Former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan A Devotee Of Ayn Rand?

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(Alan Greenspan – photo: Federal Reserve)

Fascinating piece by Bruce E. Levine in Salon, looking at the influence author Ayn Rand continues to have on our thinking here in the U.S., turning so many, including a number of prominent politicians away from altruism and presumably towards selfishness.

Among those named as being influenced by Rand are Ronald Reagan, Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, Ron Paul and Clarence Thomas.   Most interesting to me is the name of former Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan.   According to Levine, Greenspan was a member of Ayn Rand’s inner-circle,  her “collective” as she called it.   According to the article Rand’s pet name for Greenspan was “A.G.”

Interesting, no?

The Big Sellout On Capitol Hill

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And so it has happened.   The spending bill containing provisions that will allow the wealthy to increase campaign contributions ten-fold and undo protections against another financial meltdown by once again allowing bankers to gamble with the taxpayer’s money has passed the House and Senate, but not because of the Republicans.

No, it passed because of support from the White House and the Democratic Party.   It got 57 yes votes from turncoat Democrats in the House.   Only six in the Senate,  Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, Al Franken, Joe Manchin, Claire McCaskill and Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont, voted against ending debate which would have prevented the bill from coming up for a vote.   So it passed and now goes to the President.  Mr. Obama has said he intends to sign it.  Meaning what?

It means the game is essentially over.    From the Fundraiser in Chief on down, they sold us out for promises of campaign financing still to come from JP Morgan, Citigroup and the rest of the Wall Streeters.

There should now be no doubt that Wall Street owns the White House and most of the Congress, which has given the nation’s bankers a green light to propel us into another financial crisis which, experts say,  could require another taxpayer bailout.

What else could it possibly mean?   That Mr. Obama continues on with his infamous and ludicrous belief that he can cut a deal with the Republicans?  After being kicked around for six years,  can he possibly continue to be that naive, or has he been playing us for suckers all along?

I now think it’s the latter.   We’ve definitely been played for suckers.

Just days after he finally came out swinging on climate change, Internet neutrality and immigration, just as he was finally beginning to look like the progressive force for hope he once promised to be, he became someone else.   A political schizophrenic, doing an absolute about-face, siding with the few on Wall Street against the many of  Main Street.    Who is this guy?

Obama is a bust.   For us Progressives, he’s the betrayer-in-Chief, just another cog in the Bush, Clinton Wall Street machine.

He’s king of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement,  doing all he can to drive another nail in the coffin of American workers by sending even more jobs to China and Vietnam – doing everything he can to keep Wall Street happy, so the fat paychecks keep coming in, funding the campaigns of both parties to beat back members of Congress like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who are still trying to represent the majority rather than the wealthy minority on the Street.   It’s big-time bribery from the bankers to maintain the status quo and require another taxpayer bailout if they again lose their shirts gambling on risky bets.

Oh sure, there’s the Affordable Care Act, which sent even more money to the insurance industry by forcing Americans to pay for private insurance coverage which is probably unconstitutional.   Absent a public option, it certainly has nothing to do with being a free people.  Thanks so much, Mr. Obama.

But oh, you say!  This is the President who pushed for releasing the CIA torture report!   The same man who signed an executive order on immigration!  Don’t be fooled.   He was doing the old one-eighty spin, putting up another smokescreen while the real issue of Wall Street’s government takeover continued moving forward.

They own us.  And so much of the media just doesn’t seem to get it.

How sad.

I had such high hopes for this President.  I was holding onto a thread of hope that we might recover our democracy.   I’m no longer sure that’s possible as passage of this most recent funding bill will leave little doubt that our government is available for sale to the highest bidders.

The thought that we still have anything resembling a representative democracy in America is increasingly illusory.

We are no longer a truly free people.   The bankers, billionaires and millionaires now dictate the course of the nation.   They will continue laying a course for the laws of the land that will be used to control, coerce and craft our lives, based not upon our informed consent, but upon the desire of a relative few to dominate the many.

Turning this around will require a political revolution.  A political uprising that will reclaim America for the many by beating back the madness of the Reagan Revolution and restoring the New Deal thinking and populist standards of FDR.

Perhaps Elizabeth Warren will be able to show us the way?   It’s being said she has the potential for being the next Teddy Roosevelt, our next big “trust buster.”  Or is that expecting too much of any one person?   Yes, it is.  We will all need to put our shoulders to the wheel on this one.

I have doubts the will exists to get it done.   At least not right now.   Not with Christmas nearly here.    And by the time Congress returns to Washington, this will all be nearly forgotten.  Most of the American people couldn’t understand what was happening anyway.    They haven’t had time.  They’ve been way too busy working two or three jobs, flipping burgers, cleaning toilets and working as security guards to put food on their tables and pay the next health insurance bill.

(This piece was updated on 12-14, following the Senate vote.)

Channel 4 To The Rescue

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Joel Grover / NBC

Tonight at 11 on Channel 4 Los Angeles,  it’s Joel Grover and the Channel 4 I-Team to the rescue!  My rescue.

See Joel’s report on my 9 day ordeal attempting to get someone from AT&T to come out and restore my telephone/internet service.   I even called the Office of the President of AT&T, but nothing happened.    Yesterday Channel 4 spoke with the company.   Today three trucks and a car showed up.  Interesting, isn’t it?

You can see it all, tonight at 11 on KNBC-TV, Los Angeles.  My thanks to Joel, Jacquelin, Amy, James and the entire crew at the KNBC I-Team.

Click here to watch Joel Grover’s report.

Republican Push To Restore Fraudulent Banking

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Time for another big spending bill to keep the Federal Government up and running, meaning it’s time once again for the Republicans to threaten a shutdown.    Maybe.   I mean, even if they haven’t issued the threat yet, you have to think they will.   It’s what they do.

This time, they’ve snuck a nasty little provision into the bill that would remove safeguards against another economic crash.

Following the crash of 08, the feds told the big bankers that they could no longer gamble with the taxpayer’s money by selling worthless junk (derivatives trading) fraudulently labeled as valuable assets (remember the bundled sub-prime loans?) and then expect the American people to bail them out with federal insurance when their junk is revealed to be worthless, the market crashes and the world is threatened by economic ruin by the “too big to fail” banks.

Remember all of that?  Well, the Republicans want to do away with the safeguards and let the federally insured gambling start all over again.    You might call it federally sanctioned criminal activity.

The Democrats are demanding that the provision be stripped from the bill so we’ll see where this goes.   At the very least, this should be a wakeup call for any and all of you who still believe there is essentially no difference between the Democratic and Republican parties.

We continue to have the best government money can buy, but the Dems aren’t quite so bought off as are the Republicans.

The country badly needs contemporary patriots like Elizabeth Warren leading the charge to better control the flow of money into politics with an end-game of reclaiming our lost democratic process.

Death In Mid-Air / Surprising It Doesn’t Happen More Often (why I no longer fly unless I absolutely have to)

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Interesting that a 23 year old woman has died on a United Airlines flight from London to Newark.   No cause of death as of yet although the coroner’s office says she had a pre-existing condition.

So do we all.  It’s called flying in coach.

It’s surprising there aren’t more deaths on the airlines, what with all those people with their legs jammed up nearly to their chins following takeoff when the seats all tilt back forcing more seats to tilt back like dominoes until the entire cabin is reclining in pain.   Forgive me, did I say “seats?”   What passes for coach “seating” in airliners was surely designed by some mad genius reincarnated from the height of the Spanish Inquisition.   It doesn’t deserve to be considered “seating” which implies it’s fit for human use.   To any reasonable person it more closely resembles a devious form of torture designed to look comfortable until you sit down and are belted into your own personal device from hell.

On a flight of ten hours or longer it can take a day or two for the unsuspecting passenger to recover to a point where he or she regains mobility without feeling pain that was not there before getting on the plane and being subjected to the acceptable risk factor of commercial flight following the demeaning and demoralizing process of being regarded as a terrorist suspect by someone whose greatest fear is letting your 85 year-old Aunt Fannie from Boise get on the plane because she might blow it up with a shoe bomb made from Chinese products readily available at her local Wal Mart.   Damn devious Chinese Government.

And yet we put up with it.   What choice do we have?   Who can afford first class other than movie stars, dope dealers,  the millionaires in Congress and Administrators of the FAA?   Oh wait, the FAA has its own fleet of planes.   Not sure how many they currently have but a few years ago the Baltimore Sun reported that they had a fleet of 54.  God forbid they should have to fly commercially with the rest of us.   They might clot up from remaining motionless in a position the human form was never meant to take and die in mid-air.

Modern Problems

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My phone line with DSL goes out on a regular basis when it rains. AT&T has been out repeatedly to fix the problem, which apparently has no solution because, as has been explained to me by people in a position to know,  their equipment is old and antiquated.   It gets wet, and it goes out. God forbid, with all their profits, that they might install fiber-optic cable here in the San Fernando Valley.    With 1.8 million people, it’s not like we’re a major population center or anything.

This is another striking example of why the country must reinstate adequate government regulation of utility companies.  Following dozens upon dozens of competition-killing mergers, big business is taking us down.   In so many ways, “free trade” has been all but eliminated.

The big companies have the local, state and federal governments on their side.  Who is on ours?

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Follow up – It is now Tuesday, Dec. 2nd.   It has rained and predictably, our AT&T landline is down.   If past is prologue, our DSL will be the next to go.    I called AT&T and was told they will try and get somebody out here by Friday, that’s three days away.   I fired off a complaint to the CA Public Utilities Commission.  It may not make any difference, but at least it feels better than doing nothing at all.   The PUC complaint form is available online at: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/puc/cec/e_complaint/

 

Drought Buster?

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A shot of the LA River as it runs through the San Fernando Valley on11-30 at 4:14PM.   Not a drought-buster, but it’ll help.   Makes you wonder why public officials have never seen the light and built reservoirs to hold the millions of gallons of fresh water that run down the river and out into the ocean when it rains.    It was a pet peeve for my former colleague Hal Fishman at KTLA.   I tend to agree, there should be some way to salvage all that fresh water both in Los Angeles and in other parts of the state as well, because, as the song says, “It never rains in California, but girl don’t they warn ya, it pours, man it pours.”   More rain in the forecast for Tuesday.   That too, will run out into the ocean and be lost as the worst drought since the state started keeping records continues.

America’s Gotta Shop

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Stumbled across an interesting piece by Raja Abdulrahim in the Los Angeles Times this morning.   Abdulrahim’s premise, is that ISIS is just one of any number of Islamist groups in the Middle East and Asia, and she writes, “the dearth of endorsements by many of the largest and most recognizable groups serves to underscore the limits of the newcomer’s grand ambition.”

In other words, ISIS is the new kid on the terrorist block and they haven’t yet gained the approval of well-established terrorist heavy-hitters.    The point is also made, that American airstrikes on ISIS are making the newbie terrorists stronger by driving more support to their ranks.

As with so many of our operations in the Middle East,  we once again appear to be our own worst enemy.

It’s an interesting and enlightening piece.   Too bad Americans don’t read anymore.   Too bad tv news no longer thinks their job is to educate and enlighten the American people, who are preoccupied with….what?

Not that tough to figure out.  Turn on your tv for more than five or six minutes and wait for the commercial onslaught.   It began with the many pre-Thanksgiving sales, followed by Thanksgiving Day itself, with sales that drew millions of Americans away from their families on our national day of…….something or another.  I really can’t remember.   I believe it has to do with giving thanks that only half of all Americans are living at or near the poverty line. 

That, however, was only a minor sequel to the  blow-out spectaculars of “Black Friday!”   The long lines of tryptophan-dazed shoppers were forming overnight.   We then plowed bravely ahead into the weekend sales that proceed the new 800-pound marketing gorilla, Cyber Monday.   Whatever the hell that’s supposed to be.   After that comes a never-ending line of superficial sales designed to continue drawing shoppers to the stores to spend money they don’t have on things they don’t need as we head into Christmas, our national season of forgiveness and brotherly love.

How many women, children and other non-combatants were blown to bits by American bombs in Iraq by our mostly Christian nation?   Does anyone other than the Iraqis who will spend their next several generations hating America and all things American, even care?   Is it possible that the United States needs to lead by example, beginning with a disengagement from all military operations in the Middle East and North Africa, rather than continuing this endless cycle of violence begetting violence?   Is that just possible?   Maybe.  Chances are it doesn’t matter.

You can’t expect any society to pay attention to a theoretical argument about the futility of ongoing airstrikes against terrorists in the Middle East with all that marketing going on.

Oh no.   Too much to expect.  America’s gotta shop.

And then, at some future date when the crazies again fly planes into our buildings or release a dose of ricin gas in one of our subway tunnels, we can all just blame the CIA and call up the Guard for extended overseas deployment in some 2000 year-old dispute between tribal elements with cultural implications we are unable to fully fathom because the nation has stopped reading and been so dumbed down and misinformed as to believe that the marketing madness they watch on tv every day actually matters.

Happy Thanksgiving

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A Simple Holiday Poem
By Ron Olsen

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They shut down the 101
The Harbor Freeway’s closed
Out of respect for Michael Brown
A human blockade imposed

Another black youth
Shot and killed
With impunity or without
Does it really matter now?
He’s dead you know
“Burn it down” the rioters shout

An expression of pain we’ve heard before
The Los Angeles riots II
A smaller version of a similar thing
Racial animus through and through

Why don’t we learn?

And on TV they yell at me
About Bill Cosby’s sins
16 women raped, they say
By a man who smiles and grins

They’ve stolen our father
A TV figure, true
But our father nonetheless
If Heathcliff Huxtable is corrupt
What’s left for all the rest?

Overseas an ocean of refugees
Created by the wars we’ve started
Punctuated by the spread of Ebola germs
Leaving Africa dire and downhearted

Israel and Palestine continue to kill
Is this how far we’ve come?
With no solution other than death
For decades still undone?

We watch with horror gang rape in Delhi
In Arabia,  women stoned by men
Eclipsed only in scale by  Wall Street’s lust
Numerical greed times ten times ten

Around the corner ISIS lurks
Demanding the world’s attention
Like a child blind with rage
Seized by a tantrum’s intention

And Putin and Cruz and Kim Jong Un
Political crazies all
Dictate our futures while like Rome
We wait for the Forum to fall

Why don’t we learn?

Don’t put your faith in people my friends
Disappointment is sure to follow
Any reality check you choose
Will leave you feeling hollow

Thanksgiving I think should be replaced
By a day of contemplation
About somehow fixing the mess we’ve made
As the world’s most powerful nation

Expanding The Republican Wasteland

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Over the years the phrase “throw the bums out” has been applied to any number of political clutches and cronies, but it has never been quite so apropos as it is to this current batch of boneheaded and bought-off Republicans.

Can we be clear on something?   The  Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare,” passed the House and the Senate and was then signed into law by the President of the United States.   The Republicans then challenged it in court and failed.   Obamacare has been upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States.

That’s it.  It’s over.  The  “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” is the law of the land, and yet what does this current gang of anti-American caucus room conspiracy Republican traitors do?   After wasting the people’s time with at least 50 votes to roll back all or part of the law, all of which were doomed to fail before they were cast, they have now filed a lawsuit against President Obama, complaining that he overreached his limits with passage of the the Act.

The lawsuit, which has been threatened for months, is regarded by many to be a waste of time and money.   NBC News reports that, “Earlier this week George Washington University legal scholar Jonathan Turley agreed to represent the GOP in the suit after the other attorneys declined to, allegedly due to political pressure.”

Even Neil Cavuto on FOX thinks the Republicans are going over the line in their relentless pursuit of Barack Obama.   In an exchange with Michele Bachmann regarding a possible lawsuit against Mr. Obama for his use of executive authority,  Cavuto said, “Where was your rage when Democrats were going after President Bush on the same use of executive orders, because I think you knew then that that was a waste of time then and I think you know in your heart of hearts this is a waste of time now.”   Cavuto told Bachmann that she was “being silly.”

None too coincidentally, the Republican’s nuisance suit come on the heels of Mr. Obama’s executive action affording protection from deportation for some 4-million illegal immigrants.    Immigration is an issue that perfectly represents Republican obstructionism, in that a comprehensive immigration bill was passed by the Senate in June of 2013.   And now, a year and a-half later,  the bill has yet to come up for a vote in the House.  Why?   Because Republican leaders in the House won’t let it happen.

These Republicans appear determined to put a stop to anything that will be viewed as an accomplishment for the Obama Administration, regardless of the damage their intransigence does to the American people.   Actually, it’s more than an appearance, it’s their stated purpose.   They are already liable for shutting down the United States of America, and still their nonsense continues.

Being without merit, the lawsuit will in all likelihood, fail.  It is political obstructionism at the people’s expense in its worst form.   Because the intention is to benefit a wealthy few without reasonable regard for the impact on the nation as a whole by refusing to let the people’s business move forward and because the Republican leadership has used this same kind of obstructionist tactic repeatedly,  it borders on treason.    Or it may be over the border.  It might be treason.

At some point the Democrats will need to develop enough spine to stand up for America and against this current gang of regressive Republican goons.    Elizabeth Warren,  Al Franken,  Barbara Boxer Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and one or two others have been trying to get the truth out to the American people.    Where is the rest of the Democratic Party?    Surely, they haven’t all been bought off?   Or have they?  Is the party over?

Misogyny And The Political Process In America

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TV and radio talker Thom Hartmann, brings up an interesting point relative to the possible presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton.

“Never underestimate the power of misogyny,” Hartmann advises, basing his statement on the fact that African-Americans got the vote with the end of the Civil War in 1865,  55 years before women won the right to vote in 1920.

In truth,  African-Americans right to vote wasn’t actually nailed down by the Congress until the 15th Amendment was passed in 1870,  and even then their right to vote was blocked in many states until the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but for the sake of the idea, let’s go with the end of the war in 1865 and the passage of women’s suffrage with the 19th Amendment in 1920, which makes it a difference of 55 years.  Sort of.

Officially and on the record, African-American men were afforded the right to vote 55 years before American women of any color.   Unofficially,  many African-Americans wouldn’t gain the right to vote until 1965, 45 years after the passage of Women’s Suffrage.

Republican obstructionism to Mr. Obama may have been only partly or possibly mostly due to racism.   Either way, it has been so painfully obvious,  that only those who deny history will fail to see a degree of bigotry having been involved in the ongoing effort to stop Mr. Obama from moving the nation forward in any way shape or form.

Hartmann’s observation about women being denied the vote is at the very least interesting,  in that America’s undercurrent of bias against women could be even more problematic than its bias against African-Americans.

I’m not sure about the power of the premise but it’s an interesting point,  and an issue that could present a potential hurdle for Ms. Clinton in her quest for the Presidency.

Time For The Democrats To Retool

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I know this isn’t going to happen right now, but it could and should happen eventually, so stay with me and dream a little.

It’s time to retool the Democratic Party.

They lost their strongest voice with the death of Ted Kennedy, the  “Lion of the Senate.”   They still had Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer,  both of whom were terrific political in-fighters, until Weiner tweeted his weenie and  Spitzer was nailed by the New York Times for patronizing a call girl operation.   Without Kennedy, Weiner and Spitzer, the Dems were left without any really skilled counter-punchers except for Barbara Mikulski.    The longest serving woman in the history of the U.S. Congress,  Senator Mikulski is smart, articulate and willing to take on a fight.  I don’t know why they don’t put her out front more often but they don’t.

Instead, they’ve been running around like a bunch of timid little church mice, appearing to be afraid of their own shadows when confronted by John  Boehner and  Mitch McConnell, neither of whom is all that scary unless you have a thing about people who are unnaturally orange or maybe a turtle phobia.

Moving Elizabeth Warren into a leadership position in the Senate was a good idea, but it’s not enough.   It’s time for whispering Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, to go.

Reid,  is beholding to his NRA base back in Nevada, and Nancy Pelosi comes across as being way too nice and pretty and smiley to bust anybody’s chops about anything.   The Dems need to shed their weak-kneed image.   They need to do something bold.    They need a couple of ringers like Elizabeth Warren leading the Senate and Al Franken leading the House.    Both are tough, intelligent and highly articulate.   Franken, would be perfect because he’s a former comedian and nearly all of what the Republicans are now doing is a joke.  Most importantly, both would present a new image to American voters.   Warren, a former Harvard Law School Professor,  is just plain brilliant but able to speak in a language we can all understand.

Current DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz seems like a very nice, conciliatory person, which makes you wonder if she’s nasty enough to get down in the mud and slug it out with this current gang of Neocon-inspired  Ayn Rand following free-trade crazies running the Republican Party?   Also,  progressives can’t help but be concerned about the party’s lack of support for President Obama, with Wasserman Schultz at the helm.

Come on Democratic Party, what you’ve been doing hasn’t worked.  As they say here in Hollywood, “Image is more important than reality,” and you guys have a huge image problem.  This is largely a video game and you need to put your strongest populist personalities out front,  like the Republicans did with Ronald Reagan.   Except that with Warren and Franken, they’d be really, really smart, as well as camera-friendly.

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.