politic. And that is what the financial aristocracy is counting on. The problem for  idealists like myself is how to communicate your keen observations and get people to listen and understand.

Your last communication dealt with the notion that liberalism is viewed by most as a pejorative term. And the notion of labels may be at the crux of why capitalism today has become analogous to Sherman's march to the sea. And those in the path appear stultified.

The fickle nature of labels allows idiots on the far right to justify anything by using them. The best illustration I can think of at this moment is the presidential election between Republican Teddy Roosevelt and Democrat Alton Parker. If the election occurred today I'm sure Fox News would be supporting Parker and I'm willing to bet that if you looked at an electoral college map Roosevelt's base would be remarkable similar to Obama's.

I think that the right's "bullying" is accepted by many- both men and women- as a sign of manhood, strength, as almost American. A much younger girlfriend told me that the current term is "swag". Perhaps people that view the world in a sane manner and have virtue, as a result of education, experience and breeding, should take a lesson from Teddy and begin to "speak softly and carry a big stick."

I also receive many robo-emails from Democratic PACs and organizations. I even got a few from Rick Scott as a result of a letter that someone in his staff misinterpreted. I recently responded to one from Debbie Wasserman-Schultz saying that I will not be donating in the near future, and, in the suggestion box commented that Dems should "grow a pair"! 

Right on, Jim!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Is the Tea Party Leading America into the Dark Ages? Rare essay by Will Poor and Lame

I think that there are many parallels between the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the current situation here in America. And looking at these parallels is not for the faint of heart. It is often accepted by historians that one of the major causes of the Dark Ages was the invasions by the barbarian hordes; and that the barbarians set in motion a reversal of centuries of learning and scientific investigation.

Like America today, forgive me Mr. Cruz and Ms. Palin, the situation was a little more complex. Over time as the Roman Empire grew and became more complex, those in power found it expedient to "dumb down" Roman citizenship so that the people didn't ask too many questions. And those who wanted to seize power in the outlying regions took it further as they realized that fear of a central government would give them power, and the more ignorance they encouraged, the more fear they could engender in the local populace before "rescuing" them from the barbarians by delivering them into a feudal system of organized exploitation and violence.

The stark difference between the fall of the Ancient Roman Empire and the America of today is a lack of understanding and a denial that this is happening. As long as people, on some level, believe the notion that they have the chance to join the ranks of the "book cookers and outsourcers", epitomized by leaders like Mitt Romney and Rick Scott, and that this is what the Founding Fathers envisioned, a myth perpetuated by the Tea Party, nothing will change. Enlightened people do not wish to be part of those ranks, but most of them are in Zen monasteries, hippie communes, or they live a quasi-bohemian life full of economic compromise as I do. Many people still believe the distortion that all people are responsible, in some way, for the injustices and misfortunes in their lives. And that is just plain bunk. In fact increasingly people are becoming expendable ciphers whose purpose is to serve the financial aristocracy. Tom Wolfe's A Man in Full explored this idea better that anything I can recall reading.

Whereas the burgeoning middle class played a role in the rise of the counterculture movement of the 60's, the Information Age, has facilitated the rise of the Tea Party and the entrenchment of America's economic aristocracy. This New Media Age, characterized by Facebook, Twitter, "Smart" Phones, and the Internet has a desensitizing and "dumbing down" effect on the population. People have shorter attention spans, read less, fail to comprehend cause and effect, and absolutely fail to comprehend the Big Picture.

Now this is ironic. A political philosopher stated over a century ago that "the production of too many useful things results in too many useless people." Technology though invaluable to what I do to pay the rent, does enable me, as well as many people and small businesses to do without the services of some people. This was not so decades ago. And the overall economy adjusts, and the money "saved" trickles upward.

Finally, the emergence of the global economy has all but ended patriotism- don't be fooled by flag waving and lapel pins- and international relations has become a red herring, for the most part. There is a New World Order but not the one the Tea Party rants about.

I remember a conversation with a friend some years ago where he expressed his frustration over the fact that, if he couldn't get his point across in a paragraph most people would not read what he had written. And this is a real problem for a civilized society. It is a problem that home schooling for profit education won't fix, nor will praying for self along with a big donation to the Church of the Sacred Bleeding Heart. It's going to require a change in values and seeing education as necessary for an enlightened society, as it was when I was a boy; not merely as a tool to try to become a millionaire.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Warren Buffett, Values, and Motives

As near as I can tell, the investment philosophy of Warren Buffett is based on inherent value, and on investing for the long term, notions that have been foreign to much of main stream Wall Street for a long time.

I truly believe that Mr. Buffett understands that life is difficult for middle class and working Americans. The lives of most Americans vacillate between being tedious and boring to being excruciating and frightening. But life has some really great moments and events which some way, somehow make it all worthwhile. I'm pretty sure that Mr. Buffett understands this. And I believe that this understanding is reflected in his investment philosophy.

I tried to muster some righteous indignation over the Burger King inversion, but looking at values and motives I cannot. Since the inversion is designed to strengthen (possibly save) the company, and make it more competitive for the long term,  it is a good thing. And if they bring Tim Horton's clam chowder to the States it is a very good thing and may produce a few great moments.

The verdict in the corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell illustrates this notion of values and motives in another way. The former governor's defense was predicated on the idea that his wife was responsible for all the high crimes, and that he was merely a victim, and had been separated from her for some time.

I personally believe that it is not my business, nor the public's business when it comes to what goes on between a husband and a wife, with the exception of outright abuse, regardless of who they are.

However, this man ran a campaign on family values. He claimed that his fundamental belief  in a Christian family made him a man in full and separated him from others. He intimated that his family should serve as a model. As a result of the trial, it is apparent that the values he actually holds, at best, illustrate his hypocrisy. And his motive, with hindsight, was to bamboozle the citizens of Virginia. When the chips were down he threw his wife under the proverbial bus. I guess, in this case, the Good Lord has decided to make Bob McDonnell pay for his sins.

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.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Is Capitalism Part of Human Nature?

All human beings have basic needs and complex needs. Doing what it takes to meet and satisfy those needs encompasses the spirit of capitalism. Whether through hard work and utilizing the "proper channels", whatever they may be according to the societal norms at that particular time in history, or through cunning and guile and even crime, humans practice capitalism.

The socialist experiment of the USSR failed because humans are human. It failed because the Soviet Socialist Republic practiced avid capitalism on the world markets, and in the black and gray markets that operated within its society.

Those that argue against welfare and entitlement programs, programs that strip humans of their incentives, have some merit to their arguments. However, holding those positions, they necessarily must be in favor of anti-trust legislation, labor laws, and higher wages, the lack of which also strips humans of their incentives. For, such a state doesn't resemble the free market capitalism they profess to hold in such high esteem anymore than the socialist state they profess to oppose.

Many, many years ago I attended a lecture by William Kunstler at Wesleyan. The one thing I remember from that lecture is Mr. Kunstler's emphatic statement that all healthy people desire to work and achieve.

One thing that is lost in the current politics of the day, is that because of wage stagnation coupled with drastically increased productivity which has led to a drastic increase in the concentration of wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer humans, some of the many working people must use "entitlement" programs, to "subsidize" their income, to satisfy their basic needs. And those that work and cannot satisfy their basic needs are stripped of their incentive.

Florida, a decidedly Red state under Republican Governor Scott, according to the numbers, has hardly recovered from the Great Recession. Florida's real unemployment rate is 11%. The number of people without health insurance is at 25.8%. And the foreclosure rate is among the highest in the nation. The few pockets of economic health in the state have Democratic leadership.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

This does not appear to be the case when it comes to the Republican members of the COTUS. Driven by, and most often in alignment with the right-wing media, characterized by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, they have morphed Congress into an antithetical "Ivory Tower". Only their tower is built from strip-mining tailings, the muck from oil spills, and fracking sludge.

They have passed very few meaningful bills. They point the finger at virtually everything, and are defined by unbridled obstinacy and opposition. When they do act it is almost always as a "lobbyist" for Big Business and specifically the fossil fuel industry.

Secretly, and out of media scrutiny, most, save the most delusional members of the Republican Party, acknowledge that global warming is real and that the economic impact to America in the future is beyond the comprehension of most people. They also acknowledge that income inequality represents a grave threat to our country, our economy, and, in time, will impact our national security. But they refuse to publicly acknowledge the gravity for fear of loosing the favor of their real employers.

So they "parrot" the empty angry words of the right-ring media. Driven by the words, they use their position to stymie the efforts of those American leaders that seek to make a positive difference, that seek to solve problems; leaders that deal with reality and science, not platitudes and arcane notions. They impede those leaders who are truly working to make America great for all its citizens.

And the "icons" of the right-wing media excuse themselves by stating that they are only speaking words, and the words are meant to entertain. And they have accrued great wealth speaking those empty angry words.

There is a new succession movement in a very poor rural part of California. Though the amount of taxes paid by this region is miniscule when compared with the rest of the state, they claim that they want more representation and freedom. Like the Tea Party candidate from Idaho, Greg Colletti, whose ten children were on Medicaid while he was denouncing the federal government and crying out loudly for freedom, what the secessionists really want is a bigger piece of the government pie. Like most Republicans, they want greater representation, greater access to power and government monies, with little or no taxation and no responsibility.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Did America's Founding Fathers Believe the World is Flat?

Of course they did not. Otherwise they would not have ventured forward, and our country would not exist.

The Tea Party is a minority in our country. Their very being is sustained and nurtured by hatred and fear, and characterized by selfish, self-centeredness. They use religion to deny science and reality. By using very selective interpretations of the Bible and US Constitution to serve their needs and ends, they claim faith and righteousness. And this state of self-delusion, they equate to freedom.

Yes, America is exceptional. And the Tea Party has every right to exist in this manner. But there is a line.

President Obama is a black man. As an old white guy, I cannot and will not pretend to imagine what it is like to be a black man in America. Yet with all the hatred and fear directed at him, he has remained "cool" and done an exceptional job given the resistance from the party that symbolizes itself with a coiled serpent. Kind of makes me believe that, in the universe, there is a power greater than man, and that power must be behind him.

The primary reason that the Tea Party has had the impact that it has had, is solely because it is conditionally supported by the plutocracy. With the rise of the global economy and the Information Age, characterized by rapid technological change, which, incidentally causes this old guy's head to spin, we are witnessing "domestic" imperialism. Because America cannot return to times prior to globalization and the Information Age, when most of the world was truly America's oyster, the middle class/working class has become the new third world.

I believe in the fates, furies, and God. We may be approaching the beginning of the oilman's last hoorah. With the undeniable existence of global warming and the noble movement towards alternative energy sources, the oilman's obsession with insane wealth and power is not beyond comprehension. Egging on flat-earthers, to achieve that end makes perfect sense. With the revelations about Rancher Bundy's huge federal welfare subsidies, akin to those of Big Oil, more and more common folk are going to realize that the world is not flat.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Heisenberg

Heisenberg, in addition to being the name of Walter White's alter ego in the television show Breaking Bad, was an actual 20th century scientist that formulated the uncertainty principle. Put simply, and using the uncertainty principle in the social sciences, the principle postulates that when a human being measures or evaluates something, the cognitive experiences of that human being will be reflected in the measurement or evaluation. The measurement or evaluation will be distorted due to that person's life experiences, ethics, values, and cognitive makeup.

In the political arena, when Rick Scott of Florida states that his parents had it rough, and he wants everyone to have the same opportunity he had, he is not lying. So to in the 2012 presidential election, when Mitt Romney stated that his grandparents had it rough, and he stated that he wanted everyone to have the same opportunity that he and his father had, in his mind, he was not lying. For both Scott and Romney, and most on the far right, everyone is the set of white Anglo-Saxon Christian males and their children. The set also includes- and they view this as proof of their newly acquired open-mindedness- the super rich and the race of people known as corporations. Anyone outside this set is irrelevant and expendable, and subject to subjugation by everyone inside the set to create opportunity.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Is Democracy Too Expensive and Ultimately Unaffordable?

The members of the Republican Tea Party Congress are doing any and everything that they possibly can to inhibit and dismantle the Federal government. They spin reality and the truth, and they utilize every possible procedural and legal loophole to stall and defund the Federal government. They rationalize and justify what they are doing by stating that the deficit must be resolved immediately, and that America can no longer afford to make investments in it's citizens at the current level. They believe that the quality of life, freedoms and economic opportunities that Americans have known for almost a century cannot be sustained.

Republican Tea Party controlled states feature the suppression of voting rights, extreme religious intolerance, suppression of a woman's constitutional right to an abortion, and extreme economic and social injustice. These almost feudal plutocracies make Putin's Russia look like a progressive wonderland. These freedom lands, ironically, partially are funded by the efforts, human energy, and taxes of the progressive states.

The real makers in America are the educators and educational institutions, the innovators and the inventors, the tradesmen, soldiers, and the American workers. The real takers are the New Derivative Thinkers on Wall Street, the raiders like Mitt Romney, who break-up and sell companies, move jobs overseas, destroy the lives of hard working Americans, and make the American taxpayers partially fund their obscene profits. The real takers are also the Private Sector Vampires epitomized by Rick Scott whose company committed Medicare and Medicaid fraud, while making him a multimillionaire. The real takers are also men like Rick Perry who conspired with UBS, to use the Texas teachers' pension fund in an attempt to profit from a gamble on how long teachers would live. The real takers are the leaders in the Red states that cause and enable all this to go on.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

America: A Tale of Two Cities

President Obama and the Progressives have stated that their number one goal for the remainder of Obama's term is to address the issue of wage disparity and income inequality. The presence of income inequality during the last three decades is indisputable and is not being challenged by anyone. Those on the far right, including Rand Paul and Eric Cantor, acknowledge that income inequality exists.

The real problem for our country is that those on the far right do not view this as a bad thing. However, they do view government measures designed to intercede, mediate, and reverse this, as a bad thing. When the government "spies" on people to thwart terrorism, protect intellectual property, or prosecute fraud and theft, it is evil. When Google does it, it is good business.

The far right ostensively is focused on deficit spending. However, they are not against deficit spending per say, when it benefits their constituency or serves their ends. They oppose deficit spending only when it is aimed at interceding, mediating and reversing income inequality. If it enriches the top 2%, which it has done for decades, it is a necessary evil. If it allows a minimum wage worker to feed his family, it is an unholy abomination.

Obama and the Progressives are pushing for a minimum wage hike. If accomplished, this will be a temporary fix. Initially it will provide a stimulus to the economy and provide benefits to the working poor and middle class. Inflation will follow. For a small minority of this sector, for the prudent, student loans and mortgages will be paid with "cheaper" dollars. For the majority of this segment of America it will be even harder then it is now. The cost of rents, food, and healthcare for the 99% will rise accordingly. And America will be one step closer to a Third World country.

As I have stated over and over again, the solution lies in a very progressive tax code and Keynesian economics. The presidencies of Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower attest to this truth. God save the middle class. Certainly the Tea Party won't. As a man in the "winter" of his life, I am able to manager a wry smile.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Santorum on Obamacare Revisited

"I am not a witch. I am not what they say. I am you."
Rick Santorum's most recent rambling on Obamacare was dismissed by critics as an unintelligible conspiracy theory, and idiotic. A closer examination of Santorum's explanation illustrates elements of his thought process and insights into the true objectives of the Tea Party.

He states that Margret Thatcher- a conservative icon- did not take on the British national health system. He continues, postulating that health care is free, regardless of who provides it, until you get sick. "Then if you get sick, and you don't get health care, you die and you don't vote." This was the condition for millions of Americans prior to Obamacare who, incidentally, tend to vote Democratic.

I am reading between the lines here, but, as they say, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. I believe that Santorum sees the remedy for Obamacare- and I cite his reference to Thatcher- as the acquisition of political power by the Tea Party. Once they take control they can "take care of people who can vote and people who can't vote, get rid of them as quickly as possible by not giving them the care so they can't vote against you. That's how it works."

This man ran for president. Then again, so did Pat Paulsen, but he was a lot more entertaining.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Naked (nearly) and Afraid in West Palm Beach

West Palm Beach, Florida is home to two ultra right-wing media groups: Newsmax and Rush Limbaugh. Both organizations have little substance and the inability to analyze events logically. Their "messages" are conveyed with well-worn talking points and platitudes. They evoke fear and then play upon that fear to manipulate their constituents, and reinforce the like-minded.  Ultimately, they are only concerned with the accumulation of wealth and power, and nothing else. It must be noted that Newsmax offers its subscribers tips on how to maximize their Social Security and also deal with Alzheimer's.

In this right-wing utopia, political corruption abounds, the foreclosure rate is among the highest in the nation, and there is a striking lack of "wage-compensated" jobs, with many working on commission, percentages, or tips, hoping to be compensated for their labor, after the fact. Pensions and benefits are as common as green eggs and ham.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has declined the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act to add another challenging element to the lives of working people. He also stifled a federally funded trans-state rail system that would have made it easier for people to commute to jobs. And, at the same time, he instituted harsh measures to restrict and inhibit unemployment insurance.

Whether man-made or not, it is getting warmer, a lot warmer. This further adds to the stress of residents. One hospital, along the I-95 corridor, advertises its ER wait time on billboards, and touts its competency in treating strokes. And homeowners' insurance is among the highest in the nation due to the ever increasing threat of hurricanes.

I have an acquaintance who sells real estate, on commission. He continually complains that there is a lack of middleclass housing on the market. He says that it is either multi-million dollar homes, with too much competition and too few buyers, or "starter" homes with low commissions and the near impossibility of arranging bank financing. He laments that he could make a good living if he just had a lot of buyers for 300-500K homes.

I have another friend who is a firefighter. He is replete with stories of gang violence and car crashes. We joke that it is the price we pay to live free, unimpeded by laws and regulations.

All things being what they are, with a stressed workforce, and the general quality of life, it is not surprising that innovative high-wage businesses are not born here, nor do they seek to relocate here, despite the lack of a state income tax.

Finally, I can't help but wonder why Mitt Romney would settle on the Left Coast in California, and not settle here in West Palm Beach, among the "fruits of his labor." On a positive note, because of the weather, you don't need much  in the way of clothing in this land of green eggs and ham.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Revelation of the October 2013 US Government Shutdown

As a youth in the 1960's, I developed a rather naïve impression of my fellow human beings. Television and newspapers painted a "wholesome" image of the American middleclass, of which I was surrounded by, and a part of. This was typified by the television program, Leave it to Beaver. It went with little saying, and seemed to hold true that if one accepted and practiced American values, life would be splendid. Though I was unaware at the time, in retrospect, I realize that I was young, inexperienced, and privileged.

Upon entering college in the 1970's, my perception began to change. The sanitized media that I was raised on, was replaced by the works of people like Jerry Rubin, Sinclair Lewis, films by Robert Altman and Stanley Kubrick, and the plays of Eugene O'Neill and Edward Albee, specifically Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf. Over the course of many years I was privy to the experience of many people who had participated in and made history.  I read many books. I came to the understanding that virtually all of the American heroes, and specifically politicians that I idolized as a youth, had another side, often dark, to their makeup. At some point I concluded that it was the role of government to keep this component of human nature in check, while nurturing, and not inhibiting, the positive and creative facets of human nature. And America the country, as many have noted including Lincoln; though imperfect- like the people that comprise our country- is the best political system to serve human beings and reach this end.

In October 2013, Tea Party Republicans shut down the American government to actualize their core principle that government is the enemy, and government hurts people and takes away freedoms. Quite the contrary, prior to the shutdown, it was the experience of most Americans, that when government is running smoothly and unimpeded by a radical minority, they hardly notice that it is there. The government shutdown did create a stark realization for many on how important the government is in their lives.

It appears that most people that have a great problem with all government- have a ulterior motive such as the acquisition of political power as in the case of the Tea Party- or more generally are people driven by their dark side- and seek to "buck" or "game" the system, practice fraud or theft, and remain immune from accountability and responsibility. This truth is forever etched in American history. Without the American government, after the great financial crash of 2008, unregulated capitalism would have destroyed itself.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Selfishness, Capitalism, and States' Rights

Republican thinkers are concerned with self and self-preservation at this point in history. From top to bottom their neo-Confederate behavior is for the optimization of themselves, and their immediate constituents and financial supporters, in that order. We're talking about wealth and power. And they fail to acknowledge that this behavior is detrimental to our country as a whole; and ironically will lead to the downfall of America the country.

Red states, on the whole, are poorer and receive far more in federal funds than they pay in federal taxes when contrasted with their blue state counterparts. Their understanding of economics is right out of Alice in Wonderland. Through "private sector vampirism", they seek to divert federal monies away from the needy and working poor into the coffers of the rich and powerful under the misnomer of privatization. Further they are quite content to allow blue states to "subsidize" their states, and profit from it.

The Tea Party Republicans, with the support of billionaires and global corporations, while adopting an MBA mentality, and under the guise of states' rights and freedom, are on a course to destroy America. Again, ironically, the billionaires, Wall Street, and the global corporations appear to be the only ones that can rein them in.

Cost-Effective Foreign Policy

There are many different costs when talking about foreign policy and war. There are human costs, that is, the lives of soldiers and civilians. There are monetary costs. These costs include opportunity costs. Monies that are spent on war could be used internally in our country to stimulate job growth, for research and development, and for education. There are also auxiliary costs that can be measured tangibly. These costs include the interruption of commerce and the global economy and the distribution of natural resources.

The most cost-effective foreign policy limits the exposure of human life, both military and civilian, to harm, uses the least amount of federal dollars to achieve the objective, and minimizes the amount of disruption to the global economy and the distribution of natural resources.

America has long been a forerunner in, among many other things,  technology, the art of information manipulation, and espionage. Though lacking in self-awareness, the Tea Party is fantastic at this stuff. We have the ability, in conjunction with our academic institutions and government agencies, to execute effective foreign policy by using our brains. We can win conflicts though negotiation, the manipulation of information, and the dissemination of propaganda; with force serving as the last resort.

Republicans should take note of this. Perhaps, Machiavelli should be required reading. Bombing and "boots on the ground" should be an option when we have exhausted other available options. Thinking people must be amused by knowing that Obama employed this maxim and accomplished what W. Bush- despite spending billions- failed to do: bring Bin Laden to justice.