Thursday, September 27, 2012

Dennis Miller Passes Away

The world today is mourning the sad loss of Dennis Miller, who passed away Wednesday night, Sept. 26 during a taping of The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News.  Dennis finally lost his long battle with Gallheimer’s disease, a debilitating and degenerative ailment which slowly robs the mind of a pleasant personality, and replaces it with an unpleasant one.  It’s signature manifestation is the slow but steady disappearance of all jollity, mirth and joy, which is then replaced with anger, hatred and vitriol.  Death follows when the disease has replaced all of the original person’s identity. Dennis was diagnosed with the disease several years ago. He will be missed.

“He’s gone,” said fellow Saturday Night Live cast member, Damon Wayans. “I remember so well how he always had that  happy disposition, that twinkle in his eye, that spring in his step, and how he could come up with a witty remark instantly out of thin air. (1953 – 2012). Now, that twinkle is gone. I look at him, and I don’t even recognize him anymore. He barely even smiles.”

“You know, at first, I refused to believe it,” said David Spade, who starred along with Miller in the movie, Joe Dirt. “Dennis of all people? No way would he succumb to Gallheimer’s! I mean, he was so positive. He always saw the lighter side of everything. Nothing could keep him down. Then I watched him on O’Reilly talking about President Obama’s appearance on David Letterman, and saw him explode into an angry tirade. That’s when I knew. Oh, God, how could this happen?”

“I know how rough it is,” said Don Novello, another SNL colleague.  “When you see a close friend or a loved one slowly fade away. It’s horrible.” Don Novello portrayed Father Guido Sarducci.

Dana Carvey was quoted as saying, “You know, some people say he just hates Obama, but I don’t think that’s it.” Dana Carvey studied Dennis Miller intensely in order to impersonate his style on SNL’s Weekend Update sketch. “I just think that after 9/11, Dennis was very anti-terrorist, and sided with the ultra-conservatives who were as anti-terrorist as he was. After several years, all the other shit the radical right spews out can begin to affect a guy. He only hates Obama because he can’t believe an entire segment of media can be bought, sold, and then be totally wrong as a result.  Which, you gotta admit, is pretty incredible, especially in America.” Right-wing media has been known to be a carrier of Gallheimer’s disease.

A private memorial service will be held in Dennis’ honor by friends and family at his estate in Santa Barbara, CA. The Tea-Party’s celebration rally for the new, grouchy Dennis Miller will be held in Washington, D.C. next Thursday.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Green Bay IS 2 & 1 !!!

Okay, everybody is trying to spin the Packers vs. Seahawks game which took place last Monday night. Everybody, apart from a few die-hard fans in Seattle, admits that it was a bad call, and the Packers actually won. So the Packers are technically 2 and 1, and I will maintain that as their true record for the remainder of the season. In my eyes, the Pack is tied with Chicago for 1st place in the NL Central.

But here comes the silliness of political commentators. Paul Ryan is apoplectic about the loss, and I don't blame him. But then he says that the refs must be working part time in Barack Obama's budgetary office. Really? Not even Reed Richards can stretch things that far. And Mitt Romney has stated that Green Bay won, but the refs then stole that victory away from them. Okay, you won't hear me say this too often, but I agree with Obamacare Jr. on that one. On the other hand, there's no way in hell that Romney can win in the Pacific Northwest, and Wisconsin is a swing state. What the hell did we expect him to say? Either way, Barack Obama made his statement regarding his disagreement with the ref's call first, thus beating everybody to the punch. Our president understands, perhaps better than any other before him, that a Commander In Chief who joins basketball fans in drawing up his chart for March Madness is far more in touch with the people than one who has a hoity-toity-horse in the Olympic Dressage.

As usual, I think everybody is missing the point regarding the replacement refs' bad call. Or rather, the series of bad calls that led up to it as well, as there was a phantom call for roughing the passer, and a case of the refs getting the jerseys mixed up when Sam Shields was so blatently mauled by the wide receiver on a play that he got badly bruised, then somehow got called for defensive pass interference. (This, by the way, is exactly the same logic as a Muslim claiming that it's a woman's own fault for getting raped.) Unions are claiming that this is just what you get for trying to do union-busting. Teachers are claiming that it's sad that unions are demonized in public schools and yet lionized in the NFL. Neither is necessarily wrong, but that's not the main point.

The main point is this: "Union" must mean "quality!" Look what happened when union quality was replaced with scabs in this case. The union was not busted. Rather, the NFL owners were. And why? Over something they could easily afford. They tried to peddle inferior product, and got caught. It didn't work precisely because quality sells. You get what you pay for.

Every union leader needs to take notice of this. Union must be synonymous with quality. The story every anti-union fool tells regarding his/her opinion of why unions suck always involves some slacker who finally gets fired and then the union fights for him, putting him back in the job where he can continue to screw up. Unions need to realize that, in today's world, in order for unions to survive, that story must not only be relegated to history, it must be synonymous with mythology. The union must fire the slackers before the owner (read private, city, state or federal) ever feels the need to. Yes, the union must fight to prevent arbitrary firing, but it must fight equally hard to secure the highest training, the best quality work, and the highest possible output.

The reason teachers' unions are unpopular in Milwaukee and Chicago is because they are protecting bad teachers on the general principle that anybody willing to teach in the rough and tumble inner city must be worth it. They also feel, almost to a Man, that protecting the students with potential from the students who are lost causes is their primary job. Bullshit! It is possible to educate all, if the streets are shut out. (Which is why I believe in boarding schools.) Look at Massachusetts! They have teachers' unions in public schools too, and their education quality is the best in the nation! It's not the unions, it's the quality of the teachers.

So, not only do you have to submit to teacher evaluations, my dear unions, YOU should have been the ones doing the evaluating beforehand! YOU should have fired the bad teachers first!

I believe in teacher unions. But the morons running them in Milwaukee and Chicago need to get a clue. They should not be shocked when a Scott Walker comes along. They should not even be shocked when a Democrat named Rahm Emanuel is forced to break tradition and give them the shaft. If you keep asking for it, then damn it all, you'll eventually get it!

And that brings me to my final point: We're not really paying for quality when it comes to the NFL referees. Let's face it. If the "real" refs were calling the plays, we'd have complained about them every bit as much as we complained about the replacements! No employee is perfect, and the pro refs make mistakes, just like everybody else. But would they have made the kinds of egregious errors which let the Seahawks snatch victory, not just from defeat's jaws, but by slicing defeat's belly open and pulling it's stomach contents out? No, they probably wouldn't. But that's the difference between quality and shitty in the NFL - one bad play. And that small margin of quality is protected by a fake union made up of high-society snobs!

How much should quality mean to a REAL union, made up of truly blue-collar workers?



Thursday, September 13, 2012

Egypt, and Freedom

Diplomacy can be a tricky thing, especially when dealing with a fledgling democracies like Egypt and Libya.

On the one hand, we marvel at the stupidity of the Egyptian and Libyan populace. They have rioted outside the American Embassy in Cairo, costing the lives of several Americans, including a key diplomat. And why? Apparently over little more than a homemade movie made in the U.S. which insults Mohammed. I've seen it. It’s nothing but a stupid, little YouTube video, badly made, and hideously acted. I've seen better amateur porno flicks. But even if this movie were a major Hollywood production (it’s clearly not), and even if it had wide distribution (it really doesn't), it would still be none of Egypt's or Libya's business. And even if it were their business, it would still be nothing more than an exercise in freedom of speech. The movie insults Mohammed? Too bad. That's the price you pay for freedom. Welcome to the club.

On the other hand, we've been just as stupid as they are currently being. Only two and one third centuries ago, the whole world was still ruled by despotic monarchs. America tried its bold experiment in democracy and freedom of religion, but no sooner did we enact such freedom than we stupidly tried to subvert it and/or throw it away. Catholics and Episcopalians nearly took over and destroyed religious freedom right at the onset, and Thomas Jefferson had to write a letter to the desperately troubled Danbury Baptists, telling them that the Constitution had what amounted to a “separation of church and state” (which is where the phrase came from), and that they should therefore keep fighting for their rights. It worked, and religious freedom now rests securely protected by a secular government (more or less). But even today, we struggle with well-meaning fools who want to destroy our religious freedom. During the Civil War, we nearly tore ourselves apart because half our nation wanted to cling to racism and slavery of fellow humans. We engaged in wholesale slaughter and land-theft of aboriginal Americans (Indians) on a grand scale. In other European countries, the mistakes were just as bad. France had its revolution and threw out King Louie XVI, and immediately abandoned their hard-won freedom by crowning Napoleon. Russia overthrew its monarch, only to watch Communism collapse into Fascism. Germany and Italy threw out their hopes for democracy out in a similar way with the Nazi Party. Even Greece, the very cradle of democracy, suffered under a military junta during the 1960's. We only just outgrew these mistakes a few decades ago! We have been anything but perfect.

Now it's Egypt's turn to make mistakes.

Our response to the riots and the unrest in Egypt and Libya has been carefully phrased, and well delivered. It reminded the people of Egypt and Libya that all but a paltry few of America’s citizens condemns such silly movies as the one which caused all this backlash. It sought to calm the outrage while at the same time including a reminder that freedom of speech is a universal right – one which was obviously abused. It was a good response.

Mitt Romney immediately attacked it, criticizing the Obama administration for sympathizing those who waged the attacks rather than condemning them.

Oh, brother!

I really can’t emphasize exactly how big a fuck-up this is on Romney’s part. You see, the best way to ruin Egypt’s young democracy (and Libya’s) is to further antagonize its people toward America.  If Egyptians see the U.S. as the enemy of its faith, then America, and its democratic values, become the enemy too. Egypt will then fall into Theocratic Fascism, just like Iran did following the fall of the Shah, and that would be disastrous for the Middle East and the world, but most importantly for the people of Egypt.

In other words, Mitt Romney is doing exactly the opposite of what he, and all of America, needs to do. He is putting a barrier between Egypt and democracy, and all so that he can merely criticize any little thing Obama does in a doomed effort to win the presidency. He would rather subvert a desperate attempt for freedom in the world’s oldest civilization, and see the tens of millions of people who live in it suffer generations of oppression, rather than see Obama get a mere four more years.

What an asshole!

If we multiply this incompetence by only half a dozen other countries, Israel, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and China, we begin to realize just what a cluster-fuck this CEO with no diplomatic experience would be. He still sees the world as his Mormon mission, and is as unable to relate to them as he is to the average American.

Okay, to be fair, it looks as though the stupid video was nothing more than a pretext, used as an excuse by Al-Quaeda and its affiliates to create unrest while it goes and kills American diplomats and international workers. Talk about a cheap shot! But before we excuse Romney's colossal fuck-up in response, we should ask ourselves why Al-Quaeda would want to do this. Why would the terrorists want Obama out and want a Republican in?

Why, because they want America to go off half-cocked, that's why! They want more wars! They want U.S. troops to come over to their lands so that they don't have to bother with expensive travel and visas in order to kill us. They want us to attack so that they, the fundamentalists, can ignite total Jihad and unite all Islam under the single-banner of bashing Uncle Sam.

Meals on wheels.

They also want our government to spend itself to death through the military, just like the Soviets did.

We've tried cowboy-diplomacy before. We’ve also tried bull-in-china-shop diplomacy before. But that is the last thing Egypt and Libya need right now, if they are to have any chance at accepting the democratic values we value so dearly. It's also the last thing WE need, because we have our own economy to look to, and besides, we're completely out of war-money. This whole thing is a ruse designed to trick us into having us commit troops where they don't belong - in harm's way. Fuck that!

As if we needed another reason not to vote for Romney.

Obama is speaking softly, and the big stick he carries is kept well hidden. Mitt Romney, by contrast, speaks loudly, and he IS the big stick. Dipstick, that is. Stick-in-the-mud. Or stick-figure when it comes to detailing his economic plan.

That having been said, somebody does need to set diplomacy aside a little bit and condemn a lot of what is happening out there. I am pleased to do so. This is the Sacred Cow Wursthaus, after all!

First, let me condemn the media. Not one media outlet has reported the name of the video which started all this shit. I suppose they think they are trying to keep a bad situation from getting worse. But you simply can’t keep people from being curious about the movie that way! I certainly found the video easily enough without their help. Besides, the people of Egypt and Libya should feel the sharp sting of knowing that their stupid riots are doing nothing more than popularizing this video! They should all realize that their rioting, not the movie itself, is this movie’s primary advertising department! It is responsible for making this insult to Mohammed as big and as wide as possible! Al-Jazeera needs to issue a special announcement telling all rioters to go home immediately for exactly that reason! But no, the media won’t even mention the name. Of all the lily-livered, yellow-backed, chicken-shit crap! You spineless jellyfish! Not only should the media be including the video’s name, but they should re-publish all the Danish cartoons which insulted Mohammed as part of a background piece! Let Islamicists stew in THAT one!

So, because Egypt so richly deserves it, is the name of the video. It is called, Innocence of Muslims. Go look it up.

Second, let me condemn what Egypt has been doing. Hey, Egyptians! Get with the program! Here you are, having fought tooth-and-toenail for democratic freedom, and what’s the first thing you do with it? You riot and kill people! Come on! You really think attacking an embassy is going to change Hollywood? Get real! The idiot who made the film is in California, not Cairo! The idiot Rev. Terry Jones who promoted it is in Florida, not Tripoli! Don’t you realize that your freedom means that you can make a film insulting to Mohammed yourselves, and get away with it? Yet you not only still think that you can’t do this, but that people who live a billion miles away should acquiesce to your silly little demands to curtail freedom of speech! You arrogant, little pinheaded pyramid-pilers! You want to riot against something? Go visit Syria and lend a hand rioting there!

Jeez! Talk about cutting the Sphinx’s nose off despite your face!

Egypt, we expect better. You deserve better. You’ve earned better. And we in America want to see you get there.

Third, let me condemn the movie, Innocence of Muslims. I don’t condemn it for insulting Islam. Theo Van Gogh’s movie in Holland did that too, and I supported him. No, I condemn it by being a thoroughly horrible film. Finally, someone has made a worse film than Batman: The Movie starring Adam West and Burt Ward! If it were done as a comedy, it might work, but it was done as a serious indictment of Mohammed, only with shitty sound and lighting. Or maybe it was meant as a comedy, but nobody laughed. (Which means somebody finally outdid John Carpenter’s Dark Star as well.) We Americans pride ourselves on making great cars and great films. But this shitty thing threatens to do serious damage to our reputation!

If you’re going to insult Mohammed, then for Christ’s sake, do it right!

Finally, let me condemn all those who believe that the video, the Rev. Terry Jones, or anyone else who insults a religion or its leaders is somehow abusing freedom of speech. Bullshit! It is exactly the freedom to insult another person’s religion which is at the very heart of what free speech was meant to be! Freedom of speech is meant to protect blasphemy, if nothing else. Besides, if you can’t make fun of God, who the hell CAN you make fun of?

So, in that spirit, let me close with this: Fuck Mohammed! Fuck Jesus! Fuck Moses! Fuck you rioters in Libya and Egypt! And fuck Mitt Romney!

You see? That’s how you do freedom of speech in a democracy.



Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Religio Licita

In ancient Rome, there was a concept of law known as Religio Licita. Basically, it meant that only certain religions were legal, and the rest were outlawed. Now, most of the time, Rome was very lenient with its approval of religions, but every once in a while, a religion would cross the line, and be banned.

This is, interestingly, why the Apostle Paul wrote so approvingly of slavery. He was deathly afraid that Christianity would be outlawed by the Roman government. This was a real possibility because Christians were speaking out against the ownership of slaves, and slave labor was the backbone of the entire Roman economy! So, to make sure that Christianity wasn’t banned, he wrote repeatedly that Christians were not in favor of slave rebellion, and should not become so. He wrote in Colossians 3:22, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything, and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence toward the Lord.”  He repeated this in Ephesians 6:5, and the entire book of Titus is essentially a letter written by Paul to a Roman citizen about his runaway slave, Onesimus, apologizing for him running away, and asking him to take him back into service!

Paul's tactic worked. Christianity was declared Religio Licita. At least, at first. A generation or two after Paul, when Nero was the Roman Emperor, Christianity became a convenient political scapegoat, and was banned anyway. Christians all over the Empire were arrested and thrown to lions in the arena. The passages Paul wrote which endorsed slavery later became the foundation of the slave trade in Europe, created the belief by states in the southern United States that God favored their side in the Civil War, and was the foundation behind current lingering racist attitudes which are still at work in today’s politics, particularly in the Tea Party movement. But I digress.

The concept of Religio Licita was deliberately abandoned when our nation was founded. Legalized religion was replaced with the concept of absolute religious freedom for all. Certainly we can all agree with the wisdom of this move. But lately, religion has become so virulent and violent that I wonder, is it possibly time to revisit this old idea? Should at least some religious doctrines be declared illegal?

Take the following off-the-wall scenario for example: Say there’s an offshoot Satanist group which has broken off from traditional LaVeyan orthodoxy and formed its own cult. One of its members gives birth to a baby, which is then offered to Satan as a human sacrifice soon thereafter. Should this be against the law?

I think we can all agree that in this crazy, hypothetical situation, both the written law and natural law have been violated. A baby has no ability to think for itself, and cannot make a rational choice. It cannot decide that it wants to give its life freely to its parents’ religion. So killing it would definitely be murder.

Ah, but wait! The cult says, “First amendment! We have the right to do this under our freedom of religion!”

Do they?

I answer no. I think we all would agree. Why? Because we realize that when human liberty and religious liberty clash, human liberty must win out.

That’s so key that I feel I should say it again: When human liberty and religious liberty clash, human liberty must win out.

But this idea has consequences, and nobody wants to talk about them. We can all deduce, based on the above, that if  Muslims think that their religion says that infidels should be slain in a terrorist attack, that this is illegal. Or if Muslims say, based on their scriptures, that apostates from their religion must be put to death (Koran, 4:89), that practice must be forbidden under the law. We can probably even deduce that burying women under sheets of dark cloth is an illegal act, to say nothing of being outright silly. Human freedom outweighs religious freedom.

Well, okay. But now apply this to Christianity. What if a Christian wants to kill a Pagan on the basis of the biblical commandment, “Thou shalt not allow a witch to live,”? (Exodus 22:18) Or maybe wants to kill a rebellious child? (Leviticus 20:9) What about all those Bible passages above that endorse slavery?

It seems the same principle makes certain Christian doctrines illegal, too! That includes forcing others, who don't belong to your religion, to accept a definition of marriage which your religion might not endorse, or defining the onset of a living being at conception rather than later brain development based solely upon dogma. It includes religious edicts against contraception which dictate that certain affiliate hospitals not distribute that contraception, even to people who do not belong to that particular religion, and even when said hospitals are run in a non-sectarian manner in all other instances. It includes using taxpayer funded schools to teach silly creationism to children who belong to someone else.

In short, if your religion violates human freedom, it should be against the law.

Don’t get me wrong. Someone can still be a Christian, Muslim, Jew, or whatever. But if they want to be any of those things and simultaneously hold to a doctrine which violates human freedom, then that doctrine is illegal. The only time an entire religion should be made illegal is if the entire core doctrine violates human freedom.

What got me thinking about all this was the riots taking place right now in Egypt. People there are tearing up American flags and hoisting up the flag of Islamicism over the U.S. embassy. And why? Because one, little YouTube video is apparently insulting towards the prophet Mohammed. The riots are essentially saying that their religion trumps not only human freedom, but freedom of speech as well.

Bullshit! That’s illegal! Or, at least, it should be.

It is not Religio Licita.

So here, finally, is my point: We need to send a hard, stinging message that is felt throughout all religions, but especially Islam. That message is, “If you want your religion to be legal, then it must abandon ALL illegal violations of human freedom! No more ‘honor killings,’ no more sanctioning of terrorism. No more oppression of women.”

In fact, we should even lead by example, showing them how it’s done, by legalizing gay marriage, marijuana and stem cell research.



Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Most Unbiased Evaluation Of Romney

Those who have read my blog recently might get the impression that I am somehow biased against Mitt Romney, and biased in favor of Obama. Okay, I'll freely admit to being in love with Our Trophy President. Hell, I'd give him a bigger bear-hug than the one that pizza-guy gave him recently. But when it comes to disapproval of Romney, my opinion is anything but biased. It is based solidly on the most non-partisan of criteria, so unquestionably balanced that no one can challenge it. Because of this, I thought it would be nice of me to share it with you.

The non-partisan criteria I am referring to is other Republicans. Oh, they're polarized, to be sure, but their evaluation of Mitt Romney is guaranteed to be free of any liberal distortion. If nothing else, what they have had to say about Mitt has no left-wing tint to it whatsoever. Some of the names you see below might even be ones you recognize and admire as your favorite right-wing talking heads. Here's what they have said about Mitt Romney rather recently. And again, keep in mind that my negative opinion of the man comes more from their comments than from any liberal lenses I might be wearing.

"If we don't run Chris Christie, Mitt Romney will be the nominee, and we will lose."
- Ann Coulter, speaking at CPAC, February 2011.

"We don't have the ideal nominee. There wasn't the ideal nominee this time around."
- Rush Limbaugh, broadcast 9/4/2012.

"They [the voters] want to know what's the truth. They're not interested in a chameleon."
- Michelle Bachmann, speaking of Mitt Romney during a speech in Florida, December, 2011.

"Pick any other Republican in the country. He is the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama."
- Rick Santorum, speaking in Racine, WI, March 2012.

"He should release the tax returns tomorrow. It's crazy. You've got to release six, eight, ten years back tax returns. Take the hit for a day or two. He has to give a big speech in defense of capitalism, and that will elevate, I think, this race above this tactical back and forth, which I do think he's on the margin of losing."
- Bill Kristol, Fox News, July 15, 2012.

"Governor Romney supported the bailout of Wall Street and decided not to support the bailout of Detroit."
- Rick Santorum, Detroit, MI, February 2012.

"At some point he has to show that he has a vision of a better way. He can't just say 'The future is bleak, follow me,' because no one will."
- Republican strategist Mark McKinnon, Politico.

"He changed his position on virtually everything. I'm a moderate Republican, that's what I am, so I'd be inclined to support someone like Mitt Romney. But all those changes give me pause."
- Rudy Giuliani, February 2012.

"If Mitt Romney can be pushed around, intimidated, coerced, co-opted by a conservative radio talk show host in Middle America, then how is he going to stand up to the Chinese? How is he going to stand up to Putin? How is he going to stand up to North Korea if he can be pushed around by a yokel like me? I don't think Romney is realizing the doubts that this begins to raise about his leadership."
- American Family Association spokesman, Bryan Fischer, during his radio show, May 2012.

"I've never seen a guy change his position so many times, so fast, on a dime."
- Rudy Giuliani, MSNBC, December 2011.

"We're not going to beat Barack Obama with some guy who has Swiss bank accounts, Cayman Island accounts, owns shares of Goldman Sachs while it forecloses on Florida and is himself a stockholder in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae while he tries to think the rest of us are too stupid to put the dots together to understand what this is all about."
- Newt Gingrich, Mt. Dora, FL, January 26, 2012.

"Can we drop a little bit of the pious baloney? The fact is, you ran in '94 [vs. Ted Kennedy] and lost. That's why you weren't serving in the Senate with Rick Santorum. The fact is, you had a very bad re-election rating [in Massachusetts], you dropped out of office, you had been out of state for something like 200 days preparing to run for president. You didn't have this interlude of citezenship while you thought about what you would do. You were running for president while you were governor."
- Newt Gingrich, speaking to Mitt Romney, NBC News/Facebook debate, January 8, 2012.

"Now you have to ask a question - is that really, is capitalism really about the ability of a handful of rich people to manipulate the lives of thousands of other people and walk off with the money? Or is that in fact somehow a little bit of a flawed system? And so I do draw a distinction between looting a company, leaving behind broken families and broken neighborhoods and then leaving a factory that should be there."
- Newt Gingrich, Manchester, NH, January 9, 2012.

"Maybe Governor Romney, in the spirit of openness, should tell us how much money he's made off of how many households that have been foreclosed by his investments."
- Newt Gingrich, CNN debate, January 26, 2012.

"Now I have no doubt that Mitt Romney was worried about pink slips - whether he was going to have enough of them to hand out because his company Bain Capital, with all the jobs that they killed, I'm sure he was worried that he'd run out of pink slips. There is something inherently wrong when getting rich off failure and sticking it to someone else is how you do your business and I hapen to think that's indefensible. If you're a victim of Bain Capital's downsizing, it's the ultimate insult for Mitt Romney to come to South Carolina and tell you he feels your pain. Because he caused it."
- Former TX Governor Rick Perry, South Carolina, January 9, 2012.

"I know the difference between venture capitalism and vulture capitalism. Venture capitalism is a good thing, comes in, gives that gap funding to help these companies get off and get started creating jobs and work. But Mitt Romney and Bain Capital were involved with what I call vulture capitalism. And they walked into Gaffney and took over that photo album company for no other reason than to basically pick the bones clean. And these people lost their jobs."
- Rick Perry, January 10, 2012, referring to photo-album manufacturere in Gaffney, SC, where 150 jobs were lost when Bain assumed control.

"I believe most Americans want their next president to remind them of the guy they work with, not the guy who laid them off."
- Mike Huckabee, describing Mitt Romney during his 2008 campaign bid.

"Romney, supposedly the Republican most electable next November, is a recidivist reviser of his principles who is not only becoming less electable; he might damage GOP chances of capturing the Senate... Republicans may have found their Michael Dukakis..."
- George Will, Washington Post, October 2011.

So, there you have it. Romney's a complete skunk. Don't take my word for it. Take it from your fellow conservatives.



Saturday, September 8, 2012

What SHOULD Have Been Said At The DNC Is...

I liked many of the speeches given at the Democratic National Convention. But the biggest item, the most important one, was left unsaid. How frustrating!

Oh, Bill Clinton came close to saying it. So did our President. But neither one outright did. So, for the benefit of all, here it is:

There are exactly 240 reasons that job growth has slowed, and unemployment remains high. 240. That happens to be the exact number of Republicans in the House of Representatives. And since 2010 they have deliberately blocked every attempt Barack Obama has made to help the economy. They have undermined the economy over the last two years, blatantly, and on purpose, for all the world to clearly see! Why? Because economic recovery meant a Barack Obama victory, and they would rather eat broken glass than let Obama win one, little thing. When it came time to put Americans back to work, Republicans said, "No! No! No! Stay jobless!" When it came time to build, Republicans said "Destroy!" When it came time for the economy to rise, Republicans, with one, unambiguously loud voice, shrieked, "Sink, damn you! Sink!"

Now, all their hard work at keeping you out of work has come to a head. They have sacrificed us all on the alter of their insane ambition to never heal our nation, to keep it divided, and to make sure that only their partisan side is heard. After doing such a great job at preventing Obama from helping the economy, they now are attacking Obama for not helping the economy! And that's a great tactic, if  people aren't paying attention. But I happen to think that sort of crime is worthy of incarceration, rather than inauguration!

You threw us all under the bus just so that you could lynch a black man. And now you want the Oval Office? Not on my watch!

All that would be reason enough to never vote for the Republican candidate for president, even if conservatives had selected a mouth-watering candidate, like Jeb Bush. But all they could find to dare dream the impossible dream of destroying the American Dream, was a tax evading Mormon born with a silver spoon in his mouth; a man who is shifty, a blatant liar, and (yes, I'll say it!) not even a true Christian.

Even if our wheels needed a change, you can't replace a flat tire with a turd.

Why all this hatred? Why has one side of the debate become so blind that they would rather see us all lose rather than give Obama one win?

Ultimately, I don't know. Oh, I could say how it all comes down to Roe v. Wade. I could point out how conservatives can sense how they've come so close to stacking the Supreme Court with one-sided monsters who will overturn a woman's right to chose, and can feel how it will all slip away if they lose four years of opportunity to continue that trend. I could argue that this whole Tea Party debacle is the result of the monopolization of the A.M. airwaves by right-wing interests and that somehow anti-trust laws have overlooked this. I could point out that, in spite of a near-century of unbridled success, people don't believe that government spending helps an economy. I could even point out how all this is tied to xenophobia and racism. Maybe I'm even right about that. But the level of stupidity and blindness that would have to be nurtured and defended by the general public would have to be so low that I find myself even doubting that's even remotely possible.

Meanwhile, the slow growth of the economy can be summed up in three letters: G.O.P.! And if the economy seems sluggish, that's only because there's a big, fat elephant sitting on top of it! This is a "right-wing recession," a "conservative conflation," a "Republican relapse."

Remember that in November.



Sunday, September 2, 2012

Less Government

Here's a quote I'll bet you've heard:

"That government is best which governs least."

It's the philosophy our nation's founding fathers had. Or is it?

The quote is usually attributed to Thomas Jefferson. But no specific source document can be found where he is shown to have said it. Nor can any record be found where Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, or anyone else said it. In fact, the phrase seems to have originated 50 years after the United States came into existence. If you want the details about it, I recommend you read the book, Not So!: Popular Myths About America From Columbus to Clinton by Paul F. Boller.

In fact, the phrase first originated from a journalist named John Louis O'Sullivan. In 1837, he wrote, "The best government is that which governs least," and used it as the official motto of his periodical, The United States Magazine and Democratic Review. Every issue of that magazine had that phrase printed on its cover until it ceased publication in 1859. This, not the founding fathers, is where the phrase actually came from.

It received further popularity when Ralph Waldo Emerson used it in his 1844 essay, Politics. He wrote, "The less government we have, the better." Emerson's friend and ideological disciple, Henry David Thoreau, finally wrote the phrase in its final form in his landmark 1849 essay, Civil Disobedience. He wrote, "I heartily accept the motto, -- 'That government is best which governs least.'"

Unfortunately, this phrase has a fatal flaw, because, if taken to its logical conclusion, the best government is the one which does not govern at all! Interestingly, that's exactly what Thoreau went on to argue in his essay! Not even the most extremist of Republicans preaching less government will dare advocate that!

Now, I like Thoreau. His book, Walden, enthralled me when I was in high school. But he was only human, after all. Perhaps, in an age where the most advanced weapon was a musket, that sort of system could work. In today's world, where everything is wired for video and weapons are easily obtained, the least possible amount of government is a sure-fire recipe for disaster!

I am not the first to argue this. Franklin Delano Roosevelt argued it following the Great Depression. In a speech given on Halloween night, 1936, he said, "For twelve years this nation was afflicted with hear-nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing Government... Powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of government with its doctrine: 'That government is best which is most indifferent.'"

So the question must be rephrased: How much government is too much? In order to maintain the maximum amount of prosperity for all, it is certainly necessary to regulate things like banking, corporations, stock exchanges, international trade, and natural resources like fishing and logging. It is also necessary to provide support systems for citizens whose livelihoods are subject to environmental whims, such as farming, or for upgrading the labor force to be able to compete with growing technology, such as welfare and education. These, of course, are "entitlements," as they are often called, and some are in favor of slashing such spending. But this cannot be done without severe damage being done to a nation's economy. So what can be done?

What nearly all democratic nations do is apply a progressive income tax system, where the rich pay more, and the poor pay less, or none at all. Is this fair? Does it punish success? Is this, finally, too much government?

I argue no. Why? Because for every successful businessman, there are at least a hundred others who worked just as hard, and just as smart, but were not as lucky. Yes, successful tycoons such as Mitt Romney and Ron Johnson did work hard and earned their keep, but they were also fortunate. This is the difference between billionaire and pauper: one lucky break. And this is why taxing the successful more makes so much sense. It offsets the "luck factor." It's not punishing success. It is the mandatory thanks offering to the goddess of luck. It is acknowledging that their success was due as much to privilege as to performance.

So, with all that in mind, I am now ready to re-phrase this popular expression. Here goes:

"That government is best which lets its citizens live the most."

In other words, government has an obligation to butt out of its citizens' personal choices, but has an equally strong obligation to ensure maximum opportunity for all. No one is to be left without a fair chance. And if one person's chances make that person successful, if America has been good to him/her, then he/she is required to be good right back in the form of a fair tax rate. This, in turn, gets used to ensure other people have the same chance at success, thus creating a positive feedback loop where the maximum number can prosper.

I'm also not the first to attempt a re-phrase. Robert M. Hutchins (1899 - 1977) who was Dean of Yale Law School, rephrased it this way:

"That government is best which governs best."


It's a good idea, neither Democratic nor Republican.

But for whatever reason, it's currently against GOP policy.



Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Reagan Question

Some of us remember back this far: It's 32 years ago, I'm way too young to vote, and there's a debate on TV between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. All I care about at the time is that this means I can't watch The Dukes of Hazzard or Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century. Darned politicians!

It was only later, I'll admit, when I learned that this was the golden moment where Reagan asked his audience, "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?"

This question has since been referred to as "The Reagan Question," and it has been strongly used by every winning candidate for president since. The only recent president who didn't use it was George W. Bush, and neither of his electoral victories were anything other than squeakers. Also, the economy was not as prominent an issue in both those elections. And its fair to say that the candidate who relies on that question is a sure-fire winner. No presidential candidate has dared to utter it if it will work against him.

Until now.

It was perhaps the most amazing moment of the Republican National Convention. Certainly it was the most amazing moment of Mitt Romney's acceptance speech. I daresay it even trumped Clint Eastwood's croaking and stammering attempt at stand-up comedy.

It was the moment where he dared invoke The Reagan Question.

After trumpeting his own success as a businessman, and insisting that this is the most important qualification for President, the then went on to say, "That's why every president since the Great Depression who
came before the American people asking for a second term could look back at the last four years and say with satisfaction, 'You're are better off than you were four years ago.' Except Jimmy Carter."

Here, the audience laughs at the dig on Carter. Then he adds:

"And except this President."

Now, here is where the extraordinary thing happens! If you were watching on TV instead of just listening to the audio, you saw the camera pan to the audience starting to get to its feet for a standing ovation...

But they stopped!

Oh, you heard rousing applause! That was just part of the natural cadence of Mitt's speech. But it was as if the audience had been socked to the gut! They saw what you and I see. In fact, what we all see and already know. You don't need me to say it, but I'll say it anyway:

The honest answer to The Reagan Question, is YES! We ARE better off now than we were four years ago!

Okay, maybe not by a lot more, but we definitely are! And as slow as the economic recovery has been, the economy has been growing!

This, despite Republican attempts to submarine Obama's efforts at helping it at every turn, particularly since 2010.

Mitt stepped in it once. But he wasn't content to leave it there. Why his speech writers didn't catch this early on, examining draft after draft, I'll never know. But he stepped in it again! He said:

"This president can ask us to be patient. This president can tell us it was someone else's fault. This president can tell us that the next four years will get it right. But this president cannot tell us that you're better off today than when he took office."

Golf clap! Yes, Mitt Romney's audience gave him a GOLF CLAP in response!

Holy shit!

Like I said earlier, they saw it, and so do you! Everyone in the entire room saw the lie, and how dangerous it was. But just in case I need to draw a picture for anybody else out there, here's what's been happening with the economy since Barack Obama took office:

You've probably seen this before. In 2009, when Obama took the reigns, the economy was in bad shape. Then things began to improve. The stimulus turned things right back around. Since then, economic growth has been slow, but consistent. Jobs have been added, growth has been maintained. We ARE better off than we were four years ago!

And here's where I have to destroy a popular myth. People in Mitt Romney's camp insist that Obama has had four years. Bullshit! He's had two. Republicans have cock-blocked him permanently ever since the 2010 elections - a moment more defined by hatred and division than any other.

You know, given that fact, the consistently recovering economy is not half bad!

Look at the numbers in January of '10 and January of '11, and you can understand why New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, decided to stay out of the 2012 elections! Who wants to run against a Titan like Obama with economic numbers like that! So, the only folks left parading around the Iowa Caucuses were the crazy-ass morons who actually thought they had a shot. Mitt Romney was one of them. Obama's success is the main reason Republicans are stuck with a lousy candidate like him.

The one thing that makes Mitt Romney's campaign a little realistic is that little up-tick in unemployment numbers at the end. Unemployment has risen by two tenths of a percent over the summer of 2012. And that's the only thing that is giving Romney life. That's the one thing that lets him claim the economy is lousy. The unemployment percentage is 8.3%, or half a point higher than when Obama first took office. Half a fucking point. And only one-tenth of a percentage up in June and July.

Two tenths of a percent. That's what Mitt Romney calls a horrible economy.

You see, Mitt has placed all his eggs in one basket (something no smart investor should do). And that basket has a hole in it. He's bet the entire thing on one issue: the economy. He can't win on women's issues, ethics, likability, social justice issues, civil rights, gay marriage -- in ALL of them, he's a total loss. He can't even really compete against Romneycare II, a.k.a. "Obamacare." The current state of the economy, as middle-fair as it is, is all he has left.

If that unemployment percentage number goes down between now and November, Mitt is so very fucked!

And, I predict, it will go down. How do I know? Here are my excellent reasons:

1. Back to school! Summer jobs will come to an end, and more jobs will become available to everyone else as a result. Parents who have been saving up for it all summer will be buying supplies. The economy will have an up-tick during this time.
2. Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The holiday season starts earlier and earlier. Retail stores are hiring on extra workers. Seasonal employees crop up everywhere. Halloween Express stores begin taking over every vacant storefront they can find. And all of it starts in late September and early October.
3. Summer-mix gasoline season will come to an end, bringing prices down with it. Obama will also release some of the Strategic Oil Reserves (as nearly every recent sitting president running for re-election has done), thus bringing gasoline prices down even further.
4. Hurricane relief. Hurricane Isaac, while tragic, will free up Federal Disaster Relief funds, which will act as a de facto stimulus. Construction workers, repairmen, and employment of all sort will be needed to help in the Gulf Coast.

There is one, and only one, negative factor. Obama granted what amounted to amnesty for many undocumented immigrant children living in the U.S., thus adding hundreds of thousands to the labor force at exactly a critical time. But if the unemployment numbers go down anyway, that's an even bigger victory for Obama than was previously thought! It will mean that unemployment is falling far more rapidly than was anticipated.

It's a game of inches, now. A tenth of a percent improvement in unemployment means an Obama victory. If the unemployment percentage falls below 7.7% Romney has nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Romney himself agreed with this, unwittingly. Before the above gaffs were uttered by him, he made this remark during his acceptance speech:

"Is it any wonder that a President who has attacked success has led the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression?"

Aha! So it IS a recovery, then!

Told you.

This confirms something I've been saying for a long time, now. Yes, Mitt Romney is a good businessman. But he's a lousy politician!

There were other great moments where Republicans all but admitted that they're in trouble. Mike Huckabee, for example, when he addressed his objections to Romney's Mormon beliefs, said, "I'm less concerned where Mitt Romney takes his family to church than I am about where our President takes this nation!" Ah, so he IS concerned, then! Besides, what he was saying, essentially, is that he hates Obama more than he hates Mormonism. That's hardly a ringing endorsement.

Or then there was Governor Chris Christie devoting 75% of his speech towards his own campaign four years from now before finally mentioning Mitt Romney's name once. It was as though Christie knows, intrinsically, that Romney won't be there in 2016.

There was Ron Paul, who held back his endorsement of Romney. That's a lot of anger from someone supposedly on your own side!

And finally, there was Clint Eastwood, stealing all the thunder that was supposed to have been for Romney's speech with his lame attempt at making Obama into his ventriloquist dummy. Way to provide the distraction that hurricane Isaac failed to provide, you old goat! I'm SO going to see your new movie!

Two economic numbers are due before the November election. One is due in a few days. It would not surprise me if that number went either way. But the other is due in early October. That number, I predict, will show unemployment numbers down. And with those sinking numbers, will go Mitt Romney's campaign.

Along with the October surprise Mitt gift-wrapped for Obama in the form of announcing his 2011 tax-returns being released on the 15th.

Yeah, it's early, but I'll say it anyway: Nice try, Mitt. Maybe Republicans will win next time.