Thursday, February 25, 2010

And the Winner is...

Here's the only winner in today's health care debate:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Why We Fight

We fight because " the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope". We fight because senior citizens should have not have to chose between food and medicine. We fight because American Individualism is not an open invitation to social Darwinism. We fight because Gay and Lesbian are not dirty words. We fight because we believe that all men are created equal. We fight because we believe that people should be judged by the content of their character. We fight because having tens of thousands of people die each year because of a lack of affordable health care is morally unacceptable. We fight because having thousands of children go hungry in the richest nation on the planet is morally reprehensible. We fight because every child deserves access to an education that will prepare them to compete in the global economy. We fight because torture committed in our name is still torture. We fight because everyone should have the right to marry who they chose. We fight because we only have one planet. We fight because the status quo is unacceptable. We fight because a lie repeated often enough must not be permitted to become the truth. We fight because women deserve to paid the same as men. We fight because our veterans deserve to be treated with respect they have earned. We fight because the expenditure for the Iraq war could have paid for health care for every man, woman and child in the country who cannot afford it. We fight because the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. We fight because the forces massed against us never take a day off. We fight because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. We fight because as FDR put it, at the height of the Depression,

"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of the those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little".
That is why we fight. We fight because we must.
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Friday, February 19, 2010

What Will They Say?

Yesterday’s litany of lies coming from the GOP’s CPAC were not novel in and of themselves, nor was their degree, or their nakedness anything special. It is to be expected that elites out of touch and removed from their professed ideals and goals would also insist on being a safe distance from reality. Reality is not pretty for today’s Republican Party. But that’s fitting, because the rest of the world has had to live with the mess they made for over a decade while they denied it and lied about it.

Apparently, some right wing politicians still don’t accept that nobody’s convinced they don’t bear the blame for country’s woes. Some in the right wing electorate just line up to hear newer, bolder lies with rapt attention, listening for something, some detail or dangling participle they can use to make themselves feel good about just how bad things are. After all, how do you tell an entire voting block that the last eight years were a mistake, -when they voted you in?
It would mean Republicans conceding the truth about deceptions, hypocrisies and ineptitude, -and in a manner of speaking laying the blame squarely at the feet of the unquestioning average Republican voter:
-who never complained about spending when the deficit was sky rocketing under George W. Bush.
-who never seemed to notice that the size of Government was growing under Republican control and influence.
-who trusted the capabilities of an administration that allowed the deadliest, costliest attack on the nation in its entire history.

A bright example of the right’s profound state of denial is a figure like Dick Armey, whose activities in tandem with lobbyists should cost him the price of admission to any association or relationship with an allegedly “grass roots” movement such as the Tea Baggers. Armey delegitimizes any attempt at raising the notions freedom and “rights” to the fore. At CPAC Armey said, as if directly speaking to President Obama: “You're intellectually shallow. You're a romantic. You're self-indulgent. You have no ability…" Armey called President Obama "the most incompetent president perhaps in our lifetime." After only one year in office to go on, Armey's "opinion" would appear highly unlikely, to even an idiot with no memory.

I have an opinion of my own, based upon years of observing Mr. Armey as an avergae citizen:

Dick Armey is nothing but a well practiced liar, playing to a captive audience, spouting nonsense behind closed doors to a friendly crowd eager to hear their worst nightmare, a Black president, called “arrogant,” “self-righteous” and other silly code words that are place holders for uppity nigger.

I have to confess, I am glad this bloated liar has lived to see a Black man in the White House.
To Mr. Armey I say: “Sorry Dick, the bigots and bums in your party lost in 2008. Go cry at Senator Helms’s gravesite you elitist fat cat of a shill.

We the people, all of us who insist on being told the truth, the facts, and not some cock-and-bull story about our own country's greatness, won that victory in 2008:
Men, Women, White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Gay, the middle class, the poor and not so poor, all of us,
-Americans won and Dick Armey lost.

So eat it, Dick.

But my smugness is tempered. Laughing at liars only gets you so far.

The Associated Press ran a story yesterday on the CPAC speeches that all but lent authority to some of the more ludicrous nonsense spoken by Liz Cheney and others, -as if a lie offered as an opinion somehow deserved the same time and respect as a fact.

I wonder what historians, the ultimate arbiters of reality for future generations, will say.
What will the textbooks of the future say?
-That the performance of the Bush Administration is a matter of opinion? That there are different sets of truths? -One reactionary, -one populist, -one skeptical yet others more self professedly “correct?”

Saying something doesn’t make it so. Believing something doesn’t make it so.

Everyone in America knows the GOP’s policies wrecked the country over a period of many years. Some of us in America just don’t want to believe it, -and will believe anything else instead.

Thankfully the facts do not require belief, just acceptance.
…Well that, and a historian principled enough to record them as they happened.
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

May Tomorrow Be a Better Day

There's comes a time when you have to face that fact that you've come to the end. I have been contemplating this particular thought for the past 6 months or so. I just don't have anything else constructive to add to the political dialogue among the great group of bloggers that we have gotten to know over the past couple of years, so I think it's time for me to call it a day. I feel like I've said all I have to say. I've gone back and read some of the stuff I wrote during the past couple of years and I realize that as time has gone on, I've become less focused and less effective at making a coherent point. As SJ stated in his recent post, the quality of writing among the blogs I regularly read is outstanding. I certainly feel like there's nothing I could say that couldn't be said equally well or better by a whole host of great writers. You guys are all great (and I won't make the mistake of trying to list you all, but you know who you are)and I would just say, keep on doing what you're doing. As for me, I'll probably spend some time over at my long ignored sports blog. The blog will still be here. Hopefully SJ will continue to add articles from time to time but if not, at least the links will point people in the right direction.

So with more of a whimper than a bang, I wish you all a fond farewell and as Kasey Kasem always says, "keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars".

Monday, February 08, 2010

The Real Conspiracy No One Talks About

I won’t write about Sarah Palin anymore. I made the decision a few months back here at Random Thoughts. These latest allegations of how she may have abused her elected position by having her husband inserted into administrative roles nor the allocations of special flights for her family members will not do anything to further lower my estimation of her, -anymore than it could disappoint her followers. They’ve bought in; I have “opted out” from the moment of her selection as John McCain’s running mate in 2008. Sarah Palin was a short-sighted GOP ploy to get at disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters to vote Republican. It didn’t work.
The woman quit her elected office, that’s all anyone needs to know.
Sarah Palin’s importance is directly proportionate to the extent to which she is utilized to sabotage legitimate debate. A bright light needs to be shone on the wealthy power brokers interested in her continuing centrality in the minds of working class Americans angry about all the things they cannot bring themselves to blame the GOP for directly. Ultimately, it’s a job for legitimate journalists.

Moving on.

I’m of the mind now more than ever that no reform, no meaningful lawmaking that protects the lives of citizens and enables their pursuit of happiness is possible without the outlawing of lobbying in Washington DC. This is no radical idea: Remember that the nation’s capitol was moved to its present location (a swamp at the time) to get it away from business interests looking to corrupt its purpose.

Tort reform is a despicable ruse. It is the most dangerous thing the Republican Party has tried to push since their overall blanket attack on regulation as a concept for the last couple of decades.
To hear lobbyists, trade associations and lawyers tell it, -the runaway costs and problems of the Healthcare industry are a direct result of greedy little Americans suing their doctors and providers. To hear lobbyists tell it, -one would think that there was no such thing as a legitimate lawsuit. Read all the communications from Healthcare lobbyists and you would think the Healthcare industry wasn’t posting rising profits year after year after year. You’d think in fact that they were in need of defense from the very Americans and businesses that they overcharge and then fleece with technicalities and rescission.

Proposing Tort reform and opposing the Public option or Single-Payer proposals for medical coverage is no different than the Healthcare industry insisting that it be allowed to operate as a mafia; in unbridled collusion with all of its supposed competitors against the people, and not ever to be held responsible for the quality of service it provides.

The Healthcare industry is growing and profiting off of human misery. Enabling the Healthcare industry to operate with less regulation, without the threat of court action will not lower costs, it will raise them. Anybody who opposes this administration or any of their representatives’ efforts at Healthcare reform to the extent that they will protect the interests of a for-profit industry is a sucker.

The Healthcare reform battle is one aspect of a long-running civil war going on in America; the haves are never satisfied with just how bad the have-nots have it. The haves cannot abide have-nots at all. They’d prefer America be populated with generations of have-nones. The interesting question is: just how did the haves convince so many have-nots to defend, fight and yell for them at all those town halls in 2009? How were so many people convinced that reigning in the Healthcare industry and getting coverage for everyone was somehow un-American? How did such a basic right, -a right to health and medicine, come to be ascribed to “Socialism” when so many Senior citizens already have that right?

This question, this puzzle of how Americans are convinced to act against their own best interests first arose in our costliest war, waged in the 19th century within our own borders. Why did so many indigent poor southerners fight a war on behalf of wealthy slave owners? The system of slavery was invariably responsible for their joblessness at the time, much as the mistreatment and exploitation of underemployed immigrants wrecks the fortunes of working class Americans today: -but if you dare to suggest that everyone be paid the same minimum wage the world over, you’ll be attacked from all sides with a reflexive ignorance.

Think about it. -If we pay everyone the same minimum wage, there will be less to no incentive to hire illegal immigrants; Americans might take those jobs. But no one gets angry at our abusively hierarchical economy and the businesses, manufacturers, and farming operations forced to work within it by the lowballing, colluding corporations that they often supply as vendors. There are entire swathes of American industry that won’t hire any workers at a living wage, and American citizens instead turn and blame the “illegals” themselves, as if they set their own wages. Let’s not kid ourselves, when corporations and industry can’t exploit “illegals” who will come to America, said Industry will go overseas for the opportunity to pay workers less. This is what free markets really add up to: the sidestepping of regulations and standards that American workers fought to have put into law. This is also what is at the heart of Tort reform: the attempted removal of any consequences for abuse, exploitation or just plain negligence or malpractice on the part of corporations.

How is Healthcare reform deemed oppressive, un-American and “Socialist,” whereas Tort reform is ascribed no negative connotation whatsoever? How are Americans repeatedly convinced that the fortunes of the Wealthy, the concerns of the corporations are their own?

The answers are as ugly as the often self-inflicted inequality we perpetuate when we stand against ourselves in defense of industry’s ever expanding control and power.


Friday, February 05, 2010

Tea Time

Tom Tancredo, former Congressman from Colorado, opened the Tea Party convention by attacking not only the President, but the current system that allowed Barack Obama to be voted into office in the first place. Some choice quotes from his "speech":

“people who could not even spell the word ‘vote’, or say it in English, put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House. His name is Barack Hussein Obama.”

“the cult of multiculturalism, aided by leftists, liberals all over who don’t have the same idea about America as we do.”

“we do not have a civics, literacy test before people can vote in this country.”

This is the "keynote address" for the Tea Party convention. The Tea Party movement, which was started to protest the growth of the Federal Government and a perceived lack of response from elected officials, has devolved into a home for the disgruntled and disenchanted of all stripes. I would ask those who are asking for “their country back”, to define exactly what that means. I do believe that there are people who initially joined the TP movement out of a sincere concern for they viewed as a lack of response from leadership. The movement was quickly taken over by those who saw it as a great way to cover their “Fear of a Black Planet” (to quote Public Enemy). Tancredo is obviously making it perfectly clear what he means. In his America, those who don’t look like him are not welcome in the political discussion. In his America, the President will always be a White, protestant male. In his America, people of color know their place. Unfortunately for him (and fortunately for the rest of us), that country doesn’t exist anymore and we are all the better for it.

I honestly believe that there is reason to think that our elected officials have lost touch with the people they are supposed to represent. I believe that there is an argument to made about the size and scope of government as well. However belonging to an organization that is rapidly taken over by bigots looking for cover to attack the very diversity that has made this country what it is, does not seem like the best way to get a point across. As for Tancredo, people like him will always look for an audience to try and spread their particular brand of hate. We can only hope that as time goes on, the audience for this particular brand of “political speech” gets smaller and smaller.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Rose Colored Glasses

Citizens registered as an Independent, Democra...Image via WikipediaA poll was done by Research 200 for Daily Kos that asked Republicans some questions about the president (thanks to TomCat for the info). The results are to be expected from the members of the losing party in a historically bitter environment of partisan politics. I can also imagine that the numbers would have looked very similar if those questions (slightly altered) would have been asked of Democrats four years ago during the second Bush administration. I'll illustrate the point below the actual questions.

Research 2000 for Daily Kos. 1/20-31. Self-identified Republicans. MoE 2% (No trend lines)


Should Barack Obama be impeached, or not?

Yes 39; No 32; Not Sure 29

Should GWB be impeached?
The numbers from Dems would have been fairly high. Now I thought he should have been impeached for cause, but those on the right would certainly not agree.

Do you think Barack Obama is a socialist?

Yes 63; No 21; Not Sure 16

Do you think that GWB is trying to a establish a plutocracy?
Not quite the same as the socialist question and actually requires some intelligence, but once again you can see my point on what the Dems would have said.

Do you believe ACORN stole the 2008 election?
Yes 21; No 24; Not Sure 55

Do you believe that the Republicans stole the election by using dirty tricks in Ohio?
Much like the ACORN question, I think that the numbers would reflect the frustration of losing an election and trying to find someone or something to blame it on.

Do you believe Sarah Palin is more qualified to be President than Barack Obama?

Yes 53; No 14; Not Sure 33

Is John Edwards more qualified to be President than GWB?
I'm using John Kerry's VP candidate as a substitute for Palin, but you get the point. Once again the numbers would probably have matched the numbers in the current poll. Obvioulsly I'm talking about Edwards before the whole "I fathered a child with another woman and tried to get one my friends to take the blame by offering him money so that my political career wouldn't be ruined" fiasco.

Do you believe Barack Obama is a racist who hates White people?
Yes 31; No 36; Not Sure 33

Do you believe that GWB is a racist who hates Black people?
Certainly in the aftermath of Katrina, there was a sentiment that GWB certainly had no love for those who were not in his social strata. I don't think the number would have been quite as high for this one, but certainly there was a feeling that GWB didn't care as much about the less fortunate in America

It's clear that there is a deep divide in this country, but I don't think that the divide is any worse than it was during the Bush years. The race of the President makes it easier for some to cast aspersions on his motives and his qualifications, but in the end I don't think that the numbers would have been much different if Hillary Clinton would have won the election. Democrats hated GWB. Republicans hate President Obama. It's that simple. If this poll would have been published when GWB was President, the Right would have said that it showed just how out of touch the Dems are. The Left and Right in this country are absolutely sure that they are correct in their assessment of the country, that any opposing views look absolutely crazy to them. I'm not writing to justify the numbers in this poll or to say that I agree with any of them (which of course I don't), but they have to viewed in context.

The point is that we have to remember how we on the Left felt when GWB was in office. We were absolutely sure in our convictions that he had harmed the country and that certainly his first election was illegitimate. Those on the Right disagreed. Those of us on the Left felt that we had the law and the Constitution on our side. Those on the Right disagreed. Those of us on the Left were called loons, crazies, anarchists, communists or worse by those on the Right. My point is that a little perspective is needed now that the situations have been reversed. Everything is colored by perspective. Now I happen to think that those of us on the Left were correct in our assessment of the Bush administration, but you'd be hard pressed to find a Republican who agrees. The numbers in this poll may appear to "crazy" to those of us on the Left, but then crazy is in the eye of the beholder(or the party in power at the time ).
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UPDATED: Why the Hell Am I Posting Less?

I don’t know… But I mean to find out by the end of this post.

I’ve talked with the founder of this blog network about it quite a bit. It’s not for any shortage of subject matter, or things to be angry or excited about. Only completely delusional people can be absolutely distressed about every single thing in politics and only an idiot would stand up and cheer with under-and-unemployment this high; with the damn banks laughing, -well, “all the way to the bank” or wherever they laugh all the way to.

But I’ve noticed something else. I’m doing more reading of other people’s material online than ever before in my life. You can say I’m what marketers used to call an “early adopter;” I worked on my very first computer when I was 12 years old back in the fall of 1980. I was programming in BASIC as early as seventh grade. I say this not to come off as some sort of techie-egghead (these are quite common today, we even have toddlers who manipulate iTouch devices before speaking coherently) but to point out the incongruity between my technological affinities and the fact that I have never, ever enjoyed reading anything longer than 1 paragraph online, -until last year. What has also changed is that some of my replies to posts elsewhere have become longer than the length of my average posts here on my home Random Thoughts and Random Robot on the Ham Sandwich Network.

There’s a reason for this: quality and depth elsewhere.

Maybe it was always there, but in my experience (remember that in the very early 1990s there were only about 12 websites total, -in the entire world, and most of those were government and information sites) there just wasn’t much going on worth your time and dedication. For a long time there were a only few “serious” places to exchange ideas with strangers, and most of the early (and I know I’m really dating myself here) weblogs were frankly masturbatory confessions that were at best artless, and at worst inane.

In the past two years, Random Thoughts has gone (My own first post was a rant about Valentine’s Day more befitting an unmarried angry old man, well an older angry man anyway) from general interest to the squarely political. I spun off The Random Robot last year so that MyCue23 and I would still have a place for our thoughts and opinions about… anything else.

So perhaps that’s it: After jumping in at Mad Mike’s America and joining an ever widening circle of capable writers and thinkers I no longer feel the need to respond immediately like some panicked paranoiac who thinks he’s all alone in the world, in thought, sentiment, focus and perception.

So I’d like to blame and thank the following writers online, for kicking ass so consistently and keeping me occupied with something other than consensus, repetition or the obvious and in many respects easing that migraine I’ve been nursing since the start of the Iraq war.

Jack Jodell (a blogger with a researcher’s muscles and a teacher’s heart,) Truth 101 (I can’t stop posting on here sometimes. It’s a forum for provocative intelligent instigation, it’s like crack for smart people,) Mad Mike (is Babe Ruth to me -but he’s also Branch Rickey; always with an eye out for new direction-changing talent on his blogs,) Reality Zone (this is just one of the most educational and informative blogs I read,) Gwendolyn H Barry (I go to GHB for unadulterated indignation, -anger this pure has to be good for your circulation, I generally read this after Manifesto Joe –see below,) TAO (a great “pull no punches” blog), Holte Ender (Holte might be my new favorite,) Zeppo (Zeppo hits a lot of the points I don’t see written about in a sober intelligent manner, namely the defense of knowledge, science and ironically, the defense of intelligence itself,) Infidel753 (I come here to see what I am missing and always find good commentary, wit, and links to other important articles I have missed,) The Laser’s Edge (This guy seriously needs to write more often), Tom Degan (TD’s writing best exemplifies what blogs can be at their best to me,) Yellow Dog (YD’s perspective is one of the reasons I can’t just write Democrats off and resign myself to being a whining Liberal and Progressive,) Stimpson (pound-for-pound one of the most energizing perspectives I’ve come across, whether it’s an actual post or a string of replies in a thread: Stimpson is required reading,) Griper (recently came across him at Truth Shall Rule, it’s impossible to argue with this guy without it degenerating into an intelligent conversation,) Vigilante (Vig has replaced most of the Op Ed I used to read, he makes everybody writing opinion at Newspapers seem like they’re full of shit), Tom Cat (There’s something to be said for “knowing what you are talking about,” there’s more to be said for having “been there.” Tom Cat’s blog brings all of that to bear today and has one of the most important blogs in a concrete historical sense that I read regularly), Oso (If replying on threads was somehow translatable into playing Tennis Doubles matches I’d pick Oso over Roger Federer any day), Beach Bum (Beach’s accounts of what he considers mundane are always profound, his blog Life and Times of a Carolina Parrothead could easily be the subject of a long-running prime-time animated series, -and that’s a compliment, I’m a big “King of the Hill” fan.) The BeeKeeper’s Apprentice (Started reading this after some of BA’s activity on threads at MMA, damn good knowledgable writing, this is nobody’s “apprentice”) Manifesto Joe (I’ve been reading this blog the longest, it’s my “morning coffee.”)


Stupidly, I neglected to mention the following in my initial post.

Parsley's Pics is a fine blog that brings an almost federal court room level of seriousness and integrity to its posts, insisting on facts and supplying informed conviction not groundless opinion.

Sue's blog Helloooo...... Mr. President, are you listening?? is a blog I hope goes on forever.
As its name suggests it's a very current blog that insists on getting the details and facts right amidst the din of lies and cacophony of misinformation that is passing for news right now. The blog's title is an evergreen inquiry that will hopefully echo, administration after administration until somebody, someday in the White House answers Sue back.

Burr Deming's Fair and UnBalanced is an outstanding blog that features excellent writing that is informed by a very deft grasp of historical fact. It's hard to believe I failed to mention this blog in the first pass at listing my favorites in this post, but that's probably because I take it for granted nowadays.
Still... I'm often dumbstruck at the correlations and parallels that Burr is able to draw between something as seemingly precedent setting as the degree and extent of current obstruction in the Senate and past events on the capitol, that while forgotten or unknown to most of us, lend us all much needed perspective.


And lastly, an earnest acknowledgement to MyCue23 who has set a standard on this blog that has been very hard for me to live up to, but all the more invigorating for the effort.
-Thanks man.

AND again my thanks to all the readers and writers out there in the ether for your eloquence, combativeness and your efforts to express the many formless things that deserve our direct attention but are sidelined by our jobs, our bills, our daily stresses and our increasingly anesthetizing news media.