Sunday, February 10, 2013

Senator Sanders: A Few Wealthy People Control Congress

Bernie Sanders Exposes the Dirty Secret that a Few Wealthy People Control Congress
05 Feb. 2013 By: Jason Easley
-Reprinted from:

Bernie Sanders has spilled the beans on Congress.
Sen. Sanders said, “The Congress of the United States of America is controlled by a handful of extraordinarily wealthy people and corporations.”
"Tavis: To your point about Citizens United, one of the ways that we might push back on this money being the mother’s milk of all of our politics notion, one of the way to push back on that would be some real, some serious, campaign finance reform.
There was hope back in the day that the president might eventually get around to that, but both he and Romney, you know, just played by the rules the last time around. So the politics get flooded with $6 billion, $8 billion dollars of money into these various pots. So it raises this question. What evidence do you because I don’t see any as yet?
What evidence do you see that this president this time around is serious? I’ve not heard him in any interviews say anything about campaign finance reform as one of his priorities. How do we get to that if this president, with all the money he raised, won’t ever put campaign finance reform on the table?

Sanders: Well, Tavis, you’re raising exactly the right questions and the answers are difficult. To my mind, the only way we move this country, number one, in overturning Citizens United, number two, moving the public funding of elections, is through a very, very strong grassroots movement that gives the president an offer and members of Congress an offer they can’t refuse. People have got to understand that the issue in Congress is not what the media talks about on why can’t Democrats and Republicans get along.

That is not the issue. The issue is that, to a very significant degree, the Congress of the United States of America is controlled by a handful of extraordinarily wealthy people and corporations, Wall Street being at the top of that list. And unless we address that issue, I fear very much for the middle class. I fear very much for our kids, for low income people and for seniors.

Give you just one example, one example. You have this business round table which is the organization representing the CEOs of major corporations in America. These guys, without exception, make huge amounts of money.

Some of them are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. All of them have these great retirement packages that the average American could not even dream of. Couple of weeks ago, they made an announcement that it is their view that we should raise the Social Security age to 70 and the Medicare eligibility age to 70 as well.

Can you conceive of the arrogance of these people who are at the top one-tenth of one percent of the income stratum telling working families that, before they can collect Social Security, they got to be 70, before they can get Medicare? So all of this is about the continuation of a class warfare being perpetrated by people who have incredible wealth, incredible power. Citizens United makes it even worse.

And at the end of the day, unless we have a strong grassroots political movement which says, excuse me, we’re not going to maintain this incredibly unequal distribution of wealth and income in America. Excuse me, the United States government is supposed to represent all of the people, our kids and the elderly and workers, not just billionaires. Until we have that movement, I doubt very much that you’re going to see the kind of political changes in Washington that we need."

It is a not a stretch of the imagination to assume that the few wealthy people who control Congress are many of the same individuals who were on Sanders’ list of the 26 billionaires who tried to buy the 2012 election. Sen. Sanders was correct. The way to take back our elections is to get all of the special interest money out of politics.

The reason why the Republicans who control the House can blatantly ignore the will of majority of Americans is because the American people aren’t their constituency. The only constituents that matter to House Republicans are those right wing billionaires and corporations who keep the campaign coffers full.

If you want to get rid of ALEC, the Koch brothers, and the over sized political influence of the wealthy, public financing of our elections is the way to do it. The American people are frustrated by a paralyzed Congress, but they don’t seem to understand why Congress is stuck. Members of Congress mouth all sorts of platitudes and cliches about the democracy and the American people at election time, but in our current political system campaign donations matter more than people.
Sen. Sanders destroyed the illusion that Congress works for the people. The current Congress works for no one, but their donors. The needs of the people come last in this Congress, and Bernie Sanders was not afraid to tell you why.

[From here down is, in a way, old news in that they and their running dogs failed in their attempts to buy or to steal the 2012 presidential election, however; like "The Terminator" they'll be back, and like "The Hulk" you wouldn't like them when they're angry... So, the information still is important for those of us who missed it the first time around.]

31 JUL 2012  -PolitiFact confirmed that Sen. Sanders’ statement about the Walton family having more wealth than the bottom 40% is true.

Sen. Bernie Sanders has seen his statements about wealth inequality come under vicious attack from the right. Today, PolitiFact confirmed that Sen. Sanders’ statement about the Walton family having more wealth than the bottom 40% is true.

A little over a week ago Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted that, “Today the Walton family of Walmart own more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of America.” Sanders also made this statement during his recent congressional testimony on Citizens United.

Even though Sen. Sanders has been discussing the issues of wealth inequality and fighting for middle class and working Americans for years, it was his recent report about the impact of Citizens United and the 26 billionaires who are trying to buy the 2012 election that has raised the ire of the right.

The Vermont senator’s recent statements about the Walton family caught the attention of PolitiFact, and the Pulitzer Prize winner fact checkers analyzed Sanders’ tweet.

PolitiFact concluded that, “The statistic correctly compares the combined net worth of the bottom 41.5 percent of American families with the six Walton family members. We think the additional points — that many people with a negative net worth are not necessarily poor and that percentages about wealth distribution can be deceiving — are important and interesting. Nevertheless, Sanders’ claim is solid. We rate it True.

The right has been trying various tactics to undermine the message of Sen. Sanders. Their favorite one seems to be to complain that Sanders only goes after conservative billionaires. They frequently ask why Sanders doesn’t go after the liberal billionaires who are buying elections. The answer to that question is that liberal billionaires aren’t holding secret conferences to fundraise and strategize about how to purchase our elections.

The answer is that left isn’t engaging in the same behavior to the same degree that the right is. There is a reason why Democrats support efforts to overturn Citizens United, and Republicans are opposed. The conservative billionaires have become the lifeblood of the Republican Party. They pick the candidates. The right wing billionaires buy the ads, and when their candidates are elected, they pass the legislation. Conservative billionaires own and operate the Republican Party.

Bernie Sanders is dangerous to the interests of these billionaires, because as PolitiFact confirmed, he is telling the truth about their activities. In a political system where incumbents have been terrorized into silence by Citizens United empowered billionaires, Sen. Bernie Sanders stands alone.
The only way that the billionaires will be defeated is if the American people stand together against wealth inequality, and demand their country back. Sen. Sanders has the message that can put the tools of our representative democracy back into the people’s hands.

24 JUL 2012
In his new report, America For Sale: A Report on Billionaires Buying the 2012 Election, Sen. Bernie Sanders named names and called out the billionaires who using Citizens United to buy our democracy.

In front of a Senate panel today, Sen. Bernie Sanders outed the 26 billionaires who are members of 23 billionaire families that are using Citizens United to buy elections. Sen. Sanders estimated that these 26 billionaires are the tip of the iceberg. “My guess is that number is really much greater because many of these contributions are made in secret. In other words, not content to own our economy, the 1 percent want to own our government as well.”

Sanders explained how the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision put the government up for sale, “What the Supreme Court did in Citizens United is to say to these same billionaires and the corporations they control: ‘You own and control the economy, you own Wall Street, you own the coal companies, you own the oil companies. Now, for a very small percentage of your wealth, we’re going to give you the opportunity to own the United States government.’”

Sen. Sanders also did the last thing the billionaires wanted. He called them out by name.

According to the report, America for Sale: A Report on Billionaires Buying the 2012 Election, here are the 26 billionaires who are trying to buy your government:
1). Sheldon Adelson, owner of the Las Vegas Sands Casino, is worth nearly $25 billion, making him the 14th wealthiest person in the world and the 7th richest person in America. While median family income plummeted by nearly 40% from 2007-2010, Mr. Adelson has experienced a nearly eightfold increase in his wealth over the past three years (from $3.4 billion to $24.9 billion). Forbes recently reported that Adelson is willing to spend a “limitless” amount of money or more than $100 million to help defeat President Obama in November.
2. The Kochs (David, Charles, and William) are worth a combined $103 billion, according to Forbes. They have pledged to spend about $400 million during the 2012 election season. The Kochs own more wealth than the bottom 41.7 percent of American households or more than 49 million Americans.
3. Jim Walton is worth $23.7 billion. He has donated $300,000 to super PACs in 2012.
4. Harold Simmons is worth $9 billion. He has donated $15.2 million to super PACs this year.
5. Peter Thiel is worth $1.5 billion. He has donated $6.7 million to Super PACs this year.
6. Jerrold Perenchio is worth $2.3 billion. He has donated $2.6 million to super PACs this year.
7. Kenneth Griffin is worth $3 billion and he has given $2.08 million to super PACs in 2012.
8. James Simons is worth $10.7 billion and he has given $1.5 million to super Pacs this year.
9. Julian Robertson is worth $2.5 billion and he has given $1.25 million to super PACs this year.
10. Robert Rowling is worth $4.8 billion and he has given $1.1 million to super PACs.
11. John Paulson, the hedge fund manager who made his fortune betting that the sub-prime mortgage market would collapse, is worth $12.5 billion. He has donated $1 million to super PACs.
12. Richard and J.W. Marriott are worth a combined $3.1 billion and they have donated $2 million to super PACs this year.
13. James Davis is worth $1.9 billion and he has given $1 million to super PACs this year.
14. Harold Hamm is worth $11 billion and he has given $985,000 to super PACs this year.
15. Kenny Trout is worth more than $1.2 billion and he has given $900,000 to super PACs this year.
16. Louis Bacon is worth $1.4 billion and he has given $500,000 to super PACs this year.
17. Bruce Kovner is worth $4.5 billion and he has given $500,000 to super PACs this year.
18. Warren Stephens is worth $2.7 billion and he has given $500,000 to super PACs this year.
19. David Tepper is worth $5.1 billion and he has given $375,000 to super PACs this year.
20. Samuel Zell is worth $4.9 billion and he has given $270,000 to super PACs this year.
21. Leslie Wexner is worth $4.3 billion and he has given $250,000 to super PACs this year.
22. Charles Schwab is worth $3.5 billion and he has given $250,000 to super PACs this year.
23. Kelcy Warren is worth $2.3 billion and he has given $250,000 to super PACs this year.

The thing that these billionaires love most about Citizens United it is that it allows them to operate in total darkness. The American people couldn’t fight back because the billionaires were giving their money anonymously. This same cloak of invisibility is what made ALEC so effective for years. The conservative billionaire cabal works best in private, behind closed doors, far away from curious eyes.

With his report today, Sen. Sanders has made it more difficult for thieves of liberty to keep operating in the night. We now have a list of names and we know what they are trying to do to our government. Sen. Sanders is one of the few federally elected officials who has the courage to talk about these people in public.

Most of the members of the House and Senate are too afraid to speak of, much less take on, the billionaires. Even those decent members of Congress who might speak out against them have been terrified into silence by threats of multimillion dollar negative ad buys that will run against the incumbent back home.

Bernie Sanders is displaying a brand of political courage that is sorely lacking in American politics today, and he needs you to stand with him to protect our liberties, our freedoms, and to battle to return the government back to the American people.

There's a lot more information along with people posting new information daily, it's not a replacement for the news but it's a great place to pick up details that won't appear in the network sound bites and fluff notes.  Plus, you can subscribe so you won't miss something important that they cover:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Obama: ‘We are no longer a Christian nation’

 Well...  I know the election is over.  I know that President Obama was elected by a respectable plurality of the popular vote and an overwhelming majority of the electoral votes. 

"So why," you might ask, "am I beating a dead horse?"  (mortuum flagellas - for the other geeks out there)

Really, there is a rationale, I fear important information will submerge in the general background noise unless it's pointed out.

I know that large numbers of republicans are going to become very defensive if exposed to what I'm about to say, but hey, I still love you.  I believe in the concept of a "loyal opposition" comprising the segment (large, still) of the population, the members of which remain loyal citizens of the nation but are unable for reasons they deem sufficient to agree with the course taken by the incumbent government.  That's okay. 

The problem I perceive is the, to my mind, pervasive disregard for truth as evidenced by a huge amount of stuff (for want of a better term, calumnious lies is what first came to mind) circulated by republicans via email, in particular, with tag-lines implying - or flatly stating - that you are a commie pig if you fail to forward the message to everyone you know. 

Being a bit of an out-of-touch a$$ as some consider me, I found it necessary, as well as enlightening, to double check the information that sounded questionable (that was almost all of it) in those emails.  What I found was surprising, even to a cynic. Most of those widely circulated many-times forwarded messages - not 51% most, more like 90% most - consisted of complete fabrications or of - as the one below - things taken out of context in order to misrepresent Obama's or some other democrat's position.

Now, I've been watching politics for a long time, a little exaggeration is traditional in campaigning and we all know that; but I'm not referring to exaggeration, nor even subtle misrepresentation in this post.  I'm talking about disinformation, "the big lie" type of excreta.  If I didn't know better, I might think that the RNC had hired Paul Joseph Goebbels, Ph.D, Heidelberg University 1921, as an adviser and field operative leader.

Dr. Goebbels, as many will recall, was the author of a number of interesting concepts which he was allowed to utilize in his official capacity as propaganda minister.  A couple of the more inclusive, translated from the German by someone else:

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”


“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly - it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.” 

So, two points based upon Dr. Goebbels' statements I've quoted: the people who tried to steal this election with a landslide of disinformation and pure lies missed the part about the lies needing government backing - it worked reasonably well when GW Bush was in office, until he collapsed the economy - but not so well four years later; and they tried to tell too many whoppers in too short a time.

This piece below, I stumbled upon while looking for something else, but it still explains quite well what they were doing on many, many points.  The campaign was too large to have been a couple of isolated racists or extremely dishonest libertarians (libertarians rarely lie, they just interpret things differently).

So, here's the piece about Obama saying we're not a Christian nation - which several people sent me different versions of over the summer and fall.

Anti-Obama mail piece: ‘We are no longer a Christian nation’
 October 31st, 2012  06:31 AM ET
13 days ago
Posted by CNN's Peter Hamby   
Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) – The political arm of Focus on the Family, the Colorado-based social conservative organization founded by evangelical author and radio host James Dobson, is targeting Iowa voters with a mailing that quotes President Barack Obama as saying “we are no longer a Christian nation.”
The fold-out brochure, which landed in Iowa mailboxes last week and was provided to CNN by a Des Moines-area voter, draws a series of contrasts between Obama and Mitt Romney on the issues of abortion, same-sex marriage and insurance coverage for contraception.
See the mailer here and here.
The mailer - paid for by CitizenLink, a political affiliate of Focus on the Family - also includes a striking admission from the president.
“Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation,” Obama is quoted as saying.
The mailer does not explicitly endorse Romney, but the quote is clearly aimed at arousing the suspicions of Iowa’s vibrant Christian conservative community, a key voting bloc in the state and one that the Republican nominee will need behind him next Tuesday.
The quote, though, is cherry-picked from a speech Obama delivered in 2006, more than two years before he became president, at the Call to Renewal conference in Washington.
In 2008, during Obama’s first national campaign, the same out-of-context remark was circulated online as sinister evidence that the Democrat intended to curtail religious freedom in America. At the time, the spurious Internet chatter was debunked by
Here’s the full quote:
“Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation - at least not just,” Obama said. “We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation and a Buddhist nation and a Hindu nation and a nation of non-believers.”
In the same speech, Obama said, “Americans are a religious people,” noting that “90 percent of us believe in God” and cited a statistic that said 38% of Americans call themselves “committed Christians.”
“I think we make a mistake when we fail to acknowledge the role of faith in people’s lives, in the lives of the American people,” Obama said. “I think it’s time we joined a debate about how to reconcile faith with our modern pluralistic society.”
UPDATE: A previous version of this story inaccurately quoted Obama as saying a large majority of Americans describe themselves as "committed Christians." The correct figure has been added.   
Filed under: 2012 • Ads • President Obama

I know that the republicans who are reading this, both of you, want to protest - and I'm sure you will, but realize this as you go: The propaganda wasn't really intended to persuade democrats, it was dumped out there to keep rank and file republicans in line and to pick up any undecided, naive voters who might hear it from a republican friend...

Remember, Romney is on record as saying that 47% of the electorate was unreachable and wouldn't be bothered with, "NOTD" (not our type, dear) but that it would be imperative to line up everybody else to link arms and goose-step down to the voting places, to keep the world safe for multimillionaires. Sieg Heil Viktoria: Waffen SS march.

I know you republicans and Brother Romney aren't actually Nazis, but you are the party of mind control and enemies of personal freedoms and civil rights. I know that most of you aren't actually "foaming at the mouth racists" because I'm old enough to have known a lot of them; but, you are - probably unconsciously - even more dangerous than they were in many cases, people who simply won't deal with blacks or hispanics as equals, but won't acknowledge it - might not even be aware of it.

I was talking with a young woman, early 40s, a couple of days ago about the KKK.  I knew some of those guys when I was young, nobody wore sheets in our area, by then, except kids being Casper on halloween; but they were still around.  I told her that it wasn't only the African-Americans they had a grudge against, maybe it has been forgotten - she was surprised - but also Jews and Catholics were on their interdict list.

One old guy I knew, seemed pretty harmless, he was born in 1907 - he's been a long time dead.  He was about 50 at the time I'm thinking of, showed me a dog-eared card, like a business card, that he always carried in his wallet.  It was a courtesy card from some "grand-dragon" or something like that,  Imperial Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, I do remember that part.

The card asked the klansman to whom it was presented to extend brotherly courtesy to the bearer, and then had some, probably pro-forma, rant against Jews, papists and Negroes, which was misspelled.  We didn't have photocopiers back in those days, or I would have copied that, for sure.
That was the summer before I started high-school, 1957, things were changing; Ike was a republican so he didn't need "Dixiecrats" they were somebody else's problem.

The old man said he got the card in Ohio.  Northern Ohio, not down by Kentucky.

I'm wavering on this, it's bad - really bad - probably nobody will ever read this post anyway, so here goes: When I was four, maybe five, I was riding in a car; my Dad was in the front seat with another guy, no idea who. I was in the back seat with three men my Dad worked with.  I know where we were when the anchor event happened, but I don't know why we were there nor where we were going.

The car was an old sedan, it had those hairy seats that always had a harsh smell.  It would have been from the 1930s. It had suicide doors in the back, at least, we went into an underpass and somehow I fell against the door.  It was the passenger side rear door and it opened. The man who was sitting there had been telling me something about Georgia, I remember telling him that when I grew up I was going "out west" to be a cowboy.

He told me that we were as far west as we could go without going into the ocean, the door opened, I was about half way out looking down at the pavement below and he grabbed me and pulled me back in. The driver stopped the car, was already stopping, and they got the door closed and I got a lecture about car doors. 

It was after that, minutes later, the man who caught me was talking with another man about Georgia; he told a story about one of their pass-time things to do, drive down country roads and try to hit black men who would be walking alongside the road with the door of a car as they passed. I can't remember his name and everybody else who was there is dead.  They seemed to think it was pretty amusing, at least no one protested.  Of course, I haven't a clue if that was true or just a story.

I don't know if that story, his story, was true; but all my life I've had an image of walking peacefully along a road, going to the store, or going home and being hit from behind by a car door doing 40 mph and being knocked into a hard fall down the bank and into a muddy ditch. I think it has helped me, helped me realize that things happen to people which aren't their fault, things caused by other people who want to hurt people they don't even know and have no reason to want to hurt.

Post Election Traumatic Brain Injury

After having all their confident assertions of electoral supremacy shown as illusory, the republican party and its legislators inside the beltway have determined that, having been repudiated by the majority of voters as too far right, and truculent in their intransigence* even in the face of causing the government to default on its financial obligations, the obvious solution is to quit being so easy and cooperative with SATAN  Obama and those demons across the aisle.

I'm still waiting for South Carolina to start an artillery bombardment of Fort Sumter National Monument and run up the "Stars and Bars" although they're probably waiting for the Arizona Militia to arrive with a couple of  columbiads,  to get things started on the right note.



Sunday, November 11, 2012

Romney Campaign Aides Had Credit Cards Canceled On Election Night

This article appeared on Huffpost and was written as straight news; I'm not that charitable to the folks at the top who failed to foist Romney on us.  The article, well most of it, is reprinted here - the comments enclosed within the angle brackets are mine.

Mitt Romney Campaign Aides Had Credit Cards Canceled Late On Election Night
Posted: 11/09/2012 10:44 am EST Updated: 11/09/2012 12:48 pm

Mitt Romney delayed conceding the 2012 election to President Barack Obama, even with the writing on the wall. Once he admitted defeat, however, his campaign went into shutdown mode, quickly dismantling and [quickly] canceling the credit cards of campaign aides late on election night.

NBC's Garrett Haake described the abrupt transition of the Romney campaign after the GOP nominee gave his brief concession speech:
From the moment [Willard, call me Mitt,] Romney stepped off stage Tuesday night, having just delivered a brief concession speech, which [- defeat being unthinkable -] he wrote only that evening, the massive infrastructure surrounding his campaign quickly began to disassemble itself.

Aides taking cabs home late that night got rude awakenings when they found the credit cards linked to the campaign no longer worked. [He might well have done that even had he won, after all; he wouldn't need those peons any more.]

"Fiscally conservative," one Romney campaign staffer told NBC.

Although Romney's staffers' credit cards were canceled, there are still loose ends to tie up.  
Papers need to be filed with federal commissions and bills need to be paid, Forbes' Helaine Olen notes.

That staff also has to deal with the wrath of Romney donors, who allege they were disillusioned by the chances the Republican party had to win.  On Wednesday, Romney had a post-defeat breakfast with some of his wealthiest and most loyal donors.

At the private gathering, the donors allegedly unloaded on Romney staff for its failed "junior varsity operation." [They have become "LOSERS" they lost, and it - it must be - is the fault of the hired help, never the people atop the right's pyramid, they - by definition (their own) are never losers...]

“Everybody feels like they were a bunch of well-meaning folks who were, to use a phrase that Governor Romney coined to describe his opponent, way in over their heads,” one member of the campaign’s national finance committee told the Washington Post's Philip Rucker. “Romney World will fade into the obscurity of a lot of losing campaigns.”

Republican pundits also answered to those donors.

Karl Rove's Crossroads allegedly called the campaign's biggest donors to explain the loss on Thursday, according to Politico. “Obviously, somebody made a mistake and didn’t do things right. There’s no question about that,” Stan Hubbard, a Minnesota media mogul and mega-donor, told Politico's Ken Vogel.  [It might surprise some of those guys, but not everyone who isn't rich, is stupid. Not everyone buys into their BIG LIE, INC. world-view, not everyone accepts that simply being a wealthy psychopath entitles one to the right of dictating what the rest of us will believe and how we will live.]

[Apparently, in addition to the 47% of us who would never, under any conceivable circumstances, vote for Romney or someone of that ilk (because we are lazy losers who refuse to take responsibility for our low-born, meaningless lives), those hired hands failed to connect with the malleable portion of the untermenschen whom they were hired to persuade to betray their class and vote against their own self-interest, YET AGAIN...]

There's a little more here:

Monday, August 13, 2012

You people just don't get it.

8/12/2012 11:33 PM PDT

The solution to our domestic economic problems, unemployment, the budget deficit and the national debt is to get rid of those who are unproductive and don't contribute to the economy or, even worse, are parasitical.

We can make an important step in the right direction by limiting health care for the poor to what they can pay for and eliminating "free" care for the indigent, which isn't really free; if government doesn't pay, then the hospitals and doctors must swallow the costs.  Some of the "do-gooder" laws applied to hospital emergency departments need to be reexamined rationally.

Another important element of the process, already achieving great success across the country, is getting rid of labor unions so the workers can no longer dictate unreasonable drains on corporate profits. The "at will" employment model, that has been replacing trade unions, has been a great boost to employee flexibility in working hours, availability for work on holidays and general workplace conditions; along with those positives, both payroll costs and benefit package costs have improved following union decertification at most enterprises.

Experience has shown that most workers don't save enough for their retirement needs, that is due to lack of self-discipline in most cases; the democrat's Socialist Security program along with its attendant medical and prescription programs are not in accord with the spirit of The Constitution of The United States and need to be privatized or abolished.

We believe that limiting unemployment compensation amounts and duration is essential in putting people back to work sooner, other than those rightfully terminated for disciplinary reasons or unsafe work habits, and thereby helps to limit the unemployment rate.  A certain base amount, 7% to 9%, of unemployment is actually good for business in a way, employees have less truancy and are more cooperative and more productive when they know there'll be a hundred applicants for their job if they're let go.

Further, it is obvious that a need for unemployment compensation is just another symptom of workers being irresponsible by failing to save enough for their needs, why should the past employers be forced to pay a person whom they no longer employ?

Replacing the disastrous federal government Social Security swindle with mandated savings placed in private institutions, such as banks, insurance companies and capital management firms would insure that old people who earned enough would be able to enjoy a comfortable retirement, rather than the misery many old people now endure due to the current socialist model.

People who feel they don't have enough money to meet their current debt, but aren't working, need to stop whining and asking for handouts, instead they should pick a corner of their property and start growing food. That way they can maintain their independence and hold their head up in public. Our pioneer forefathers (and foremothers) who homesteaded this great land on free, or nearly free, 160 acre farms wrested from the savages didn't ask for a handout, they would just be self-reliant and go out and shoot a buffalo or a couple of antelopes, maybe raid an Indian's cornfield, and have a barbecue, and that's the way it should be.

If Obama is reelected, you won't be able to do that any more, he has sworn to confiscate your guns and require you to have a license to hunt game animals and to get the property owner's permission, too. That's what socialism does to a free people, takes their guns and makes them into weak, timid slaves who have to ask for permission.

In reality it's all very simple, quit taxing business to death, stop onerous government regulation of private enterprise and stop the free bread and the free circuses so the masses quit lying around and go to work to support themselves.         
Eagle and Flagstaff image copyright 2012, What's Going On.

The above statement was not written by Romney,
it is our concept of his & the republicans' position.
It was rephrased and enlarged from the
Original post by Shanti2:
"You don't get it. The solution to all economic problems, unemployment, the deficit and the national debt is to get rid of those who are unproductive and can't make money for the capitalists. We can do this by eliminating health care for the poor so they will die sooner, getting rid of unions so the workers can't stand in the way of profits, and cutting Social Security so old people will be so miserable they won't want to hang around and be a burden to the rich people who earned their money and should be able to keep it. Very simple, but not very civilized."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Feast of San Precario

Feb. 29 is the day of San Precario, the patron saint of precarious workers.

Precarity is a condition of existence without predictability or security, affecting a person's material and/or psychological welfare. Specifically, it is applied to the condition of intermittent, insecure  or under employment and the resultant precarious existence. The social class defined by this condition has been termed the precariat.

Precarity is a general term to describe how large parts of the population are being subjected to flexible exploitation (low pay, high blackmailability, intermittent income, etc.), and existential precariousness (high risk because of low incomes, program cuts, high cost of living, etc.) The condition of precarity is said to affect all of service sector labor in a narrow sense, and the whole of working class society in a wider sense, but particularly youth, women, and immigrants.

Precarity is a term of everyday usage as Precariedad, Precariedade, Précarité, or Precarietà in a number of European countries, where it refers to the widespread, nearly ubiquitous in the United States, condition of temporary, flexible, contingent, casual, intermittent work in our Western postindustrial societies, brought about by the loss of labor union  strength and representation that have strengthened the hand of management and the arbitrary power of employers since the late 1970s.

In sociology, Precariat refers to working class people with no job security, or no prospect of regular employment, distinct from the lumpenproletariat. The term is a recent neologism obtained by merging precarious with proletariat.

The precariat class has been emerging in advanced societies such as Japan, where it now includes over 20 million people.  The young precariat class in Europe became a serious issue in the early part of the 21st century, while oddly, although nearly all subprofessional workers in the United States lack any semblance of secure employment due to the "at will" format of employment coupled with minimal government regulation of arbitrary firing of employees by managers, most workers seem to accept the fact that they are constantly blackmailed by their employers to act against their own best interests.

In the United States the precariat class workers even lose their health insurance if they become unemployed, subject to a temporary "opportunity" (revealingly called "COBRA") to retain coverage at a vastly increased price over the premium paid through the former employer, and for some reason the workers in the United States accept that as sensible and resolutely reject all attempts to provide them, at least, some semblance of independence from the employers' demands on them in form of health insurance that can't be dictated, or simply terminated, by the employers.

In spite of the exceptionally precarious position of non-professional workers in the United States and in the United Kingdom (not quite as abysmal as in the U.S.) most of the actual reaction is taking place in the European Union nations, perhaps because it is seen as a province of the governments in those countries to protect workers from arbitrary exploitation by the wealthier and aristocratic classes, who generally are the employers.

As a side-note; Walmart- the largest U.S. retailer, recently sold its German operation because under German laws it could not compel German workers to conform to some of the regulations which its employees (called "associates") in the U.S. are required to accept without complaint.  Complaining is a serious breach of etiquette at Walmart, almost on par with telling a coworker how much your hourly wage is...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Weird sidelights on history - 1832 and all that

Of course, the old frontier truism remains as untouched by revisionist thinking in the 21st century as it emerged unscathed from the 20th.  It was uncontested by anyone in the 19th century - when it first popped out of the mouth and mind of Abraham Lincoln, in 1832 - during the Black Hawk War, and was shared with the men drinking their coffee around the militia campfire while pursuing the hostile Sauks, Meskwakis, a few Kickapoos and some Potawatomis  toward Wisconsin. 

Some people have blamed the Black Hawk War on the incident when a party of Meskwakis and Sauks killed twenty-six Menominees, including women and children, at Prairie du Chien in July 1831.  Now, I suppose that could be it, it's hard to find out after slightly over 180 years why Black Hawk and his band decided to cross the Mississippi into Illinois.  And, it is entirely possible that he (and they) simply were trying to avoid more problems with the Menominees.  His raid on them the previous July, after all, was in retaliation for some killings of Meskwakis by Dakotas and Menominees in 1830,  also at Prairie du Chien. 

In May (1830), Dakotas (Santee Sioux) and Menominees killed fifteen Meskwakis attending a conference at Prairie du Chien.  The raid and killing of the Menominees in the summer of 1831 was retaliation for the deaths of the Meskwakis, and it has been said that the move into Illinois was made simply in an attempt to avoid a counterstrike and further escalation.  A serious problem with that, likely unappreciated by Black Hawk and his people, was the new president of the U.S...   
Old Hickory, Andrew Jackson, had become chief executive in 1829, and Jackson, besides being the scourge of Britain in the 1815 Battle of New Orleans, was a celebrated "Indian Fighter" who might have invented the phrase "The only good Indian is a dead Indian."

If Jackson never said it out loud, you know he hummed it in the shower. He not only mentioned the idea in speeches, he made speeches that had no other topic.  It went so far in the U.S. that a rider on the great Plains - or almost anywhere- seeing an Indian mounted at some distance, would aim the old carbine and pop off a couple of rounds.  It was, of course, nothing personal; but the impersonal murders still killed a hell of a bunch of Native Americans, many of whom were just minding their own business on their own land...

On April 5, 1832, Black Hawk and around 1,000 people, warriors and non-combatant civilians recrossed the Mississippi River back into Illinois and it was assumed to be an attempt to reclaim ancestral land which they had been, according to the natives, tricked into ceding to the United States.  Maybe.  Only about half of Black Hawk's band were warriors, potential combatants, and the rest were a combination of women, children, and elderly.

The band consisted of Sauk, Fox (Meskwakis), some Potawatomi, and some Kickapoo;  which lends credence to the idea of peaceful intent.  In the event, though, the United States and Illinois governments saw it as an act of war and sent troops.  When you study the attitudes of Jackson and many of the whites objectively, you see that the continuation of breathing by Native American people was considered to be an act of war against the white settlers.  By then, the philosophy of "removal" of the native peoples was ascendent as the policy of the government of the United States.

Lincoln served as a volunteer in the Illinois Militia from April 21, 1832  until July 10, 1832 and was elected Captain of his first company.  He was just 23 and had zero military experience, but was put in charge of a rifle company of the 4th Regiment of Mounted Volunteers within Samuel Whiteside's brigade. He did so well at it that the unit was dissolved and everybody was discharged while the war was underway and they'd never seen a hostile fighter.  So, Lincoln, still needing a job, enlisted in a cavalry unit as a private and went back to the rear echelon in the war.

Where, digression ended, we find "Honest Abe" back at the fire - about to speak.  He said, solemnly, in the glow of the first tentative light of morning, "Love is where you find it; but, it seems - nearly always - that some young woman is sitting on it."  That might not seem all that profound until you consider it, but the fellow squatting next to Abe, turned to him as if to say something and then comprehension whacked him aside the head and he suddenly found himself with hot coffee and milk exploding out of his nose as he laughed uncontrollably.

When I first heard the story, about May of 1955, I think - from Bill Savaard - It was said; and -actually as the point of the anecdote- that the coffee spraying mess-mate was Jefferson Finis Davis, of Mississippi and late of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, who was then just 24 years old and a lieutenant in the regular army under Zachary Taylor's command. 

And; the story, as offered, made the embarrassment of the, supposedly, priggish Southerner out to be the cause of his later antipathy toward Lincoln and by extension, a cause of the "war between the states" which caused the deaths of over 650,000 Americans along with the destruction of the area which had become the Confederacy, prior to being reduced to rubble - and, only incidentally, the emancipation of the slaves. Good story, right?

Now, as my grandfather, the old-time dairy farmer from Texas used to say - when confronted with a story that he felt certain was not cloaked in veracity, although it sounded plausible - "That will do to tell."  And, so it proves to be: I and, I'm certain, my contemporaries present at the recounting of the tale back when Eisenhower was President of the USA, accepted it without reservation, of course we were twelve.  Consider; it's heavily swathed in detail.  Potawatamis, Kickapoos, Meskwakis and Menominees, oh my!  Zach Taylor, Andy Jackson, Honest Abe and Jeff Davis - there's hardly anybody left out; Davy Crockett and Tippecanoe were busy elsewhere...

It is true as can be that Lincoln and Jeff Davis were almost the same age and both were doing pretty much as the story goes, except that Lt. Davis was down home in Mississippi at the time - he was attached to Zachary Taylor's unit, though - he just was not there.  And, had he been, it would not have made a hell of a lot of difference.  It's unlikely to the point of nearly impossible that a U.S.Army officer, an Academy graduate, would be at a campfire with a bunch of militia temporaries. 

Davis was not a prig, he was a serious man of principle and a believer in the constitution of the USA, subject to his interpretation of "states rights" and he believed - as many did - that the several states were still sovereign entities and had the legal right to opt out of the United States should they decide to do so. He was pursuing General Taylor's daughter, a pretty girl who then was 17, and he wanted to marry her - really, he just wanted to sleep with her, okay;  sleep wasn't really involved, we just call it that - but you had to get married to do that back then.  General Taylor would, otherwise, have shot him dead as a rock or skewered him to the point of perforation with a sabre, and no court in the land would prosecute Taylor for defending his daughter's honor and his own.

As for Jeff Davis starting the "Civil War," hardly or "no way" describes that idea. Jefferson Davis was against secession of the southern states in 1860, he was a sitting United States Senator, and it wasn't his first term. He had previously served as the United States Secretary of War under President Pierce until 1857.  While he did believe that the several states had the constitutional right to depart the union, he did not believe that the union was going to let them go peacefully and he did not believe that the south had a snowball's chance in hell of beating the northern states in a war.  He made speeches in which he counseled against a precipitous secession. It happened anyway.

Jeff Davis waited twelve days until he had unequivocal instructions from Mississippi before he, in what he said was the saddest day of his life, resigned his position in the U.S. Senate and went down the river to Mississippi.  I'm guessing, knowing as I do, that Davis lost his first bride (Taylor's daughter), who was only 19 and very beautiful, to malaria only three months after they were married, that he meant to express that he was heartbroken over secession.

Davis, of course (at least we, now, think of it as "of course"), was a cotton plantation owner and long-time slave owner; which means that his "broken heart" might have been due to the fact that he expected the Confederacy to get its collective derriere thoroughly kicked by the more populous and more industrialized north, and that he could anticipate the abolition of slavery as a result of the expected military loss; or maybe not.  Maybe he was talking with just (just!!!) the bloodshed that would be the result of such a war on his mind, I doubt that though.

It would have been far better, in my estimate of the situation, to wire a foxtrot uniform and stay in the north, but I had four great-great-grandfathers in Confederate uniforms in that war - and those are only the ones I know for sure, several others might have been.  We look at things a bit differently now, we don't think people should be owned as chattel, like cattle and chickens - actually, we know damned well they shouldn't be and we are abso-damn-lutely amazed that our ancestors, who weren't idiots, failed to figure it out.

Of course, nasty old man that I am, I have my own theory as to what that was actually all about.  It's a different paper and it features one of my - former - heroes, now slightly demoted to merely another imperfect human male, Thomas Jefferson.  Smart, brilliant, even - but - just a man, a bit hypocritical (a rather large bit) and unable (or unwilling) to keep his hands off the servant girls.  Of course, the pivot (as nearly always) would be a girl, or several girls, or maybe young women.  As old Abe said, and it wasn't new and it wasn't temporary or transient, it is still as it was then - a simple reality: what the men are willing to kill or die for usually has a girl or a young woman sitting on it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Same-sex marriage espoused by President

09 MAY 2012
President Obama made an announcement in which he stated that he has decided to back the legality of marriage for same-sex couples.  There is resistance, the idea of legalizing same-sex marriage being a political football these days.  There's a lot of backlash in the press and from the more hardline religious right; which ought to surprise nobody, some of them are against anything Obama could do.

Religious or political conservatives often cite various Bible passages from the Old and New Testaments as their justification for opposing gay rights. Regionally, opposition to the gay rights movement has been strongest in the South and in other states with a large rural population. The Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS has used biblical injunctions against homosexuals and homosexual acts as the justification for a campaign against the United States and the US military, which continues with picketing of military burials and other confrontational activities.

It seems to me that we have more than enough instances in which people, usually young female people, are forced or coerced into having sex with someone they don't want for it to more than absorb all that righteous indignation and holy activism; and that after we solve that problem, then, if there's energy left and concern left, we can discuss why we're worried about what consenting adults do to one another.

The President, in essence has said that he is siding with logic and with the direction of social thought in the country.  And, of course, he is.  If you go back a few years, to the 1960s or so, and you look at US law and sentiment, we were a country in which there was, in many jurisdictions, a tacit open hunting season on homosexual males (especially).  Some people went out actively seeking gay men, certainly not using that term for them, for the purpose of beating and robbing them.

I'm not making this up. I remember, in Southern California in 1962, being invited to go along on an expedition to West Hollywood for the purpose of raising money by "rolling queers". There was some danger involved, I was told, because California law actually protected "them".   I declined, and although I'm a well-known coward, that wasn't the reason... 

I'd like to say that I was morally outraged enough to do something about it and notified the police of the planned activity; but that's not what happened, instead I backed away from associating with the people involved but otherwise did nothing.

I was young, I didn't actually know anyone (as far as I was aware, then) who was homosexual and hadn't even had the concept until I left home to go into the military a few months earlier.  There were some jokes and accusations going around in high school, just nothing that I took seriously or even, really, understood.

There was no public discussion of homosexuality back then, basically, it just was not mentioned by most people.  I would say that, while less well known, it was considered to be on par with heroin addiction in the public mind. Something dirty and disgusting that only evil losers would stoop to doing, to put it nicely.

But, in San Diego, there were a few men who were publicly gay.  Once in a while I would see a couple or a small group on Broadway; the guys wore their hair wrong - obviously not military, some wore facial make-up, and they dressed wrongly - maybe they weren't gay at all, maybe they were in a show or something - I have no idea.

Then in August of '62 a guy that was in my technical school at the Naval Training Center was arrested, in the barracks, by CID and taken away in handcuffs.  A little later the word went around that he had become "involved" with a "bad crowd" and was booted out of the service; the "bad crowd" was gay men.  Then, from September of 1962 until January of 1966 I wasn't in the country much, just short visits between deployments. 

As far as I know, there were no openly gay men in the US military in those days and probably very few closet gays, either.  The environment on shipboard would probably have been intolerable and being homosexual was strictly illegal; while performance of any homosexual acts would get you many years in prison if discovered, with a strong possibility of being fatal instead.

In June of 1967, we - my wife & 2 very young daughters and I, moved to Portland, Oregon and then the job I had taken caused us to move around a lot for the next four years; but in June of 1971 we were back in Portland.  My wife got a job managing a fish and chips restaurant that belonged to a small local Northwest chain.

We found that one of the restaurant managers in town was a gay man.   Portland has - and had, then - a fairly large population of gay men, and he seemed like a nice enough guy and was a pretty good manager.  A little later my wife hired a young man to work in her store whom we got to know and found out that he had moved from some little town in Montana to Portland because he was gay and the gay community in the city was well known.

Being gay and participating in gay sex was still illegal in most places in the country.  In 1972, a Tacoma, Washington teacher of twelve years with a perfect record was terminated after a former student outed him to the vice-principal. The courts upheld the firing as being just.  On June 30, 1986, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Bowers v. Hardwick, that homosexual sex was not protected under the citizen's right to privacy. 

At the end of 1989 there were still 24 states where any homosexual activity was likely to be illegal and some definitely was, the penalties weren't slight either.  There were thirteen states left in 2003, where homosexual acts were illegal,  when the US supreme court decided that all state sodomy laws were unconstitutional.

Since 1970 we have gone from a situation where any and all homosexual activity was illegal in every state except Illinois to a situation where, as of nine years ago, it is legal in all states between consenting adults in a private home. It only took 33 years.  But; as you might have noticed, the journey to extending normal privileges of citizenship, along with those fragile and often hotly contested things which the founding fathers were pleased to label as "rights" in the first ten amendments to our supreme law, to gays, has neither been without controversy nor blessed with universal acceptance as being the right thing to have done.

For several years I have favored the path that some other countries have used wherein the civil ceremony/contract is distinct from the religious contract.  A couple needs both in some countries in order to satisfy both the priest and the law. So I found it comfortable to suggest that the civil union was one thing and had little to do with marriage in a religious sense and therefore we could sidestep the issue by making the civil union unrelated to gender.  That, of course, satisfied almost nobody and I've decided that it's not about my comfort, anyway, and in reality has nothing at all to do with me.

Now, again, about all that outrage: how about doing something about all the sexual assault and sexual trafficking of young women against their will?  After you get that stuff stopped, then I'm willing to discuss the issue of homosexual equality - actually; I'm not, but I can find you some folks who would love to talk with you about it...