Friday, April 8, 2016

It's a Lot Easier to Understand If You're Stoned

Just turned 71 the other day.  I can't seem to find any significance for this age; there are no "Happy 71!" birthday cards on the shelf down at the Bi-Mart; no rude T-shirts "I'm 71 and You Suck" advertised anywhere; so I just let it happen, calmly.  Didn't actually even think about what day it was until around 10 A.M., when someone wished me a happy one.  At any rate, what I did at 71 was, I became a farmer.  Here in Oregon, the powers-that-be decided that marijuana wasn't all THAT bad, and basically legalized the damn thing, with some restrictions. The Wife's medical problems have been documented here before, and MY health problems are known to those of you who need to know, and, well, marijuana has been advertised in many places as the antidote to pain and other symptoms.  So we thought, what the hell. She jumped through the required bureaucratic hoops and acquired a MMC, a Medical Marijuana Card, and I obtained an MMP Caregiver card which allows me to purchase medical marijuana without paying the 25% Oregon tax on recreational marijuana.  All good (and I will document the benefits in another column).  But the cool part of this is the farming.  We have purchased our own plant, with more on the way. We transplanted her into a really nice large pot and put her into the greenhouse, got some grow lights, and named her "Calliope."  I am now Gentleman John, Farmer. Calliope and I talk every morning, and she's just now beginning to bud.  Since she's a "Sativa" plant, we won't be getting too ripped by smoking her, her CBD output is much higher than her THC, but she will be making us feel better.  Which is what it's all about in the first place, right? For those of you who read me as regularly as I post who are saying "well, if he's stoned, why should I believe him?"  Ask yourself this question: "What?"  But I digress . . .

  • So, getting stoned seems to be a perfect antidote to American politics at this stage of the game. We have this Trump fellow who is trying mightily to outmaneuver this Cruz fellow on the Republican side (I know I didn't mention Kasich, calm down), and and Bill Clinton's wife Hillary is constantly debating Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side. But the really fun part of this dog-and-pony show is watching the collapse of the Grand Old Party. It has begun with the 40 or so members of Congress, who call themselves "The Freedom Caucus," which is made up of T-party Republicans who demand to get their way even if it means shutting down the entire government.  They're the ones responsible for ouster of Crying John Boehner, and the rise of Ted Cruz. They want, amongst other things, to dismantle government health plans, to balance the national budget with huge spending cuts, and, of course, completely defund Planned Parenthood. Oh, and did I mention they want to overturn every Obama executive order of the last 7 1/2 years? They love Cruz because he's the poster-boy of the T-baggers whom the good old boys despise, and they're doubtful of Trump because of his past leanings and utterances concerning abortion, and the second amendment, among other things. These idiots are the malignant mass of the body republican, and when the GOP finally self terminates, and it will soon, they will splinter off and form their own party. Only remains to be seen what they will call themselves.  Fascists?  God's Chosen?  God help us all.
  • McDonald's in Japan has begun serving a new hamburger named "Giga Big Mac," which consists of the usual condiments and FOUR beef patties.  They are quoted as saying the massive treat is "meant to be shared."  (Isn't that sweet?)
  • Some of us are old enough to remember the release of the so-called "Pentagon Papers," which exposed truths concerning the Vietnam War and contributed to an abrupt end to the Nixon administration.  But now we have "the Panama Papers," which threaten to expose how heads of state, oligarchs, and other celebrities launder money, escape sanctions, and worse of all, avoid paying taxes.  This was not done by WikiLeaks or Edward Snowden or any of the usual suspects, but by a German newspaper.  Who does this report implicate?  Among others the list includes President Assad of Syria, Prime Minister David Cameron's late father, and Icelandic Prime Minister Sig Gunnlaugsson.  This just reinforces our long-time belief that rich and powerful people have found ways to rip all the rest of us off by manipulating the system in their favor.  (Lemme hear ya say "Go Bernie!)  Reports say that between 2004 and 2013 developing and emerging economies lost almost $8 Trillion to these bastards.  Not shocked and surprised?  Me neither.
  • Saw our girl Sarah Palin the other day on the teevee.  She was in fine form as usual, unzipping the fly of her mouth and exposing her uglies in front of an audience in Wisconsin on the night before the primaries. It was at the local American Serb Hall, and the gibberish coming out of her mouth hole was so incomprehensible that people were giggling and talking to each other. Noticing the response, Palin suddenly said "It's not something to laugh at, friends."  Sarah used to be the Donald Trump of the Republican Party.  Now she's just pathetic.
  • White Supremacists for Trump!  Former KKK leader David Duke has endorsed Donald Trump, saying "voting against Donald Trump at this point is really treason to your heritage."  "Your," one would assume, would be white christian people.  Duke said this in spite of Trump's apparent support for the State of Israel, which David Duke has a tremendous snit for.  (Among other things)  Bad Hat salutes David Duke for being a genuinely consistent asshole for most of his adult life.
  • Oregon, and the Willamette Valley in particular, have enjoyed beautiful spring weather the past few days, and we've all been digging in the dirt and falling asleep with a brandy in our hands, in lawn chairs, in the late afternoon, listening to Pink Floyd, and letting Dave Gilmour's talented fingers take us to the next dimension.  Oh, that reminds me, I've got to go water Calliope.  Party on People!
Love, JP

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Pivoting the Political Circle Jerk

I believe I can speak for at least a portion of my Liberal generation (those close to or over 70) when I say we can't really remember any other presidential campaigns like this one, this year.  Most of us
started with Eisenhower.  Ike.  We liked Ike.  Good man, war hero.  Mom and Dad both loved him. Then we switched parties when Jack Kennedy ran his campaign.  We secretly loved his wife more than him, but it was at least a lot of fun. Then President Johnson and his wonderfully Liberal "Great Society," whom we kinda resented, because he sent a lot of us to Vietnam, and so we placed his legacy in a dark place.  Oh, and then we lived through the Nixon nightmare, with Watergate and Tricky Dick's personal madness; and the Carter blackmail campaign where Ronald Reagan claimed responsibility for freeing the Iran hostages, and we all crapped ourselves when the evil Dubya stole the election not once, but twice.  (By the way, Dubya's brother Jeb is also in the running this year, and is proving to be even less coherent than the Great Mumbler was.) We cringed and wept silently as our country went through the grinder called Iraq, and held our outrage as much as we could, as the banks and the moneyed people in our own country brought the average American family to its knees, all for money, all for money.

And then our countrymen voted for the first black president in history.  Barrack Obama stood before the American people and spoke such beautiful words, with such strength and wisdom, with such logic and hope, as to cause all of us to say yes, here is the man who will fix all of this. As to whether he accomplished his repair work is still up for debate, but most of us believe he genuinely tried.  But there was one oversized problem with Barrack Obama that just wouldn't go away.  He was a black man.  That fact stirred up the marginally intelligent crowd, the redneck part of America that normally ignored politics in favor of NASCAR races.  Of course, as with any Democratic president, there was the usual "he's coming to take away our guns" nonsense, which did more to boost gun and ammunition sales than anything the NRA could do.  But this man was also black.  A black man with an odd, foreign-sounding name.  Until the very last day of his presidency, Obama will be The Enemy to these people for just that reason.

And now they have a champion. Six-foot-three, sixty-nine year old, American super entrepreneur, Donald J. Trump has surprised most every political pundit in America by blustering his way into the Republican campaign for president, and by all indications is doing quite well, by leading in practically all the national Republican polls.  Does he use beautiful words, full of strength and wisdom, with logic and hope?  By any standard, the answer is no.  He possesses the school-yard bully's ability to appeal to the social racist in all of us. If you aren't "one of us" you're a part of the Apocalypse.  (Damn right!) If you can't produce the proper papers, you should be rounded up and thrown out of the country. (Hell yes!)  If you practice any religion other than Judeo-Christian, you should be banned from even entering the United States. (Goddamn right!)  Unfortunately, that's about all Trump has to offer, except that he is by all weights and measures, the exact opposite of Barrack Obama.  Trump is the "white man's dream" candidate.  No heavy thinking, just vague references of how he's going to make everything "huge." I want to ask my Republican friends, and I sincerely would like an intelligent answer, is this the man you really want in the White House for the next four years?

On the other hand, the Democrats have narrowed their choices down to two viable candidates.  (I know, Martin O'Malley is the third, but will not be discussed here at this time)  The nominating race is close, between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Clinton, a New York State Senator from 2001-2009, is the wife of former President Bill Clinton, who comes to this motel carrying more baggage than the bellhops can carry, but she has more inside experience than possibly anyone on the planet.  Sanders is a "democratic socialist" who promises to break up the big banks and push for universal "single payer" healthcare.  I know this description is very limited, but I trust that most of my readers know who these people are.

The arguments for Hillary Clinton include her past participation in health care reforms during her husband's presidency, and her assurances that as Barrack Obama's successor, she will protect and continue with his programs.  Senator Sanders, whom most supporters call "Bernie," is a mildly pro-gun populist from Vermont (born and raised in Brooklyn, NY), who was for many years listed as an Independent in party politics. Unlike Clinton, Sanders was an outspoken opponent of the Iraqi War. He is a Social Democrat who believes we are experiencing income inequality in this country, and he believes in universal healthcare, and of course, climate change.

So, briefly, there you have it.  American politics in 2016.  We have about 10 more months of politicking until all this will be over for a bit, and there will be many changes in those months ahead, I assure you.  All of the candidates are just one big gaffe away from losing it all, and there's plenty of time for any of them to screw their chances into the mud.  It's all fun to watch, if you don't get too serious.  Speaking for my naturally revolutionist self, at this particular point, and in reference to the first paragraph in this essay, I can "feel the Bern."


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Weekend Update: Texas In the Rear View Mirror

(The dawn broke this morning slightly overcast, still warm from yesterday's 80+ degrees.  It's stayed overcast all day, muggy and a bit uncomfortable, but still Spring.  Drove across town late this afternoon, the sun shining through a light cloud level like a flashlight through a dirty shower curtain. Eugene, Oregon was quiet.  Not much traffic.  Very little sound.  Like it's waiting for something.  A little thunder tonight maybe?  That would be fun.  At least it's not raining.  It's raining in Texas again tonight.  The deluge in Texas began several days ago and hasn't let up, Apparently it's the wettest May on record for Texans, they've estimated some 35 Trillion Gallons of precipitation have blessed the Lone Star State since the beginning of the month, with more on the way.  At least 20 people have lost their lives, and the damage from all the flooding will undoubtedly be in the millions.  Pat Robertson was quoted the other day as saying he doesn't really know who to blame for this. Ordinarily Pat blames things like hurricanes, tornadoes, plague,and  9/11, on pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays "and lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle."  But shit, this IS TEXAS.  Shit-kicking true-believers.  Pat's having a hard time coming up with a religious reason why god is punishing Texans with all this weather related misery.  I got one for you Pat:  Rick Perry.  But I digress ...)

  • Conservatives generally agree that poor people in America "have it easy" thanks to government benefits. There exists in this country a dominate right-wing contempt for the poor, and yet compassionate conservatism (sic) is rampant in most, if not all, of the (10?) (15?) Republican candidates running for president in 2016.  But just listen to them - punishing the poor has become a campaign goal.  Don't expand Medicare, cut Social Security benefits, take away food stamps, get rid of health care - all mantras of the dark side of politics.  What's going on with these people?  Why do they seem to have no clue as to what happening to the average American?  Paul Krugman describes "The Insecure American," and it's a must read.
  • Now let's slip back into Rick Perry for a moment, okay?  He's running for President again, don't you know?  And if elected, let's contemplate for a moment what he would do to the United States, by comparing what he's done to the State of Texas.  A key element of the
    Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is a Medicaid expansion clause which would cover uninsured patients, mostly working poor, who don't make enough money to pay for insurance on the exchanges.  Last year it cost Parkland Hospital $765 million to treat people without health care.  But when the all-knowing Supreme Court ruled that states could opt-out of Medicaid expansion, Rick Perry couldn't opt-out fast enough.  Thanks to Gov. Perry, Texas hospitals have had to eat $5.5 BILLION dollars last year.  Perry says Texas hates Obamacare. The business leaders in Texas are apoplectic.  "The problem is that in hating the Affordable Care Act, the state is leaving on the table as much as $100 billion of federal money over 10 years - money that could pay for health insurance for more than 1 million of its working poor." When I was in the service I had the misfortune to live in Texas for 2 years.  There are, to be real here, some places in Texas where rational and intelligent people live, like most of the people in the town of Austin. But for the most part, the best sight in the world is Texas in the rear view mirror.
  • Nine brains were found along a northern New York Village, but authorities said there was nothing to worry about.  Comforting.  But while checking this one out we find this story:  Last year, at the University of Texas, 100 brains, conserved in jars, went missing.  Think of it.  100 Texas brains, including perhaps the brain of Charles Whitman, the Texas tower shooter (or whatever he was called) just flat out went missing! Perhaps there's a chance for Rick Perry after all.  If we can just find his freakin' brain!
  •  Oh, and let's at least mention the terrible, awful, horrible, Texas biker brawl down in Waco, TX, where nine of them were killed, and 170 of them were arrested, at a bar right across the street from a Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  Holy Shit.  And what were they fighting over?  What were these overweight, balding, crusty, bored, sunburned and drunk idiots fighting over?  Drugs, stolen cash, women, gold, meth?  Nope.  They were fighting over "territory."  Big boring slabs of Texas terrain.  Goddammit, I miss Texas.  Mark Morford reports.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Wednesday Update - Can We Survive Without Jon Stewart?

(I subscribe to several magazines, mainly to offset the gloom of bills that arrive around the first of the month, and for fun and information.  I subscribe to Time magazine, which gets me a little more in-depth news occasionally; I subscribe to Air & Space magazine from the Smithsonian, because being in the Air Force for a few years of my life I grew to love new and old aircraft; I subscribe to Flying magazine for the same reason; I subscribe to National Geographic magazine so that my son can learn about the world around him, assuming I can get him to read it, and it looks cool sitting on the back of the toilet tank; and I subscribe to one of the most fascinating magazines in the world: Popular Mechanics.  This month's Popular Mechanics features "84 Survival Secrets That Will Save Your Life."  This is a fascinating article, touching on all aspects of the coming apocalypse, even including what to look for when looting a store.  Don't want to waste your time just grabbing beer and big-screen TVs, right?  In this same article they list "The Five Safest Cities," taking into account nuclear fallout, natural disasters, extreme weather, etc.  It's an interesting list for a national magazine.  Number 5 is Wheeling, West Virginia, Number 4 is Hurricane, Utah (in spite of its name,) Number 3 is Missoula, Montana, Number 2 is Sitka, Alaska, and the reason I brought all this up is, the Number 1 city in America to survive the apocalypse is Eugene, Oregon, and it adds "if you don't mind ceaseless rain - or plaid."  To all of those classmates of mine who graduated in 1964 and immediately moved away, it's not too late to move back.  You probably should do it before we get the fence built.  We only have so much room, after all.  But I digress . . .)

  • And speaking of news, this next bit of news is about as depressing as it gets. We heard yesterday that Jon Stewart was planning to step down from The Daily Show in the next few months. Jon Stewart, for those few of you who don't know, is the other side of the balance against FOX "News."  Stewart kept that balance even, if not more than even, night after night, week after week since January of 1999.  My son has never known a world without Jon Stewart - yes, I forced him to watch it as soon as he could hold his own head up, and if you think I named my son Jonathan for a reason ... well, let's don't go there.  There are millions of us who have said at least once in their recent lives, "I get my news from Jon Stewart."  The reason for that was no matter how bleak and depressing the news of the day was, Jon could pull a laugh out of it.  He, and his writers, have been sheer genious in guiding us through what was really happening, as opposed to what FOX wanted us to believe.  Wondering what spin Stewart would put on a particular story kept our spirits up even through the Bush administration, and usually changed our anger into laughter.  Mark Morford wants us to "arise," for we are the "Daily Show generation," and continue Jon Stewart's anti-bullshit crusade as much as we can.  Read that one HERE.  So who's to replace him?  Sorry, right now I can think of no one.  How does one replace genius?
  • Forty-seven years ago the Tet Offensive in Vietnam proved that Henry Kissinger was lying when he mentioned things like "light at the end of the tunnel," and "peace is at hand," only two of a huge series of lies told to the American public by the man who many scholars believe to be a war criminal.  Two months after Tet, then President Lyndon Johnson announced he would not seek re-election  for another term as president, and handed the whole mess over to Richard Nixon.  Nixon attempted to bomb Vietnam "back to the stone age," but eventually gave up and declared victory, thus ending one of the nastiest and blackest moments in American history.  Up to the "war" in Iraq.  And while the United States attempted to expand its empire, the Vietnam War cost us taxpayers $450 billion, as well of the lives of 60,000 of America's finest young people.    The war in Iraq will end up costing the U.S. some $6 trillion, according to Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.   In 1995, Robert McNamara, in his published memoirs of his experience with Vietnam, titled “In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam,” said "we were wrong, terribly wrong."  Can't say I disagree.  Have we learned our lesson?  Doubt it.  From Salon magazine, Robert Freeman.
  • I guess we should mention Brian Williams.  Out of all the news anchors on all the networks, I liked Brian the best.  He appeared on Letterman, Jon Stewart, and other fun talk shows, and showed a hell of a good sense of humor.  He also apparently showed a knack for embellishment when it came to his own personal involvement in his daily news gathering tasks. I have a wonderful idea.  With his sense of humor and good nose for the news, why not replace Stewart with Williams?  Just a thought.  Here's the whole sordid story:  CLICK

Monday, February 9, 2015

56 Times

I really don't know how to start this.  I really don't want to offend anyone.  But I really want to write something about the Republican Party, for
several reasons.  One, it's getting near that time again - the 2016 elections are just around the corner, if you consider a corner being 22 months away.  We need to start discussing the Republican field of candidates, and check out all their attributes, if you will.  Secondly, the Republican Party took over the House this last election, and changed their tune from obstruct obstruct obstruct to "the people have spoken," something like Sally Fields gushing "you like me, you really like me" at the Academy Awards.  And thirdly, we need to discuss whether or not the Republican Party is insane.  Apparently it has a become a right of passage in Congress for the Republicans to bring up Obama's Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in an attempt to vote it out of existence.  Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) told FOX News he allowed another vote last week, after 55 previous attempts, to give the new Republican congressmen a chance to cast their votes.  Most of them ran with the promise to their constituents that if elected they would vote against Obamacare, so this one was an attempt to keep themselves honest. (As if ...)  "Today, I am making good on my commitment to support a full repeal of Obamacare," proudly declared Rep. Alex Mooney, a freshman from West Virginia.  Well, good for you Alex.  Some people have said the definition of insanity is attempting the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  Are they insane?

There are problems with all of this, of course.  One of those problems is that the Republicans have no alternative plan to Obamacare.  If they actually were able to repeal it (won't happen) it would leave all those constituents of theirs who now depend on it with no insurance at all.  In 2010, FIVE YEARS ago, the Republicans promised  they would start work immediately on a replacement health plan as a preparation in case the Supreme Court overturned Obamacare.  Last week, as a part of the 56th vote to repeal, the Republicans voted to begin that work.  And I thought I put things off.  I'm beginning to believe the Republican congress doesn't care about health care in this country.  Either that, or they hate Barack Obama so much they're willing to leave sick and poor people out in the rain to die.  56 times.  Are they insane?  Yes.

Now, I have a question for you.  Does it seem like every single "frontrunner" for the Republican nomination is weird?  Weird may not be the proper word, perhaps "alien-like," but you get my drift.  Weird, like Mike Huckabee.  Weird, like Ted Cruz.  Weird, like Rick Perry.  Remember Sarah Palin? (She's not anywhere near a "frontrunner," but I just wanted you to picture her in your mind for a second.)  She gave a speech at the "Iowa Freedom Summit," where, among other strange remarks, referred to President Obama as "an overgrown little boy."  We here at Bad Hat wish so much that Palin would run.  She's absolutely the looniest person in politics, stuck teleprompter or not.

And then there's Lindsey Graham.  If South Carolina's finest closet dweller had his way he'd bomb everything, and everyone who didn't worship America.  Scary thought:  He's got the support of casino owner Sheldon Adelson.  Big bucks.

And of course, we have the "usual suspects," those Republicans who just can't take the hint, but who just love the spotlight, even if it's a negative spotlight (is there one?)  We got your Rick (please don't Google me) Santorum with his everyman pick-up truck; Chris Christie, whom I'd really love to watch a football game with; Marco Rubio (could I get another glass of water, please?); Scott Walker; and Rand Paul, who, in spite of being a doctor, can't bring his Libertarian brain into reality by endorsing vaccines for children.  Sorry, I wouldn't vote for any of them for dog catcher.

Which brings us to Jeb Bush.  Holy Shit.  Mitt Romney came to his senses recently and dropped out of contention, and Dubya Bush's brother Jeb was the biggest beneficiary of that dropout, for money and staff.  Are the voters ready for him?  The "Tea Party" doesn't like him, and that may doom him, but how tired of the Tea Party are mainstream Republicans?  What's weird is that Jeb doesn't seem, from the outside, to be as insane as the rest of them, and not as stupid as his brother (of course, my dog isn't as stupid as his brother.)  But that could change in a Miami minute.  We'll see.

So there you have it up to now.  There's a few of us who have been playing a little drinking game, where every time the Republicans attempt to repeal Obamacare, we have to take a drink.  Some of the weaker guys have had to check out and go to re-hab.  Others are just sitting around glassy-eyed and mumbling.  Me, I'm loaded and ready for the next round.  GO 57!  Cheers!


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Well That Sucked, Didn't It?

Okay, so I’d first like to confess that I am in the grips of  PWSS (Post-World-Series-Syndrome) since we live in the SF Bay area and my wife is a fervent SF Giants fan.  And I must confess that they are a odd and interesting collection of personalities, who are being managed by some very, very clever and careful personalities.  We could do worse than have Bruce Bochy run for Vice President.  In the end they won the World Series by one point.  That’s all they needed, and they got it.

And then there was this “election” thing.  I’m not sure if a poll of less than 50% of the electorate really reflects anything very much about anything.  Except that it probably reflects the growing influence of Fox News in the heartland of our country (more on this later) and is a fair measure of the voter enthusiasm that can be generated by spending a gazillion dollars of secret-donor funds on slash and burn political advertising.  Unless we can unravel the “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision our nation runs a very real risk of becoming Italy.  Why Italy?  Because that is where former Prime Minister Berlousconni and his media empires controlled (wait for this) something like 70% of the television programming.  Seventy percent.  Yikes.  It’s amazing that they didn’t have an election to decide whether to make him the Emperor.  Emperor Bunga Bunga perhaps, which for those not familiar with the slang term, would translate to “Emperor Casual Intercourse”. 

Anyhow, despite his almost complete control of Italy’s media, that was not enough to keep Berlousconni in control.  Italy has a young and interesting Prime Minister now, who does not appear to be a corrupt douche.  Change can happen anywhere.

But can you imagine if Rupert Murdock controlled 70% of US media?  Yikes.

But there was enough wrong in this midterm election to give us pause and grounds for concern.  Unlimited money from financial oligarchs like the Koch Brothers.  They have a large pipeline full of tainted crude oil that they’d like to run through your bedroom.  They are very, very wealthy, very powerful, and they are not going away.  Because, it has been decided, “Corporations are people”, and they should have a voice as well as the actual people, and then it was decided that they really should be able to donate as large an amount of their ill-gotten gains as they want to, Gosh Darn it!  Is this a free and fair country, or what?  Umm, yes, to an extent it IS a wonderfully free country, but fair?  Maybe not so much.  We have hundreds of thousands of Americans in jail for selling a bit of pot or something like that, who are costing our country tens of thousands of dollars each, to warehouse them in prisons.  Some should probably be there, but the vast majority of them should be living independently, with state supervision and support, so they can turn their lives around.  It is fairly rare for a person to be in prison and learn to turn their life around.  Those who do get books written about them.

And in the meantime there are major corporations who are discovered to have embezzled enormous sums of money, from their shareholders, the government, the public and so on.  In some cases tens of Billions of dollars.  When they are caught doing that, do they get slapped into the same prisons as someone who sold some pot to an undercover policeman?  Nope.  They get fined.  And if the fine is modest enough, their company pays them a large year-end bonus for having navigated the system so effectively.

And companies of that sort are exactly the sort of “corporate citizens” who can make unlimited donations to elections and campaigns.

And when rightwing politicos blather about people illegally registering to vote, it turns out that there are perhaps (at most) a few dozen in each state who do so, either intentionally or by innocent mistake.  But when we add up the number of voters who were disenfranchised in this election it will add up to hundreds of thousands.  And NO ONE will be held accountable for suppressing/stealing/denying their right to vote.  Why not?  Because they are white and wear suits and ties?  Why isn’t stealing a voter’s rights an enormous and fundamental crime, punishable by a number of years in a really uncomfortable jail?  Isn’t that tantamount to treason, in our Holy Democracy?  Or is there a racial element at work?  Is stealing a Latino or African-American vote just kind of like a Parking Ticket?  While stealing the vote of a white skinned guy should be a Capital Offense.  Why isn’t anyone raising Holy Hell about that?  Will that all be forgotten after the election is over?  Like it has been before? 

You know, like the voter disenfranchisement in Florida that gave us President George W. Bush instead of Al Gore?  I mean, who knows how Gore would have done, but the American people had a right to make that choice, rather than have it be stolen from them by upscale bandits.  Who went totally unpunished for their actions.

We need a couple of new and progressive Supreme Court Justices.  Now.  The odds of one of the medium-aged conservatives quitting their job, or this earthly realm, are small.  But who knows?  LIfe is full of surprises.

In the meantime, Americans are going to get a chance to watch Mitch “Turtleface” McConnell pontificate at length, until we become deathly sick of listening to his avuncular lectures.  Senator Inhofe, who apparently believes in the Biblical story of creation, is slated to take over the Senate Committee on the Environment and explain that Global Warming is a myth.  Listening to him will be loads and loads of fun.  Intelligent people all over the world will be watching with fascinated horror.  And laughing at us.

This should be a very interesting couple of years.  The economy is said to be doing very well, though it seems to have benefitted those at the top of the heap a lot more than those at the bottom, but the success of initiatives to raise the minimum wage did very, very well this election cycle.  That’s a very, very good thing, and the States that had that change in law (Alaska is now $15?  Wow) will be models of what the impact of that change will do to the economy of those States and the lifestyles of the young.  Over the next two years it is very likely that we will see those positive impacts.

And there are some really horrible things.  John McCain may head the Defense Committee in the Senate and push for getting into a land war in Iraq again.  Dumb-ass.  Dumb idea, dubious outcome.

Anyhow, let’s all stay tuned and see how it turns out.  Sometimes a bad event can be the trigger for some very positive things.  By and large younger people didn’t vote in this election.  If so, they are likely to find the shenanigans of these new Senators and Congressmen not very much to their liking.  Maybe that is what it takes to politicize young people.  If they think politicians have it under control, then why even think about it, but this debacle may help them wake up to the fact that government is a ditch that tends to silt up over time, and needs to be continually dug out and cleaned, in order to keep working.

And here is an interesting article, by all people Frank Luntz, the GOP wonk.  If Republicans listened to him, they’d be dangerous, but I suspect they are soooo pleased with themselves that they’re not in mood to listen to anyone.  Not even each other.  It’s going to be fun to watch Ted Cruz and Rand Paul battle each other for “intellectual” leadership of their party, and the country.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Do You Know Who I Am?

(Former Alaskan governor and Senator John McCain running mate in 2008 Sarah Palin, and her family, were recently in the middle of what some people describe as "a brawl."  "Police responded to reports of a verbal and physical altercation taking place between multiple subjects.  A preliminary investigation by police revealed that a party had been taking place at a nearby residence and a fight had broken out between multiple subjects outside of the residence."  Eric Thompson told ABC News, "I heard Sarah Palin yell, 'Do you know who I am?'"  And in other news, driver Matthew Apperson, 35, of Orlando, Florida, reported to police Friday that George Zimmerman, the man acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin, threatened to kill him at a traffic light, asking "do you know who I am?" during a road confrontation in their vehicles. All we can respond to Sarah and George is this:  Ohgawd yes, we know who you are, please don't shoot!  But we digress ... )

  • We should probably all know who former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce is, he's the guy who came up with a solution to Medicaid, as though there was a problem with Medicaid:   "You put me in charge of Medicaid, the first thing I'd do is get Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations," he said. "Then we'll test recipients for drugs and alcohol, and if you want to [reproduce] or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job."  Pearce also said he attended graduate school at the University of Arizona and Harvard University, of course both claims later turned out to be untrue.
  • And here's a guy who I really want to know.  The American Family Association's (remember them?) Bryan Fischer has called for atheists to be banned from serving in the armed forces of the United States.  In other words, if you don't believe in god almighty you can't be drafted (assuming we'll get back there sooner-or-later).  To paraphrase, if the kid don't believe in Santa Clause anymore, he don't have to go and fight the Oil Wars.  I'm all for it.  Fischer says that atheists should be prohibited from serving in all branches of the military because "there is no place for those who do not believe in the Creator who is the source of every single one of our fundamental human and civil rights ."  And if I may speak for us atheists, I must say I wholeheartedly agree.
  • Here's a two-minute TED talk by David Swanson called "Why End War."  I guarantee it's worth two minutes of your time.  Click HERE.
  • And remember, guns don't kill people, nine-year-old girls with Uzis kill people.  And don't forget Idaho State University Professors.  While Professor (so far unnamed) didn't managed to actually kill anyone, he did manage to shoot himself in the foot, an act for which has earned him the Bad Hat Concealed Weapon Idiot of the Month Award.  Lock and Load, everyone!