Thursday, August 28, 2014

Listen . . . Can You Hear Them?

Across the land and over the air: the drums of war beating their steady beat. The debate is not whether we're going to get involved in another mid-East conflict, but how and when. Remember when communists were the worst thing on the planet? That was before Iranians, Iraqis, Al-quaeda, which were all more terrible. Now we have an enemy IS, ISIS, or ISIL, take your pick of names. Whatever we call it, it's more evil and horrible than even the next-to-latest boogeyman our leaders conjured us to keep us all terrified. And you remember how evil al-Quaeda was, don't you? So evil that now by comparison to the present boogeyman, it's a gentle Muslim reform movement.

This latest enemy is, of course, a direct threat to our "national security." Who, by the way, defines that term? We all just accept it as something very important, vital indeed to all we hold dear, to the continuation of western values, to the safety of our children and grandchildren, to the continued existence of the land of the free and the home of the brave. Listen . . . the same drums we've heard before. The same bullshit justifications for war, war, war. When are we ever going to learn?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

There Are Times . . .

. . . I actually believe this.


And there are times it is actually true, but I suspect not many. What do you think?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

We Look at Them, and It's Us



A Palestinian youth wears a bandoleer of cartridge casings left by the Israeli army next to his destroyed home in Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, earlier this month
Chris Hedges was disturbing yesterday in Truthdig. As disturbing as that photo above. He's talking about how repulsed we are by such horrific incidents like the beheading of American news cameraman Chris Foley a few days ago. But also how we don't see the destruction and death our weapons deliver on the heads of both our enemies with guns and hundreds of thousands of innocent women, children, and elderly who don't have weapons, and whose only crime is getting in the way of our fury.
Our terror is delivered to the wretched of the earth with industrial weapons. It is, to us, invisible. . . .  willfully ignorant, we do not understand our own complicity. We self-righteously condemn the killers as subhuman savages who deserve more of the violence that created them. This is a recipe for endless terror.
He then spends several paragraphs explaining how in war, we dehumanize the enemy and anything connected with him, how easy it is to bring people to kill, and how no one is exempt from these debasing processes. This is the final paragraph of the piece. Powerful.
Our failure to understand the psychological mechanisms involved means that the brutality we inflict, and that is inflicted upon us, will continue in a deadly and self-defeating cycle in the Middle East as well as within poor urban areas of the United States. To break this cycle we have to examine ourselves and halt the indiscriminate violence that sustains our occupations. But examining ourselves instead of choosing the easy route of nationalist self-exaltation is hard and painful. These killings will stop only when we accept that the killers who should terrify us most are ourselves.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Poof!


Sparky
 Astronomers have for the first time caught a glimpse of the earliest stages of massive galaxy construction. The building site, dubbed “Sparky,” is a dense galactic core blazing with the light of millions of newborn stars that are forming at a ferocious rate.

The discovery was made possible through combined observations from NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, the W.M. Keck Observatory in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, and the European Space Agency's Herschel space observatory, in which NASA plays an important role.

A fully developed elliptical galaxy is a gas-deficient gathering of ancient stars theorized to develop from the inside out, with a compact core marking its beginnings. Because the galactic core is so far away, the light of the forming galaxy that is observable from Earth was actually created 11 billion years ago, just 3 billion years after the Big Bang.

Although only a fraction of the size of the Milky Way, the tiny powerhouse galactic core already contains about twice as many stars as our own galaxy, all crammed into a region only 6,000 light-years across. The Milky Way is about 100,000 light-years across.
(Source)

 And we are under the illusion that our affairs are . . . what's the phrase "earth-shaking"? That our experiences are of consequence. That somehow what we say and do matters. What truly is earth-shaking is that there is no word in any language I know to describe how tiny and insignificant we are. Nothing we can say or think can capture this immensity . . .

And yet we've discovered the science to reveal this all to us. And we keep having these questions that won't go away.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Equal Pay for Equal Work

A new oracle of truth with humor is John Oliver, a graduate of "The Daily Show." Here he is on why women get paid less than men for the same work. It's as true as is is hilarious.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Welcome to Ferguson

Sorry, I just can't seem to let this Feguson thing go. It says so much about what's America today.
Pattern Crimes: The second largest source of income for the city of Ferguson, MO is the $2.6 million it gathers from fines levied on its citizens for parking, speeding, jay walking and the like. Ferguson is, of course, a white-run black community where 86% of vehicle stops involved a black motorist, who is twice as likely to be searched as a white driver and also twice as likely to be arrested. The average black household in Ferguson is hit with three warrants a year, resulting in the loss of $300 to fines and fees. And if you can't pay the fine or cover the fees, you go to jail. Welcome to Ferguson, MO, where Michael Brown was stopped for jaywalking.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

I Got Nuthin'

To say, that is. I've got brain cramps from editing bad prose most of the day. And aside from reading some history about World War I, I've done pretty much nothing today to further the cause of sanity and civilization. But tonight I ran across this on a blog I don't frequent that often. See all those links down the side? I probably visit about half of them in a given year. I have about half a dozen regulars, and no time to add others that probably worthy. It's become the perennial, nay, daily question: where does one find the time to read? No wonder half the world loses themselves in video games and other mindless media. Old fashioned media requires time and concentration. Even if you willing, the first commodity is hard to find in sufficient quantity.

Anyway I was surfing around in this blog "Stop Me Before I Vote Again" (clever, no?) and I ran across this wonderful example of delicious screed directed at one of my favorite targets: New York Times pontificator extraordinaire Tom Friedman. The author of this blog, one Michael J. Smith, has got to have something going for him. He agrees with me and Matt Taibbi. Listen:
I happened to pick up a copy of last Saturday’s NY Times today on the subway and was gobsmacked to find a mighty piece by the apparently retooled, neobionic Thomas Friedman occupying almost the whole of the op-ed page. The online version runs about 2,300 words. Never have I seen a neuron-buster on this scale dropped by the Times, even on a test range, much less in combat. The effect was devastating. As soon as the page was exposed to the air, people all around me began to lose consciousness and snore sterterously. I don’t know why I was spared; perhaps I used to read the Times enough when I was younger to develop an immunity.
But even I didn’t dare read this damn thing of course. There are limits. I cherish what scraps of sanity I have left. A quick browser word search — eyes averted — revealed that this is clearly not the old Thomas Friedman, since there is no reference to a cabdriver anywhere in the text.
I love it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Serious Question . . . and a Correct Answer

For the first time in the over four years--can you believe that?--I've been doing this blog, I'm going to reproduce something off the Net in its entirety. The site is Quora. I find myself there often because it habitually addresses interesting questions, and sometimes they are interesting and important questions, like the one below.

I've long contended that part of our problem in America is our national character, which is the cause of so much self-congratulation, but in fact is seriously flawed. The following answer makes this clear. Not only is our character flawed, but we are ignorant . . . which makes it worse.

Why do Americans seem to be so scared of a European/Canadian style of healthcare system?

Dan MunroDan Munro, knows some healthcare stuff

The fear is largely fueled by four things.

1.      A false assumption (with big political support) that a system based on universal coverage is the same thing as a single payer system. It isn't. Germany is a great example of a healthcare system with universal coverage and multi-payer (many of which are private insurance companies). We tend to lump the two together (single-payer and universal health coverage) because it’s convenient to argue a simple comparison than a more complex, nuanced one.

2.     A fear of "rationing" - which was set ablaze by Sarah Palin and her cavalier remarks about "death panels." The reality is that ALL healthcare (globally) is rationed - but systems from all the other industrialized countries start with “universal coverage”. Our system is largely based on who can afford to BUY health insurance - and if it's provided through employment (about 150 million Americans) you're chained to your employer for health benefits. It's artificial, but it's a great way to keep wages depressed because the employer is contributing to health benefits and getting a tax benefit at the same time. In other countries – employers make a contribution to the healthcare system – but those contributions accrue to the whole healthcare system – not just their employees.

3.     An attitude and culture of what's loosely known as American Exceptional-ism. There is simply no other country on planet earth that can teach us anything. This was highlighted recently by Commonwealth Fund report which ranked the U.S. “dead last” in comparison to 10 other countries. Our entire raison d'ĂȘtre is to be the world's beacon of shining success - in freedom, liberty, democracy and really everything (but especially technology).

4.     A fierce independence that has a really dark side. It took another Quora question to really help me see this one. The question was: "Why do many Americans think that healthcare is not a right for its own taxpaying citizens?" Here's the #1 answer by Anon:
The fundamental mythos of American culture, is that no matter how poor or humble your birth, you can through grit, spunk and hard work become wealthy and prosperous.

On the face of it, and from the perspective of a class divided Europe, that seems incredibly noble and empowering. The idea that there is that much social mobility, that anyone can forge their own destiny is a powerful part of the American psyche. When it happens, it is an incredible thing. Something Americans can feel proud of.

However, there is a dark side to this mythos. Which is this ... if anyone can win through hard work and effort, anyone who doesn't win, therefore deserves to be poor.

At the core of all the anti-health care reforms is the single concept "why should I pay for the healthcare of those losers?"
Added together, these 4 things all contribute mightily to the runaway healthcare system we have today. Today - the National Healthcare Expenditure (NHE) for the USA is $3.5+ trillion per year (about 18% of our GDP) and it's growing at about 5% per year (for as far as the eye can see). The system we have is optimized around revenue and profits - not safety and quality. That safety and quality is best highlighted by what’s known as “preventable medical errors” inside hospitals. That number? Somewhere between 210,000 and 440,000 – per year.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Gunning 'Em Down

"313 is not my lucky number."
I'm recently involved in an email conversation with a dear friend who thinks we should just "wait" before we come to any conclusions about what happened in Ferguson, MO. I politely demurred. I don't think there's any question about the broad outline of the story: a cop shot an unarmed black teen (Michael Brown) to death. How exactly did it happen? Some witnesses say the guy had his hands up and was basically in a submissive position; others disagree. In fact, there are several versions. You can find a video of what the victim's friend, who was with him during the incident, said here and here. Both of these accounts are in sync. Does this guy look like he's making it up as he goes along? Fabricating a story because he and his friend were actually the villains of this piece? Or does it sound like a guy who's just seen his friend shot down and was scared shitless himself? I suppose we're going to get several different stories on this whenever the "investigation" of the incident gets finished. (I've read that there are going to be at least three investigations, including one by the Justice Dept.) But we now do know that this one cop, Darren Wilson, shot the guy six times, twice in the head. Something's not right here.

I'm not prejudging--or am I?--when I observe that cops shooting and killing young black men are hardly a rarity in the Land of the Free, which is why I don't see that "waiting" for a answer is really going to change much of anything. This article, and accompanying data, contends that a black man is shot by police or vigilantes once every 28 hours in this country. That's 313 in the year 2012. It would repay your glancing at it. The numbers are convincing. And even if it's only half-true, that's still a dead black man at the hands of cops three times a week. Does that sound like we don't have a problem?

Here's what Some Assembly Required has to say, a different tack:
Inquiring Mind: What makes you think that the clash between the poor and the police in St. Louis is about race, rather than the continuing economic slavery the descendants of slaves have been kept in for 125 years? How long before the 50 million Americans who are poor realize that being poor gives them more in common than the shades of their skin divide them, that being poor is as big a crime as being black? That united they would be unstoppable? Maybe it starts in the #QuickTrip People's Park.
And that's a good argument too, except the "descendants of slaves" are all African-Americans, and the institution they descended from in America was strictly race-based.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Bubble, Bubble. There's Going to be Trouble

I have been documenting police brutality and general savagery for some time. (Just click on "cops" in "Labels" over there on the right for a sampling.) The continuing crisis in Ferguson, MO, in the wake of yet another police killing of an unarmed black person, has not been far from the thoughts of anybody who's concerned with the fate of our country, not to mention the individual fates of people we hold dear like our children and grandchildren. And today I'm struck by a conversation Chris Hedges had with Lawrence Hamm, a longtime community organizer and chairman of the People's Organization for Progress, based in Newark. Their topic was Ferguson and here's part of what Hamm had to say:
The pendulum swung far to the right after 9/11. Now it is swinging back. Fear and paralysis gripped the country after 9/11 and the creation of our authoritarian police state. We are overcoming this fear. The rebellion in Ferguson was not planned. It was spontaneous. People said, ‘Enough.’ They struck out in the only way they knew how. All the other ways—and I have no doubt that the people in Ferguson and St. Louis, as we have, marched peacefully, sent letters and went to city council meetings to protest police violence—have proved ineffective. We will see other incidents like this one, but because of demographic changes these rebellions will occur in places that did not rebel previously.
All I can say is "yep." Think about those frantic years after 9/11. We got involved in two wars, we as a people authorized extraordinary rendition, torture, arrest and holding people with no charges, greatly expanded powers to national intelligence agencies, Gitmo, drone killings of American citizens. The list goes on. But all the while something else really sinister was happening: the militarization of police forces all across the country. Have you checked out the so-called "police" on TV in action in Ferguson? They look like the 82nd Airborne, complete with automatic weapons and armored cars.

This is the state we're in today. Doesn't make any difference where you are in the country. Your police force has a SWAT team, or several, and are armed to the teeth against . . . who? Against you, ordinary citizen, that's who.

Watch this video of one of John Oliver's monologs. Humor does a fine job of skewering the madness that's overtaken police forces all over the country.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Variations on a Theme

Yes, I know, you get tired of the same old song, but two items from today's "Some Assembly Required" blog naturally caught my attention. Both of these observations were, I'm sure, prompted by the police circus ongoing in Ferguson, MO, where the suburb of St. Louis is still in turmoil over shooting of an unarmed black teen by a policeman. All indications at this stage are that the shooting was totally unjustified. 

District Nine: Things have gotten so bad in our cities that the Palestinians are giving our citizens tips on how to handle tear gas as they confront militarized robo-cop wannabes with armored cars, automatic weapons and not the faintest idea how to behave. The American police assault on our citizenry is so bad that foreign nations warn their citizens to avoid certain US cities – including St. Louis. Despite the knee-jerk reaction against the militarization of the police, they've got the weapons and they are going to keep them. And keep using them. 

Roll Call: In NM, a sherriff with “misconduct” issues teamed up with his son to pistol-whip a motorist. In Utah, cops gunned down a young man because he couldn't hear them over the music from his headphones. In San Jose, the cops mistook a drill for a gun and killed the woman who was carrying it, and in AZ, they shot a lady who was armed with a hammer. In NY, the Democratic candidate for governor got off easy – he was only arrested for “menacing” police officers with an unloaded umbrella. In San Bernardino. Cops tasered a man to death for riding a bicycle. For two days, cops in NO neglected to admit they'd shot a man in the head during a routine traffic stop. In VA, a sheriff's deputy mistook his daughter for an intruder and shot her. In SC the cops showed exemplary restraint and managed to arrest a woman for swearing in public without shooting, beating, choking or gassing her.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Not My Game

Chess Olympiads are held once every two years. It's a great big tournament where most of the countries in the world send teams to compete. The latest one, which took place in Tromso, Norway, this time, had over 3,000 participants, men and women. China won the men's competition; Russia won the women's. But that's not the big news. Although it was big news in China, their first gold medal ever in chess. Russia and before that the Soviet Union has won both divisions many times.

The big news this time is that two players died during the tournament. One of them, Kurt Meier, a 67-year-old player from the tiny Pacific nation Seychelles, died at the board during play. (I wonder if his opponent thought: "I knew I had a good position, but I didn't know it was that good.") The other, from Uzbekistan, was found dead in this room.

This the first time anything like this has ever happened at the Olympiad. But it's interesting to note that death is delivered at the chessboard in the natural course of events, if the game isn't drawn. The object of the game is to destroy your opponent, after all.   (source)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

What Lawn Chairs Do When Nobody's Looking

I don't think any commentary on this story is needed. Although I can think of a few silly puns, and my guess is you can probably conjure up some commentary of your own.
SEATTLE -- Public nudity by itself will not get you arrested in Seattle, but police say one woman turned her nudity into indecent exposure when she committed a sex act with Beacon Hill family's lawn furniture.

According to police, nudity becomes criminal if it "causes a person to reasonably experience fear, alarm or concern." That was the case on August 4 when an "extremely intoxicated" 33-year-old woman wandered into a yard in the 78000 block of Beacon Avenue South.

With several members of a family looking on in horror, police say the woman "hiked up her dress and engaged in an intimate act with several lawn chairs."

She then began urinating on the lawn before "quite purposefully exposing her genitalia, and then posterior, to the family inside the home," according to police.

The family called 911 and officers arrived moments later and arrested the woman. She was booked into King County Jail for indecent exposure.
And wait a second . . . did you get that about "fear, alarm, or concern"? It seems this case might have indeed triggered the latter two, but just think about how slippery the wording of this law is. When is somebody walking around naked not going to cause "concern" for somebody? And note that the family didn't call 911 till the flashing started. That's interesting. I also notice how one lawn chair did not seem to meet the arrestee's needs. Interesting also.

Sorry, seems like I had some commentary after all.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Israel's Best Friend

That would be us, as in US. Israel would have a far tougher time throwing its weight around without Uncle Sugar. Now it turns out we're doing a lot more than the known $3.5 billion we subsidize their relentless oppression of the Palestinian people. Yet more revelations from the Snowden papers have made clear the extent of our complicity with the Middle East's longest-standing mess.
The U.S. government has long lavished overwhelming aid on Israel, providing cash, weapons and surveillance technology that play a crucial role in Israel’s attacks on its neighbors. But top secret documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden shed substantial new light on how the U.S. and its partners directly enable Israel’s military assaults – such as the one on Gaza.

Over the last decade, the NSA has significantly increased the surveillance assistance it provides to its Israeli counterpart, the Israeli SIGINT National Unit (ISNU; also known as Unit 8200), including data used to monitor and target Palestinians. In many cases, the NSA and ISNU work cooperatively with the British and Canadian spy agencies, the GCHQ and CSEC.

The relationship has, on at least one occasion, entailed the covert payment of a large amount of cash to Israeli operatives. Beyond their own surveillance programs, the American and British surveillance agencies rely on U.S.-supported Arab regimes, including the Jordanian monarchy and even the Palestinian Authority Security Forces, to provide vital spying services regarding Palestinian targets.

The new documents underscore the indispensable, direct involvement of the U.S. government and its key allies in Israeli aggression against its neighbors. That covert support is squarely at odds with the posture of helpless detachment typically adopted by Obama officials and their supporters.  Source
 I cannot help but think that if the American people really understood the ramifications of the day-to-day skullduggery, crime, and mayhem their tax dollars are paying for, they would rise up in righteous indignation.

But remember, I am unfortunately afflicted with flights of fantasy.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Americans Are Pissed Off

That's what the pollsters are finding out about us. We're mad as hell, but maybe not to the point where we're not going to take it anymore. People aren't yet on the streets with fire and brickbats building barricades against the forces of the state. But don't for a moment kid yourself that something like that is not possible here. This country has undergone two internal revolutions, numerous economic depressions (used to be "panics", now "recessions"), too many to count riots and tumults. We're convulsed in violence, consumed by our hatreds (you name it here: the government, the Right, the Left, the immigrants, Muslims, black people, the media, white people, brown people, religion, gays; the lies, cheating, and stealing that seem to form the essence of life in this country., and our powerlessness before a host of really serious problems, not the least of which is a national government that is itself paralyzed by hatreds.)

The snippet and the article really address primarily the stagnation of our national government. Which except for involving us in the expenditure of trillions of dollars for foreign wars against shadowy "terrorist" enemies seems utterly useless to address the serious problems that are obvious to millions upon millions of ordinary Americans. We've lost our faith, and everybody is casting about for somebody to blame. Politicians bear the brunt of the blame, and not without good reason.
Americans aren't happy about their politicians, the future, the economy, and just about everything else, according to the nation's pollsters, who say there is very little the public still believes in. 
"With an 'everything is terrible' mindset, I'm mostly thinking about how after several years of cantankerous and unproductive lawmaking in Washington, there are very few political figures or institutions who the public trusts anymore," the Washington Post's polling analyst Scott Clement told Politico. 
The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows President Barack Obama's approval ratings are at a record low. A new Gallup Poll shows confidence in the economy is dropping. And overall, poll ratings for Republicans and Democrats are down, according to a CBS Poll.

Source

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Not News Anymore

The cops have shot and killed another innocent black person. Here's the story. And another. This is getting to be so commonplace in our culture that it barely causes a blip on the radar any longer. I'm sure I'm wrong, but it happens so frequently that it seems that cops killing an innocent African American has become a weekly event. I find myself wondering how the African American community continues to live with this sort of thing going on year after year for decades. "Killed by police while being black" is no clever flippant explanation . . . if you happen to be young, male, and black just about anywhere in America.
John Crawford 

The latest outrage happened in a Wal-mart store in Beavercreek, Ohio. John Crawford, a 22-year old African-American was in the store on his cell phone with LeeCee Johnson, the mother of his two children, ages 4 months and a year old. (Who is pregnant with their third child.) Crawford had been playing video games in another part of the store, and he had apparently wandered over to the toy section where he picked up a bb-gun the store sells and was walking around the store with it.The last words she heard him say were: "It's not real." Then a bunch of shots and "Get on the ground," from the cops. But Crawford was already on the ground shot to death. According to witnesses, from the time Crawford first encountered the police to the shots 10 seconds elapsed.

Apparently, an ex-Marine in the store at the time, called 911, which in turn summoned the Beavercreek officers. Read the first story cited above for a reporter's skepticism about the semi-official version of the story. Including the latest announcement that investigation of the shooting will not be concluded for "months." He wants to know why. Good question.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Broken Record

Maybe this is the flip side of the huge and growing disparity of wealth in this land of the free and home of the brave. Seventy-five percent of those who aren't in the fabled 1 percent, are gloomy about their financial futures. That's three-quarters of the country that say things are bad, and they ain't getting better.

Here's the gist of it: the rich aren't just getting poorer, most of the rest of us are getting poorer. Americans aren't buying stuff, they are putting off major decisions, and they're not retiring when they wanted. And they don't think things are getting better by any stretch of the imagination.

Some of what the source article says:

In its first large-scale study of household finances, the U.S. central bank uncovered lingering effects of the sharpest economic downturn since the Great Depression, with 42 percent of respondents saying they had delayed major purchases and 18 percent saying they put off a major life decision, including buying a home or getting married, due to the crisis.

Thirty-six percent said they now planned to retire later, according to the online survey.

In a finding that could figure into the Fed's monetary policy debate, three-fourths of households said they expected their incomes to be the same or lower over the next year.

                                     ===============================

Economic inequality in the United States has been receiving a lot of attention. But it’s not merely an issue of the rich getting richer. The typical American household has been getting poorer, too.

The inflation-adjusted net worth for the typical household was $87,992 in 2003. Ten years later, it was only $56,335, or a 36 percent decline, according to a study financed by the Russell Sage Foundation. Those are the figures for a household at the median point in the wealth distribution — the level at which there are an equal number of households whose worth is higher and lower. But during the same period, the net worth of wealthy households increased substantially.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Bombs Away!

The Favorite US Solution
The "humanitarian" bombing in Iraq that our Nobel Peace Prize-winning president has declared is an obscenity. Of course, the US is not going to bomb anybody for any other reason but a noble one. Right? In this case it's to save a hapless group of people who practice an ancient religion that predates both Christianity and Islam from the murderous Islamic State militants who are overrunning parts of Syria and Iraq. They are bad people. They do terrible things, hateful things. And in this case they've run these people out of their town and up onto a nearby mountain. They are threatening to wipe them out, every last one. And the people are helpless without weapons or even the necessities of life.

The question confronting the Christian, the follower of Jesus, is what do you do? Well, you offer the suffering all the aid you can. But you do not wield the sword against their enemies. If you are going to be faithful to the gospel, you cannot do violence against another child of God. The command is love your enemies, not kill your enemies. If there's one truth that's been established by the history of our species on Earth, it's that violence begets violence. Always. It never solves a problem. It always spawns new problems, usually worse problems. Killing spawns more killing. War and its hellish fruits must be opposed. All war. Always. There's no other way I can think of that we will ever have peace. Violence must cease.

This is hard stuff. Real hard. It's impossibly idealistic, isn't it? And given our species's love of blood and war, seemingly insane. You would not have trouble finding a lot of people to agree. Pacifists and conscientious objectors are almost universally despised people. They are so far off the reservation, so at odds with the huge majority of humanity, that for that reason alone--they are that different--they must be spurned. But it seems to me there's no other way if you're going to try and model your life of the way Jesus lived his. I'm sorry. There is injustice and suffering the globe over. People are being killed everywhere because they are the wrong color, the wrong religion, the wrong nationality, have the wrong political beliefs, follow the wrong ideology, leader, or movement. Is more killing going to put an end to killing and injustice? Humans have been killing people who are different for centuries on end . . . and has it made us happier, more prosperous, more secure? If you can answer yes to these questions, then stand up a salute our reentry into war in Iraq. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Fraudlant Votes?

No. Not really. That's what the Republicans would have you believe they're preventing when they pass restrictive voter ID laws. The "sanctity of the political process" or "of the ballot box" or some other bullshit. Don't believe it for a second. These people want to restrict voters who are likely to vote for Democrats from doing so.  And now we've got proof positive. Check this out:
The Results Are In: A review of general, primary, special and municipal elections since 2000 – which involved over a billion ballots – found 31 instances of voter impersonations that would have been prevented by any of the new voter ID laws. Thank goodness the Republicans are protecting the sanctity of the vote from blacks and old people.
That, by the way, is .000000031 percent of the ballots cast in the U.S. in all elections for the last 14 years.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Life

cid:8.3870746158@web185005.mail.gq1.yahoo.com




This is one of those cutesy things people sometimes send you in the email. Why I'm not so sure. Don't most people know that virtually everybody gets too much email? I try to be sparing of such stuff mainly because I really get too much email. Way too much. But somehow for some unknown reason this one struck me today. Sorry if it doesn't do anything for you. I understand . . . but try thinking about it in terms of Hiroshima. Today is the 70th anniversary of the first time a nuclear weapon was used on a people, a country, an "enemy." Brought to you by the freedom-loving people of the United States. 80,000 people were killed outright, another 10-50,000 died later from radiation and wounds.

Life.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Irrepressible JHK

That would be James Howard Kuntsler, author of the brash blog "Clusterfuck Nation," one of my regular reads. Kuntsler is nothing if not opinionated. I like him because you always know where he stands, he writes in a style reminiscent of Hunter S. Thompson, and he is right, for the most part. But he does have some curious opinions. He's pro-Israel about almost everything and that goes for the latest abomination in Gaza. And he appears to favor restrictive immigration laws as well. But for the most part, he's got his head screwed on right.

I take my text from his entry of yesterday "All Hell":
Demonic forces are on the loose again now one hundred years after Europe blew itself apart for no good reason. (Why? Because some young Serbian nobody killed the heir to the Austrian throne on a back street in Sarajevo?) Maybe we are making a mistake to think that any sort of rationality applies now. Here in the depraved and disintegrating USA, we pretend that Afghanistan threatens our national interest from 7,000 miles away while denying that Russia has any business with its crumbling next-door neighbor (and former province), Ukraine — the crumbling of which was bought and paid for by the US Department of State and CIA.
Pretty basic understanding of the origins of WWI, which a century later, historians are still arguing about. Of course he's correct about everything else in the paragraph. It's for certain that we've seen the last of rationality in this country. (Did you catch the president the other day and his unforgettable phrase: "We tortured some folks"? I'm speechless that Obama could be so graceless. It's high time we stepped up and called it for what it is, but "some folks"??? Makes it sound like a backyard barbeque. And how many is "some" anyway? Doesn't sound like it could be too many, does it? When we know that number was one hell of a lot.) Rationality has long since deserted us. We've got the KKK now down on the border saying we ought to just be shooting these kids trying to get into the country. And is anybody going to argue that we're not basically depraved and that we're disintegrating before our eyes?

All the media in this country will soon be controlled by five gigantic corporations. NSA knows everything about you and the horse you rode in on. Crazies are out in the woods preparing for guerilla war. We live in a police state.

But don't worry: the NFL season is just around the corner.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Bullets from Babylon

My (for the present) favorite blogger, Charles Kingsley Michelson III at "Some Assembly Required" has these gems this morning:

  • They Made Me Do It: The fertilizer companies responsible for the explosion and fire in West, TX last year claim that the city, not the fertilizer companies, were to blame, which is a load of fertilizer. 
    • Have you ever noticed that whatever happens, it's always somebody else's fault? You know what makes news? Those occasions when somebody in charge steps up and says: "It was my fault. You wanna blame somebody, blame me." Now that's news.
  • Obey: NYC cops dragged a naked 48 year-old woman from her shower, through her apartment and into the hallway, subdued and arrested her - and her 12-year old granddaughter who tried to help gramma – for resisting . Wrong apartment. 
    • You've heard me wax eloquent and not so eloquent at the unremitting abuse of the citizenry of the United States--it doesn't matter where you are--by the cops. There are whole websites devoted to it, with videos and all. The fact this is not happening on your nice suburban street with its daisies and lilies and people walking their AKC-approved dogs, doesn't mean that some innocent citizens of your town aren't getting the shit kicked out of them right this minute by the guardians of law and order. P.S. Want to guess what color the woman was? 
  • Cookie Monsters: In Palm Beach a church had a homeless man arrested for stealing $2.25 worth of cookies. In Decatur, IL a man discovered that his female roommate had eaten the three cookies he had intended to have for breakfast, so he strangled her.
    • In the first instance, lemme guess . . . it was a church that follows Jesus, who told us to love our neighbors as well as we love ourselves, right? And in the second instance, what else was the guy supposed to do? He needed those cookies to sustain life.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

War is Boring

 OK. So I'm going to tell you about one of the web sites I found on the list I told you about yesterday--and I have to say that my initial explorations have not uncovered that much of interest, at least to me. But this site had a fetching title: "War is Boring." And as you will see from the entry, the news wasn't new. Fighting an killing in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, and Gaza. And a lovely photo of rockets launching.

So I suppose war is boring because we just get tired of hearing about it? Or war is boring because it never stops?

Saturday, August 2, 2014

DailyTekk Discovery

Regular readers know that I'm a lover of lists. I make them myself and always dispose of them, when they finally reach the point of uselessness, a very fluid notion. But I've always got lists around. I've got scraps of lists of web sites to check out, books to read, music to listen to, things to do, words I don't know the meaning of, etc. I could not live without lists, even though, if I'm truthful only the ones I take with me to the grocery ever have any real impact on my life.

And, like I suppose everybody else--though I know that's not so--I cherish "best of" lists. You know, best of at-the-end-of-the-year lists: books, movies, music, etc. So it goes without saying that I would find a list called "The 100 Best, Most Interesting Blogs and Websites of 2014"would be a real turn-on. Especially since I googled "best blogs out there ". I always google "the best of . . . " something. I know it's crazy, but I believe this does give some granularity to the process.  (Yeah, right. That search only turned up 761,000,000 results in .20 seconds.)

So this site was 4th down on the list. You should check it out. I'm not about to get to writing about the places I've found. I'd never get finished.

Friday, August 1, 2014

New Spoon

One of the best bands out there who have been consistently excellent through 8 albums now, spanning 16 years has just put out a new one. The band is from Austin and they're called Spoon. The new album, their first in 4 years, is "They Want My Soul." Here's one of the cuts from the new album, which isn't out until August 5, I think. You really cannot go wrong with this band.