CNN “Story” – Hawking Says New Brain Pill Will Change Everything?

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Okay news pros, what’s up? I go to the Reuters website and they are running a link to a CNN story that touts the effectiveness of the brain boosting pill “CogniQ.” They quote Stephen Hawking as saying it will “change humanity.” Anderson Cooper has been taking it and charting the improvement in his memory.    I tried going back to find the original page, but mysteriously, it was gone.  Here’s some of it that was posted to Ron  Paul’s forum. –

“Genius Steven Hawkings has Admitted To Using Cogniq To Triple His Memory.
We tested it ourselves – did it live up to the hype?

After our research led to such positive reviews, we simply had to try Cogniq ourselves to verify whether this was all hype. Almost every single man in the building volunteered to test it out but we chose our very own Anderson Cooper. Below is his account of using Cogniq over a 4 week period.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper has admitted that taking Cogniq he memorizes lines better.”

Looks like a news story but feels like “The Onion,”  still,  there it was on CNN as “breaking news” and Reuters was linking to it.   The bad writing and spelling error on Hawking’s name, should have tipped me off but the layout and page design were thoroughly convincing.  When I left Reuters and went directly to the CNN site, I couldn’t find the article with their internal search engine.  Either CNN’s website was hacked or was being misrepresented or  they had crossed a serious line between journalism and advertising? Have they cut a deal with the manufacturers of this supplement to promote it as news in return for ad revenue, I wondered? Are we at a point where things have spun so ridiculously out of control that nobody cares anymore? Are we that far gone? Or is this satire but I can’t recognize it as such because satire masquerading as reality is so commonplace that the two are sometimes becoming indistinguishable? How will we know without Jon Stewart?

If it is a ruse,  it appears both Reuters and some who post to Ron Paul’s forum were sucked into the vortex.    On the other hand, it is possible, I guess, that this pill is among the greatest discoveries in history and CNN, Stephen Hawking and Anderson Cooper, have all gotten behind its promotion.    And Reuters, mighty Reuters, was linking to it.   Even though it wasn’t coming from CNN.com.    The link was to www.cnn.com-news.report.

Uh-huh.  Fake.   Wonder how many others were faked out?   It appears the Washington Post was, although apparently they were running it on the side of the page, so maybe they were running it as an ad with no regard for the fact that it was an ad designed to look like a legit CNN news story?   Can’t believe the Post would have knowingly done that.

I guess what bothers me most is that after more than 40 years in journalism  they nearly had me suckered, as there appears to be  no length to  which the mainstream media won’t go to increase their profits.   It’s become so commonplace as to be acceptable to the general public.  Like putting a phony front page on the Los Angeles Times.   We’ve gotten used to it.

Why not?   It’s only news.  Just another commercial enterprise.   Not all that important, really.

Here’s a link to the Ron Paul forum.   Don’t know how much longer they’ll leave it there before someone realizes it’s bogus and takes it down.
http://www.ronpaulforums.com/showthread.php…

“Black Lives Matter” Goes After Bernie Sanders Again – But Why?

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It’s difficult to understand why the “Black Lives Matter” organization is targeting Bernie Sanders, a candidate they should be wholeheartedly supporting, and probably would be, if they took the time to look into his record on civil rights, prison reform and general support for middle class Americans against billionaires and  millionaires while Hillary Clinton has accepted tens of thousands of dollars in speaking fees from the big bankers on Wall Street and her husband has taken millions in donations for his foundation.

People don’t give money without an expectation of getting something in return and the Clintons are insiders in the game.

The Black Lives Matter activists apparently don’t understand that to win the Democratic Primary, Sanders must play to his base – and that means playing to the older, white liberals who traditionally vote in Democratic primaries.   And yet, they’ve gone after Sanders again, in what amounted to an orchestrated attack at  a park in Seattle, where they refused to let the Senator speak.   They were so disruptive as to shut down the event.

It’s downright embarrassing for a progressive to watch a group of activists who are allegedly also progressive,  go on the attack against the most progressive candidate the Democrats have.  A man who, some believe, could be our last best hope at salvaging what’s left of American democracy.   It’s so counter-intuitive.  The real enemy for the Black Lives Matter movement is on the right, among the Republican candidates, and not the Democratic Socialist from Vermont.

So  why are they doing it?   You have to ask yourself who benefits from the charge that Sanders doesn’t care about African-Americans?  That would be the Clinton campaign, right?   Far be it from me to suggest Hillary Cinton’s people would stoop so low, even with Sanders popularity surging.   However, there’s another,  even more intriguing possibility and that’s to “divide and conquer.”

One effect of the “Black Lives Matter” people disrupting Sander’s speaking events will be to anger Sander’s supporters, many (or most) of whom are white liberals.   So you then have white liberals turning against black liberals, while, at the same time,  driving some in the non-white community away from Sanders and over to who?   Hillary Clinton.   But,  again,  I can’t believe the Clinton campaign would stoop so low as to use the Clinton’s well known influence in the black community for such an underhanded, unprincipled and despicable tactic.   I can though, imagine the tactic being employed by certain forces on the right who fear a Sander’s candidacy more than Hillary Clinton, in the general election.

But this is nothing more than speculation.   The Black Lives Matter attack on Bernie Sanders by activists who clearly know what they’re doing (they appear to have been trained by someone), is probably just a misguided attempt to derail the campaign by a handful of people who haven’t taken the time to get to know Senator Sanders, or his record.   Probably.

After the swiftboaters successfully nailed John  Kerry, months of a wasted Whitewater investigation and the ongoing silliness of  repeatedly disproven Benghazi allegations and Hillary Clinton’s emails, it’s difficult to be sure of anything.

 

A Question Of Priorities

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African children continue to die by the thousands from starvation, disease,  even a lack of clean water.    By one estimate, in Somalia alone, famine is responsible for the deaths of around 260,000 people in two year’s time.

In one nation modern slavery is condoned in building a new venue for soccer games.   In other countries, women are treated like cattle.   Or worse.

In Ukraine,  it’s difficult to believe humankind has entered the 21st Century, as diplomacy appears useless with world powers threatening to take us back to the brink with another nuclear-armed “cold war,” while,  hidden behind a curtain, big business flexes its invisible muscle, pulling the strings as bought and paid for political marionettes do their dance.

The planet races toward increased global warming as multi-national oil and gas companies do all they can to dissuade the promotion of green energy.

In America,  the very essence of Democracy is threatened by a new system of Oligarchs buying off elected officials, leaving the American people with nothing more than an illusion of Democracy,  the very same kind of system the founders fought a war to be rid of.

In Iraq and the Middle East, tens of thousands have been needlessly slaughtered as the United States appears locked into feeding the military industrial establishment with fear-fueled unending war.

All the while  Americans continue going about their business without complaint but with an almost palpable anger, sloughing along with a sense that something is terribly wrong but acting as though there is nothing they can do to be effective against the changes that threaten to undermine their very way of life.

Until a dentist from Minnesota kills a lion.

And then the whole country goes nuts.

Chris Matthews Raves On – MSNBC’s Ratings Dive – Support For Bernie Sanders Grows

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I admit to being an unabashed supporter of  Bernie Sanders.   I do not care that he’s a Democratic Socialist.  I believe the country needs a balance between Socialism and Capitalism, and the loss of that balance is why we currently face a historic gap in wealth between the fat cats at the top and everybody else in the middle and at the bottom.  I also admit to sometimes watching MSNBC and frankly, Chris Matthews is starting to bother me more than just a little.   I’m tired of his cheerleading for Hillary Clinton and his near absolute blindness to Bernie Sanders.

Sanders, is climbing in the polls in Iowa.   Recently, CBS reported that he was “neck and neck” with Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire.  He has repeatedly had to switch to larger venues to accommodate larger crowds as he travels around the country on speaking engagements.   He’s pulling in the biggest crowds of any candidate on either side.   His people just booked the 16-thousand seat Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena for a rally on August 10th.    And yet, while watching MSNBC, and Matthews in particular, one feels that Sanders is irrelevant.    That the Republican primary is a done deal for Hillary Clinton, and that Bernie is just wasting our time.   Much like Barack Obama, in 2008.

How disappointing that MSNBC, which is flailing around trying to decide what to do about its ratings problems is blind to the fact that not everyone wants to watch an outlet that sometimes acts like a cheerleader for Hillary Clinton.    There are other candidates, and Bernie Sanders is among them.   He is speaking to issues that Clinton refuses to touch.   His message is obviously resonating with an increasing number of people.    But not Chris Matthews, who apparently has personally anointed Hillary Clinton as the Democratic  nominee, a fact which was all too obvious during last night’s roundtable discussion on MSNBC,  following the Republican debate.  How sad.  How boring.

Okay, so Hillary looks good in the national polls, but does that mean there aren’t two sides to the story?   Could Bernie Sanders possibly have a chance and if nothing else,  doesn’t that make this race far more interesting?

Flash!  Headline in the Huffington Post! “Almost Every Major Poll  Shows Bernie Sanders Challenging or Defeating Clinton and Republicans.”

What is it about Sanders that Matthews finds so objectionable?   Is it Bernie’s Socialism, or could it be his position on the corporatocracy, that uber-wealthy individuals and corporations have purchased our democracy and shut it down?   That Democracy is all but dead in America, and that Matthews, doesn’t want to talk about it, because once you get that real the political ballgame Matthews and so many other beltway insiders like to play becomes all but  irrelevant.    It’s the elephant in the middle of the room and in refusing to discuss it, they are making themselves and their shows irrelevant while Bernie Sanders, who has gotten beyond the same old political “newspeak” continues picking up support.   As does Donald Trump, and his traveling “Bullworth”  roadshow.   Do you suppose this could be at least part of the reason MSNBC’s ratings are in the toilet?

This won’t be over until the fat lady sings, and at this point, she isn’t even reaching for her throat spray.

A Modest Rebuttal To The Right

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Heard a great quote the other night which made me think about the consistency of the right in American politics as they continue to waste time and taxpayer’s money arguing the exact same issues over and over again.   They have, for example, voted more than 50 times on Obamacare in the House.  You might say the same is true of those on the left, were it not for the fact that Progressives are for change, which creates new issues while the Luddites on the right are consistently trying to do nothing at all,  or worse yet,  to somehow  reverse the process of human evolution, dragging us all down into their personal intellectual hell.

If you can’t follow what you just read, then stop now and go back to the FOX News Channel (or continue staring at the wall).  You’re beyond help.  If on the other hand, you understand what’s being said,  that change  is by its very nature inconsistent, then please continue, as here, for those courageous souls who carry forward with the good fight for change that’s right, is the quote-

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.  With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.  He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall.  Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said today. – ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’  Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood?  Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh.  To be great is to be misunderstood.” 

-Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

 

To Kill A Mockingbird – RIP – 1960/2015

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Mike Hammer, disgraced by drug charges.   Clark Kent, quits the Daily Planet in disgust over the declining state of Journalism.    Batman, is shamelessly turned into a psycho-sexual nutjob by Hollywood.   O.J. Simpson, is charged with the double slasher-murders of Nicole Brown-Simpson and Ron Goldman.  Pete Rose gets booted from baseball in a gambling scandal.   Olympian Michael Phelps is caught smoking grass. Revelations that FDR was just a dirty old man in a wheel chair while Ike fooled around overseas and JFK was in a class all by himself, apparently, except maybe for Bubba Clinton, but who really knows?  Have you read or seen “Primary Colors?”

Everybody’s on performance enhancing drugs, including our favorite all-American boy,  Lance Armstrong.   At the same time, Michael Jackson was doing sleepovers with young house guests at Neverland, dear old Cliff Huxtable,  stands accused of drugging and then raping more than 30 women.   And then came “deflategate,”  ad nauseam.

Through it all we still had Atticus Finch, and he was rock solid.  If there was one book that impacted my young life, it was “To Kill a Mockingbird.,” and damn it, I needed Atticus Finch to remain unsullied.   But woe is me, the money-grubbing dirt-digging cynics have brought him down too, even though Harper Lee apparently had no intention of publishing “Go Set A Watchman,” which (I have read) puts my former hero and role model Atticus Finch,  in the KKK.   There is speculation that Harper Lee, would have opposed the publication, were she physically and mentally able to do so.   I don’t know, but I like to think that’s the case.

I could care less about those who try and justify the publication of “Watchman” by saying it gives us invaluable insight into the writing process,  how an author can take an idea in another direction in the developmental scheme of things, blah, blah, blah.   If that’s what you want then take a writing class.  I needed Atticus Finch to be left alone.

When all our heroes, both real and fictitious, have been laid low, what will be left to make us feel as though goodness and decency have a chance?  Who will be left for kids to look up to and model themselves after now that we’ve been told Atticus Finch was in the Klan?  Think societal role models don’t matter?    Don’t kid yourself, kiddo.  They do.

I am now bracing myself for revelations that the cowboy heroes of my youth were secretly into beastiality.

Bernie Sanders – Bringing A Nation Of Sheeple Back From The Brink?

Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders

My mind keeps going back to 1968.  The lies coming from the Nixon presidential campaign.  Violence in the streets.  The ongoing and unnecessary war in Vietnam.   The slaughter of America’s youth.   In many ways, things are now the same.

Our leaders feed us lies by omission with regard to the way the Oligarchs have purchased our government,  turning the Democratic process into an illusion.    Black kids are routinely gunned down  by cops who should have been filtered out at the academy while the travesty of the disproportionate number of black men in prison is routinely avoided in polite conversation.  As for war, we remain entangled in not one, but several.

One thing that’s not the same, is angry Americans rising up in indignation.    Where are they?  Even those who correctly advised against getting bogged down in an ongoing conflict in the Middle East, prior to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, have now fallen silent.   Even though they were right.    As a people we have come to accept perpetual, unending warfare on somebody else’s home ground.  Just as it was in 1968,  war is oh so profitable for those corporate oligarchs who remain in command of the Military Industrial Complex.   They need another war to keep the money coming in.   Our money.   Taxpayer’s dollars.

Rather than bearing their teeth against the Oligarchy that’s taken control of the country,  Americans appear to have become mostly a nation of sheeple,   Victorian ladies and gentlemen not wanting to make any noise or raise anyone’s ire, even while our Democracy is stolen from us by a corporatocracy that thrives on the destruction of our traditionally egalitarian way of life, using a rigged system to transfer wealth from the middle class to the top of the economic ladder.

All the while my mind keeps going back to 68.  So much of what happened then is happening now, and once again,  a handful of national figures are exhibiting the courage  to stand up to the established power structure and “tell it like it is.”   Bernie Sanders, is one of those national figures.    The size of the crowds Sanders is drawing speaks volumes for his credibility as a candidate in the national political arena,  even while pundits continue to parrot the line that his only value is as a tool to force Hillary farther to the left.

Pity the poor pundits, faced with the possibility that a (God help us!) Socialist from Vermont, might actually force them to confront the single most important issue of our time, the death of American Democracy at the hands of an international corporate Oligarchy.   You don’t really think the corporate bosses at the networks want their on-air personalities batting that hot potato around, do you?   It would be professional self-immolation and all of them know it, from the big shots in the board rooms to the pundits on their  million dollar sets.   You don’t bite the advertising hand that feeds  you.   It’s an unspoken truth that’s part of the problem for those who are supposed to be part of the solution.

And then there’s Bernie.

Even though he’s running as a Democrat,  writers and news-talkers alike continue to refer to Bernie Sanders as a “populist,” or a “self-described Socialist.”  In other words, he represents the wants and needs of the majority in their struggle against the privileged elite ensconced in the various mega corporations and on Wall Street.

To my way of thinking, Sanders, a self-described “Democratic Socialist,”  is fighting for a specifically American cause as laid out by our founders in the Constitution,  that being, to “promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,..” 

Sanders, is supporting an American point of view, while those on the Republican side and Hillary Clinton,  who refuses to support a reinstatement of the Glass Steagall Act, support a corporatist position, favoring the few over the many.

If you’re going to refer to Bernie Sanders as a “populist” or a “Socialist,” then it’s only fair (and balanced) to tell it like it is with regard to his opposition.   They are corporatists, and should be labeled as such as the runup to the election continues.

Hillary Clinton, is a “corporatist Democrat.”   Jeb Bush, is a “corporatist Republican.”    As such, they clearly stand for a government that can be purchased by the highest bidder and against the Democratic process.  They should be labeled for what they are.

Here’s the full preamble to the Constitution-

“We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Bernie Sanders is drawing large crowds because he supports the goals of our founders as defined by the Constitution.   For that reason alone, he deserves your support.   

 

(Disclosure – The author of this article,  Ron Olsen, is a contributor to the Sanders presidential campaign.)

 

The Coming Human Obsolescence

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People are becoming increasingly unnecessary.   Japan, for example, has just opened a hotel run entirely by robots.   As this trend moves forward,  putting more and more people out of work, we will surely be forced to re-examine our cultural and financial values, including what we use for a medium of exchange and how it is obtained.

Kevin Kelly points out in “Wired,” that “Two hundred years ago, 70 percent of American workers lived on the farm. Today automation has eliminated all but 1 percent of their jobs, replacing them (and their work animals) with machines……It may be hard to believe, but before the end of this century, 70 percent of today’s occupations will likewise be replaced by automation. “

Leaving what?   Leaving most of us flipping burgers, or will even that fall victim to an automaton with the only real cooks and chefs still working available only at the most expensive eateries frequented by the wealthy upper-classes because only they will be able to afford really good organic food as opposed to cheap burgers, fries and whatever the masses can scrounge from some new age  GMO-only vending machine.

If eventually there is no shortage of stuff, just a shortage of money to buy it, because actual living, breathing humans haven’t the money to buy anything because their jobs have been taken by cost-effective automation and a handful of corporations that care only for profits and nothing for people, then where will we be?  Won’t we have caused our own obsolescence?

Isn’t the financial bind Greece is currently in a case in point?   Isn’t some new thinking required with regard to economic reality?    A whole new way of looking at things?  Wouldn’t it be better to simply supply Greece with what it needs (adequate paper euros) to help it move forward than to punish its people by not supplying them with enough paper to obtain what they need to live reasonably secure and happy lives without grinding them further into the ground through state-enforced “austerity?”   Shouldn’t the ability to live full and happy lives be the objective, rather than punishing those who can’t compete with predatory capitalists and economic vultures?

Haven’t you been struck by just how unnecessary the financial crisis in Greece truly is, and how business forces are impacting fighting in the Ukraine and the Middle East and how those representing large economic forces, like the Republican Party in the U.S.,  seem to want the fighting not only to continue but to grow?

Will humans getting beyond being their own worst enemies be the next big leap in the evolutionary process and won’t the acceptance of the reality that pure unregulated Capitalism does not work be an essential part of this?    Or are we doomed to a new age of Neo-feudalism,  a new two-class society with a relatively thin belt of wealthy economic fascists at the top and everybody else scrambling for the crumbs that happen to fall from their tables?    Isn’t Democracy and a mixed economy with Socialism working alongside Capitalism,  preferable?

Surely it must be possible for us to take care of our sick, elderly and very young without destroying the capitalist markets providing the incentive for new products and economic progress?     Wouldn’t it be shocking if we were able to if not end, then at least severely limit war in the process?

Isn’t it time to finally grow up?   Or perhaps you’d prefer “a bow tie-wearing, dinosaur concierge” at your next hotel as opposed to a living, breathing human being, who has actually experienced some of the cultural venues in the city you’re visiting.

Invasion Of The Fast Talkers

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Was looking at Facebook this morning and saw a post from Judy Muller, who is in DC teaching scientists how to be better communicators.   Good for Judy.   She was a terrific reporter for ABC News and is now doing something that can only help our broken, suffering and increasingly inarticulate culture.   She is teaching people how to talk, which can be pretty important if the person you are attempting to communicate with is for example…your doctor.

Increasingly,  we are becoming a nation of “fast talkers.”   There are days when I feel like I’m stuck in a Seinfeld episode, surrounded by fast talkers who babble on at high speed with no thought as to what they’re saying before it comes out of their mouths.  Diction?   Forget diction.   Diction’s dead.   Most people have no idea what it is.  Or was, before they killed it.

Anywayitsjustsomucheasiertotextsomebodyisntitdon’tyathinkso?

If these people were driving a train, they’d go from L.A. to New York at full throttle, missing every stop on the route, leaving all their passengers behind and babbling to one another all the way.

I was afraid it was me, that I was in an early stage of some disease that was taking my mind.    Fearing for my sanity, I increased my workouts at the gym.   I then discovered others have the same complaint.   There’s nothing wrong with them, either.

I sometimes have to ask a person I’m attempting to communicate with on the phone to slow down.   It’s embarrassing to have to ask someone, “Would you please speak more slowly?  I can’t understand what you’re saying.”   Makes me feel ancient.   Like I need to slap on a fresh pair of depends before heading out for more polident and a case of Ensure with a box of straws so that I won’t dribble all over myself while watching the Andy of Mayberry reruns and the bowling tournament on the farm channel.

  Butifyoucantunderstandwhatitisthepersonistryingtosaywhatchoicedoyouhave?  Imeanreally?

It may be embarrassing, but just asking people to slow down usually works.   Once alerted to their condition, a fast talker will usually slow down to the point that the rest of us can understand what he or she is saying until the end of the call, when they fall back into their old pattern and begin speeding again.

Generally, it tends to be younger people who are the fast talkers.   My wife thinks it’s because they grew up texting and have no patience for the spoken word.   No skill for using it, either.  Even some scientists apparently.  I hope Judy can help.

God Save Us From Another Clueless Bush

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Let’s begin with a quote:

“…people need to work longer hours and through their productivity gain more income for their families”. – Jeb Bush

Okay, there it is.  I normally wouldn’t bother with something like this, but with the need for both the husband wife to hold down full-time jobs to make ends meet and some folks needing to work two to three jobs to buy food and keep a roof over their heads  it’s getting to be unbearable.   Just too, too much.

According to former U.S. Labor Secretary, Robert Reich  “As a matter of fact, most Americans are already working long hours. The average workweek for salaried workers is 47 hours. Hourly workers are putting in even more time. Contract workers, free-lancers, and temp workers are working longer hours than ever. Most part-time workers are doing more than one part-time job.”

It was bad enough when daddy Bush proved his ignorance of all things average Americans must deal with daily, like a bar-code reader in the supermarket, but now it’s happening again.

“I think we agree the past is over.”  -George W. Bush

After suffering through the intellectually challenged reign of George II, we are now confronted by the personage of his younger brother “Jeb,” who wants to set up shop in yet another Bush-league White House, and what is he saying?    He’s saying Americans need to work longer hours.

This from another “born with a silver foot in his mouth” member of the Bush clan, who earns his living by the great good luck of being born into a wealthy family.

Has he ever been in a real business where not earning a paycheck meant he wouldn’t be able to pay the rent or worry about his car being repossessed?   Has he ever held down a real job other than being elected Governor of Florida while being backstopped by his daddy’s money?   His Wikipedia page says his occupation is “Banker, Consultant.”    Huh?

Jeb Bush, the perfect Republican and just what America needs, another clueless rich kid who thinks Neoliberal feudalism is exceptional – that everything will be all right if an already exhausted nation just puts in longer hours on their jobs – jobs which in too many cases no longer exist having been shipped offshore by Bush’s corporate buddies who think slave labor in China and Vietnam is a neat idea.

Is Germany Being Unfair With Greece?

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Just read an interesting piece in Forbes.   Panos Mourdoukoutas , argues that Germany has failed to use accepted standards when calculating Greek debt.  He writes that Greece’s net debt is actually 18% and not 175% of their GDP as some apparently claim.    All the while, of course, Germany continues hammering away on Greece for being fiscally irresponsible.

Others have chimed in with similar concerns about the Greek debt issue.   An analyst on Euronews the other day  claimed that Greece’s total debt amounts to only 2% of the Eurozone’s GDP, making this not an economic issue, but a political one.  There is also the most interesting factoid Greek PM, Mr. Tsipras,  brought up with regard to the world’s powers affording Germany 60% debt relief in 1953, following the devastation of WW II.   Greece, it seems, was among those forgiving the German debt.

One wonders how the Germans would feel now, if Greece began producing cars, major appliances and other products to compete with German goods on the world market – or will it be better for Germany if the Greeks stick to olive oil and tourism?

 

H/T Ethan Anthony

The Clown Car Rolls On

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Can’t read a story about Jeb Bush without the ghost of Paul Henning popping into my head with those familiar lyrics from “The Beverly Hillbillies” –

“Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed
A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed,
And then one day he was shootin at some food,
And up through the ground came a bubblin crude.
Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea. “The ballad of Jed Clampet

 

Okay, so it’s “Jed” and not “Jeb” up there in the clown car’s front seat. It’s almost the same.    Especially when you fold in the “Texas tea” thing.  It’s scary close.

One seat back there’s “THE Donald,” alienating the entire nation of Mexico and every Latino in the United States.   Really?    None of my Latino friends are rapists or criminals.   As a whole, in fact,  I find Latinos to be hard working, religious, decent people.   A really good bunch of folks.

Sitting in the back is the big bully boy from New Jersey,  demanding an apology from the press, lest he tackles them all during recess and steals their lunch money.

Jammed in the back seat next to Christie and desperately saying whatever he can to gain even  a little attention in the current cable news cycle is Ted Cruz.   He reminded me of someone, but I couldn’t think of who it was.   Then it came to me.   He looks like the Joker from the Batman comics, sans the makeup, which is apropos following his outrageous charge that gays are staging a “Jihad” against people of faith.   “Holy base-baiting buzzwords Batman!   A jihad?”

These people shouldn’t be taken seriously.   They’re political caricatures.  Ludicrous distortions of reality.   At this point the Republicans best hope is for their clown car to  blow a tire sparing them additional embarrassment and continued bad madness.

Main Street vs. Wall Street – Why Greece Matters

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Something very important is happening in Greece.   On the surface it appears to be terribly complex.  High finance usually is.   But there’s something beyond that.  Something fundamental.    It has to do with standing up to a system that hurts the many while helping the few.  The old story of haves and have-nots and the haves wanting to have it all.

The Prime Minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras, is  giving the middle finger to the world’s bankers and billionaires,  telling them he will not agree to a cycle of endless economic bondage enforced by an ongoing program of  “austerity.”   Basically, it means taking away even more of what little the average Greeks have left to further bolster the coffers of the world’s wealthy, including the bankers, billionaires, millionaires and others who pulled their money out of Greece when the big financial collapse hit in 2008,  leaving the Greeks even worse off than before.

Here in the U.S., our bankers were “too big to fail,” so we bailed them out with huge infusions of cash.    No such luck for poor little Greece.  They were in economic trouble before the crash and bigger trouble after it occurred. Now, the bankers and the billionaires want them to suffer on,  until somehow they pay back every last Euro and Dollar they borrowed to keep their system up and running.  Possibly through the rediscovery of a long-lost mystical process of turning lead into gold?   Or perhaps they can search their islands until they find a cave with a money tree in it?     Until then, they are being forced to get down on their knees in a state of ongoing austerity to get it done, even though years of experience have proven beyond a doubt that austerity does not work.

More jobs and the money that accompanies jobs are what’s needed, not less.  Not more austerity.   It’s the very same nonsense being pitched by the wealthy far-right in America.  When you see what’s happening to the Greeks, think about what’s happening to the American middle class.

And so Mr. Tsipras  is telling the European Central Bank, that his country will be defaulting on their enormous debt.  They will, he says, choose Democracy instead,  by letting the Greek people vote on what they want, austerity, or something else.   It’s speculated that this could eventually mean that Greece would leave the European Union and return to its former currency, the Drachma.

EU officials, including Angela Merkel, are saying they will continue to be open to negotiation even if the Greek people vote “no.”   Imagine if Greece did leave the EU and was better off?   Where would that leave Merkel and the rest of her EU states?   Would Portugal and Italy be far behind?

A national referendum in the birthplace of Democracy is scheduled to take place on Sunday.   To a simple thinker, this would appear to be earth-shattering, with the ancestors of those who invented Democracy, standing up to the bankers and billionaires and saying “Enough!  We’ve had it with your demands for an ongoing cycle of poverty for us, while you continue raking in billions through derivatives only you can understand as you change the rules of the economic game to meet your shifting needs at any given moment in time.”

As Mr. Tsipras puts it, “On the one side, there are workers and a majority of people, and on the other are global capitalists, bankers, profiteers on stock exchanges, the big funds. It’s a war between peoples and capitalism, and Greece is on the frontline of that war. And, as in each war, what happens on the frontline defines the battle. It will be decisive for the war elsewhere. Greece has become a model for the rest of Europe because it was chosen as the experiment for the application of neoliberal shock [policies], and Greek people were the guinea pigs. If the experiment continues, it will be considered successful, and the policies will be applied in other countries. That is why it is so important to stop the experiment. It will not just be a victory for Greece but for all of Europe.”

So, Greece is threatening to leave the rigged banking system, where millions of shares change hands at the blink of an eye in cyberspace, to return to something they understand.   Something based in human decency and dignity rather than raw greed.  Something called Democracy.

The vote will probably be “no” on caving in to the bankers demands for continued austerity.   I doubt Mr.  Tsipras  is seriously considering leaving the Eurozone, but having his people’s approval to do so will give him a bargaining chip when negotiations resume.

All of this is most certainly something Americans should carefully watch,  since the U.S. Government has been purchased by some of  those same bankers and billionaires who are now causing the economic suffocation of Greece.   The time will likely come when we too may have to give a big middle finger to the bankers, billionaires and oligarchs.   When, like the Greeks,  we too will demand a return to Democracy in America.

America – What The Hell Are We?

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France, is now complaining that the U.S.  has been spying on French President  Francois Hollande and other French leaders.  Why?  Are we worried about a terrorist attack from the French?   Do we now routinely spy on all our friends and learn about our government’s activities only because of Wikileaks?

How did Julian Assange and Edward Snowden become international heroes of the early 21st Century?   Is it because they did something wrong, or could it possibly be because they had the courage to point to wrongdoing by the United States?

Why is the United States Senate about to pass a bill approving a massive trade agreement, the TPP,  negotiated in secret by the Obama Administration, which then demanded that it be “fast tracked,” rammed through the legislative process, before the American people could find out what was going on and have time to compare it to NAFTA and CAFTA, both of which helped to gut the American middle class?  What country is this?    Who are these guys working for?

Why is our own President going behind our backs with secret deals,  siding with the wealthy few against his own party,  forcing us to turn to Julian Assange and Edward Snowden to find the truth?

Why do we continue  paying more for health care but getting less than the rest of the developed world?   Why do we continue to accept this madness?

Why does it feel like a victory when the Supreme Court upholds one of the basic tenants of Obamacare, when we should have a nationalized healtcare system that cares for all, like the rest of the developed world?    Medicare for everybody.   Dental care, too.   Why doesn’t the government consider dentistry to be an essential part of our healthcare?    This is insane.

Why are Confederate battle flags still flying in the South?   Why is this even still an issue?   The Civil War ended in 1865.   As many as 850,000 Americans were killed settling the issue of slavery and state’s rights.   It’s over.   The Union won.  Why is this still with us?   Why did it take the slaughter of nine innocent people at a bible study meeting to awaken the country to the ongoing issue of racism?   Why is the Rebel battle flag still flying on the state capitol grounds in South Carolina, where the murders took place,  overtly marking the State’s approval of slavery?   Why don’t they just take it down and apologize for their blind insensitivity?  Who the hell are we, that a whole section of our country can still be called the former slave states?   Why are there people there who continue to celebrate the Confederacy and all it stood for?   How can they possibly fail to understand that honoring bigotry serves as an attitudinal poison going forward?

After more than a dozen years of failure in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East, we continue to engage in unending but profitable warfare.   Promises that we will withdraw are broken as we refuse  to let indigenous peoples work out their own problems.   As a people we have become conditioned to endless warfare.   Peace feels like an anachronism,  something John Lennon sang about and nothing more.  Although it feels as though it no longer has a chance.  There’s too much money in death.

With massive tax cuts for the wealthy, the gap between the rich and the poor hasn’t been so broad since the Great Depression, and still Wall Street is permitted to run amok, as the rich do all they can to suck every last penny out of a beleaguered middle America which struggles to pay for increasingly expensive food and shelter.   Forget a college education, which is now beyond the reach of most average Americans.   Your grandparents were just forced to apply for a “reverse mortgage”  so that they could stay in their house and continue buying food and supplemental health care while, by his own admission,  billionaire Warren Buffet pays a lower percentage in taxes than his secretary.

Want a car?    Take out a 7 year loan.   Want to go to college?   Fine, but you’ll graduate $80,000 in debt.   Want to stay in your house?  Take out a reverse mortgage and max out your credit cards while a reasonable rate of return on money deposited in a bank is an illusion even as CEO’s and board directors, aided and abetted by our politicians,  walk away with billions in their overstuffed pockets.

This is madness.

Our government cuts deals in secret while spying on our allies and our own people while taking orders from bankers who finance their campaigns and promise heavy funding for their families and their causes once they leave office.    A relative handful of royal families, the Bushs, the Waltons, the Kennedys, the Clintons, the Kochs, Dianne Feinstien, John Kerry, Darrell Issa, the Rockefellers and the rest of the uber-wealthy exert their influence and rake in profits while America goes dangerously off course.

Our government cuts deals in secret and spies on our allies and us while those who tell the truth about what’s happening are called traitors and lawbreakers and are forced into exile in foreign embassies and on Russian soil.

Where is the line between political and financial self-interest and America’s best interest?   When did majority rule die?   Can you even remember majority rule?   How about American Democracy?   Remember that?   Our scholars tell us it’s dead.

What the hell are we?

Salvation – A Poem

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Salvation
by Ron Olsen

A flag
A radio mouthpiece
Appealing to all that is the very worst
In human nature
Rushing in
For financial gain
Pitting us one against the other
Black against white
White against white
The past against present and future
A fool believes what a fool believes
A pundit
A flag
The very worst that we can be
All that we were
And still are
Racism
Slavery
Outrageous denial
Human indignity
A species
Needing to prove itself
Worthy of being
Answering to no one
But ourselves
Waiting for a light
To show us the way
When the answer was there
All the while

 
©2015 Ron Olsen/all rights reserved