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Sunday, February 19, 2012

What We Will Do If Climate Deniers Are Wrong

I've said consistently for the past couple years that if the climate change scenario was put into an 'off the cliff' scenario, we would fight to get the car under control and then worry about who was wrong later. But we're not because Big Money has paid scientists, the conservative media, and anyone else with influence to deny climate change. Criminally so.

So, when climate change gets to the undeniable point, here's what we will do: We will find the responsible parties. We will find the wealthy financiers. We will find the paid denier scientists. We will find the corporate executives. We will find major investors. And then we will have a trial. And then we will require them to build their own gallows. And then we will hang them by the necks until they're dead. In the public squares. And it will serve as a warning to generations to follow, in perpetuity, that if you lie and your lies affect the planet, humanity, our lives, or our livelihoods, we will find you, your family, and anyone who profited from your lies and we will execute them publicly, painfully, and to the last member of their families.

This is what we will do, and no power on Earth can stop us. You are warned.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Must Read

If you only read one long-form article on politics and the economy, read this one. After that, you'll know how to answer the conservatives who keep serving up bullshit and trying to make you think it's cake.

Bring Public Enemy #1 to justice

Typically, in US politics, we don't go after the liars, because we understand that politicians ARE liars by nature. But the current crop of conservatives, many of whom are Tea Partiers, have gone beyond simple politics and have engaged in treasonous behaviors. For example, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said after the infamous 2011 debt ceiling increase debacle that the US's credit rating was "a hostage worth ransoming". By that admission, he stated that he and his fellow Republicans knew, and approved of, the coming credit downgrade, and that they approved of it as long as it resulted in political gains for him and his cronies. Of course, the creditworthiness of the US doesn't affect his real constituency, the wealthiest 400 people in the nation, it only affects those who can't secure loans from other sources and so end up paying more in interest than they would have if the nation's credit rating hadn't been downgraded. McConnell and his buddies screwed the entire nation in order to support the ones who least needed it. By any other name, that is treason. And treason is a capital offense. More on that later.

McConnell isn't alone in Washington, D.C., he has friends like Eric Cantor who seconded the charge on the national prestige and who helped him put the shaft to the country for political capital. And others from the sidelines included Sarah Palin, the usual radio trash like Limbaugh and Beck, Newt Gingrich, and a plethora of middlemen who sought to ride the Tea Party Express to fame and fortune. Instead, they rode the train off the tracks in the fashion of the 1970s-era poster which adorned the walls of many of us who were teenagers then and featured the two gentlemen standing aside and looking at the derailed train with the caption, "Oh, shit!"

The United States's 'Oh, shit' moment came when our credit rating was downgraded.

The same posse of incomprehensible, treasonous behaviors continues to ride and its now lead by Grover Norquist, a man whose concern for his country is devoid of reason, thought, or rationale that doesn't include cutting taxes. The fact that the nation has prospered when the tax rate was higher eludes him, not that he would care to acknowledge the fact, anyway. He has callously thrust aside historical truths which show his idol, Ronald Reagan, acting prudently 11 times in his 8 years in office by raising taxes in order to pay the nation's bills. That's an immutable fact, yet Norquist tries to spin it in his favor. He has held the intent of reason of GOP lawmakers in contempt and has forced them to sign his treasonous pledge not to raise taxes. If you want to point to a single person who's most responsible for the collapse of our nation's infrastructure, the rust of American industry, and the common sense that says if a bill is due, you must have the funds to pay it and you can't continue to pay the bills by simply cutting funding for other projects. It's crazy. It's insane. It's treason. And he needs to pay the ultimate price for his treason.

Our nation holds treason as a capital crime. Norquist's crimes are treasonous. He has single-handedly brought down the house that great Presidents have engineered and the sweat of American workers built. The great edifice of American strength has been crumbled by a single traitor, and the Republican party has hoisted him onto their shoulders for doing so.

You'll know this is true by this sign, that our great republic is weaker today than it was 20 years ago.

And you'll know the traitor by name by the proof of his authorship of the one document that he alone has championed and which has lead our nation to ruin.

His name is Grover Norquist, and he is Public Enemy #1. Demand that he be brought to justice and when found guilty, and he will be, demand that he pay the price for treason with his life.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

America the Dumb

As I watch the daily news cycle, I'm constantly amazed at how Americans are talked down to by the media; this is even more true about the conservative media who consider themselves smarter than the rest of us. How can you tell? How many conservative radio schlock jocks are there compared to liberal ones? They even have their own TV network. While talking down to voters has been true for a while in politics, it's taken a new turn with the inclusion of national conservative figures like George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, and Rick Perry. Collectively, these three aren't capable of being a dog catcher in a progressive industrialized country like Finland.

So how did we get here and where are we going? Well, we got here when the GOP decided that it was better to say whatever they needed to say to get elected, but to then do whatever they wanted to do after getting into office. Politics ceased being about the candidate who's best suited to fulfill the duties of his office and started being about whom the party cognoscenti could coach and get elected. In our lifetimes, it began with Ronald Reagan, an actor given lines to read and who put on an Oscar-quality performance for 8 years, even when he was unfit to lead due to the Alzheimer's that Nancy and her coterie kept from the public.

Why would the GOP want to dumb down America? Because smart people can see through the lies and would never allow them to wrest power from the electorate. The GOP had an image problem after Nixon soiled the office of President, and along came Ronnie RayGun riding a white horse into the White House. He was the perfect foil; he sounded genuine, he talked like Joe Six-pack, and he was a true believer. All they needed to do was to paint Jimmy Carter as an elite, something that they're trying to do again with Barack Obama,  and they had their man with the plan.

So who did they go after first? Well, if you're in the United States and you're looking for a body of people who have absolutely no critical thinking skills, who act in lock-step, who are monolithic in thought, you go to church. American Evangelicals are reared into a religion that stifles creative thinking, critical thinking, and just plain old thinking, period. Why? Because the guise of Christianity is so thin that having people think is tantamount to having them ask questions about the inconsistencies in the bible, and in their 23,000+ denominations. By the way, why ARE there 23,000+ Christian denominations? And each one thinks that only they have all the answers. Yet, when pressed, they'll clump together like so much fecal matter and shout down anyone who questions their beliefs. They'll scream that it's they who are being repressed if you complain that their religion is in your face every day, and that it's their demagoguery which has brought America to its knees. They've fought science at every turn to the point that science is taught in schools with a bent toward their mythology, Creationism, rather than the true path of Evolution. Is it any wonder that American school kids lag behind the rest of the industrialized world in math and science when what they're taught is at odds with the truth? It's shameful. And they've been duped into thinking that they're right. America lost its way the day we stopped following intellectuals and started following myth.

This morning, I watched a series of videos filmed in a small town in Minnesota. The interviewer was unbiased and was very neutrally trying to understand what people thought about government entitlement programs. The interviewer pointed out that those drawing Social Security today bring in 3 times more, adjusted for inflation, than they paid into the system. And in every case but 2, the people interviewed believed that they were exceptions to the rule, and that they had somehow earned the 3x payout. And in every case but 1, they considered themselves conservatives. I would like to see a similar set of interviews where people are asked who voted back in the 1980s for Social Security privatization. How would they feel today with no income? What? That's right, no income. Why? Because with two major recessions - that caused by 9/11 and then the Great Recession - their income would have been wiped out. Completely. The politicians who proposed that Social Security be privatized - and they're still at it - have cleverly avoided pointing out that they proposed that it would not be regulated by any government agency, that it would be governed by the free market. In that case, small investors, who would make up the vast majority of a privatized Social Security, would have been among those who lost everything in the Great Recession, and that the earlier 9/11 recession would have taken some out then. Ask people what they think about that and you get stony silence. I know. I've asked. I asked people at my mother's doctor's clinic when I've taken her to appointments. I've asked at the VA hospital when I've gone to my own appointments. Someone always blurts out that the government wouldn't have let them go without income. But that's wrong; the politicians - conservatives - who proposed privatization have all also proposed a laissez-faire system, letting the market rise or crash as it would with no oversight. None. And there are far too many people for the government to have picked up from the crash since Social Security would have been de-funded when privatization took effect. People get very quiet when you point this out, although there's always someone who thinks that he's outsmarted reality. IN reality, those people have to ignore some iron rule or another to arrive at their conclusions.

In those videos, this morning, there was person after person justifying why they should get 3x more than they paid into the system. All conservatives. All claiming that there were too many people with their hands held out. All ready to jerk the rug out from under someone else. All good, solid citizens. And every one of them was a hypocrite. Or as I refer to them, "Good Christians".

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Journalistic Integrity Weekly Cable News Magazine

Every day, I read the news, watch the news, listen to the news, and I try to get news from a variety of sources so that I get a good cross sample of what's going on. I read the traditional sources, the newcomers; the liberal, the conservative; the sane, the not-so-much; the rational, and the irrational. I've always felt, about a great many things, that the truth isn't sequestered on the extreme, but exists somewhere in the logical center. 

Increasingly, I find the logical center harder to find. Or more correctly said, harder to define. The lines get blurred and the small, hard center of truth which once existed has now become a large, fuzzy bullseye with annular rings of varying truth-saturation. One journalist might sound sane until you get right to the end of the article, then he blows it with an off-the-deep-end assessment or prognostication. Some are just bat-shit crazy, and for the instant recognition of that their writing brings, we thank them. 

It's those who are 95% right, and 5% crazy old cat lady unbalanced that concern me most. Because they SOUND like they're making sense; I mean, the first 1950 words of their columns will be dead-on accurate, but suddenly Pee Wee Herman channeling L. Ron Hubbard takes over and the reason we have 10% unemployment is that aliens are informing the current administration's economic policy. 

Um...whiskey tango foxtrot, over?

The truth is always being means-tested by various organizations. Manufacturers claims get tested by organizations like Consumers Union and Underwriters Laboratories. Food producers face the truth test via the USDA; drug makers by the FDA. Boeing and Airbus must run their truths through the Danger Zone at the behest of the FAA, and for politics we have PolitiFact and FactCheck. puts urban myths' feet to the fire and all of the above deserve our thanks when they do their jobs right.

But where's the Gong Show for journalism? Yes, there's the Peabody awards and the Pulitzer, but those look to find the apex of reporting and writing, not the bottom dwellers. We need a cable show along the lines of Hillbilly Hand Fishing that sticks its varied and sundry appendages into the dark, muddy recesses of reporting, pulls out the 250-pound shitsucker, and throws him on the bank for the blistering light of public scrutiny to wither to jerky. 

There needs to be a highly visible public panel or discussion group or such - I'm thinking McLoughlin Group as the paradigm - where the dirtbags who soil our bandwidth get called to Jesus for an On-Air behind-the-woodshed dressing down when they fuck up. A Tim Russert-sort, beaming from ear to ear, to put them in an electronic full-nelson and give them noogies until they 'fess up would be my go-to guy as moderator. Air it on Sundays along with the other political magazines and make it high profile. Drag the bastards through the same mud they ooze onto otherwise inoffensive media and castigate the liars publicly.

Hell, it might even draw ratings, who knows?

Update: In a moment of rare mental clarity, I had an epiphany. Matt Taibbi for moderator. If anybody can spot a canard in the coal mine of journalism, it's him.