Friday, June 28, 2013

Watch. Just Watch.
I enlisted and served a long time ago. I didn't get injured physically or mentally, and I can't get disability pay. Because I wasn't. But I served. Honorable discharge. And this asswipe gets disability and never served a day. And he got government contracts due to his "disability". $500 million worth. Fucking Asshole. 


Even Darrel Issa is impressed by Rep. Duckworth's verbal stomping.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Bad People?

Charles P. Pearce keeps hitting home runs. Today is no different.

Of course there are bad people. There are good people, bad people, poor people(who keep getting poorer), rich people(who keep getting richer) people with mistaken ideals, people with guns(that shouldn't have them), in other words just people. Of course there are bad people, there always are. Are the bad people overwhelming everyone else? Possibly. But we have had a gun culture and a culture of force for a long time in this country, actually before we were a country. One of the most bloody wars was our civil war, in many cases fought brother against brother and which was about the oppression of an entire race.

The question is not are we bad people, at least overall, but how do we change from being the people we have become, or always were. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

David Atkins over at Digby's place is right. Again.

I normally just post a link to a post on Hullabaloo. But this post by David Atkins is so good and spot on that I had to paste the entire thing. But I always put in a link as well. That's only fair.

Greenwald and Maher are both wrong

by David Atkins

It has been interesting to me to watch the various reactions to the dispute between Bill Maher and Glenn Greenwald. People tend to see the winner of the debate as the one who confirmed their own prior views. Maher's argument is that Islam is a uniquely violent religion; Greenwald's is that there's no difference between Islam and any other religion, but that U.S. imperialism is to blame for any differential blowback.

But the evidence would dictate that they're both wrong. Both of their arguments are too simplistic to be taken seriously, and both are easily assailable. We'll start with Greenwald's.

Falsehood #1: "Imperialism is to blame for everything." Yes, we all know: imperialism is bad. Imperialism begets blowback. One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. All of this is true. But on the question Maher puts, those answers are sleight of hand. The debater in Greenwald's position would have to argue that predominantly Muslim nations have suffered imperialistic horrors so disproportionate to the experiences of other nations and cultures that their reactions must be equivalently disproportionate. On that front, Greenwald's argument totally falls apart.

It would be hard to argue that the average citizen of Iran or Saudi Arabia has suffered more greatly from racism and violence than have the victims of U.S. backed military juntas and death squads in Guatemala, Honduras, Argentina or El Salvador. Yes, the U.S. coup against Mossadegh in Iran and interposition of the corrupt Shah surely led to the rise of the Ayatollahs. But it's also true that the U.S. did far worse in Chile when we deposed Allende in favor of the brutally awful war criminal and genocidal maniac Augusto Pinochet. Few honest people would argue that Iran suffered more mightily under the Shah than Chile did under Pinochet. It's not as if the U.S. didn't covet Chile's copper just as surely it did Iran's oil. And yet, Chileans didn't take hostages at a U.S. embassy, nor are they threatening to use nuclear weapons against the rest of the world. Did the U.S. arm the Afghan mujahideen against the Soviets, and then abandon them to their fate? Yes, and it led directly to the rise of Bin Laden. But we also did the same thing in Vietnam with far worse carnage. Somehow our far less atrocious involvement in Afghanistan led to the current predicament, while not even the horrors of My Lai set in motion a Vietnamese assault on the World Trade Center.

It would be difficult to argue that Estonians or Latvians somehow suffered less imperial oppression at the hands of the Soviet Union than did the Chechens. And yet the result is dramatically different. It would be difficult to say that the Muslim Uighur people in Western China have suffered more greatly under Chinese rule than have the Tibetans. And yet, the reaction has been markedly different. Palestine is not the only place in the world to be occupied at length by an unfriendly power, but it does seem to be uniquely intractable in ways that, say, the oppression of African-Americans in the South or of black Africans under Apartheid was not. Despite having experienced arguably more horrific slaughter and oppression than any other group, Native peoples in the new world aren't constructing secret terror cells in retaliation. It would be difficult to argue that Indians were somehow less oppressed by the British in 1920 than Pakistanis are by Americans today. The Holocausted Jews and Armenians might also have something to say about reacting malevolent oppression in ways that don't involve the intentional, indiscriminate murder of innocent civilians (and no, Greenwald's argument that targeted bombings that accidentally kill civilians are in the same moral space as terroristic acts that target civilians isn't even worth addressing). One could go on and on here without even bringing up death threats against cartoonists or bombing schools that dare to educate girls, both of which are also unique to certain cultures. The evidence that something unique is going on in the Muslim world beyond simple reaction to imperial oppression is so plainly obvious that to deny it is to be embarrassingly and willfully defiant of logic, reason and perspective. Maher's mockery of Greenwald for failing to see the self-evident was wholly justified.

Not that Maher wasn't deserving of ridicule himself. Which leads us to:

Falsehood #2: "Islam is uniquely violent." Maher and every other person who believes this is true should probably take a history class and write a series of mea culpae on the blackboard. There is nothing more problematic about Islam as a religion more than any other when viewed in historical context. Even ignoring ancient times, the history of the Christian era alone should be enough to disabuse anyone of the notion that Islam is somehow more inherently violent than other religions.

Islam has a long and proud history going back well over a millennium. Islamic scholars have been responsible for countless advances in the sciences and in philosophy, including at a time when most of Christian Europe was busy burning as much of its intellectual heritage as it could. That the same Christian world that perpetrated the Crusades and the Wars of Reformation would dare imply that Islam is somehow intrinsically belligerent is ludicrous. It was Christians who fought the American Civil War, Christians who perpetrated many of the awful evils of World Wars I and II. It was a born-again Christian President who lied an entire country into an illegal and immoral war against a majority Muslim country that had done nothing to us.

Nor do non-Christians get off easy. The worst crimes against humanity in history were perpetrated by Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung, neither of them Christian or Muslim. Pol Pot deserves an honorable mention, as does Ataturk.

If there is anything uniquely problematic about Islam versus other cultures and religions, it somehow didn't seem to manifest until the last century when the Middle East suddenly became hot property for imperialistic, oil-centered conquests. Which in turn means that the problem isn't Islam. It's something else. Imperialism is, of course, the easy target. But we've already covered why that explanation is wholly inadequate.

So what is going on?

Well, it turns out that it's not that complicated. Maher and Greenwald are both right, and they're both wrong. Yes, the problem has much to do with oil, imperialism and oppression. But it's not quite as simple moral relativist academics might like it to be. And yes, the problem is religion--but not in the way that Maher thinks it is.

The problem, as it is everywhere, is fundamentalism. The problem that causes anti-choice terrorists to bomb abortion clinics, Timothy McVeigh to blow up a federal building or Eric Rudolph to bomb innocents at the Olympics, is the same problem that causes so many Muslims to become entrapped in terrorism and anti-progressive movements. It's a struggle against modernity and against progressivism that occurs :

1) whenever religion of any kind is allowed to be the sole driving force of organizational activity in resistance to oppression, and

2) when people are free enough to congregate and resist without being enslaved or mass murdered, but not free enough to hope for true social advancement.

This is true in many parts of conservative America, just as it is true in Sri Lanka where the Tamil Tigers emerged. It is also true in much of the oil-producing world, where vast oil wealth mingles with massive inequality and exploitation. The ease of financing a government with oil money tempts elites into creating an economy without a substantial middle-class tax base, and without a voice of the people in government. The people are free enough to be angry and act on that anger, but not free enough to succeed or create real change. This is when fundamentalist religion is most dangerous.

This is true everywhere, regardless of whether the people in question are Christian or Muslim.

And indeed, one of the more depressing dynamics in American politics is the immediate hope on both sides after any terrorist act that a member of the other tribe be implicated. Conservatives hope to see a Muslim terrorist implicated, while liberals hope it's a right-wing terrorist extremist. This is pointless and foolish. In fact, progressives should simply note that there's barely a breath of difference between the two. As I said back in 2010:


there isn't much separation between the fundamentalist extremists on the far right in America, and the fundamentalist extremists in the Islamist movement worldwide. Both want to subjugate women under patriarchal authority, keep gays in the closet, elevate scriptural authority over secular law, and resolve problems foreign and domestic with harsh violence including the torture and killing of civilians. They are peas in a pod.

Fundamentalism of any nature causes extraordinary harm. Fundamentalists believe that the ends justify the means, and that their ideology cannot fail--only people can fail their ideology. Christian and Islamist fundamentalists alike attribute any ills befalling the world as a sign of inadequate obeisance to their God, and do whatever it takes to remake the world more in keeping with their scriptural dogma. Market fundamentalists elevate the "free market" as a divinely infallible authority, attributing even the most obvious market and corporate failures to intrusions of "big government", and offer up only more deregulation, tax cuts and the occasional military coup as a solution. Even Marxist fundamentalists exist, looking at the failures of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot not as refutations of their dogma, but as inadequate implementations of their ideology. The end result of all of these fundamentalist beliefs is mindless tragedy, violence and death.

The implication of a fundamentalist extremist in an act of violence should never be a cause for cheering by our political opponents. Rather, any such event should be a teaching moment for us to implicate extremists of all kinds, and to reinforce the universality of violence based on religious dogma.

Any attempt to provide context or justification for these acts of terror is also misguided. Certainly, the U.S. and the West in general have a spotty record in the Middle East. Anyone familiar with the names Mohammed Mossadegh or Charlie Wilson would admit to that upfront. But no act of American foreign policy in that region or any other begins to provide even significant context, much less justification, for premeditated acts of violence designed expressly to kill and terrorize a civilian population. As well might we cite Thomas Frank and the slow implosion of the American middle class as context or justification for the terrorist acts of killers like Scott Roeder or Timothy McVeigh. No one should make any excuse for these abominable creatures; similarly, no excuses should be made for the likes of Richard Reid or (allegedly) Faisal Shahzad.

Simply put, there is evil in this world that harbors no excuses for its actions: its name is fundamentalism. It's time for progressives to end the cycle of left-right tribalism over which fundamentalists are more dangerous or need more context. It's time to simply paint them with a single brush, and offer our alternative for a better, safer, more rational, more peaceful and more humane world.
Both Greenwald and Maher are wrong. This isn't about imperialism or about Islam. This is about fundamentalism, and the need to uproot it in favor of a more ecumenical, open-minded progressivism wherever it exists.


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Monday, February 25, 2013

Chis Hayes has up a nice reply to his invitation to CPAC. I fin the last graph to be the most relevant:

 In the last few months there has been an absolute avalanche of articles and blog posts and essays and magazine cover stories and TV segments about How to Save the Republican Party, but is the Republican party worth saving?

I think it best to answer his question with a very simple reply:

No.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Some Days

Like the man said, we mostly live lives of quiet desperation.  We'd like some of our days not to be so quiet or desperate but that's just the way it is. Most of us have lives that really don't count or improve the world. That's OK, but it would be nice if we balanced out some of the assholes who strive and succeed  to make it worse. But we don't do that either.  Some of us are not assholes nor space, these are the people who do good, whose gains are what sustain us all. There are little goodies and big goodies. Little goodies are those things we do that sometimes we don't even know we are doing but they are positive for someone. Big goodies are those things we strive for, like Medicare or unemployment or the WPA or Social Security or whatever that help people beyond our wildest dreams. Big goodies may be one person's idea but they take many people to see the vision and move it forward, step by step. Big goodies are seldom complete or finished, they require tweaks and hammering out direction and improvements along the way. But as they work they help people to survive and to grow, to maybe find some little or even big thing that will make life a little better or easier. Better homes, better food, better medicine and health, or just more people having some of these.
All of this takes effort and many times sacrifice. But sacrifice is not the goal, sacrifice is not better, it is just sacrifice. We are what we eat, we are who we act like, we are who we hate, we are who we fuck over, we are what we are. If we can be better, why are so many of us, assholes? What's the up side for assholes? And how can we make the downside of being an asshole a lot more costly?

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Fight Goes On

"This is a rich country that's creating billionaires by the bucketful and running history's most expensive military empire. We can afford for our elderly, disabled and sick to be decently taken care of. It's just a matter of priorities"

The end of another of Digby's great posts.

We can decide that people who need help, which is most of us at one time or another, can get it or we can continue our throwaway society and take them out with the trash.

I say lets realign our priorities back to what FDR started, what that war monger LBJ continued and join the rest of the world in providing that help when it is needed. No one gets rich off of welfare or SSDI or medicare or medicaid or unemployment, nor will they with the new healthcare law. If you are lucky those programs will allow you to survive, if you are very lucky they may allow you to pick up your life and move on.
They are opportunities, nothing more. Wonderful, absolutely necessary opportunities. But they are barely adequate most of the time, and not even that all the time.

We won a big fight on Tuesday but the war is not over. It will never be over for there are too many people who think that a hand up is wrong, that survival is only a matter of helping one's self. That may be true if you live in a cabin in the wilderness by yourself, miles from your nearest neighbor. How many of us live like that? I'll bet not even a hundredth of a percent.

To those who think we should never help anyone else, join the human race, it isn't a bad deal, sometimes it is even fun to run with the rest of us.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Last Debate

I could wax poetic but I would just be wasting time.

Read Mr. Charles Pierce

The summary was the best(but still read the whole thing)

"There is no nation in its right mind that would put its foreign policy in the hands of the Willard Romney who showed up on stage here in Boca Raton on Monday night, particularly since he had so clearly abandoned everything else he believed on the subject for the purpose of fronting himself as a moderate in order to run out the clock over the next three weeks. He knew nothing and said less. But the debate will be scored as no better than a tie because, well, all the options are too miserable to contemplate."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Shock Me! Shock Me!

Digby has another story about people being tazered.
Like most of these stories the use of these weapons are totally unnecessary.
An old man, with a white cane, in other words someone who is blind is mistaken for someone with a samurai sword. How the hell can someone who is supposed to be an observant public servant think a blind mans white cane is a samurai sword?

That's not a mistake, that is a compete dereliction of duty.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Voting

You want to know who to vote for?
Watch this video.

This short video explains it very well.
Did you like the Bush years? The huge tax cuts for the wealthy, the wars, in general the gross stupidity and lack of adults in the room, then vote for republicans.

On the other hand if you like to have people who actually think about the results of their actions and at least try to be adults, who at least attempt to represent you and your needs, vote democratic.

Look around and see in how many of your local races does the republican candidate not state his/her affiliation. Even they are ashamed of the republican party. They are still part of it, they just don't want to be branded that way. They know that anyone who thinks about the issues won't vote for them.

H/T amk at balloon-juice

Monday, August 27, 2012

One person, One vote

Got to thinking about Citizens United and my vote. Actually Citizens United and each of our votes.
And it brought up this thought.
How is my vote that important when Sheldon Adelson can not only buy votes but can be open about it. He doesn't care if we know he is spending huge sums of money to influence an election, he's proud of it.
Does my vote even count anymore? Unfortunately, by itself it doesn't.
One individual vote has rarely changed an election. But that of course is why we vote in open elections. So that we can count as a group. The right wing crazies have been very active in voting, and that can't be changed. What we can change is getting out the vote and educating people that their vote does matter, but it takes lots of votes. It should be easy to vote in a democratic society. Or even the republic that we live in. People should want to vote. But we make it hard, Tuesday voting, registration many days out, hard to vote by mail, republicans are trying to make it harder with their voter ID bullshit. This is not what I signed up for in 1969 when I joined the military. I didn't join to make it harder to be a citizen, I joined up to help make it better. Ah the disillusion of youth. My little bit of sacrifice made no difference. The much larger sacrifice of many others made no difference. Except to the lucre stuffing the pockets of the rich. 

So it's time, well it's past time to make sure that everyone votes. Hopefully they will vote for everyone, not just the rich cocksuckers, but everyone should vote. It is one of the few things we the people have left, it is the only way we can change back to not living in a third world country completely controlled by rich cocksuckers whose only concern is them getting richer and you getting poorer.




Thursday, August 9, 2012

It's About Time

Boy have I been away for a while. Life has turned the vacuum up to about 90% for me the last few months and I've been busy just eating and breathing.
Anyway....

Friday, February 17, 2012

It's Past Time

Everyone with functioning brain needs to contact their reps and senators and let them know we will not stand for the corruption of government by any religion.
And that is exactly what is happening right now. There probably some churches who are not trying to take your health care away, the catholic church is not one of them. Why is anyone listening to these old hypocritical assholes? About anything. But especially about things they know nothing about. Wait that's a pretty big collection of things. They are about living in the 5th century. I don't know about anyone else out there but my calender says quite a bit of time has passed since then.

Why are we allowing any church to tell us how to live, or more importantly how not to live?


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Fun in the economy or what I'm doing with my life

I'm not getting depressed over our current congress critters, I'm getting angry. And what gets me real angry is that I know that nothing, and I mean nothing that we do will make any difference in the short or long term.
We have no money to buy these idiots assholes, no one liberal enough to run against all of them, and no hope that any of that will change.
I really feel like a chump because I joined the military with the belief that I might be helping my country. I served, got an honorable discharge and despite what JFK said, I want my country to serve me and all the rest of the people who live here. And this government is not doing that. Or even trying to fake it.
Who do I see about this?

— people are too worried about their own jobs to spend money on major purchases right now"


Own a small retail store in the sporting goods industry, and it's not just the major purchases that are not being made. Most people are cutting off all non-essential purchases. It's not getting better here in retail land and I don't expect it to for at least 6-12 months. I expect to loose my biz over this. Oh well could be worse, I could have a job with benefits and lose that, get unemployment and have that run out, then I'd really be screwed. Oh wait.....

I wrote this as a draft while back and now it has come true. My store is now closed. Maybe I'll get by, maybe not. Fuck conservatives.

Charities

Pink ribbons.

They are supposed to mean that you support or care about research concerning breast cancer. That sure sounds like a good thing. The half of the worlds population with breasts probably are very concerned, the other half should be. Breast cancer kills. Out of the seven women in my and my mothers immediate family 2 of them have died from breast cancer and another has survived 45 years after being diagnosed. That's almost 50% of them have had breast cancer and of those 2/3 have died from it.
So what does this have to do with anything?
The Susan G. Komen foundation has just withdrawn their rather large amount of support from Planned Parenthood, which was used for breast cancer screening. This is after all the people who have paid for products and events to support helping to fight and find a cure for this horrible disease. Are they being robbed? Or at least deceived? I think so. And the kicker is that this is because Planned Parenthood does exactly that, they help people (women more so than men) plan parenthood, which many religious groups don't want women to do. They want no planning when it comes to pregnancy.  These assholes wouldn't allow abortion when a woman's health is at stake or when she has been raped. They would rather she die or that her doctor would die than even a fetus that can not possibly live. This is one sick, fucked up point of view.

So I'm saying, don't support SGK. Boycott any pink ribbon products or events. Let the SGK foundation know what you think. As Tbogg writes you could make a direct donation and have a thank you card sent to the vp of SGK. Click on the link and get the details.

To summarize: Fuck these assholes.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Now That's Class Warfare

An oldie but goodie.

From Al Franken’s Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right:

Anytime a liberal points out that the wealthy are disproportionately benefiting from Bush’s tax policies, Republicans shout, “class warfare!”
In her book, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century, Barbara Tuchman writes about a peasant revolt in 1358 that began in the village of St. Leu and spread throughout the Oise Valley. At one estate, the serfs sacked the manor house, killed the knight, and roasted him on a spit in front of his wife and kids. Then, after ten or twelve peasants violated the lady, with his children watching, they forced her to eat the roasted flesh of her husband and then killed her.
That is class warfare.
 Arguing over the optimum marginal tax rate for the top one percent is not. 
 I like it. Life was probably pretty hard in 1358 for most people but when it got even harder, and just for the enjoyment of the wealthy, remedies could be found.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Once More

David Atkins does a spectacular takedown of libertarianism and the idea, "It works, it just has never been done correctly".
As messy as humans and their societies are, there are certain ideals that just don't work. Pure communism, libertarianism, religions as governing bodies. None of these work as open societies because they are never inclusive of all the people that live in a geographic region,  nor do they work with  human nature, rather they try to stifle it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Vote. Always Vote.

Charles P. Pierce

Remember that name. Read whatever he writes. Pay attention to what he writes.

His post today on voting and especially on voting rights. A thing of beauty.

The line.       

Sorry, Lyndon, we overcame. And then we didn't. Let you down, big guy. (Click to see the whole post.)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bit by Bit or the Drones Don't Fly Themselves

The world is evolving, like it always does. Our constitution and bill of rights was pretty far ahead of the curve when written but it still had and still has holes. Part of that is the imperfection of the people writing it. Part is the fact that evolution is all around us. It is in biology, it is in technology, it is in the law.
We still have the 4th amendment as our basis for personal freedom. We have tried to give it away, see act, patriot, among other methods. It's still a pretty good law but it's interpretation maybe leaves something to be desired.
I once took an oath to uphold and defend the constitution and bill of rights. I placed myself under a different set of rules, stripping me of some of those rights to defend it because I felt it was important. My little part turned out to be not so big a deal and I have frequently wondered if it was worth it, but done is done. Protecting it is done bit by bit just as losing it's power is done bit by bit.

Is civilian surveillance  by police drone one of those bits we are giving up? I think it is real possible the answer is yes.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Nice Overview

Commentator JD Rhoades had this to say over at Balloon-Juice

After Willie Horton ads, Swiftboating, GOP convention-goers waving purple band-aids to mock a veteran’s war wounds, birtherism, Ann Coulter saying the “only choice was whether to impeach or assassinate” President Clinton, Coulter claiming 9/11 widows were “enjoying their husband’s deaths,” Rush Limbaugh mocking Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s disease, ads falsely claiming Barack Obama favored “comprehensive sex education for Kindergartners,” Rand Paul supporters trying to stomp the head of a protester, ads claiming Kay Hagen was “godless,” Michelle Bachmann calling for an investigation of ‘un-American views” among the Congress, “If ballots don’t work, maybe bullets will,” “Obama hates white people,” ‘GET OFF MY PHONE YOU LITTLE PINHEAD!” “YOU LIE!”, wingnuts at FreeRepublic calling 11-year old Sasha Obama a “street whore” for wearing a peace sign on her t-shirt, outright lies about “death panels,” “Bury Obamacare with Kennedy,” cheering for executions, booing soldiers in war zones for being gay, comparing poor people to stray animals you shouldn’t feed, “’we’ve got one raghead in the White House, we don’t need a raghead in the governor’s mansion,” supposed “Christians” suggesting that people pray for the President using Psalm 109:8 (“May his days be few; may another take his office. Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow”) as a text, Limbaugh calling the First Lady “uppity,” and on and on and on, all without a single peep from the Right…They can take their whiny-ass bullshit about liberal “rudeness” and peddle it somewhere else. We ain’t buyin’ it here.

I'm a lot less civil in my tone, his version fills in the reason why.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving

Charles P. Pierce is a national treasure. No doubt about it.
He does up a nice Thanksgiving post with an embedded video that should not be missed. So with a ten gallon hat tip to Charles

Enjoy.