Political Gridlock In The Land Of The Weird

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Yesterday came the big announcement that the U.S. and China cut a historic deal on limiting carbon emissions to prevent the planet from turning into one big rain forest.   It’s noteworthy because this is  the first  time China has agreed to anything regarding climate change.  It’s hoped the pact between the two major powers will prompt smaller nations to follow suit.

You could almost sense the Republicans stumbling over one another to come out against it.   Mitch McConnell, who represents Kentucky, the third largest coal producing state in the country, a man who received $914.408 from the oil and gas industry in the past five years, was among those decrying the agreement to prevent Florida and several other states from flooding out by saying,  “I would welcome the president moving toward the middle. I have said before I hope we can do some business on trade and maybe tax reform. First indications have not been very helpful.” 

“Tax reform,” is Republican code meaning more tax-cuts for the rich.  “Do some business on trade” is code for anything that benefits big business regardless of its impact on the nation’s common good.

McConnell isn’t  talking about the fact that up until now, nobody has been able to get the Chinese to agree to anything with regard to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

But Obama, just did.  But then, the science-denier Republicans don’t believe in global warming.   Or in a system of national health care.   Or in caring for our poor and elderly.  Or in public education.   Or in feeding the poor.  Or in adequate care for our veterans.   Or in jobs programs.  Or for women’s health care.   Or for raising the minimum wage.   Or in the USPS, which is profitable, regardless of what the Republicans might say.   According to Sen. Bernie Sanders, “The Postal Service announced on Friday that revenue grew by more than half a billion dollars in the past year but USPS still plans to cut service and eliminate thousands of workers.” 

This current herd of Republicans oppose civilization and nearly anything that promotes our general welfare as a people.

What they do believe in is letting multi-national corporations run amok in an unending and mostly unregulated greed-driven march to make as much money for their shareholders as possible, regardless of the impact it has on a majority of Americans (and on the planet as well).

And so today, the Republicans threw a bone to their backward base and followed up their condemnation of the climate change deal with a political Quid pro quo of taking a vote on the Keystone Pipeline.

We’re on track to become energy independent as an oil-exporting nation, and the Koch Brothers gotta have that oil.

But we never saw that coming, did we?   Just like we have no reason to expect the new Republican majority in both houses to hammer away at repealing the Affordable Care Act, or failing to  cut a deal on immigration or downplaying the need for green energy production or that they’ll back away from their insane Ayn Rand-driven belief in largely unregulated free trade and trickle down economics.   Which doesn’t work.  Crunch the numbers.  Half of America is at or near the poverty level.   “Reaganomics” was a lie, perpetrated by the wealthy few who want only to extract more of the nation’s wealth, sucking it to the top where it does the least amount of good for the many.

Millions of duped voters gave Republicans control of the Senate, nevertheless.   That’s what’s difficult to understand.

“What do you want?  You’re already living in the land of the weird.”  -Bill Murray as Hunter S. Thompson in “Where the Buffalo Roam”

Faced by two years of nothing being done to move the country forward, since denying this president any achievement whatsoever is the stated credo of the Republican Party,  we must then wonder how long it will take the House to draw up Articles of Impeachment?   You know they’re eventually going to do it.  You also know Mr. Obama will never be convicted by the Senate.   They’ll never get a two-thirds vote.   So it will be another huge waste of time and of the taxpayer’s money, as will the Republican drive to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which has already been before the Supreme Court.  A  huge waste of time and money.  However,  two years worth of this nonsense is staring us in the face, thanks in large part to this current Republican Party and the uninformed, angry and to a degree bigoted voters who have given them control of both houses of the Congress.

What can you say about a party that shouts down our President as being a “liar” during a joint session of Congress and later connects his Administration to the term “tar baby?”   Or Arizona Governor Jan Brewer sticking her finger in the President’s face, or the overt and amazing disrespect shown Mr. Obama by Mitt Romney during the debates?   Romney treated Mr. Obama not as a sitting president, but as an underling, regarding him as one might regard an inferior and wayward child.

Bigotry is bigotry, no matter what it might later be called by back- peddling politicians who dive for cover after planting the seeds of hate.

Our only hope, our only salvation, might be that these current Republicans will, over the next two years, continue to show themselves to be exactly what they are, bought-off lap dogs for billionaries and multi-national corporations, who care more for their bottom lines than for the country.   Of course many of the Democrats have been bought-off as well, there’s no question of that, since our political system has degenerated into bribery-driven legislation.

No question about it, we have the best government money can buy, and only we the people can turn it around.

It took America several years to wake up to the futility of the Vietnam War, which our leaders refused to call a war, calling it a “police action” instead.   Ya, right.   Hundreds of dead each month in a police action.  And now we’re engaged in an global police action and our honorable leaders insist upon calling it a war.   The words that serve their needs at any given moment are the words they will use.  Forget about honesty, this is politics.

I am terribly disappointed in Mr. Obama’s failure to hold the line on getting our people out of Iraq and his tendency to cozy-up to the robber barons on Wall Street.    Be that as it may, Obama and the Democrats are still far preferable to this current Republican bunch, which has no qualms about showing themselves to be exactly what they are, nothing but front men and women for the nation’s wealthy minority.   People who will do and say whatever they must to advance the economic interests of the rich, even though it means the continued devastation of the American middle class.    A new feudalism, with a handful of wealthy captains and kings in charge, people who have no interest in the concepts of majority rule, the “general welfare,” or the common good.  In other words, they have no interest whatsoever in the American dream.

Even Susan Eisenhower, has left the Republican fold.

But I was talking about hope, and it does still exist.  It exists in the determination of the American people to take back the democratic process that has been stolen by big money.  Stolen by a lust for power now running rampant through the halls of Congress.   Our government is broken.   Taking money out of the legislative process is the only way to fix it.

Our democracy-driven constitutional republic will be nothing but an illusion, so long as those with the most money are allowed to purchase whatever legislation they might want to further their specific interests.    Campaign finance reform can be something more than just an idea,  and we can make it happen, but only by becoming politically involved, by going to the polls and by letting it be known that any politician who betrays the well-being of the majority will be booted from office.

It took America several years to understand the futility of the Vietnam War, so it isn’t unreasonable to think it could take another couple of years for the majority to begin understanding that their country has been stolen from them by a wealthy minority and that they need to take it back.  Or not.  And if not, then what we had will be over and the America so many have fought and died for will continue moving toward a contemporary form of feudalism represented by the new American oligarchy.

Obama And Iraq – A Matter Of Trust

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An old truism comes to mind:   “When digging yourself into a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging.”    On the question of Iraq, somebody needs to take away this president’s shovel.

In June,  Mr.  Obama told the nation“We will not be sending troops back into combat in Iraq…….. but I have asked my security advisers  to prepare a range of other options.”  

No new boots on the ground in Iraq.   Obama said it repeatedly as he authorized air operations against ISIS.   Don’t worry he repeatedly said, there will be NO NEW BOOTS ON THE GROUND!

Wonderful.  He said he’d get us out of Iraq, and he did.  Except that now he’s changed his mind.    In addition to the 1,500 U.S.  troops already there, he’s announced that he’s sending in another 1,500.   But it’s okay, because they are going in to serve “in a non-combat role to help battle the growing threat of ISIS.”

Really?

Combat troops are being sent into a combat zone but they will not be taking part in combat?    What happens if they come under attack?   Will they be allowed to shoot back?    Will we then need to send in even more troops to assist in the effort to bail out the troops that are already there?   What will John “bomb, bomb,bomb…bomb, bomb Iran” McCain,  and the newly elected Republican Congress have to say about it?  Think there’ll be any pressure from them to ramp up the war?  (again)

Over the past 13 years, the United States has spent some $25 billion to train and equip the Iraqi Army, and they still can’t or won’t defend themselves?   Back here in the States,  22 veterans a day are committing suicide.

We were almost out and now Mr. Obama is sending us back in?    Why are we still there at all?   Haven’t we done enough damage already?

Just as he did the right thing by announcing his support for net neutrality, the President now does an about-face, contradicting his earlier commitment to get us out of Iraq.   Does he think the American people are just plain stupid?   Does trust count for anything?   Who is advising this President?

There’s More To Life Than News, Weather And Texting

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Probably shouldn’t admit this, but I have just recently shed my “what do I need that for?” ways and surrendered to higher tech.   I gave up my old Moto Razr flip-phone for a smartphone.    I had the Razr for so long that I can’t remember when I bought it.   I remember where, because the store is no longer there, but I can’t remember when.

I like the new phone for its GPS capability.   Other than that, I could have and would have stayed with the Razr, which was smaller and easier to put in a pocket.   It’s also built like a brick, and damn near impossible to damage.   I’ve dropped it on concrete at least four times without any consequence.   Oh sure, the case would fly off the phone, but I would just stick it back on and keep going.   I could also easily replace the battery when that became necessary, which wasn’t all that often.  I think I had to do it once or maybe twice over the life of the phone.

I probably shouldn’t use the phrase “life of the phone,” because it isn’t really dead.   Fact is, I put it to sleep.   It’s just sleeping.   I’m really not a bad guy.

I now know why all the men I know with smartphones have them sitting on the table when they go to lunch.   It’s because most men don’t carry a purse and the phones are too big to fit in a pocket.   If you jam it in a rear pants pocket, you are running the risk of breaking the thing in two.   I predict that in the future, smartphones will start getting smaller.   More  like the old Razr.

The smartphone of the future will be small and almost totally voice-activated.   The customized robo-voice on your phone will be your lifeline to our new social network ,  all of us implanted with permanent earbuds as we constantly issue commands into a hidden microphone for multiple texts and voice messages while working 18 hour days, sleeping in shifts between meals of new, improved, genetically modified Soylent Green, to try and satisfy corporate America’s need for greater productivity – and to pay our cellphone bills.

Picture it.  It’s beyond Huxley’s wildest dreams.  Millions of Americans,  constantly talking to someone who isn’t there.   Stressed out to the max and batshit crazy, all of them looking like that nutjob down on the corner who keeps screaming into the air at his aunt who died in 1982.

But I do like the GPS function.    The rest of it?   Not necessary.  I have a small outdated, antiquated, ancient and extraordinarily convenient iPod I use at the gym, so I don’t need to store my music on the much larger iPhone.   I can’t imagine strapping the big iPhone to my arm for a workout when the iPod is so small and light that I forget it’s even there.  Texting is easier on the iPhone, but generally, I regard texting as mostly a trendy waste of time.   If it isn’t important enough to call someone, then why bother with texting?   But it is nice to text if you don’t feel like talking.  Which I could also do on the Razr.

The only mistake I made in my new acquisition was in not buying an iPhone right off the bat.   I started with another brand, which was impossible to understand.   After a few days of sheer frustration I went to my local wireless store and traded it in for an iPhone.    The difference is monumental.    The iPhone is far, far more intuitive.   Much easier to use.

While I generally don’t plug products, I will plug the iPhone.   Don’t bother with the other stuff, just get an iPhone.

Siri, is my new best friend.   I only worry that I’ll need to  upgrade to more gigs of memory.   That could be a problem.

And that good friends, is my antiquarian-tech post for the month.   Since all of you are already using smartphones, it was probably a waste of time, except that you can now have a good laugh telling all your friends about “that guy on the Internet who was still on an old Moto Razr flip-phone!   In 2014!  Can you believe it!”   “Bwahahaha.”

Believe it.

Try talking to another person in person or reading a book.   Might open a whole new world for you.  There’s more to life than news, weather and texting.

Storming The Palace Gates

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We were doing pretty well here in the U.S. until Bill Clinton suddenly went brain dead and started offering his support for NAFTA  and the New World Order it represented.   The North American Free Trade Agreement, which came out of the administration of George H.W.  (New World Order) Bush, which Bush signed in 1993 and was subsequently promoted by Clinton,  eliminated the bulk of trade tariffs on Mexico’s exports to the U.S.   In other words,  it undermined American labor by encouraging U.S. manufacturers to move their plants to Mexico to take advantage of the labor force there, millions of Mexican poor who were willing to accept less than a living wage.

Yes, the Maquiladora industries were up and running on the border prior to NAFTA, but it was NAFTA that opened the floodgates on Mexican exports to the U.S.   According to Earl Shorris, in “The Life and Times of Mexico,”   “Between 1995 and 2000, exports of assembled products in Mexico tripled, and the rate of the industry’s growth amounted to about one new factory per day.”

It was clearly a move to undermine American unions and the workers they represented.  I remember wondering why our government was moving the nation in what appeared to be such a hurtful direction.  To me it appeared to be nothing short of putting the profits of the few above the good of the many.   Destruction of the American dream.  But that would be bordering on sedition, wouldn’t it?

At the time, I recall talking with colleagues in the news business about Clinton’s policies eventually turning the United States into another Mexico, with only two classes, the rich and the poor.   I remember covering the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle in 1999,  and wondering where the “anarchist” protesters had come from and why.   Did they see something the rest of us were missing?  Were things really that bad?

Now, in 2014, with many of the trade barriers wiped away, the unions devastated and with nearly half of America categorized as either “poor” or “low income,” I am at a point of wondering how much longer this can continue.   I’ve been in this mindset for some time now, as I watched America’s manufacturing base crumble with millions of jobs being sent not just to Mexico, but overseas to China, India and elsewhere, to take advantage of near slave labor conditions, as the federal government continued to knuckle under to multi-national corporations and their billionaire investors who care more for their balance sheets than for the well being of the nation.

Welcome to the new American oligarchy, a key part of George H.W. Bush’s “New World Order,”  or what the mainstream media now refer to as “Globalization,” which has a softer ring to it.   I would expect nothing less, since most of the mainstreamers turned their backs on the selling of America, while we were being sold.   And why wouldn’t they?    They’re just one more cog in the giant wheel of the corporatocracy.

I was as much a part of it as anyone else.   We were being paid not for our opinions or commentary but for presenting both sides and letting our viewers decide for themselves.  TV news is central to the issue of an uninformed public because most of the country is made up of viewers and not readers and for TV news “See Spot!   See Spot run!” is so much easier and cheaper and safer than trying to explain Spot’s motivation for running, where he might be headed and why, especially when the business model that employs you is part of the problem.

Sometimes, without adequate analysis by the media, the truth is left without a friend.    In this case, with so many progressive analysts labeled as extremist and the explosion of conservative “commentators” on FOX News and elsewhere,  the truth went begging.

But can things really be that bad?  Yes, they can,  but millions of Americans remain locked down in denial.   This was never supposed to happen to the United States.  They sold us.   And the sale continues with the current negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership or “TPP,” which will reportedly insulate corporations from the courts, putting them above the law.   It’s difficult to say precisely what’s happening with the agreement  since the Obama Administration is cutting the deal behind closed doors.   It should be a huge ongoing item for the mainstream media, but it’s not.   Imagine that.

Another conversation I recall having with colleagues years ago had to do with the people of Mexico.   We were talking about the terrible gap between the rich and the poor just across the border.  I remember saying something about the Mexican people being extremely friendly and peaceful, but only up to a point.  I remember commenting that Poncho Villa and Emiliano Zapata were real historical figures,  and that it might happen again if the Mexicans were pushed far enough.

Maybe it has.

Today I’m reading that Mexican protesters set fire to the gates of the presidential palace in Mexico City.  That’s pretty radical.   However, with Mexican politicians and police in league with drug gangs to slaughter innocent students by the dozens, it appears the Mexican people may have reached their tipping point.   I’m wondering how much worse things will have to become here in the U.S. before we reach ours.

America’s Frustration: Longtime Members Of A Broken Government

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An interesting poll in this morning’s Los Angeles Times points to 59 percent of all California voters believing Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, shouldn’t run for another term even though both receive respectable favorability ratings.

Apparently a majority of Californians feel the state would be better served by new blood, perhaps because Feinstein and Boxer are too firmly entrenched in their jobs?  Maybe because they’ve been there for too long and are too comfortable as D.C. insiders?

I must admit to being in the majority.   A couple of years ago I voted for the Republican who was running against Boxer, simply because I think she’s been in office for too many years and that there’s a danger in any politician becoming too settled in the system.   There’s also my conviction that neither she nor Feinstein, is doing enough to represent the folks back home in sunny California, which is very blue.

Too often I’ve heard nothing from them when critical issues come up.   Too often I’ve wondered if their silence has been influenced by one big campaign contributor or another, whether they’ve become too tied in with too many wealthy concerns.

Dianne Fiensten, age 81,  is one of the richest members of Congress, which raises questions about her ability to identify with us little people back home.   “Rollcall,” lists her worth at $49.3 million, making her the ninth wealthiest member of the House and Senate.   That’s a lotta clams.   But maybe I’m out of line?

It’s possible that neither Feinstein (first elected in 1992) nor the 73 year old Boxer (in office since 1993) has ever been influenced by a donor’s money and that their longevity is a plus rather than a minus.

Still, their silence on some issues continues to trouble me.    Considering the deep-blue makeup of their constituency, you’d expect them to be more like Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders.   That they’d be out on the front lines,  defending  Mr. Obama and taking positions against the Republican opposition.  But they’re not.   They don’t act like they’re representing one of the most progressive states in the nation.

That might have something to do with a majority of Californians believing it’s time for  them to go, which points us in a new and most troubling direction thanks to the Supreme Court.

Under our current disgusting system of limitless and anonymous funding for candidates and the necessity of needing millions upon millions of dollars to run for office, who will replace them and how will they do it without being purchased by God knows who?    The money to buy all those ads has to come from somewhere.

At least with Feinstein and Boxer, we know what we’ve got.   Without massive campaign finance reform, that may be the best we can hope for.   Then again, their silence on the many issues that are key to their progressive base continues to trouble me.

New blood may be newly purchased but at least it’ll be new?   Following the Supreme Court’s decision in “Citizens United,” does it even matter?

Anyway, don’t look for either Feinstein or Boxer to step aside anytime soon.   Like aging prizefighters, aging politicians seem unable to leave the ring.

Our New Republican Reality

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Let’s do something novel, something the corporate-owned mainstream media no longer does.   Let’s deal with some facts the mainstreamers generally like to either push to one side or disregard altogether.

Let’s call it our new Republican reality.

The new masters of Capitol Hill, the Republican Party, believe in “trickle down economics.”   They believe that cutting taxes, thereby sending more money to the wealthy, will benefit the poor and the middle as money “trickles down” to those in the middle and at the bottom.   It’s part of what George H.W. Bush termed “Voodoo Economics” when he was running against Ronald Reagan.

George H.W. Bush may have been clueless about bar-code readers, but he got some of the big ones right, like not leaving our troops in Iraq once the fighting ended and “Voodoo Economics.”

Reagan, said he could cut taxes and raise revenues and that the wealth would “trickle down.”   “Reaganomics” was, of course,  a great lie, designed to transfer the nation’s wealth from the many in the middle and at the bottom to the few at the top.  But H.W. (Daddy) Bush lost and Reagan won, so we will now be forced to deal with just that in both houses of the Congress, along with all the rest of the oft-stated Republican plan for America’s future, which includes but is not limited to-

-Continued deregulation of business in favor of free trade (because it doesn’t work)

-Eliminating Social Security through privatization (why not turn it over to wall street?  just look at their record!)

-Eliminating Medicare with a voucher program (needs to be killed and privatized to extract more wealth for the already wealthy – anyway there are already too many old people so who really cares?)

-Eliminating Medicaid (because the poor don’t deserve healthcare)

-Eliminating the Postal Service through privatization (works great and creates jobs, so let’s kill it)

-Further weakening public education with a voucher system (poor kids don’t need an education – where will our ditch diggers come from?)

-The elimination of the Affordable Care Act (those who can’t afford it, don’t deserve it.  let them suffer.)

-More tax cuts for the rich (because they are holy)

-Cutting health care benefits for women (sex is one of those female issues that shouldn’t be discussed)

-Letting the nation’s infrastructure fall further into ruin (who needs roads when you have a private jet?)

This is their stated continued attack on the American middle class and poor at a time when 95% of all new wealth is going to the top 1%.   A time when the gap between the rich and the poor is the widest it’s been since the Great Depression.

As outrageous, mindless, uncivilized and immoral as it might be, their plan is to continue extracting the nation’s wealth from the poor, the middle and to a degree the upper-middle class,  and to continue  sending it to the top.   There is no concept of “common good” or “general welfare” in their greedy little mindset.

The “trickle-downers” see America not as a nation with a proud history “of the people, by the people, (and) for the people,”  but as a business resource to be sucked dry.   People who lose their homes or can’t feed their children and are forced to beg on streetcorners to survive are simply collateral damage.

The Republican message is that you shouldn’t take it personally, it’s just business.   That the strong will survive and the rest of you?   Well, once again, it’s nothing personal, but they really don’t care.

So much for a mostly Christian nation.  Jesus, wouldn’t care for this at all.

As reported by “commondreams.org,”   “The top 1 percent of Americans own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. The richest 400 Americans have amassed more than $2 trillion in wealth, a sum greater than all of the assets of the bottom 150 million Americans combined.  One family, the Waltons of Wal-Mart fame, owns more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans. 

While the rich are becoming richer, more Americans live in poverty today than at any time in our nation’s history.  Half of all Americans have less than $10,000 in savings. We have the highest rate of childhood poverty – 22 percent – than any other major country.”

And so we continue struggling with the Bush tax cuts, along with all the other “benefits” of the Reagan Revolution that gutted the American middle class by cutting government spending, destroying American unions, dropping trade tariffs, deregulating the banking industry  and sending American jobs overseas.

And now those same lap dogs of multi-national corporate interests  who control both the House and Senate say they want to cut taxes for the rich even further, as if they haven’t done enough damage to the vast majority already, many of whom were tricked into voting for a fox to watch over the national hen house.

For those of you who still have no idea, here’s an enlightening description of what the Republicans have been up to from progressive talk show host Thom Hartmann.  The Republican Party’s action through inaction borders on sedition.

Hartmann writes that, “Back on the night of January 20th, 2009, when most Americans were out celebrating the end of the Bush years and Barack and Michelle were dancing at the inaugural balls, a group of powerful Republicans was planting the seeds of your loss this week.

At the Caucus Room restaurant here in Washington,DC, Republican leaders drew up a plan to sabotage President Obama at every point possible and deny him any sort of legacy.  Over juicy steaks and fancy cocktails in a private room in the back of the restaurant, the Republican bigwigs promised each other that they would filibuster and obstruct any and all legislation supported by President Obama.

Congressman Pete Sessions, who was at the 4-hour long dinner, even promised to use “Taliban-like” tactics to achieve those goals.
Kevin McCarthy, now the Majority Whip, said that they’d obstruct every single piece of legislation. That includes things the Republicans used to support.”

Hartmann (who says he has been banned from the guest list on MSNBC) goes on to point out not only the outrageousness of the Republican sedition, but the unforgivably lame response by the Democrats, both of which contributed to a disinformed, misinformed and generally confused and angry electorate, leaving us with a Republican majority in the House and Senate and Barack Obama as the only thing standing between us and the giant  wrecking ball of greed-driven Voodoo Economics.

This current batch of Republicans clearly not only want to destroy the entire safety net FDR put together – a societal safety net that served the nation so well following the Great Depression –  they are also willing to do so with nearly complete disregard for the well-being of the vast majority of Americans who are now ruled not by democratically-elected representatives, but by the new multi-national business oligarchy that owns them.

Another Great American Disappointment

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And so, many of those who can afford it the least have turned over control of both the House and the Senate to the very party that is doing all it can to increase the great divide between the wealthy and the poor in America, making the United States one of the worst ranking nations in the world on the question of income inequality.

Robert Reich, sums it up quite nicely when he says of the Republicans, “They didn’t offer a single new idea, no constructive proposal, no suggestion for moving the country forward.” 

They did though, do all they could to demonize President Obama, making him the issue by fueling  an ancient and silent bigotry that continues to boil and blister beneath the surface, rather than addressing their inability to engage in responsible governance – a failure millions of Americans were  unable to recognize through the massive cloud of smoke blown into the air by right-leaning pundits on FOX News and other masters of disinformation on talk radio, who generally show little interest in objective analysis, only in share points and advertiser satisfaction.

A case-in-point, is the State of Louisiana, where it appeared Democrat Mary Landrieu would be forced into a runoff with her Republican opponent.  A state where nearly one-third of those who vote Republican blame President Obama for the nation’s miserable response to Hurricane Katrina.

In 1858,  Abraham Lincoln spoke of “A house divided against itself.”   If this election proves anything, it proves that we still are.

The Fault Lies Not In Our Stars…

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Looking forward to the upcoming election with trepidation.

We the people, will prove one of two things.   Either we, as a group, have grown more enlightened, or we will continue to carry out policies that are in our own worst interest.

For me, it’s really that simple.   And I don’t blame John Boehner, the Republican Party or the Koch Brothers.   They’re just using the system to do what comes naturally to all of us.  They’re looking out for themselves.   Greed, self-interest and egotism are nothing new to human nature.    Regardless of what you may think of Republicans, they are human, even if their  modus operandi is at times contrary to intelligent civilized behavior and  generally despicable.

Nor do I blame Mr. Obama and the Democrats, who have had their initiatives blocked at every turn by the Republican Party, who seem determined to let the nation sink into oblivion rather than allowing any credit to slide over to the other side of the aisle.

If, like Mr. Obama, you keep hoping they’ll change and see some distant light, then you’re kidding yourself.   But it’s not their fault that we may be tilting toward increased subjugation by the new American oligarchy.

We’re letting it happen.  You, me, and the 20-something who still lives next door with his parents because there are no jobs to go  to, even with the master’s degree he now holds and can’t pay for.

The blame for the United States becoming more and more regressive, backward and uninformed, lies with each and every American who has failed to complain about the death of our democratic system.  It rests with each and every one of us who has failed to go the polls on election day with a resolve in our hearts to “throw the bums out.”

But oh! you say.   How can we throw the bums out when they’re nearly all bums, when the entire process has been purchased and is therefore controlled by the wealthy?

We do it with accountability, which currently does not exist and won’t, unless the Democrats re-gain a solid majority in both the House and Senate.

The Republicans have been shutting down anything resembling progress with their majority in the House.   If they don’t like something, they simply shut down the country.   Like a spoiled child, they simply refuse to compromise.  They take their ball and go home, letting our national infrastructure and middle class fall farther into ruin.

But our current condition isn’t their fault alone.  It’s our fault, yours, mine,  each and every one of us that doesn’t vote.

According to a report from NBC News,  “The United States ranks 120th of the 169 countries for which data exists on voter turnout, falling between the Dominican Republic and Benin, according to a January 2012 study from the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. (Not all countries ranked were democracies, a factor that could skew the results.)”

About 60% of us don’t vote.   We sit at home and complain about the government, the economy and whatever, but we can’t be inconvenienced to the point of getting up and spending an hour or two to exercise our privilege of going to the polls to throw the bums out.  Which is what we must do.

It’s impossible to hold the Democrats responsible for their actions, when nearly everything they’ve tired has been blocked by Republicans who have shown themselves to be interested in that which benefits the very wealthy rather than the vast majority of the American people.

Who, other than a relatively narrow sliver of wealthy Americans would vote to continue with this current bunch of Republicans?  It’s madness.

It staggers one’s imagination to think of what Mr. Obama might have accomplished with a Democratic majority in the House and Senate.

We can and should, throw the Republican bums out, replacing them with a whole new set of bums from the Democratic Party.  I didn’t say they aren’t bought-off too, just that under our current system it’s next to impossible to hold either party accountable  once the finger pointing starts, leaving a great many Americans angry, confused, and in no mood to vote for anybody, be they Republican, Democrat, Socialist or Green.

If Mr. Obama, has a majority in the House and Senate, then nobody will be able to blame anything  exclusively on John Boehner, the Koch Brothers, or their uber-rich friends who make up the oligarchy currently dictating terms to Mr. Obama and the Congress.

With a majority in the House and Senate, the Democrats will be empowered to do what they will with the nation, and we the people,  will  no longer suffer from any confusion about who is responsible.

And so, in the next election, and the election after, I will be voting for Democrats, even  though I am not a member of the Democratic Party.  And then, in the years that follow, if I am not satisfied with their performance, I will vote for someone else.

By one accounting, 57.5% of all eligible voters went to the polls in the last presidential election.    So nearly half of America’s eligible voters didn’t bother to vote.    It’s even worse in mid-term elections, when turnout drops to around 40%.

The fate of the nation is hanging in the balance and less than half of America’s eligible voters are willing to go to the polls?

Can you imagine the impact on Washington with a turnout of 80% or even 90%?

It might give us back our country.    So stop feeling hopeless and helpless and get out and vote.  Please.

Ebola: When Should We Start Worrying?

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More than four thousand Africans have died from Ebola.  According to a new study by the World Health Organization,  70% of those who contract the disease will die.  By one worst-case scenario, the number of infected could double every 20 days.

So 4 thousand might become 8 thousand, 8 thousand could become 16 thousand, 16 thousand will become 32 thousand, and so on and so forth.    One CDC estimate puts the potential outbreak at 1.4 million cases by mid-January.   Meaning 1.4 million could turn into 2.8 million with a death rate of 70%?

In Dallas, it is now reported that 76 people are being  monitored following the first diagnosed case of Ebola in the United States.

Pretty scary, isn’t it?

But we’re not supposed to worry, because there are no direct flights from the three most affected countries in Africa to the United States.  According to the CDC,   fewer than 150 people from those three countries travel to the U.S.  each day.

That means that more than 100 people from the affected countries are arriving in the U.S. daily via indirect flights.

Not to push the panic button or anything, but since it can take as long as 21 days for Ebola victims to become symptomatic, since there is no cure, and since Ebola is proving itself to be highly contagious  (perhaps even more contagious that modern medical science currently understands),  is it really a good idea to allow travelers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leon, to continue entering the country without a quarantine process?   Should we be letting them in, based only upon a temperature reading and  a few questions about what they’ve been up to lately?

People lie.

We are sending help to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leon, three of the poorest countries in the world.    The question we need to answer is are we doing enough to help ourselves, or are we opening the door to a possible outbreak here as we strive to be as helpful as possible overseas?

God save us from our local tv news

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FLASH! Possible Ebola patient on a Metro bus in Lincoln Heights (although paramedics say the man has no fever). Ted Chen is dispatched to LAX to drill down on the subject of whether airport officials are ready for the epidemic’s arrival.

Across town, the LAPD bomb squad has Van Nuys Blvd. shut down at rush hour, snarling traffic, diverting tens of thousands of motorists, to investigate a “suspicious package” in a car. Who needs SNL when we have the news?

Oh, by the way, “Spartacus” the big pit bull, probably wasn’t abused after all, forcing Channels 4 and 7, to run corrections. The new version of the story is that the dog may have attacked someone who was forced to fight back. It appears this is one animal sympathy story that may have backfired big time.

We’re now waiting for the bomb squad to disarm the suspicious package of Huggies over in Sherman Oaks. God help us! Don’t leave us without an answer to the big BOMB THREAT.   But that’s what they’re going to do, damn them.  “Coming up!  Are LA area hospitals equipped to handle the Ebola crisis!” The sky it falling! The sky is falling! We are doomed! Doomed! (but it’s gotta help the ratings.)

Coming soon, the Ebola channel. All Ebola, all the time. Oh wait, this tops it all – “Creepy looking clowns” are scaring people in Bakersfield. The threat is apparently moving across Kern County.   Oh, Lord.  Here it  comes, the inevitable sound bite with a cop, looking as official as he possibly can as he delivers the epiphany that there is essentially nothing illegal about dressing up like a creepy clown, even if it scares people.

Only in Bakersfield?

Still no word on the bomb in Sherman Oaks. Guess I’ll have to wait for an update at 11.   That’s 4 and a half hours away.  Somebody get me another glass of cab.  I can’t do this local tv news thing anymore.

Another City We’ve Never Heard Of

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Remember when the city of Kobani, was meaningless?   Not unlike Dien Bien Phu, Saigon or  Hue?  Places most Americans couldn’t pronounce, much less locate on a map?

There’s such a fuss over whether and when ISIS will capture Kobani, a mostly Kurdish city, population 44,821 on the Turkish border with Syria.  Such a to-do about it all, about the Kurds hanging on and why the Turks won’t unleash their army against ISIS.  Such an endless gnashing of teeth among the pundits, including a piece the Guardian proclaiming,  “Craving a crack at the headcutters.”   Such a fuss about whether Mr. Obama, should send in ground forces.    All because of a place called Kobani.  Does it mean anything to you?  Anything at all?

Obama says he won’t send in ground forces, even though all the great military thinkers are saying he’ll have to, or there’s no chance of winning against ISIS, or ISIL, or the IS, led by some of Saddam’s old Sunni commanders who were given the heave-ho when the United States made the terrible mistake of invading Iraq.  Whatever you want to call them, it’s all applicable.  What isn’t applicable is the inclination here in the west to continue treating this military engagement like a football game which is ours to win or lose if we can just grab another first and ten while waiting for the next televised beheading.

This isn’t about grabbing a little more ground.   ISIS, isn’t an army and this damn sure isn’t a football game.  It’s a movement of guerrilla fighters scattered across the region, driven not by winning or losing a conflict based on some idea of “metrics” dreamed up in some Pentagon brainstorming session.   Much to the contrary,  by all indications, these ISIS fighters are driven by belief (and because they are being paid).  They are a creation of the United States wrong-headed and naive decision to invade Iraq, displacing Saddam Hussein,  dumping his massive military machine including a number of Sunni commanders and soldiers onto an unsuspecting public,  turning the region’s balance of power on its head.    After that, the principle of “free trade” was supposed to bring the nation of Iraq booming back with such prosperity that the Iraqis would be filled with joy and love,  forever indebted to the American people for their wise and most helpful intervention.

Thank you George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for coming up with a plan that appears to be straight out of Kim Jong Un’s playbook for misguided, misdirected and intellectually lazy evil doers.

Nearly everything the United States has done in the region has resulted in harm for both the indigenous tribes and America.   We’re at the point where any additional military engagement, be it from the air or on the ground, is nothing but piling on.

Mr. Obama, was absolutely on the right track in pulling American troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan.   We were on the road to finally disengaging from the hellish tribal warfare of the Middle East and North Africa, when the beheadings started.  Beheadings clearly designed to extend the military involvement of the United States, Britain, France, and other European powers.   And the west, took the bait.

Mr. Obama, had no choice, really.   With an election just weeks away he was left in an impossible position.  He couldn’t stop the airstrikes and pull out of the region as planned.  If  he did he’d open himself and his party to an attack from the Republicans, who can be counted on to use the situation to their best advantage at the polls regardless of the impact it might have on the country.   It’s what they do.  They are traditionally greedy, regressive and despicable and in no danger whatsoever of being included as members of the nation’s “intellectual elites.”

So Obama, is once again, stuck in the military quagmire that is the Middle East and North Africa.  Something the Bush/Cheney people repeatedly advised us, would never, ever happen.    “No”they said, it would be all hearts and flowers as our military marched in nearly unopposed to locate and then dismantle each and every one of Saddam’s horrible, terrible “weapons of mass destruction” that threatened American cities.   If not now, then possibly sometime in the next four to five hundred years.

Aren’t you getting just a little tired of being bitch-slapped by lying politicians?

There are estimated to be around 30,000 or so ISIS fighters.    The new puppet government in Iraq,  with its wonderful American-trained and supplied military of  271,500 active duty personnel, either will not or cannot fight the “ISIS threat,” so forget them.   They’re a lost cause.  Billions of dollars and thousands of lives down a rat-hole of our own making.   According to Paul Wolfowitz, Iraqi oil was going to pay for the whole thing, or a least most of the reconstruction, which would have been a lot.    Guess he was just kidding?

Turkey, has an active military of more than 600,000.    Iran, has more than 500,000 active military personnel.   Syria, has 250,000.  Any number of Arab states have modern jet fighters with pilots trained in the United States.  Israel, is a nuclear-armed nation, which has shown itself to be more than capable of defending itself against all comers.   The Saudis can afford to buy an army, other than ours, which is what they’ve been doing for years.  However, the U.S. has now become an oil-exporting nation, so we no longer have to worry about offending the Saudis delicate sensibilities.

With the exception of Syria,  a token presence by Arab jets for PR purposes and apparently a token force from Iran in an advisory capacity, (although whoever really knows what the Iranians are doing?), all these regional military powers are sitting back while the United States and its western allies take the lead.   Which is ridiculous.   No, it’s beyond ridiculous.  It’s nuts.

So why is the United States still there?   Why did Mr. Obama feel the need to form a coalition to fight ISIS, when ISIS is surrounded by vastly superior armies?   Is it because two Americans, a Brit and a Frenchman were beheaded?    And the United States, Britain and France, took the bait?

If you try and determine who set the trap, you become tangled up in one more mystery wrapped in a riddle dipped in a quagmire, as you struggle through the question of whether the people running ISIS are truly out of their minds and enjoy tempting fate, or whether someone else,  some other political entity might have been behind the beheadings?  Someone who will benefit from a continued U.S. military presence in the Middle East and North Africa?  Good luck on thinking that one through.

Whatever the reason, a political trap or not, the Obama Administration is now stuck.  They cannot withdraw until after the election.   Which is precisely what the U.S. must do.   The United States must finally disengage from this madness, leaving it up to the Arabs to solve their own centuries old religious/sectarian disputes.    Otherwise, we’ll likely be stuck in the region for the next 50 to 75 years.  Which will be just fine with the military-industrial complex.  War is what they do.   Without it, they are diminished.  Death, is their life’s blood.

Ebola And The Need For Single-Payer Healthcare in the U.S.

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The British, established their form of “socialized medicine,” the British National Health Service, after being repeatedly bombed by the Nazis during World War II.

“During the war, a new centralised state-run ‘Emergency Medical Service’ (EMS) employed doctors and nurses to care for those injured by enemy action and arrange for their treatment in whichever hospital was available. The existence of the EMS made voluntary hospitals dependent on the Government and there was a recognition that many would be in financial trouble once peace arrived.[5] The need to do something to guarantee the voluntary hospitals meant that hospital care drove the impetus for reform.” – National Health Service Act of 1946 - Wikipedia

After they had seen their families, friends, neighbors and countrymen, broken and bloody and lying in the streets, the Brits came to the amazing realization that if they didn’t care for one another, then nobody would.    The idea of whether their family members and neighbors could afford to pay for the medical help they needed to keep them alive wouldn’t have been a question.   With thousands of injured from Nazi bombs, can you imagine someone asking if they could pay before rendering aid?    It would have been worse than immoral, it would have been stupid.     Just plain stupid.  And that’s what we are here in the United States.  Stupid.  Stupid for paying twice as much as the rest of the developed world for medical care for a lesser result, as we continue to be victimized by the American healthcare industry.

We are a mostly Christian nation (76%), living by the decidedly un-Christian principles of mostly deregulated free-trade.

Most of the world has come to realize that healthcare driven by a profit motive does not work.  It kills people.    There can be no other outcome, when the availability of quality healthcare is tied directly to one’s ability to pay.   And Americans, can’t all pay.  According to a recent study, 15% of the American public remains uninsured, as Obamacare moves forward with no “single-payer” or even a  so-called “public option” available.   Just a decree that all Americans must purchase health insurance,  which doesn’t seem to be working all that well.

The difference between “single-payer” and  “public option” can be confusing.  According to “FactCheck.org,  “Single-payer is a complete government-run health insurance system under which everyone is covered, e.g., Canada’s system. The “public option” is a single federal insurance plan that would compete with private insurance companies.” 

For me, it’s easiest to think of “single-payer,” as being “Medicare for all.”

Socialized Medicine, sometimes called “Universal Healthcare,”  was the only sane, civilized answer to Britain’s healthcare needs during the war, so that’s what they did.    And it worked.   And it still works,  in Britain, Canada, Germany, France, Taiwan, Japan, and the rest of the developed world.   Except for the United States, which stubbornly clings to the idiotic idea that free trade is the only reasonable solution to the question of who will pay for our healthcare.    What  greedy, backward, regressive  nonsense.

The current popularity of the British National Heath Service was apparent at the recent Olympic Games in London, when the crowd cheered during a salute to the Health Service during the opening ceremonies.  Can you imagine Americans cheering for the American Hospital Association?

Universal Healthcare, not unlike your local department of public works,  the fire department, the police department,  public libraries, public schools, Social Security, the military,  Homeland Security,  the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control, and all other public services defined in the preamble to the U.S. Constitution as being necessary to “promote the general welfare,”  can co-exist, side by side with Capitalism.  It’s called a “mixed economy.”   It was working quite well in the U.S. until Ronald Reagan came along in 1980 and started shutting it down in favor of the Neocon free-traders, which killed unionism, gutted our middle class and sent millions of jobs overseas while our infrastructure was devastated by a lack of revenue assisted by Republican demands for tax cuts.

Regressive right-wing ideologues have been trying to destroy everything FDR built, the entire social safety net including Medicare and Social Security,  almost from the moment he and Democrats in Congress put it together in the 1930’s.   And yet, driven by fear-based disinformation, a great many of America’s elderly continue to vote for Republican candidates.

Tricking a percentage of the population into voting for that which is in their own worst interest is a favorite tool of contemporary political tyranny.

Reagonomics set us on the road to economic devastation for the middle class, and now, with something like the Ebola virus, it could kill us all, because it has been putting big profits above all else, while a deadly virus like Ebloa, starts small.    Nobody cared about it because there was no real money in developing a vaccine to prevent it.   Consequently, driven by the free-trade profit motive, big pharma continued focusing much of its research on erectile dysfunction pills, new cholesterol lowering drugs with fresh patents that haven’t run out and anti-anxiety meds.  Products like sleep-aids that will provide a hefty profit margin in a country where the top 10% own 81-94% of the stocks, bonds and trust funds.

According to G. William Domhoff,  Professor of Sociology at UC Santa Cruz, “In terms of types of financial wealth, the top one percent of households have 35% of all privately held stock, 64.4% of financial securities, and 62.4% of business equity. The top ten percent have 81% to 94% of stocks, bonds, trust funds, and business equity, and almost 80% of non-home real estate. Since financial wealth is what counts as far as the control of income-producing assets, we can say that just 10% of the people own the United States of America.”

And that top 10%,  many of whom are invested in big pharma,  expect a return on their investment, so big pharma isn’t going to waste millions developing a vaccine for a remote virus impacting only a small population somewhere in Africa, where the people and their government won’t be able to afford the vaccine once it’s developed.

That kind of an economic model is insane, and is precisely why Capitalism and healthcare do not mix.   Providing the best healthcare to the most people has nothing to do with going after the biggest profit.  It has to do with taking a long view on what might be the biggest threat.   It has to do with keeping people healthy rather than waiting until they fall ill from eating processed foods and drinking high-sugar content beverages and then maintaining them in a state of illness.  But that’s not the way our system works.   Consequently, we now have no vaccine against Ebola which was first identified in 1976.

We are also the most obese nation in the world, with 34% of all American adults classified as obese.

If the British had our healthcare system during the war, they would still be processing the insurance claims, while collection agencies tried to wrest healthcare payments from relatives of the dead.   Some capitalists in our greed-driven society, would probably be out digging up the dead, stripping them of any valuables they were buried with in an effort to recoup money owed for unpaid healthcare services.  It would, in fact, probably generate a whole new industry of grave diggers.   If that sounds too nasty you can be sure the insurance industry would come up with something that’s easier on the ears, something along the lines of “economic reclamation engineers.”

Don’t blame Mr. Obama or progressive Democrats.    Trial balloons were floated about a so-called “public option” before the ACA (Obamacare) was passed.   It might not have been a full-blown national healthcare system, but it would have provided federal competition to the insurance industry.   Guess who shot it down?   If you guessed Republicans and conservative Democrats who were in the pockets of the American healthcare industry, you were right.

And so,  Americans continue paying twice as much for healthcare as most of the developed world for a lesser result, while researchers scramble to come up with a vaccine against Ebola, because there was just no money in it,  and under our current system profitability and not the general public welfare  continues to be a principle motivation for research.   It’s all about the money.  Private money.   And cutting funding for federal services that promote the general welfare, like the Centers for Disease Control, the “CDC.”

In September, key U.S. healthcare officials testified before a Senate committee,  looking into the Ebola situation.   As was reported by “crooksandliars.com,”  “Dr. Beth Bell, director of the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, testified before the committee, making a case for increased funding. Her department, which has led the US intervention in West Africa, was hit with a $13 million budget cut as a result of the cuts in 2013.”  According to Dr. Bell,  “If even modest investments had been made to build a public health infrastructure in West Africa previously, the current Ebola epidemic could have been detected earlier, and it could have been identified and contained.”

And still, many of the richest Americans and their lap dogs in Congress, continue calling for increased austerity.

There is little comfort in knowing a virus makes no distinction between the wealthy and the poor.

Ignoring the face-off in Ukraine

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How many Americans do you suppose actually understand that there are now American, British and “suspected” Russian ground troops inside Ukraine? Is this less important than ISIS, or is it in fact related to ISIS, in that Russia is Syria’s ally in its war against ISIS? That being the case, why aren’t we trying to cut a deal with Russia regarding both the Ukraine and Syria?

Why does a military non-solution , with NATO currently on maneuvers inside Ukraine,  doing all they can to re-start the cold war with Russia, always seem to trump diplomacy?

To what degree is Israel’s stand against Syria, Iran and the Palestinians, impacting the U.S. stand against Syria, Russia and Iran, all of whom support the Palestinians?

If ISIS is the threat the U.S. government makes it out to be, then shouldn’t the United States align itself with Syria, Iran and by extension, Syria’s key ally Russia, against ISIS?   To what degree is our support for Israel, stopping us from doing just that, and to what degree is that heightening tensions in the Ukraine?

Why is Israel again displacing Palestinians to expand their illegal “settlements,”  and why did they resume this expansion if they do in fact want peace?    Is peace between Israel, Iran and Syria, really an option, or is it something those on the right in Israel, will never accept – and to what degree are Americans afraid to even discuss this out of fear of being labeled “anti-semitic?”

Isn’t this at least as important as the Ebola virus?

 

Mr. Obama’s Biggest Mistake?

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President Obama, has made some mistakes.  Taking the nation to war, again, without Congressional approval, may be his biggest mistake of all.  Offhand, I can’t think of anything that trumps it.

Mr. Obama, has taken us to war, based upon “The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists” or the “AUMF,” which was passed by Congress in 2001.   The bill, singed by former President Bush,  “authorizes the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001. The authorization granted the President the authority to use all “necessary and appropriate force” against those whom he determined “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the September 11th attacks, or who harbored said persons or groups.”

Clearly, this bill does not apply to the situation with ISIS.   Unless you buy into the argument that ISIS is a distant cousin to al Qaeda, but that’s a stretch.   If you stretch it far enough, almost every rebel group in the Middle East probably has some kind of connection to al Qaeda, which goes back to the Russians fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan in the 80’s.   Which is when the United States supplied arms to the Taliban and al Qaeda, which they later used on U.S. troops.

Beyond that, without UN approval for the attacks, Mr. Obama, needed an “imminent” threat to the United States.  Writing for “The Intercept,” Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain say he fabricated the threat he needed,  coming up with a fake terror threat,  the “Khorasan Group,”  to justify the U.S. bombing of Syria.   “Khorasan,” was a terrorist organization no one had ever heard of,  a supposed threat that was picked up and virtually parroted by the American media as the airstrikes were underway.

An argument can be made for anything.  When will we learn?  Or has the military industrial complex Eisenhower warned us about taken the nation by the throat to such a high degree that our civilian representation has effectively been eliminated?

This is war we are talking about, not a series of airstrikes that will end in two or three weeks.  A war our government says will last for years, with no end-game.   Here they go again.  No exit-strategy.   War without end, amen, with the corporate news media too often serving not as analysts and critics, but as cheerleaders.   “They’re sending in F-18’s, F-16’s, and Tomahawk Cruise Missiles to ‘rain death’ down on ISIS!” 

Some  of this is starting to feel like a 21st Century replay of “Dr. Strangelove.”  “Hit um again!  Hit um again!  Harder, harder!” 

Mr. Obama, where have you gone?

Setting the AUMF aside because it does not apply, and unless the President has suddenly and unbeknownst to the people of the United States been anointed king, we are left with the War Powers Resolution of 1973, which provides that “the President can send U.S. armed forces into action abroad only by declaration of war by Congress, “statutory authorization,” or in case of “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.”

There was no “national emergency,” which points to the obvious need for a declaration of war by the Congress.  But there is none.  And the Congress is gone.  Away on another leave of absence from Washington, for seven weeks.

We have been taken into a regional war involving numerous MIddle-Eastern nations.  A war with no exit-plan and no end-game.  We are told only that it is expected to have a duration of “years.”  We have been committed to this ongoing warfare by the President, with no proper approval from our elected representatives in the Congress.   Oh sure, some in the Congress may have been “consulted,” but a mere consultation is not the same as a formal declaration of war.  Beyond that, this new war is being fought at a time of extreme tension between Russia, the European Union and the United States.

The law says the President must obtain a declaration of war from the Congress, or stop the bombing and begin pulling our troops out of Iraq within 60 days.   The military says this commitment will require “years,” and that it might eventually require the insertion of additional ground troops.   Which Mr. Obama, says he won’t do.  For now.  With an election only weeks away and the American people tired of paying for never-ending war in the Middle East.  What a surprise.

We are in the midst of a national emergency, largely of our own creation.  There would be no ISIS, had the Bush/Cheney Administration not invaded Iraq, based upon a false cloud of fear.

President Obama,  had better call the Congress back from their vacation now, unless he want’s to admit that the United States has ceased being a nation of laws and has instead become a rouge imperial power, it’s leaders doing what they want, where they want, simply because they can.   Oh wait, we’ve been doing that at least since the 1980’s,  when Ronald Reagan ignored the will of the Congress (that would be the people’s representatives) and kept funding the Contras through back-channels.

Remember Ollie North?

Despite thousands of deaths and the expenditure of trillions of taxpayer’s dollars, nothing the United States has done in the Middle East has worked.  And now, with an election just weeks away,  Mr. Obama, is dragging us into yet another war.

Is it too much to expect the American People to demand that their elected representatives do their jobs and assume responsibility for our actions going forward?   Perhaps.  In order for that to happen, they would first have to be properly informed about our geopolitical affairs and the law, and that’s way to complicated for commercail television, right?    There’s always PBS and Amy Goodman,  but who watches them, other than upper-income intellectual elites?

Considering the current state of American broadcast journalism and the confused state of mass media generally, resulting in the dumbed-down condition of the American people, this may be too much to hope for.

I hope you enjoy paying for war because we just jumped back into another one.   A war that will last for years.  And the longer it runs on, the deeper we will be drawn into the conflict, producing even more generational hatred, increasing the likelihood of a whole new brood of chickens coming home to roost in the form of renewed attacks on U.S. soil for years to come.

My only comfort comes in knowing we’d be in even worse shape with a Republican running the show.  However, with this latest war, Mr. Obama, looks increasingly like nothing more than an extension of George W. Bush.

Arabs Join In The Airstrikes Against ISIS – New War Expected To Last For “Years”

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The morning after the big attack, and the United States announces that not just 5 Arab nations, but 5  mostly Sunni nations joined us in the airstrikes against ISIS.  Or ISIL, or the Islamic State.

This is important, because ISIS is largely made up of Sunni fighters, and this is a religion-driven civil war the United States has inserted itself into.  So the U.S. has convinced Sunni nations to attack their Sunni brothers in ISIS, even while some wealthy interests in those same Sunni nations have been helping to fund the ISIS Army.

Is this cause to celebrate?  Perhaps.  I’ve been carping for weeks about the need for the U.S. to get out of the Middle East.  The need to let the Arabs use their oil money to fight their own wars.  I still feel that way, except now, at least, nations like Saudi Arabia are doing more than just sitting back and watching, while we carry water for them without being reimbursed.

Here’s a novel idea, why don’t we charge these wealthy Middle Eastern nations for our military services?    We could use some of the money to provide water to the Navajo People, 40% of whom lack potable water.   With adequate funds the City of Detroit could restore water to the thousands of poor and elderly who are being forced to go without, while cash-fat Arabs run around in their Bentleys and Rolls, drinking Dom and eating caviar.    Or are we supposed to be okay that this newest war is being carried on the backs of American taxpayers, some of whom can’t afford groceries, rent, and now even water?

It is at least hopeful, I suppose, that some of the Arab nations are taking part in the fight, even though a big question remains as to whether  the United States should be in this fight at all, a fight which the Pentagon says will likely go on for “years.”

How many years do you suppose?  Five?  Fifteen?  Thirty?   And at whose cost?   Ours, while we continue to have citizens who can’t pay their water bills?

Why isn’t anybody talking about this?

We learned nothing from our horrible experience in Vietnam.  It appears we know nothing about the British experience in the Middle East and India, either, as we are now apparently assuming their previous posture as the world’s foremost imperial empire,  pushing forward with the Bush Administration’s mad plan to democratize the Middle East.

It is, in all likelihood,  doomed to fail,  but there’s an election coming in November, and then another not long after that.  There is the ever-present fear that another terrorist attack on U.S. soil will bring the wrath of the Republicans crashing down on the Democratic Party machine, possibly devastating their chances at the polls – unless Obama and the Dems can say they did everything they possibly could, including getting involved in yet another war, to try and put down the terrorist threat.  It’s important to look strong, and anyway,  Americans love a good war.

When you’re out to save the world (and by that, I mean big oil), it’s important to try and understand why.    Five Arab nations might have been coerced into joining the United States in this first round of airstrikes, but I wouldn’t get too excited just yet.  This is going to continue on for some time.  Many of the American people are already weary of this experience, exhausted from fighting a war with no end in sight.

Notice how they never talk about an end-game?   Could that be because they don’t have one?

The real kicker, is that we wouldn’t be fighting ISIS now if George W. Bush and Dick Cheney hadn’t invaded Iraq, because Iraq has oil.  Great big pools of it.  Oil is multi-national not American, and Barack Obama has been left to try and clean up George W. Bush’s big oily mess, sending out our military to act as mercenaries for the oil-rich Arabs and the multi-national oil companies that buy,  process and deliver oil and oil-based products to people in Detroit and the rest of the free world, who increasingly can’t afford to turn on their water.

Finally, not that it matters and I’m  sure it was pure coincidence, but weren’t the airstrikes a perfect diversion, re-directing our focus away from the massive demonstrations on climate change leading up to the long-scheduled climate change summit conference in New York?

Between three and four-hundred thousand people filled the streets of New York on Sunday and came back a day later in a “flood” Wall Street protest, all leading up to the climate change summit at the UN.  Chances are it will be all but forgotten following Mr. Obama’s massive airstrikes.

With a hot new war to cover, where do you think the mainstream media’s focus will be?  But I’m sure it’s purely coincidental.