Friday, October 29, 2010

Oh go, oh go Emmanuel

What does it say when the Chief of Staff of the President of the United States of America resigns his post as leading adviser to the leader of the free world to take a shot at becoming mayor of the city of Chicago?

Who did Rahm Emmanuel serve?  Not the President of the United States, not for long (although his influence in getting the Bland One elected to that office cannot be underestimated).

Not the citizens of the United States of America, a far more vast constituency than the citizens of the City of Chicago.

He has about the same staying power of public service as Sarah Palin.  This is not a compliment, lest you find any ambiguity to the comment.

Whose interests will Rahm Emmanuel be serving should he (forbid it almighty God) become Mayor of the City of Chicago?  Most definetly NOT the interest of Chicagoans.  Most assuredly the interests (the power interests) of Rahm Emmanuel and the money interests of his wealth, powerful, power-elite cronies.  Only them, and no one more.

As much as I did not like Carl Rove, you cannot deny that he served at his Presidents pleasure for entirety of his deployment as George W. Bush's Chief of Staff.  And, from all I have read, in his own mind, he was serving the interests of HIS vision of the United States: the monied and corporate elites, and God's Own Party.  To this extent, Rove was as far greater patriot than Rahm Emmanuel would know how to be.  And to this extent, he is worthy of being credited.  (Argue me all you wish about his policies and tactics, I would probably agree with you on any negative point you would care to make).

The verdict is clear.  Rahm Emmanuel must NEVER be allowed to rule the kingdom of Chicago. NEVER.

Anti-Emmanuel campaign sound bites:
Serving the monied few;
Serving the politically corrupt;
Serving corporate power;
Serving no one's interests but his own.
Those and those alone will he serve.

A disgrace of a citizen of the U.S.

The simplest thing in the world ought to be to bleed his $8,000,000 campaign chest dry.

Coalesce the Hispanic, Black, Ukranian, Irish, Polish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, and Middle-East, Roman Catholic, and mainline Christian communities.  Make realistic promises to allow them all to share proportionately of the pie.

Observe, orient, decide, act.  Act decisively; Act fearlessly; Make no promises you do not keep. It ought to be possible to make Emmanuel a cipher by November 1, one year hence.  ALL that he has going for him is the dirt he has on the other challengers to the office, and money, money, money, lots of money.

But folks, all my dear Chicago friends.  Teach money that it cannot buy this election.  Send a message.  Shout it from the top of the Sears Tower.  Make it heard in Washington D.C., in New York City, in Los Angeles, California, in Houston Texas,  in Miami Florida.  ALL they have is the money.  The people have to vote; they people have to power; may the people will be done, here on earth, so they will smile in Heaven.

Democracy is coming, to the U.S.A.

The Chicago mayoral election could potentially set democracy in the U.S.A. ahead by 200 years, on par with the democracies of South America.  It could be, it can me, it well ought to be, seismic.

And in point of fact, there is a candidate who has been a politcal servant for much of his adult life: Jery J. Chico.  I'd also consider Carole Mosely Braun, but what I find immensely attractive about having Chico as Chicago's mayor would be able to claim the significant distinctions of having had a Black mayor, a woman mayor, and an Hispanic mayor.  And that sounds like one hell of a melting pot to me.

Time to quit taking the scrap tossed down from the table, and to take your rightful place as the one who slices and serves main meal.  Best of luck Jery Chico.  You have my support.

Widespread delusion and chronic terror

"The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it."  -- Edward Dowling

Edward Dowling

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Will be out of town from Friday - Monday, Nov 1

If the place where me and 12 other cousins, 8 cousin spices (spouses), one aunt and two uncles offers FREE internet connection, I'll try to post.

We're off to Iowa to have a commemorative burial of my aunt's ashes (the twins, Cotty and Lyn) whose birthday is October 30 at the Livingston Cemetery.

The twins had so much in common - double wedding ceremony, both bought grandma Verna the same Christmas present one year, and they died in the same year, just months apart.

My memories of these aunts are all good, the times the cousins spent visiting over the summers - the Seattle - Chicago - Baton Rouge connection, being in high school in the 60's, in the summer of 67 in particular.  It's all good.

Thanks to all for making this happen.

May God continue to bless us and may we be alive and attuned to those blessings.

Blog posting will likely be very sparse in the best case scenario.  Hell, in the BEST case scenario, it will be non-existent.

This shoulda been done lnog ago

Chicago Sun Times headline boldly proclaims

Police raise minimum age to 25 for new recruits

Department will give preference to military veterans

Back in the day when I was getting arrested about every other week, my favorite Barrington police officer Sgt. Larry Benson suggested that I had upset some very influential people in town. It was he who was tasked with arresting me for the third time out of the now defuct Touche's Bar & Restuarant.  And he did it all by himself (the first time, there were two plain-clothes officers at the bar with me, and a phone call came to one of the waitresses advising her that there were three squad cars outside and to tell me about this).  The bar manager asked me what she could do.  I deliberately took off my rings and things, my belt, my shoe laces, lighter and pocket knife and asked if she could hold them until my return, which in fact did come to pass.

But on this night with Sgt. Benson, he took the mission for himself. He even asked if there was anything I wanted. "Would it be possible to cuff me in front, please?"  And he obliged.

Riding over to the police station, just two blocks away (do you think after the second arrest / detention I might have figured out there were OTHER places to drink? - slow learner; VERY slow learner), Larry went on further, "I have a few beers, I carry a gun. If my wife wanted to, she could have me committed."

Larry was a little older than I was.  He had served in Vietnam, had seen combat duty, had been promoted to sergeant and bucked back to private on two occasions, as I recall it (it's my story, I'll make up my own facts, thank you very much).  He had observed me enough to know that I was not going to get violent.  He explained to me about the three types of drunks (cop's perspective - probably right on all counts):  the lover, the sleeper and the fighter.  Well, I'd suggest that we drunks, depending upon various circumstances, could fall into any one of those modalities.  But that one was primary - my primary modality was lover; sleeper secondary; figher, tertiary.

WELL, YEAH, don't you think a cop should have military training?  I do.  And I don't want some 22 year old kid out of college who's learned all he knows from books.  I want a human being, who's had some experiences, and who understands that people will react to you as you are inclined to react to them.

It's the old gold retold:  Do not do unto others that which you would not have done unto yourself.

Needless to say, a cop like Larry was not long for that job, in my little town.

That's a lot of sh*t

The Chicago Sun Times drolly reports on developments in the tubeless toilet paper world:

Kimberley-Clark .. estimates that the 17 billion toilet-paper tubes produced every year in the United States account for 160 million pounds of trash and would stretch more than a million miles if placed end-to-end. That's from here to the moon and back -- twice.
Based on the U.S. estimated population of 310,585,000  that comes to an average of  54.74 rolls of toilet paper per person per year.

There are, of course, other ways of expressing the same thing, such as ... a little more than one roll per week.

"Will that be single ply or double ply, sir?"

How exactly does one win an election?

By receiving more votes than your opponents - unless, that is, win the most votes for Lt. Governor, then, when "the party" says, shanks but no thanks - we want another - this is a subversion and a perversion of the democratic primary structures entrenched in our Republic.

Think, oh, I don't know ... Joe Leiberman ... ok, lose the democratic primary fair and square, and then say, "This is not acceptable" and run independent.

And have the entire democratic party good ole' boyz (and girlz) club - the incumbents club, let you keep the chairmanship of your committees.

That kind of shit gets real stinky, and real old, real soon.

Who needs the democratic party?

The Tea Partiers don't really need the republican party in all its present manifestations either.

That's exactly WHY the Tea Party got formed - to elect officials who would be responsive to their will.

And the entrenched incumbents ... well, they all ought to be sh*tting bricks now. 

Yo, incumbents ... you ain't so safe as you once might have thought you was.  And you might not ever get elected again.

Not to feel sorry for them - they can always go and become lobbyists, making WAY more money than they ever did as a congress critter (think Tom Daschle).

Or, have the supreme court appoint you 5-4.

Wasn't life simpler in the golden olden days when it was possible to buy into political office?

But then again, as long as the New York Yankees can't buy a world series every year, then my American dream that I can grow out to be president can be kept alive.  President, that is, of bug house square.

President of ME.

That's an imposing enough gig right there.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I'm voting for Joe Walsh for congress

Barrington's Home Town Barber Shop is a hot bed of local political talk.  Today I met Joe Walsh who is running for Congress.  I told him, truthfully, that he is one of the few candidates I was going to vote for, but that mine was an ABBB vote (AnyBody But Bean).  The more he talked, we talked, and everybody talked, the more impressed I became.  I proudly admitted that while I was no liberal, I am proudly one of the town's few token FDR democrats, but that in truth, I am a political radical - in the sense that I first read the term as described by Howard Zinn:

A political radical (per Zinn) believes in the transformative power of democracy - the power to transform the will of the people onto their duly elected representatives in order that these representatives represent their constituents' interests (rather than the far narrower interests of the wealthy and corporate elites).  They need not always vote for legislation that I personally would like to have enacted, but at least they will be able to explain to me why they didn't, and to make me believe that they voted as they voted based on their convictions.  If they can convince me that is what they are doing, and that they are willing to risk being voted out of office the next time, well, that is strength of character.
He and I might disagree on some (or many) things, but it is clear that we can discuss this differences respectfully, forthrightly, honestly, and civilly, and too that we can undoubtedly find common cause in a number of important areas.

And we have had a paucity of such elected officials for far too long.

I'm in, Joe.  And WHEN (not if) you win, you will have two years to show me that you will serve the interests of your constituents, I will keep voting for you and keep supporting you.

And I ask all my readers in this congressional district to do the same.

Part Tinker Bell - Our Fantasy of the Presidency

This blog post by Phil Rockstroh hands down takes the award for most lyrically written analysis of American politics I've encountered. To fully appreciate it, to savor it, read it in full. Employing an over-used baseball metaphor, Phil literally launches one out of the ballpark, straightaway, over center-field.  Pay careful attention, because this IS how the system (presently) operates, although, this ain't what you would call a "working" system, except that it is working for the few, against the many:

The devices employed in US election cycles and its national politics, in general, are akin to the dramatic conventions of children’s theatre. Every two to four years, voters are instructed to clap their hands and believe in Tinker Bell ...  But behind the stagecraft is oligarchy. President Obama took millions from Goldman Sachs, et al. If there is a Captain Hook in this show, it is those Wall Street pirates who threw the global economy to the crocodiles for their ill-gotten gains.
 And EVERYBODY in the country knows it.  The decision to bail out the banksters ought to have turned even the kool-aid drinking Obama supporters into skeptics. It helped to create the impetus for the Tea Party.

How about learning one from the Gipper:

Of course, this is a tired, old show, riddled with shopworn devices, performed by a rotating cast of hacks. Ronald Reagan set the fool’s gold standard of a president playacting the role of populist, matinee hero — Clinton, Bush, and Obama all learned from him — as, all the while, he, in reality, went about the business of protecting and enhancing the holdings of the moneyed elite.
 In Reagan’s case, this con game was both an act of inspired career advancement and banal casuistry. Reagan, b-grade actor that he was, was never deep enough to harbor any belief he wasn’t paid to evince. By professional necessity, he convinced himself he believed those bright and shining lies and polished platitudes he pitched to a public of credulous marks; for this is the mode of mind of effective salesmen and good showmen  … having the ability to conflate shallow self interest with the good of all.
 Such self-deception — played out as public legerdemain and state stagecraft — is now the modus operandi of media age presidencies. The effect of this transformation, from executive gravitas to virtual playacting, has been somewhat less than salubrious for the health of the republic...
 Listen my children, and you shall hear, of the truth that blinds as we get f#cked in the rear:

Thus far, Obama’s role has been to front the status quo. Whose interest do you think he had in mind when he picked Larry Summers and Tim Geithner as his top economic advisors? ...

Presidents, as is the case with all people, internalize the social and cultural architecture of their times. Reagan, the actor, had to find a way to believe what movie industry scriptwriters and film directors wanted from him insofar as the creation of character — and, during the cold war and McCarthy era witchhunts, when G.E. and other defense industry giants started writing his checks (after his movie career died a lackluster death) he performed his role as resolute cold warrior as requested. And he, as has every president since, became a shill and enabler of the national security state.
 And the not-so-shocking "transformation" of Barack Obama - from the great oratorical hope to just another corporate-shilling mope - ought that to have surprised anyone with eyes to see or ears to hear?

Barack Obama’s transformation from progressive hope-monger to status quo water-carrier should not come as a shock. It would be nearly impossible for the US populace, chief executives included, not to have internalized the tenets of the corporate capitalist/consumer empire. This corporate structure is as pervasive internally as it is extant. It exists as both outer architecture and inner psychological imprinting. Therefore, corporatism is as real to us as the deep forests and its woodland gods were to European pagans and The Church and its dogma was to the peasants of the Dark and Middle Ages.
 Is anyone else ought there feeling hopeless?  Just a tad, perhaps?  I'm not, although I'm also not particularly hopeful.

The circumstances of the present era, like the ancient belief in the acts of self-involved gods whose doings were heedless to the fate of mere mortals, are larger than us and will not cede to our demands to behave with compassion or even sanity. To name but one example: The earth’s oceans are suffering, many oceanographers say dying, due to the death cult calculus of runaway capitalism. In essence, we are confronted by a situation in which we experience abject powerlessness. An aura of unease and anomie prevails.
The transformation of Reagan, the avuncular old guy who got shot (effectively ceding the running of the country to the disparate tripartite group of George H.W. Bush, Jim Baker, and Nancy Reagan) into saint, perhaps even god-like creature has been astounding:

This unease contributes to a desperate fantasy of the presidency as deus ex machina. The right’s deification of Reagan cast the fantasy into the realm of bughouse raving: The dead president as savor zombie. The belief that Ronald Reagan brought down the Soviet Union with 1940’s era movie jibes and bromides is such a preposterous fantasy … that it evokes one of my own: Ronald Reagan, endlessly imprisoned in a soundbite loop in Hell, throwing back his shoulders, doing that portrayal of manly resolve he wore out during his time in office … then bandying into the indifference of eternity, this variation of his patented platitude, “Mr. Devil, tear down this wall of fire.”
And of course, the damnable democrats, those feckless flacks full of lick-spittle, who would not recognize a principled stand if it up and bit them on the lip, they have internalized all this, becoming bought and sold whores:

Democratic presidents, and their handlers and advisers, become possessed of this errant archetype as well. Hence, according to the fantasy, to be viable as commander-in-chief, they are driven to prove their toughness, preferably, in some he-man display of resolute stupidity. They must prove they have a pair of killer/redeemer god balls — which might be termed, Christesticles — by bombing somebody — anybody. At present, it appears this fraternity of hubris-blinded killer clowns has Iran in their cross hairs.
But democratic presidents have been bombing somebody (anybody) since long before Ronald Reagan as president was a gleam in anyone's eye.  Think Truman and Korea.  Think JFK and Cuba; JFK and Vietnam; LBJ and Vietnam.  Only Ike extracted us from a war, although Ronnie had the good sense to pick on somebody undersized; think think Grenada.  A win's a win for all that.  And the 'murican peoples, we likes us winning our wars.

Well, we can be fooled (or willfully led) into fighting them for a long time too - e.g., the war on drugs.  Hell, just accept reality, and call it lost:  The drug users WIN!  (Not the drugs - they don't have an army, they don't have a navy, they don't have an air force, they don't even shoot back.  Although, that is the kind of enemy the U.S. war propaganda machine really does need to fight.  Hell, even Ronald Reagan when all surrender monkey on one war - the War on Poverty (WoP).  "Poverty won" he proclaimed.  But, what do you expect when you elect to fight a war on poverty, rather than overseeing things so that the hungry are fed?

The act of imagining enemies serves as distraction from the angst arising from the vast economic inequities of life in the contemporary US. This is the good versus evil, dramatic conventions of the children’s theatre of our politics: We boo the villains — and are instructed to clap our hands to bring about an intervention by supernatural forces … In this case, in the form of an action hero/magical being to do our killing: a deity — who is part Tinker Bell, part predator drone.
And now, for the single most accurate and strongest indictment of Obama and the Dems:

Obama and the Democrats do not move. They do not act. They do not govern. They do not serve their constituents.

Although, in reality, they do serve their true constituents … the corporate elite — the forces behind the rising level of authoritarian control over the lives of the people of the nation, both of ordinary citizens and the political class.

In situations of veiled coercion, where unspoken threats to one’s economic security and social standing are the primary motivating factors determining an individual’s response to an exploitive system, there is no need to threaten potential dissenters with crude, old school totalitarian methods of repression such as forced deportment to labor and reeducation camps. In the class stratified, debt shackled US work force, where the personal consequences of financial upheaval are devastating, the implicit threat of being cast into the nation’s urban gulag archipelago of homelessness coerces most into compliance with the dictates of the corporate oligarchs.
Now, in France, for example, there are riots, there are strikes, people are ANGRY, and they ACT, they take action, which, of course, is roundly criticized in the press here stateside. Such an unsavory business.  People taking to the streets, acting violently.  Daring to challenge the powers that be.  And we get a Tea Party movement.  Two sides of the same coin.

And how indeed to Obama "pass the test" to become acceptable to the ruling class?

The effects are insidious. In such an environment, there is no call for the Sturm und Drang of mass spectacle, replete with blazing torches and blown banners hoisted by serried ranks of jut jawed, jack-booted ubermensch: corporatism establishes an authoritarian order by way of a series of overt bribes and tacit threats. This social and cultural criteria causes an individual to become cautious. A Triumph of the bland reigns. Obama’s bland, non-threatening charm was cultivated in this hybrid, corporate soil.
As is the case with Obama, corporatism demands employees (and Obama is first among us underlings) render themselves fecklessly pleasant. This is the mandatory mode of being demanded of corporate hires — self-annihilation by habitual amiability. And Barack Obama has perfected the form.

In his memoir, Dreams From My Father, Obama stated that he learned early: Never scare old, white people … that is a good description of how he has dealt with BP and the banksters, and all the other old white men in their perches of privilege and power.

Just in case anyone is wondering why the democrats are facing a tsunami of rampaging, resurgent, republicans, poised to win in the November mid-term elections.  It will have taken a stunning amount of complacency and non-action for the democrats to surrender the vast number of house seats they are predicted to lose.  But, as so many of the most astute political commentators have said for so long, there is only one political party in the U.S:  the republicrats.  Although there are two factions - the feckless faction and the fulminating faction.  The feckless faction maintains the status quo and coos the warm-friendly words of Mr. Rogers; they are content to continue to fight pointless wars, keep GITMO open, shower trillions unto the banksters, all the while attempting to make a big deal about raising the marginal tax rates on the most well off from 35% to 39%.  Jesus weeps.  The fulminating faction gets stuff done, they get taxes cut, they get deregulation, they get us into wars (which used to be the prerogative of the democrats, that that was then, and this is now).

Oh, but once upon a time there was a man, unlike any other:  FDR. What made him so different?  What made him a "class traitor?"

Obama, as was the case with Bill Clinton, will not challenge the corporate oligarchs. Both he and Clinton are gifted, intelligent men, but are products of their time. They are men of, what was once termed, “modest birth” who — out necessity to rise past the circumstances of their origins — studied, internalized, and made allegiance to the corporate structure. Why? Because, in the age of corporate oligarchy, they knew the only way to rise to power would be to serve its interests. In contrast, FDR came from the ruling class; he knew their ways … wasn’t tempted by the rewards and adulation that come with privilege. He was born into it, could never lose its advantages, and it held no novelty for him.
Enter Obama when the bubble burst. The stage is set for sweeping reform. Instead, we have received faux populist bromides, as all the while, behind the scenes, he has gone about the business of accommodation, capitulation, and general lickspittle boot-buffing of the corporate class.

Does this mean Ralph Nader is right:  Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us?

More likely, it means, once upon a time, a rich man came down off his throne to save his nation in so much peril.  But that was a long time ago, and the likes of  him, we ain't seen since, and are unlikely again to ever.

Went 7-mile walkin' tonight

Went 7-mile walkin' tonight
Oh how far I've come in just seven weeks
From when I had to split up a 3-mile walk
Into halves, taking a long rest half-way
along the way, at the memorial bench
at the South end of Beese Park
looking back North at the baseball fields
but mostly the willow trees picture-framing
the marsh to the East

(Where by the way,
(and perhaps not entirely coincidentally
(Adam James, Nathan & I
(had bicycled to the football field
(playing without a care in the world
(under the biggest, roundest, orangest
(Fielder's moon I had ever seen;
(Pay attention
(the cycle repeats
(all things are connected)

Windy, windy, windy, windy, windy squall night
And a cold wind too,
My view of the sky very limited by the tall houses,
and the tall overhanging trees

Where's that old moon tonight?
Where's my moonlight friend?
Where's my moonlight sonata?
Where's my claire de lune?

As I walked first North, and then East
not a moon in sight
not a moonbeam
not a hint
And this seemed so strange because
I've started to follow the moon when I walk
And she's been moving, always moving on me
Teaching me just how much (as if I needed to be taught to know)
There is that I don't know, and how little that I do.

Then low hanging in the Eastern sky - what was that?
Huge orb, orange glow, reflecting those last memories
of sun setting, so big, so breath-taking
but just hinting at its presence.
I must walk on.

Zig-zagging back and forth to chart the 7-mile excursion
Moon thoughts forgotten as the wind continued blowing,
Sometimes even howling
and even when I made the sharp turn going due East on Main Street
there were no hints that old moonie even cared enough
to show off her splendor

UNTIL, that is, I got to where Northwest Highway
and Main street meet, and the view of Northeast-East
night sky comes revealed
And even though the moon by now was not sun-radiant-reflected orange

Old moon shone bright and awesome, in a way that will make me
forever reluctant, to use "awesome" to describe a thing again
All white now, this moon looked just like
The giant 1,185 pound biggest pumpkin award winning pumpkin
I saw most recently
Set on a violet sky, as if waiting for me
To fly up off my feet
and come to the table
to admire her.

Moon bright
First moon I see tonight
I wish I may
I wish I might
Forever hold the moon I see tonight

There is so much to learn
Too much, perhaps
But I will try and drink it in
All this that I can

Moonlight Sonata
Claire de Lune
Both you two tunes
Calling to me
Play me
Play me
Sing me
Sing me
Bring me
Bring me
Into another's heart
Into another's mind
Into another's soul

Time to start to play the piano again
It's been way too long
Way too long away.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sarah Palin's Tea Party Primer

The democratic party has come out with some campaign propaganda listing five democratic incumbents it calls Sarah Palin's Tea Party Targets. Okay, so this is a fund raising strategy aimed to appeal to one's "reptillian" brain - the part of the brain that acts without thinking.

A very unflattering picture of Sarah Palin is on the front cover. We've seen such unflattering pictures of a bevy of democratic candidates, but how ironic that the dems choose to mock Sarah Palin who is NOT EVEN A CANDIDATE, although, she is a force. The dems are attacking "Brand Sarah."

The most interesting part of the flier (to me) is the back page which asks:


A recent poll by CBS News and the New York Times provided a scary picture of Tea Party supporters.

92% believe President Obama is leading the country to Socialism

Quick timeout. I believe that President Obama is continuing a 30+ year tradition of corporate welfare (yes, this IS socialism of a sort), allowing the profits to be privatized unto the corporations, and socializing their losses. Witness the banks, investment banks, wall street bail outs which rubbed a LOT of Americans as being very, very, very wrong. Obama in fact took the lead, took point and actively politicked for a bipartisan handout to Wall Street; a task for which the Bush administration had no real stomach at the end of its term.

59% either believe or don't know if President Obama was born in another country.

This is entirely understandable, depending upon where one chooses to get one's source of news and information. Elected Senators have in fact questioned Obama's citizenship. And the so-called Main Stream Media (MSM, Mainly Sucks Media) has done very little in the way of providing the uber-narrative: that Fox News and Rush Limbaugh LIE to the faces of their listeners.

24% believe it is sometimes justified to take violent action against the government

But of course. DON'T YOU? This country was FOUNDED upon the taking of violent action against the government of Great Britain. There is a deep historical precedent. If the government is NOT responsive to the wishes and needs of the majority of its citizens (and the U.S. government has not been so for a long, long, long, long time) and if the mechanisms for making it responsive to the needs and wishes of the vast majority of its citizens, and if peaceful protest is supressed, um ... just what exactly ought a rational person to expect? That its marginalized citizens are gonna sit here and take this abusem, an ever-declining standard of living, job security, etc, etc, forever?

Forbid it Almighty God!

66% doubt the impact of global warming

Alexander Cockburn, editor and publisher of Counterpunch e-zine is a disbeliever in the science of global warming. Does that make him less left-leaning? Less radical?

Besides, once again the Mostly Suck Media has not done much to make the case for the impact of human activity upon increasing temperatures, more violent and extreme weather, the melting of the polar ice shelfs, etc, etc, etc. And why would they? Their get significant advertising revenues from CORPORATIONS directly involved with the oil and gas industries. Big oil, automobile manufactuers, real estate developers (the American dream suburban life-style is entirely dependent upon an unlimited supply of cheap fossil fuels; WHEN those dry up, that American Way of Life will be ex-post facto, and who wants to confront THAT reality?

64% believe President Obama has increased taxes. (He cut them for 95% of Americans)

This is such a little known fact that the democratic party felt it necessarily to parenthetically note Obama's tax policy has been. But, surprise, surprise, American's are paying higher taxes, higher state taxes, higher county taxes, higher property taxes, because the federal tax revenues were reduced as a result of the Bush administration tax rate cuts. This is information that you simply won't find in the Mostly Suck Media. And the Oobama administration, with one of the finest orators we've had in years fronting for it, has not been able to pound their message home. The most envigorating speeches Obama gave were all about ... well, nothing really, CHANGE & YES WE CAN, but there was never any substance to them. He just delivered them well (which was more than enough for the democratic base ... "look ma! a prez that can speak without tripping over his own tongue!"

Side note: One of my former bridge students had attended a Republican fund-raiser in Ohio where George W. Bush was present. She relayed that she was so worried, lest he trip, stumble and fall over his own tongue. But, he didn't! And that was enough to keep her faith, yea, verily, even to restore it.

What is it about so many of the rich and the educated that they want their heroes to be "well-spoken?" Which means, basically, to sound as bland as any weather man in the country.

66% have a favorable view of Sarah Palin

Well, yea. She resonates with them. She speaks in a way they understand. She is NOT some snotty East-Coast intelectual whose head is stuck so far up his ass that the only people who even pretend to understand him all "talk funny" in that Hahvahd educated kind of way.

59% have a favorable view of Glenn Beck

Watch Glenn Beck for a while. He too resonates, but unlike so many in the Mainly Sucks Media, Glenn will name the names of corporations that are ripping off Americans, with their off-shore tax havens, their out-sourcing of good American jobs, and their purchases of the elected public officials of this nation.

There are times when I admire both what he says and how he says it.

57% have a favorable view of George W Bush

I don't. But I don't have a favorable view of Bill Clinton, either. Nor Barack Obama. Nor George H. W. Bush, nor Ronald Reagan, nor of Jimmy Carter's presidency (he rehabilitated himself mightily upon leaving office) nor of Gerald Ford, nor of Richard Nixon, no of Lydon Baines Johnson, nor of John F. Kennedy.

I DO have a favorable view of Dwight D. Eisenhower. The best president of my lifetime. Why is that?

1. He ran on a platform of extricating the U.S. from the Korean War.
2. He did not do Israel's bidding in the Suez incident.
3. He took General Matthew Ridgeway's advice against picking up where the French left off in Vietnam after the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954.
4. He lowered individual income tax rates - watch by how much (for head of household)

in 1954: from 92% on incomes over $300,000 to 91%
in 1954: from 22% on incomes between 0-$2,000 to 20%
in 1954: with similar changes on in-between income amounts

And, America prospered. We built the world-class infrastructure system.

Oh but for a president who would tax the wealthiest among us at a marginal rate of 91% on incomes above a certain level, would get us out of wars, would keep us out of wars, and would BUILD AMERICA strong (once again).

THAT candidate would get my vote.

Am not holding my breath.

I do not mock the Tea Party. I embrace the change that they have brought to the political scene - they have shown that something CAN be done about the same old, same old.

This (wholly bought and sold) democratic party hit piece has had a very much opposite of intended affect on me. I want to meet the Tea Partyers, and talk with them. To find out where they and I have common ground and can make common cause.

And to WARN them that they MUST keep the feet of the candidates they elect to office to the flame, they must keep those candidates true to the ideals of their base, they must not fall in love with candidates who will sell them out, who will prostitute themselves to the monied interests of the wealth and corporate elites of this country.

Best of regards you patriots.

And to hell with you, you mostly feckless democrats.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bracing ourselves for the incoming storm

Last Thursday we played bridge with Tom & Raeanne. Tom mentioned that one of the first things he does after he gets up is to get on the internet and go directly to the weather page. What caught his eye, rather arrestingly, was a RED ALERT for Schaumburg, IL, of all places. He was quite curious, because the temperature had been mild, very pleasant, for weeks, winds gentle, warm.

RED ALERT - it was so damn dry that his community was on red alert for fires! Were one fire to break out, there could have been a cascading effect. Thankfully, it rained here(gently) on Saturday and Sunday too.

But then this headline on the Chicago Tribune's home page caught my eye:

Bracing weather: High winds to sock Chicago area

A high wind warning has been issued for the Chicago area Tuesday when a strong cold front could touch off one of the strongest storms to hit the Great Lakes region in decades, with winds clocking at more than 55 mph.

A squall of thunderstorms is expected to rake the area around daybreak, followed by strong winds throughout the day and into Wednesday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

Winds could be as strong as 35 to 40 mph during the day Tuesday, with gusts of 55 mph or more, meteorologist Andrew Krein said. There could be a lull overnight before winds pick up again Wednesday morning, he said.

"These will be straight-line winds," Krein said, adding that the chance of tornadoes is slight.

Good news that, about the slight chance of tornadoes. But I remember a November day from the early 90's, playing bridge at Steve Coates' apartment with Robert Green and the now-retired FBI agent John Vincent. Those winds howled, and the building shook. Being serious bridge players, we moved the game into the basement parking garage, taking along candles, just to be safe.

That was as much fun as I've had playing bridge since my college days with the wonderful games at Jim & Helen Schaedel's home. Being the first (and probably last and only) non-PhD teacher ever tenured by the WIU Math Department, and a former merchant marine, and a bridge expert, it was inevitable that Jim would be one of the many older men I looked up to.

My favorite night in all of my college career occurred in January, 1973. A visitor from Kirkwood, Missouri had inquired about who to see in Macomb, Illinois to play bridge. That's how he got Jim and Helen's phone number. I was the (extremely) honored 4th for the evening. It was my senior year, my last quarter, and I had an evening class, Art 180 (art appreciation). For class that evening we were to view the film Touch of Evil. As the snows kept falling, and class time came ever nearer, I made the executive decision. I was not going to the class. It was far more important to me, to keep playing bridge with these people, Jim and Helen, who had taken me into their home like a stray dog for two years, and the Missouri gentleman.

Good choice. The class was canceled because of snow, and I got to see Touch of Evil later.

Back to the upcoming Chicago-are windy weather forecast:

The warning is in effect from 7 a.m. Tuesday until 7 a.m. Wednesday in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, DeKalb, Lee, Ogle, Boone and Winnebago counties. A high wind watch is in effect for Will and Kendall counties, as well as Lake and Porter counties in Indiana.

The high on Wednesday is expected to be in the mid-50s and only in the upper 40s on Thursday before warming up in time for Halloween with highs in the mid-60s.

The storm could be one of the strongest to hit the Great Lakes region in the last 70 years, the weather service said.

And now, I really have to say "Thank you chicago tribune!" because you are about to provide me with some very important information for comparative purposes:

The worst is the Great Blizzard of 1978, which pounded Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin from Jan. 25 to Jan. 27, 1978. The 28.28 inches (958 millibars) of barometric pressure recorded in Cleveland during that storm remains the lowest nontropical atmospheric pressure recorded in the mainland United States, according to the weather service.

Up to 40 inches of snow fell, driven by winds gusting up to 100 mph.

Oh, do I ever remember that one. I was living with Susan in Oak Park, IL. We started shoveling the alley way behind her garage at about 4 a.m. There was a car port next to the garage where my car was parked. We didn't start my car again until April. We had nowhere else to put the snow. Your basic sisyphean task. And it snowed, and it snowed and it snowed.

Fun memories, in some ways. Having done it, I'd rather not again.

Next on the list is the Armistice Day Storm that hit on Nov. 11, 1940 and packed winds of up to 80 mph, according to the weather service. Temperatures plummeted by 50 degrees, and a raging blizzard dumped up to 27 inches of snow over Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. The barometric pressure was recorded at 28.55 inches (967 millibars).

That one was before my time. But it fell on my son Adam James' birthday, so I'll probably remember it in the future.

No snow is in Tuesday's forecast, but the barometric pressure could drop to 28.35 inches (959 millibars). The lower the pressure of a storm system, the more violently moisture is sucked in.

Number five on the list is the storm that sunk the Edmund Fitzgerald ore freighter on Nov. 10, 1975.

That's a damn fine article. Very helpful, especially for night walkers such as myself. (I'm a street walker too ... rofl). Might be time to cancel my walking plans for tomorrow (except I can't; it's Marie's birthday and she's baking a cake for the chosen at Rainbow Records).

Priorities. It's always about priorities.

This is disgusting, so, of course I must

About a week ago our external computer modem fizzled out and went poof! With nary a technological IQ point in the entire household, we decided to wait until your next-door compter tech guy, Yu Hong, could look at it and advise what to do, what to do.

Sadly, even I know waht to do. Just purchsed a new external modem to replaced the fried one.

But, time marches on, and priorites flow, ebb, and receed, and, ours has been and internet-less household for a week.

THANKFULLY, we have a tremendous public library in town with over 20 computer terminals available for use by the public at large (one needn't be a resident, nor even a library-card holder to use one; because this is a PUBLIC library, offering its services to the PUBLIC).

So, my blogging has been done from the library for the past week or so. Including now, this magic moment.

So far have spent about an hour here, catching up on e-mail and checking out my blog stats. Holy smoke. TEA PARTIES scored many hits. Who cooda knowd?

If you're read this far, it's time to be warned: Here cometh the disgusting part.

So, after walking here, and hydrating like a fish along the way, in response to nature's call, I left my terminal (having marked "my" territory with a notebook and my Marlboro red backpack) to, how to say this artfully ... hmmm .... pee.

In the men's restroom, lest you had any doubts.

And in the men's restroom of this lovely library, there are two stall, and two urinals. This is disgusting, so, of course, I must go into detail. One of the urinals is "adult sized" and one is probably best characterized as "kiddie" sized.

On the tile floor in front of and on both sides of the "adult sized" urinal there is piss; and pubic hairs. JEEZ LOUEEZE. WTF is wrong with you people? With you guys? You need to stand closer. MUCH CLOSER, or, do as I did, and go to the kiddie sized, which you can stand over, and you just cannot miss.


Reminded me of the story told me by the fastest-witted, most nimble-minded human, most morally and intellectually upright human being I've known, the editor Georgine Cooper.

Her daughter Anna was observing as Georgine was cleaning one of the toilets. Curious, she asked about the stains along the bowel. Gerogine, never one to back away from a teachable moment explained this fact of life.

Anna replied: "Ugh! You better never let David get a gun."

From out of the mouths of children floweth much wisdom, insight, and understanding.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

No light at the end of the tunnel

(this post was modified extensively on Monday, October 25, 2010)

At Counterpunch, Avi Shlaim lays bare the emperor's nakedness regarding 43 years of American "failure" to bring about peace in the middle east. The simplest answer is becaue more than wanting peace in the middle east, the U.S. wants to appease whatever government happens to be ruling Israel at any moment, and the U.S. does not wish to allow any state or entity other than itself to be the broker.

Shlaim prose is stark and succinct:

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been both a major concern of American diplomacy since 1967 and the arena of persistent failure.

There are many reasons for America’s failure to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians but the most fundamental one is that it is a dishonest broker. As a result of its palpable partiality towards Israel, America has lost all credibility in the eyes not only of the Palestinians but of the wider Arab and Muslim worlds.

The so-called peace process has been all process and no peace. Peace talks that go nowhere slowly provide Israel with just the cover it needs to pursue its expansionist agenda on the West Bank.

Here is the key to why some authority outside of the Israelis and the Palestinians must broker the peace deal.

The asymmetry of power between Israel and the Palestinians is so great that only a third party can bridge the gap. In plain language, this means leaning on Israel to end the occupation and to permit the emergence of an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

In theory America is committed to a two-state solution to the conflict but in practise it has done very little to push Israel into such a settlement. It is not that America lacks the means to bring pressure to bear on Israel. On the contrary, Israel is crucially, and almost exclusively, dependent on America for military, diplomatic, and financial support.

As for the prospects of our president President, the Bland One, Schlaim writes:

Obama is an inspiring orator. However, to use an American phrase, he has talked the talk but he has not walked the walk. The rhetoric has changed but in practical terms there has been more continuity than change. Partiality towards Israel remains the order of the day and it vitiates the possibility of a genuinely even-handed policy.

Sadly, in practical terms, there has been more continuity than change in much of the Obama administration's policies - ever larger bailouts for the financial firms, no-tooth legislation "passed" to appease the investment banks, a health care program that only an insurance industry executive could love, prisoners continue to be held at GITMO, etc, etc, etc.

To be fair to Obama, he recognised at the outset that Jewish settlements on the West Bank are the main obstacle to progress. He admitted, in effect, that there can be a peace process but no peace if Israel continues the colonisation of the West Bank.

So Baracksie - thou winner of the pulitzer Peace prize, whacha gonna do about dat?

There is an Arabic saying that something that starts crooked, remains crooked. These peace talks started in a crooked way because they did not meet the most fundamental Palestinian requirement: a complete freeze on settlement activity.

The conclusion is inescapable: Netanyahu is not a genuine partner for the Palestinians on the road to peace. Land-grabbing and peace-making simply do not go together and Netanyahu has opted for the former.

Netanyahu is like a man who, while negotiating the division of a pizza, continues to eat it.

The American position is pusillanimous and feeble. Instead of taking a firm position on the side of the Palestinians and pressing the point of principle, they press the weaker party to make more and more concessions. Under these conditions, the prospects of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are close to zero.

There is no light at the end of the tunnel, only more illegal settlements, and consequently more strife, more violence, more bloodshed, and ultimately another war.

Pressing the weaker party to make more and more concessions has pretty much BEEN the way of U.S. governance for a long long time now, domestically, and internationally, politically and economically, culturally and spiritually.

Trouble is, the weaker ones just keep fighting back.

And when the emotional torrents burst through the dam here at home, there is going to be hell to pay.

Tea Parties

(Within 24 hours of being posted this turned out to be my all-time most popular piece; I've added some thoughts at the end of it. I welcome the Tea Party to the Party! I embrace their activism and commitment to change - REAL change; out with the old order, in with the new!)

Reading Jim Hightower's If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote They Would have Given Us Candidates is at times very painful. And not in a funny way. On page 282 he poses a question:

Should you, through your local and state government, be allowed to apply moral and political principles when your tax dollars are used to buy computers, uniforms, gasoline, office furniture, trucks, and other goods? Should you, say, be able to decided through your local democratic process that your city hall should give a preference to Made-in-the-USA products, or refuse to buy products that contribute to rain-forest destruction, or say no to purchases from corporations that are involved in sweatshop labor or are doing business with horrendous human-rights violators in China, Nigeria, Burma, and elsewhere?

As asked, the question answers itself, as Hightower notes:

Can you believe I'm even asking these questions? OF COURSE YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO TAKE A PRINCIPLED STAND WITH HOW YOUR LOCAL GOVERNING BODIES SPEND YOUR TAX DOLLARS. SHEESH, THIS IS AMERICA-IT'S YOUR MONEY AND YOUR SOVEREIGN RIGHT AS A SELF-GOVERNING PEOPLE. Both as individual citizens and as a democratic electorate, we have the right to boycott brands based on our principles. The use of such direct economic action by local folks has been a noble part of the American experiment from the Boston Tea Party of 1773 to the boycott movement against South African apartheid some two hundred years later.

...The ... corporate globalists are out to slap down such local initiatives, and their first target is the fast-spreading grassroots movement to apply state and local sanctions against the bloody thugs who rule Burma...[T]he ... single poster boy for global horror ... is ... the SLORC of Burma. Not since Vlad the Impaler has a ruthless regime been more aptly named ... During the past decade, the junta has crushed democracy and ruled by terror-routinely raping, torturing, enslaving, and killing the people of Burma. Sadly, its rule has been propped up by hard currency delivered to these thugs by brand-name corporations that have been all too eager to do business with them-producing oil, computers, clothing, and millions of dollars' worth of other goods...

However] groups of Americans have rebelled against these SLORC-made corporate goods and have organized across the country to "throw them overboard." ... sanctions have been passed that are more than mere resolutions of conscience--these have teeth. These autonomous governments have decided that they will not purchase any products from corporations that do business with the Burmese junta... If even one city puts its money where its mouth is, it makes a noise that the largest corporations notice. but when a state and a couple of dozen cities speak as one, billions of dollars in purchasing power are represented, and this startles the whole corporate world.

...[The] laws have been effective-Apple Computer, ARCO, Disney, Hewlett-Packard, J. Crew, Kodak, Motorola, and Pepsi are just a few of the corporations that have withdrawn from Burma since 1996, after Massachusetts and others took action. The laws have been so effective that, beginning in 1997, the global corporate power launched a massive counterattack, claiming that these laws "interfere" with the global marketplace and ironically, that they just don't work! Logic aside, they are using the World Trade Organization, the Clinton administration, the federal judiciary, and tons of corporate cash in a coordinated campaign to stomp on your and my right to decide how we spend our local and state tax dollars.

They have zeroed in on Massachusetts law, presuming that if they kill it, all others will die, too. State representative Byron Rushing ... sponsored the state's selective purchasing act and got it enacted... Working with Boston-area businessman and Burma activist Simon Billenness, Representative Rushing sponsored the state's selective purchasing act and got it enacted. These two citizens, backed by thousands of supporters, have stood up to an incredible barrage of political and legal artillery hurled at them during the past two years.

First came Japan, wailing on behalf of Toyota, Mitsubishi, and twenty-eight other Japanese corporations consorting with SLORC that Byron's law was denying them their sacred global right to do business in Burma and with the sstate of Massachusetts ... The European Union joined in Japan's assault, complaining to Washington that this rogue state was violating a holy global commandment called the "Agreement on Government Procurement," found inscribed upon the stone tablets creating the World Trade Organization...

Alas, under the rules of the WTO, Massachusetts has no legal standing to defend itself there and had to count on the Clinton administration to protect its interest, which is like hiring Willie Sutton to guard the bank. This is the president, after all, who had pushed, prodded, and prostituted to get the WTO, including its procurement provision, enacted. His undersecretary of state, Stuart Eizenstat, was openlyl strategizing with the corporate interests to kill the Massachusetts law, and had testified before Congress in 1997 that "efforts by state and local officials around the United States ... to impose various economic sanctions are inappropriate and counterproductive." Likewise, Commerce Secretary Bill Daley was hard at work trying to undermine the sovereign people of Massachusetts, telling a group called the European Institute in March of '97 that the Clinton team has "the same concerns on this" as the EU does, and assuring the assembled proponents of corporate sovereignty that he and other top officials were working with U.S. companies to put the squeeze on Representative Rushing and other Massachusetts stalwarts: "We've encouraged the business community to make their views known. Local legislators will resond better to local companies."

The business community did more than besiege Rushing with their executives and lobbyists; they filed suit in federal court to kill his law. The National Foreign Trade Council ... is the complainant in the lawsuit. [Its] ... membership list includes such "local companies" as Allied Signal, Amoco, ARCO, AT&T, BankAmerica, Boeing, Boise Cascade, Caterpillar, Chase Manhattan, Chevron, Chrysler, Citibank, Colgate-Palmolive, Du Pont, Duracell, Ernst & Young, GE, GM, IBM, ITT, Johnson & Johnson, Kodak, Mobil Oil, Monsanto, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, Rockwell, Texaco, United Technologies, and Westinghouse.

Here's how the Trade Council argued:

The Trade Council's legal strategy cleverly shifts the focus from the global corporate interests by pretending that the issue is one of U.S. federal power versus state authority. The claim is simply that the people of Massachusetts are meddling in foreign policy with their Burma law, and foreign policy is the sole prerogative of Washington... the European Union took the most unusual step of filing a brief in federal court in support of the NFTC. Also, in solidarity with the U.S. corporate powers bringing the suit, the EU has retained the politically connected law firm of Hogan & Hartson (where Clinton's national security adviser Sandy Berger held forth prior to moving to the White House) to represent its interests in the case and, pointedly, to be present during the trial...

AWOL in this legal battle was the President, who could have had his Justice Department filing briefs and working with the outgunned state attorneys, raising the issue from one of legal technicalities to one of common sense and principle. Clearly, the Massachusetts legislature was not making foreign policy-it has no military force to send to Burma, nor can it tell Toyota or Texaco not to do business there. But it most certainly has the sovereign right to spend its own tax dollars on whom it chooses. But Clinton stayed low, choosing sides by his inaction on the case.

Unfortunately, ... the EU and the NFTC ... prevailed with the judge, who sided with the powerful and against the people. He ruled that cities and states cannot use their purchasing power to reflect the local citizenry's moral principles on foreign policy issues... This fight, however, is not ultimately about foreign policy powers or state purchasing preferences, says Rushing: "It's a decision about whether, in a globalized economy, corporations have any accountability at all."

This book was published in 2000, before the Republican and Democratic conventions had been held. Hightower predicted that a new, and democratic politics would be formed by citizens who would just get sick and tired of being sick and tired about the choices being offered by the Republicrats (Hightower's term) because neither party now represents what they once stood for. They have both been bought lock, stock and barrel by the 65,000 or so richest Americans and the ginormous corporations which do business here, there, and everywhere. and they (the sold and bought politicians) will do the bidding of their primary constituency: the corporate elites and the monied elites.

And this doth pisseth off a number of good people.

So, to the Tea Party, I raise my glass, and applaud you, because you ARE what democracy in action looks like. You are raising your voices and making them heard. You are challenging the entrenched order and voting them off the ballot. Whether or not I agree with even one of your political positions, I salute you. Because this IS democracy. Democracy is coming, to the U.S.A.