Tag Archives: ron olsen

Congressman Tom McClintok Calls Trump A Liar

Hard line right-winger from California, Congressman Tom McClintock.  just called Donald Trump a liar.   He did it on the Chris Hayes show on MSNBC and Hayes totally missed it as did DNC Nat’l Chairmam Tom Perez, who was the next guest on the show.

I could be getting this totally wrong.  I’m not DJT, who never makes mistakes, but what happened, as I recall, is that Congressman McClintock was in a heated argument with Chris Hayes regarding what Donald Trump had said about Mexico paying for a wall along the border and McClintock said, “I never believed it.”   So he admits that he believes  Donald Trump to be a liar, because the Donald repeatedly said during his campaign that he would make Mexico pay for the wall.  And McClintock says he never believed what Trump was saying.  Repeatedly.  No question about it.

Thank you Mr. McClintock.   A great many of us agree with your conclusion that Donald Trump is a liar.

If I’m getting this right, I beg you to cut Chris Hayes some slack, as these Republican worms are telling lies with such ease and frequency that it’s easy to let one slip by.  But when members of Trump’s own party admit they were listening to his ongoing lies and that it’s apparently okay,  that’s pretty damn scary.

 

Will The Democrats Ever Grow A Backbone?

It’s being announced that there is no evidence that Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.  Really?  How much of this crap are we supposed to take?   How many lies, first from candidate and now President Trump?   Where is the Democrat’s outrage at his outrageous behavior?  Where are the leaders in the center and on the left?  When are they going to grow a collective backbone?

I have sent messages via email to both my U.S. Senators and my congressman.    Please be encouraged to do the same.   My message to my senators is posted below.   Feel free to copy it for your own use, if you wish.

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Dear Senator,
I am writing to express my disappointment in the weak-kneed way the Democrats are responding to the ongoing outrageous behavior (lies) of President Trump. Just today the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee held a press conference to announce that there is no evidence that Mr. Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. Really? It was just another Trump lie of course, and you guys should be shouting your heads off that his pattern of lies and deceit must stop now. You should also demand as loudly as possible, that Trump apologize to Mr. Obama and the American people for lying about the alleged wiretap, which, of course, never took place – just like all his other lies beginning with the campaign and then continuing into his Administration, which we still must worry could be aligned with Putin and the other Russian oligarchs. Come on! Trump could be in bed with the Russians??? He is nothing but a bully boy and you have got to start fighting back! If Pelosi and Schumer won’t do it then cut Bernie and Liz Warren loose and let them take the lead. They at least know how to fight back. The future of our nation is at stake, for God’s sake.

Thank you,
Ron Olsen
Bel Air

Poem For Orlando

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Orlando

by Ron Olsen

 

Screams of Terror

Blood flows free

Repeated questions about motive

And extreme belief

Another act without soul

Only the same circular talk

We remain unchanged

Money locks in the status quo

Until the next trainload of grief

Spreads its demon cargo

Across the blood spattered land

Without regard for age, color or sex

A child songbird

Or 50 in a club

No discrimination in slaughter

Driven by ignorance

Or madness

We continue our self-annihilation

The cost of correction

Progression

Redemption

Lying somehow beyond our reach

As we fail ourselves once again

More Than Ever, It’s All About The Money

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An often-used technique by those who would fool you into doing something that’s contrary to your own best interest, is to make the situation seem so complex, so terribly complicated, that there is just no way you can fully understand what’s really going on.   So you give up, leave it alone, and let someone else decide for you.

In a culture that forces so many of us to work twelve hour days or hold down two jobs just to keep the kids fed, this happens frequently, to the point that much of what should be issue oriented news never gets on the air, with news executives declaring that “it’s just too complicated for television.”   No, it’s not.   They just don’t want to put in the time, effort and money necessary to get it done.    So an already exhausted American public becomes a little more dumbed down.

So let’s simplify.

-There is a direct connection between the dumbing down of America and the rise of the new ruling Corporatocracy which began with the tax cuts of “Reagonomics,” and deregulation, and continued on with the Neocon policies of the Republican Party, supported by a Democratic Party,  which,  more often than not sat on its hands while the rich bought our political system and off-shored millions of jobs to countries where slave-labor wages are accepted.   It’s to their advantage to keep you in the dark,  while you are spoon fed overblown issues like Benghazi, by a corporate owned media that cares more for profits than public responsibility.   So you don’t get what you need, you get ratings-driven “infotainment.”

-We are no longer a Democratic Republic, we are an Oligarchy, controlled by multi-national corporations, millionaires and billionaires.   Thinking your vote matters, when the Congress and White House are owned by billionaires and CEO’s, is a sad joke.   The “Citizens United” decision by the Supreme Court drove the last nail in our national coffin, giving free reign to the wealthy of any nation to purchase the U.S. Government.   How’s that for the “New World Order” George H.W. Bush talked about while having no idea what a bar code reader does?   While politicians still must fear losing their jobs by losing an election, that lever has lost much of its clout for the American people, as newcomers who are voted in will eventually fall prey to the millions of dollars flooding the system from lobbyists, giving us the best government money can buy.   The more money you have, the more the government is likely to reflect your wants and needs.

Consequently-

-The United States lags behind the rest of the developed world in healthcare.   We continue to pay more and get less.   Even with “Obamacare.”   We need to catch up with the rest of the developed world with a single payer, government controlled system of Medicare for all.   Dental care and eye care need to be included in the system.   To regard dental and vision care as somehow being separate from healthcare, is madness.

-We are badly behind most of the European countries in rail safety, as was just highlighted by the tragic train derailment in Philadelphia, a crash that might have been prevented by technology that automatically slows trains to a safe speed.   Technology the Europeans have been using for years, but we don’t have it, as the railroad industry and Congress argue over who is going to pay to have it installed.   By one estimate, 140 rail accidents might have been prevented had the new “Positive Train Control” system been installed.   Instead,  congress voted to cut rail funding on the day of the Philadelphia crash.    This isn’t a high speed bullet train we’re talking about folks, it’s old fashioned 20th Century train travel.   And we can’t afford to get it right?   Oh well, at least we’re good at making war.   What about once the war ends?

-The U.S. continues to offer inadequate support to its veterans.  According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, “Although flawless counts are impossible to come by – the transient nature of homeless populations presents a major difficulty – the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that 49,933 veterans are homeless on any given night.

Approximately 12,700 veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation New Dawn (OND) were homeless in 2010. The number of young homeless veterans is increasing, but only constitutes 8.8% of the overall homeless veteran population.”

We didn’t give adequate care to our vets following Vietnam, and now we’re doing it all over again with those returning from the Middle East.

There’s more, but isn’t this enough?    The rich do well, while the middle class is gutted.   Our infrastructure goes begging while our elderly can’t afford dental or vision care and millions of Americans are forced to pay for “Obamacare” which still has no “public option” to provide real competition for the insurance industry.

At the heart of the problem is a lack of campaign finance reform.  They’ve bought us, folks.   They own us.  Our government is going to the highest bidder.    Many of our politicians are in bed with the CEO’s on Wall Street who nearly bankrupted the nation.   But none of the big shots went to jail and the “too big to fail” banks are still there.

It’s relevant that a significant cause of World War II, was a worldwide depression that got its start on Wall Street.

It’s really very simple.   Our representative government is gone.  You now get all the representation you can afford to buy.   With enough money you can defraud the nation, nearly crash the world’s economy, and stay out of jail.  Our Senate has routinely been called a “millionaires club.”  Professional politicians like the Clintons enter office in debt to eventually become millionaires who set up their personal legacy with a fund that’s received millions in donations from the Saudis.   Then there’s the speaker’s circuit, which can be incredibly profitable if you have the right friends.   Politico reports that Bill and Hillary, have pulled in roughly $25 million in speaking fees since 2014.   On the other side of the isle, the uber-rich Bush family takes us to war in Iraq, while maintaining a close ties with Saudi royalty.    Are you beginning to see a pattern?   It’s all about who you know and who is willing to buy your influence.

At the same time, so many Washington fat cats, particularly on the Republican side,  refer to Social Security and Medicare as “entitlements” that should be eliminated.   Entitlements?  Hell,  many of us, with no friends in Saudi Arabia to rely on,  have been paying into those programs since we were in our teens.   They’re not entitlements, they are earned benefits for our national social good, as Bernie Sanders has repeatedly stated.  FDR got it right and now Bernie, and populists like Elizabeth Warren, may be our last best hope.   Remember that term.   Earned benefits.  They are EARNED.   They are NOT a government handout.

Don’t let all the smoke and mirrors confuse you.  It’s all about the money.  Always has been.  Everything else is an illusion.   Until all that  money is somehow gotten out of politics,  we the people out here on Main Street are flat-out screwed, as our trains crash, our highways crumble, homeless veterans live in cardboard boxes under an overpass while we continue paying twice as much as the rest of the developed world for prescription drugs and our old folks are forced to sign “reverse mortgages” in their golden years, as the wealthy on Wall Street develop yet another method to extract every last bit of wealth Middle America has.

In Defense Of The American Garage

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In some parts of the country there appears to be a trend shifting away from the two-car garage to a one-car garage or to no garage at all.  This is troubling, in that the housing industry is undoubtedly looking at forecasts pointing  to a future with far fewer cars and hence, less need for a garage.

Perhaps they feel global warming will force us to abandon personal transportation in favor of riding a bus, or maybe they see the American middle class being so economically devastated by the off-shoring of jobs that homebuyers won’t be able to afford both a new house and a car?   In either case, the American garage appears to be in trouble and that’s seriously bad news for the U.S.A.

But “oh” you say, “surely that’s an overstatement!”  Really?

Think of what’s come out of American garages.   Apple computers and Microsoft for starters, as well as Amazon.com, Google and Disney.   Ritchie Valens and the Velvet Underground got started as garage bands, and although I can’t prove it, I’ll bet old Buddy Holly did too, along with dozens of others who were foundational for mainstream rock n’ roll.    There’s also  Mattel and Maglite and finally, although this is, if anything, an incomplete list, the great Harley Davidson motorcycle.

They all came out of  somebody’s garage or somebody’s parent’s garage, which argues for more and bigger garages, not fewer.   Considering all they’ve given us, our elected leaders should think about setting aside a date on the calendar as “Garage Appreciation Day.”

The time will come when that piece of oil-stained cardboard your father threw down on the floor because the old Rambler blew a gasket, will be framed and hanging in the local museum as a testament to all that we once were.

Garages have done more than house our cars.   They’ve been a springboard for cultural development and a cultural repository.     Without garages, where will we go to create?   Where will all those kids in the Midwest build their floats for thousands of high school homecoming parades?  Imagine America without Apple, Harleys,  Disneyland and rock n’ roll.   America, without Mickey Mouse and Homecoming?

I suppose those who follow will find some other space to create, but it won’t be the same.  It can’t be, for nothing is more American than the American garage, with its oil stains, old license plates, lawn mowers, a big coffee can filled with mismatched nuts and bolts, old tires, your dead grandfather’s golf clubs, the steering wheel from a 54 Olds, motorcycles, gas cans, garbage cans, outdated pinup calendars, campaign posters, tools on a peg board, greasy rags, old baseball gloves, skateboards,  garage bands and all.

And over in the corner an old mirror hangs cockeyed from a rusty three penny nail, reflecting all that we are.

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“Pains of Love” – American Garage Band/1970’s – Harrisburg, PA  (click on pic for enlargement) photo courtesy of Michael Jones

Goodbye Jayne

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photo:  wikipedia

Actress and a true force of nature, Jayne Meadows, wife of tv legend Steve Allen, sister of Audrey Meadows of “The Honeymooners,” died at home in Encino, CA, of natural causes on Sunday.   She was 95.  She was a friend.   Condolences to her family.

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Ron Olsen, Steve Allen and Jayne Meadows in later years attend a dinner in Los Angeles, honoring Steve’s lifetime of public service.

 

 

Prosecute Dick Cheney? Yeah, Right….When Pigs Fly

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Kudos to the New York Times for having the stones to recommend that Dick Cheney and other officials of the administration of George W. Bush, should be prosecuted for war crimes.   Of course they should.  The feds should also throw a dozen or so big bankers in jail for committing fraud and crashing the economy in 2008.   But they haven’t and they won’t.   And nobody is going to prosecute Dick Cheney, and the editorial writers at the Times know it.

The big guys at the top almost always take care of one another.  In big business, how many of the CEO’s who have crashed big companies and then bailed out with golden parachutes have been prosecuted?   It’s endemic in our society and the same holds true for politics.  Ford, pardoned Richard Nixon, the Reagan Administration was never held accountable for prolonging the release of the American hostages in Iran in 1981, and and Mr. Obama, won’t condone a criminal prosecution of Dick Cheney.   If he did, a special prosecutor appointed by his new attorney general might have to haul a former president into court to testify.   There’s a precedent no sitting president wants to set.

Beyond that, can you even imagine the uproar from the right, claiming any prosecution of poor Dick Cheney and his inner circle was purely political?   Whitewater, Benghazi, Vince Foster and Monica Lewinsky combined don’t even being to touch it.

Being able to commit and benefit from horrendous acts, either economically or politically, and then walking away without reasonable accountability, may be at the heart of all that ails us as a people.

That doesn’t mean that putting the proposition out there has no value.   Not being able to act on the truth doesn’t mean we should deny it.  Denial, only makes matters worse by implying our tacit approval.   Like looking the other way while the Reagonites cut their deal with the Iranians to delay the release of the hostages until Reagan had been sworn in back in 1981, or when Nixon’s gang of political thugs torpedoed the peace process in Vietnam to defeat Hubert Humphrey in 1968 .

Most Americans never even think about these things.   Denial, is so much easier.

Poem: “The Dinner” (a salute to the white house correspondents dinner)

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The Dinner
by Ron Olsen

The watchers
And the watched
Nose to nose
Too close for those
Of opposing prose
An unholy alliance
Comfortable unease
In a room filled with
Corporate cheese
For those who should question
Not accept
Under the table a lobbyist crept
Doing something down there
I leave it to you
To decide what it was
To the many and the few
But doing it well
As smiles abound
Notebooks down
For the business of politics
Playing the clown
As the rubber chicken goes round and round

The poor forgotten
They’re having a ball
Yukking it up in the big banquet hall

The truth goes begging
Out in the street
While the corporate media
Meet to eat

I envy their status
Their paychecks, too
If I were there
I wouldn’t bother
With you

 

©2015 Ron Olsen – all rights reserved

Mr. Obama, Change Your Neoliberal Ways

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Neoliberalism:  “A political theory of the late 1900s holding that personal liberty is maximized by limiting government interference in the operation of free markets.”   -The Free Dictionary

I fully support the Democrats over the Neo-feudal Republicans and their ongoing push to take us all back into serfdom.  At the same time, Barack Obama, continues to entertain as he keeps trying to play both sides of the aisle.   Or whatever it is he’s now doing.  Some of it is indefinable.

You’ve gotta love the President’s latest nonsense about the need to use a naval blockade to stop Iranian ships from delivering weapons to Shia rebels in Yemen.   He says it’s to protect navigation in international waters.  If that’s the case, why aren’t we protecting the ability of the Iranian ships to navigate into Yemeni ports?    He is making no sense at all.   Unless you get beyond the big lie and understand what’s actually happening.

The United States is blocking the Iranian ships (Shia) because they would deliver arms to Shia rebels trying to push back against Sunni government leaders supported by the Saudis who are also Sunni.   Get it?   As with the rest of the Middle East and North Africa, this is a religious war and we keep sticking our big nose into the middle of it as though we know how to solve the centuries-old conflict.

In this case, the U.S. is supporting the Sunni Saudis against the Shia Iranians at a time when we are attempting to cut a nuclear control pact with Iran.  What a bad joke.  I guess Mr. Obama, has to put Saudi oil above all else?    Admittedly there is also the Israeli conundrum, dictating that anything the United States might do to create a better relationship with Iran, even if that means limiting their nuclear weapons capability into the distant future,  is inherently anti-Israeli.

Mr. Obama is also appearing comical as he continues to defend the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement, which is such a great deal that it had to be negotiated in secret lest the American people would find out what was going on and rise up in anger.

It appears the only people who approve the TPP are Mr. Obama, the international business establishment, those Asian countries who will benefit and the corporate controlled Republican Party.    On the other side are the Democrats and the American people, who might be angry as hell if they knew what was going on.

The TPP.    If it’s such a great deal then stop trying to “fast track” it through the Congress, tell us what  it contains and put it out there before the American people for a full debate prior to any vote in the House and Senate.

Stop cutting trade deals behind our backs.   You guys sold us on killing Glass Steagall while passing NAFTA, CAFTA and supporting the WTO.   It was good for mutli-national corporations, a handful of their major shareholders and a few foreign countries where slave labor continues to exist,  while it wrecked the American middle class.  We may never recover.

And now you want us to trust you with this secret “TPP” deal?  What a joke.   Come on Mr. Obama.   The nation needs you to restore the two-party system and be a Democrat.   Not a neoliberal who chooses sides to fit the moment in an attempt to placate the robber barons of our new Gilded Age.    Do what you were elected to do and put the majority ahead of a wealthy minority.  Come on, you can do it.   It might even help your party at the polls in 2016.   In fact becoming a real populist, instead of continuing to talk the talk while refusing to walk the walk, would make Dems a pollitical slam dunk in 2016.   Of course you’d be taking on Wall Street and the big money multi-nationals, which you can’t really do, can you?    And if you can’t, then what are we?   Are we done?

The United States Leads In Exporting Terror To The World?

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Broad concepts can be deceiving.   They can also be enlightening.    For example, with all the war in the world, all the slaughter and mayhem, why is there almost no discussion about where the weapons are coming from?  Could it be because it might force us to face ourselves?

Illiterate thugs driving around in Japanese and American built pickup trucks blowing each other away, kidnapping little girls and conducting ethnic murder and rape on a massive scale while decrying education and knowledge are not manufacturing pickup trucks, RPG’s, heavy machine guns or assault rifles.   So were is all this stuff coming from?    What truly evil entity could be so unprincipled, immoral and greedy, as to be supplying high-powered weapons of war to an underdeveloped and politically unstable world?   Would you put an assault rifle in the hands of a 10-year old?

Surely, it must be the many faces of evil we see on the network news each night?   You know, the really bad guys like ISIL and Boko Haram?

Not really.  It’s us.   The United States is at the top of the list with Russia coming in second.    France, the UK, Germany and Israel,  also rank in the top ten on weapons exports.

Isn’t this something we at least need to be talking about here in gun loving America, as our leaders wring their hands and shake their heads about all the violence overseas and on U.S. soil?   Isn’t the fact that we are the world’s biggest exporter of weaponry pertinent?    Of course it is.  To the tune of something over $1.5 trillion  a year.   And it’s growing.

CNN reports, “Worldwide arms exports are surging. They’re up nearly 30% since 2008, according to a new report from defense analyst IHS Jane’s.”

The circle becomes all the more vicious when organized militias like ISIL, capture arms the United States has supplied to others and turns those same arms on U.S. troops.   Weapons manufacturers are the only winners.

If developed nations want the slaughter to stop, then those same developed nations need to stop supplying weaponry to the world.  Here in the States, we need to stop buying into the argument that controlling the production and sale of assault weapons is an attack on the Second Amendment.

Try and get your head around the fact that the founders had no concept of a rifle with a firing rate of 100 rounds per minute like an AK-47.   The British were hi-tech at the time, and they were using the Ferguson Rifle, a breech loading, single shot rifle, which meant you didn’t have to stick a metal ball in the barrel and ram it down with a rod.   No, the Ferguson was so hi-tech, that it permitted a skilled marksman to drop a ball in the breech (up by the trigger), apply some powder and get off between six and ten shots per minute.    Compare that to an AR-15 rifle with a rate of fire of 90 rounds per minute and an effective range of 547 yards.  And it’s available and perfectly legal at your local gun store.  Not in full-auto mind you, but conversion kits can be had.

Want something more?   Consider the little Colt 9mm SMG (submachine gun).   According to Colt’s website, the rate of fire on full-auto is 700-950 rounds per minute.   Weighing only 6.6 pounds it’s incredibly easy to use.  I know, because I fired one while under DEA supervision.  It was like holding a garden hose, except you were dealing with a stream of bullets instead of water.   To me, it felt pretty much the same.   Just like watering the garden.

That’s what happened during the “North Hollywood Shootout,”  in 1997.   The LAPD came up against two bank robbers wearing body armor and carrying illegally modified fully automatic rifles loaded with “cop killer” bullets that could penetrate so-called “bullet-proof” vests.     With SWAT away on an exercise, the LAPD was armed only with service pistols and shotguns.   They had to run to a nearby gun dealer to borrow a few semi-automatic rifles to fight back while waiting for SWAT to arrive.   In 44 minutes while the two bank robbers held off the police,  eleven cops and seven civilians were injured with more than 1,700 rounds flying through the air.   Both suspects were eventually killed.   The incident, with two men holding off dozens of police officers, led to an increase in firepower at police departments across the country.

I was there and I’ll always remember the words of my friend,  video-journalist David Lopez, who later recalled, “It was just like that movie, “Heat.”  He was right.  It was.   Because the suspects had assault rifles modified to operate on full-auto, the police were simply outgunned.

The Second Amendment argument benefits only the arms manufacturers, allowing them to continue flooding the U.S. and the world not with hunting or sporting weapons, but with weapons of war which have no purpose other than the slaughter of human beings.   And the United States, is by far and away leading the world in the export of what truly should be considered weapons of mass destruction.    We’ve been warned repeatedly about the Military Industrial Complex and profitability.

“Well, come on Wall Street, don’t move slow,
Why man, this is war a-go-go.
There’s plenty good money to be made
By supplying the Army with the tools of the trade,                                               Just hope and pray that if they drop the bomb,
They drop it on the Viet Cong….”                                                                                 -‘Feel Like I’m Fixin’ To Die Rag’ – Country Joe McDonald, 1966

When a hippie singer from the 60’s like Country Joe McDonald is in agreement with Dwight David Eisenhower,  former 5-star General of the Army who led the military that defeated the Nazis and then went on to be elected President on a Republican ticket, it is perhaps time for us to pay closer attention to what’s going on and maybe even try and think things through.

Follow the money, and don’t buy into the nonsense that if we stop supplying the weaponry,  production will simply shift to Russia, China, and a few other countries.   Somebody has to take the lead in stopping this madness.    Since the U.S. is supplying most of the weapons, then a halt to weapons exports by the U.S. would clearly be a good place to start as it would provide the greatest incentive for other supposedly civilized nations to follow suit.

Imagine putting a genuine push for peace ahead of the ongoing promotion of warfare and death.   Imagine trade sanctions on any country that refused to stop exporting weapons of war.   Is that even possible,  or will we have to wait another three or four hundred years to evolve to a point at which we cease being our own worst enemy?

It’s something to think about as we wait for the next body count to come in from Mali or Nigeria, the next mass drowning of war refugees in the Mediterranean, and the next school shooting here in the United States as the developed nations sit back in relative security collecting the profits on arms sales to second and third world nations who hate us for what we are.

Oh Lord! Jeb Bush Is Excited!

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FLASH! “Jeb Bush ‘excited about the possibility’ of a presidential run!” Really? Could this be more predictable?

So it’ll be Hillary, going all liberal following two years of smiles and silence to pick up her base and Jeb going as far to the right as he can without sounding too much like a nutjob to pick up his base as they both head off into the primaries. Then, as the general approaches, they’ll tell us what they really think, but only if it’s deemed acceptable by various board room bullies who care more for their bottom lines than they do for America,  the oil barons of Texas and assorted other billionaires who have no more connection to Main Street Americans than George W. Bush has to worrying how to pay the rent and put food on the table.

Hillary, of course, could surprise everybody and turn her back on the bankers who have been paying her $200,000 a pop for speaking engagements, not to mention contributions to the Clinton Foundation, and the potential threat to Bill’s legacy should the big money stop rolling in.

What do you suppose the Wall Streeters were buying with those mammoth speaking fees?   Advice on how to invest their billions?  Why do you suppose Bill cozied up to the Bush clan once he left the White House?

Meantime, middle America is being devastated as the gap between the rich and the rest hits dimensions not seen prior to the Gilded Age as the nation’s youth struggle to pay back huge college loans for an education that should be free and our elderly can’t afford dental care.

The following passage on the Gilded Age (1870’s – 1900) bears consideration:  “Political corruption was rampant, as business leaders spent significant amounts of money ensuring that government did not regulate the activities of big business – and they more often than not got what they wanted. Such corruption was so commonplace that in 1868 the New York state legislature legalized such bribery.[51] Historian Howard Zinn argues that the U.S. government was acting exactly as Karl Marx described capitalist states: “pretending neutrality to maintain order, but serving the interests of the rich.”[52]” – Wikipedia

Sound familiar?   Pretend it isn’t so.  Pretend Hillary will do a 180 on the robber barons of the 21st Century and fight to fix it.   Or that anti-unionist,  Rand Paul,  who opposes abortion rights and gay marriage while favoring increased military spending and taking even more from the poor to give to the rich, is a viable alternative.    He’s all over the board, with a sound argument for restoring constitutional rights but voting against reforming the NSA.   His strategy, apparently, is to generate backing from confused moderates and some liberals who can’t see themselves backing Hillary because of her Wall Street (and other) baggage.   Generating confusion could be intentional.   Or perhaps, since this is all about winning, like a blind man in a tunnel he’s making things up as he feels his way along.  A convenient strategy for someone who doesn’t want to be nailed down to specific issues, which appears to be what Rand Paul is up to as he ducked one question by walking out on the interview and another by shushing a reporter, although it’s difficult to say.

We should be so much better than this.    There is some consolation in knowing any Democrat will be better than any Republican, as the GOP continues doing all it can to take us back to the Middle Ages with barons and earls sitting on hilltops overlooking millions of peasants below, begging for scraps to survive.   Some consolation, not much.   It’s admittedly marginal, but the margin is there.

There’s a whole family hanging out at my local market these days, mom, dad and two kids, all begging for scraps.   “Lost my job,” says the sign the head of the family holds.   And this is an upscale neighborhood.    Before the Neocon takeover pushing our political system so far to the right that it’s bumping up against fascism, NAFTA, the WTO, the Reagan tax cuts for the rich and and the off-shoring of millions of good jobs, there were no homeless on the streets in my part of Los Angeles.  Detroit, and other American cities were not in bankruptcy.  This is scary.  It’s also unnecessary.   And it all started with “Reagonomics” in the 80’s to be carried forth by Republicans and Democrats alike.

Representative democracy in America is barely existent.  It went to the highest bidder with the blessing of a shameful Supreme Court,  who declared money is speech and speech is money and corporations have the same legal standing as people, while the media, like a watchdog chained out in the barn,  prattles on, mostly acting like it’s business as usual.    It’s not.   The country has been hijacked.

We keep repeating the same mistakes.  And Jeb Bush, is “excited, ” while Ted Cruz goes on Obamacare and the ghost of Ayn Rand picks up her Social Security check.  Now there’s some real news.

 

“Miracle” – A Poem

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Miracle
by Ron Olsen

I had no idea
Youth would ever appear so glorious
So grand
So endearing
So unattainable

When you can actually see the end
That spot where the journey eventually runs out
And you know it’s coming
And you cannot slow its approach

When you are no longer immortal
Not of this Earth
And you have no choice
But to turn and face yourself honestly

You never were bulletproof after all
Even though you truly believed you were
Which may have worked even for just a little while

How else could you have survived this long?

I had no idea
Youth would ever appear so glorious
Even in all its confusion, ignorance and naivete
And yet

I would not trade what I am to reclaim a second of it
A minute of going back
Or even one day’s extension of being
Beyond my present

Some things cannot be changed
Some things come for us all
Like a poem in the night
That writes itself
While the poet merely bears witness

Amazed at the words
Wondering where they are from

“We are”
The siren sings
And that must be enough

It is, after all
A miracle

 
© Ron Olsen – 2015

Identifying The Enemy: Dick Cheney And The Neocon Right

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Dick Cheney’s latest assertion is that the world’s deal with Iran to control their development of nuclear power is akin to handing them nuclear weapons.   Of course Cheney, doesn’t put it quite that way, his assertion is that, “Obama’s about to give them nuclear weapons.”

Forget the other five major nations cutting the deal, in Cheney’s mind,  it’s all Obama’s fault.  That’s the blame-game the Republicans and their Neocon wingnuts have been playing for more than six years, and the game they continue to play, partly because there’s an election coming up, and partly because they are entirely fear-based thinkers.   Fear, is something they know how to use.

Instilling as much fear as possible in the hearts of all Americans was a most convenient technique for their power grab, with the Patriot Act at its center.

Fear-based thinking has taken us by the throat since a handful of crazies flew planes into the World Trade Center the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.   Admittedly, it was a terror creating situation and measures had to be taken.  However, letting fear dictate our actions going forward was entirely wrongheaded.    Giving the government absolute power through the Patriot Act, was perhaps the worst of all,  outstripping both the NSA and creation of the mammoth new and possibly unnecessary Department of Homeland Security.   But fear was dictating our actions and now the NSA  continues to conduct mass collection of what should be our private electronic messages with bogus “warrants” going out to cover tens of thousands of messages at a crack, while the military has the power to snatch any American off the street or out of his or her home without a warrant and without any appearance in any court,  sending them to a holding cell somewhere in Turkey where they can be imprisoned indefinitely without the assistance of counsel.

We’re supposed to be better than  this.

You can be “rendered” to some stinking cell in some foreign nation until you rot, and there is nothing you can do about it.   That, is absolute power.   To the best of my knowledge, the principles of “rendition” and the absence of any requirement for due process for someone suspected of having a connection to any kind of terrorist plot (whatever that might be)  have been extended with each new approval of the Defense Appropriations Act even though the Patriot Act has ceased to exist.   The situation is so confused and the waters so muddied that it’s difficult to know what’s happening with regard to the fear motivated attack on our constitutional rights.

This is what’s wrong with fear-based policy and it’s bastard child, absolute power.  It eliminates our freedom.   Moreover, once a government begins using fear to control the populace, it can’t stop.  If it does, if the populace returns to calm and sane thinking, then the government loses absolute control.    This isn’t anything new, it’s been axiomatic for years.   The Nazis used it as a prime motivator.  Throw a big enough scare into the populace and they’ll let you do almost anything that may or may not be necessary to protect the “homeland.”

We would do well to remember the words of Benjamin Franklin, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Hear, hear.   We would all be so much better off if Dick Cheney and his fear-based Neocon minions from hell would shutup and go away.  They’ve already done almost incalculable damage.   But the lightning is out of the bottle.  We have to somehow figure out a way to stick it back inside.  Or, conversely, we can put our absolute faith in the federal government, trusting them to do the right thing.

The News Biz – Who Are You Gonna Believe?

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I’ll tell you up front that this will be one of those “when I got into the tv news business” stories.  If that’s a problem for you, too bad.

When I got into the business of television news reporting,  which at the time was generally regarded as a legitimate form of Journalism, it was understood that anyone who knowingly manufactured information  was out on his or her ass.   The same, but to a lesser degree, went for any reporter who failed to corroborate information before putting it on the air.   You might not be fired for it, but at the very least there would be serious consequences for dragging the validity of an entire news organization into question.

Standards for the reporting of news on television and radio were taken  very seriously.   We were upholding the public trust, on both the local and national levels.  If we lost that, we lost everything.

It’s fascinating that we are now in a time when there are high-profile apologists for both Brian Williams and more recently, Sabrina Rubin Erdely of Rolling Stone.

No need to wonder why the news biz has lost its credibility.

Who are you gonna believe?

Identifying The Saboteurs Among Us

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When did progressive or “liberal” politics become synonymous with what was once regarded as “common sense?”   Something as simple as the good of the many taking precedence over the good of the few?   A principle called the “common good,” which was still around when I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s.

There was real comfort in knowing that while conservatives and liberals in Washington might disagree, eventually they would come up with a compromise with the good of the nation, not the good of one party or another, at its center.   That comfort factor, that assurance that our elected representatives would do what was best for the country, no longer exists.

Could it possibly be tied to the shift away from the conservative values of people like Dwight Eisenhower, Everett Dirksen and even Richard Nixon and over to the madness and self-centered nonsense of that  which currently passes for the Republican Party?

Think about it for God’s sake.   This current batch of Neocons and Tea Party wingnuts has pulled the nation so far to the right that even the politics of Dick Nixon appear to be progressive.

We’re through the looking glass, people.   We have got to admit it to ourselves and do something about it.

Reports indicate that Iranians are celebrating in the streets following the Obama Administration’s successful preliminary deal on controlling the development of nuclear power in Iran.    That should be good, right?   Isn’t it in our interest to be friends with Iran in the pursuit of peace rather than being threatened by an ever-spreading war in the Middle East?

And yet, those on the right will condemn the deal, because they care more for party politics than the country they pretend to represent.   They will condemn it, because they have taken an oath to condemn everything and anything the Obama Administration does, regardless of the impact their action or inaction has on the United States.

Isn’t that aiding and abetting our enemies?   Aren’t they committing a form of treason, albeit a kind of “backdoor treason” that might be difficult to pin down in a courtroom?   Isn’t that always the way for tyrants who know they might eventually have to squirm out from under a pile of invective, half-truths and outright lies they accumulate over time?

When will these contemporary Republicans put what’s best for the country ahead of their need to attack this current commander in chief?  Apparently, they won’t.  The question then becomes, how can they be held accountable?

The common sense answer is once again, coming from the left, from Anna Galland,  Executive Director of MoveOn.org. 

Galland writes-

“Today’s historic announcement of a strong framework between Iran and six world powers to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon is a breakthrough achievement and testament to years of tough, courageous, and principled negotiations.

“This is perhaps the most significant foreign policy accomplishment of the Obama presidency, and offers the promise of a peaceful path with Iran, rather than a rush into an unnecessary war. We applaud President Obama, Secretary Kerry, and Secretary Moniz for this diplomatic achievement. For years, MoveOn members across the country have stood beside President Obama, fought for diplomacy, and urged their representatives in Congress not to undermine these negotiations.

“Yet Republican war hawks—and too many Democrats who are siding with them—are continuing their crusade against the president and trying to sabotage this deal.

“Let me put this simply: The alternative to diplomacy with Iran is war. Any member of Congress who sabotages diplomacy is putting American lives at risk. MoveOn members across the country are mobilizing immediately in support of this framework, and we will hold any elected officials who sabotage diplomacy accountable for the rest of their political careers.”

There it is.  Common sense.   If this current batch of Republicans and some Democrats refuse to do what’s best for America, then Americans need to finally, hold them accountable.

This deal with Iran has yet to be finalized.   There is still plenty of time to sabotage the Obama Administration’s efforts, as the pact won’t be finalized until the end of June.    We all need to keep our eyes on those who oppose the negotiation with Iran, for they will be exposing themselves as true saboteurs who favor war over the potential for a lasting peace in the Middle East and North Africa, and party politics over America’s best interests.

For the good of the nation and the world, they must be recognized for what they are.  Anna Galland is right.  They must be held accountable.