thinking about the world differently . . .
December 3rd, 2016

2016 Elections

Took place Nov. 8. It was yuge… Enough said. Seems like entire swaths of the Mercan population were thrpwn into sudden anxiety (maybe?) and uncertainty (quite likely.) What will future life in the USA look and be like.

Very good question.

The analysis is on high speed. Party entities are trying to figure out what they did right, or wrong, or both.

Seems like most analysis INSIDE party entities is hammering the same the same… New answers will probably not emerge, because the premises and assumptions are the same the same, but the population experienced something new this time around; two non-the-same candidates.

One was stifled half way towards the finish line (yeah, that’s Sanders) The other went on to become President-elect of the USA.

The “differentness” in this case is that both felt, sounded, perhaps even were taking a break from the established political framework.

Sen. Sanders broke early and although ran as a democrat, broke with the traditional lines of communication with voters, broke the norms in terms of messages, and did phenomenally well, till he foiled and declined to run on his own merits. Was he a real anti-establishment candidate? I am thinking yes, but I also think Sanders scared himself when he realized that he had a REAL shot. What a pity.

Trump kicked the GOP in the shins, maybe even higher, and managed to subvert the GOP to become his carriers of water and all other things he may need.

Whether he will be the anti-establishment president he seemed to promise is unclear. Let’s come back to that in a few weeks.

So we’ll see if the voters will be getting the change they really wanted in the political make up of the USA.

I am skeptical Trump is the harbinger of change.

November 28th, 2014

How democracy is practiced in most of the world

One of the mechanisms of democracy that facilitates representation of The People in the decision making process is “representative government” or “representative democracy”. All western democracies in the world today include this mechanism. In this scheme of governance, people select representatives which in turn represent the will of the people who elected them in the legislative body of the government. This is how it is SUPPOSED to work, but we all have witnessed various degrees of degradations of this mechanism and its distortions to suit other power centers. For example, we see the injection of large monies into the elective and legislative process, which lends the entities behind the money undue political influence. The Supreme Court of the USA established recently that corporations – inanimate entities created by humans – are endowed with “personhoods” and thus have certain rights as natural humans have, although not some of the obligations and burdens humans have (such as going to jail for legal transgressions!)

One of the themes of yesterday’s Thanksgiving celebrations in the USA and Canada was to give thanks for the freedom to live in a free country, elect political leaders and so on.

Wiley Miller is the artist behind the cartoon strip Non Sequitur. His view on our form of “representative government” is summarized in his strip for today which you can view online here:

nq141128

Let’s think over our “blessings”, be more thoughtfully critical of what they really are, and consider the adjustments to be made to accomplish true representation of people, and less of the “personhoods” of corpocracy and their oligarchic paymasters.

March 18th, 2014

Naked Aggression

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Pat Bagley is a liberal American editorial cartoonist and journalist for The Salt Lake Tribune in Salt Lake City, Utah, and an author and illustrator of several books.

Mr. Bagley (@Patbagley on Twitter) published the following on Twitter. I think he nailed it , huh?

naked aggression
November 8th, 2013

Amazing – THIS is the USA

It is not that image you may have in your mind. The REAL USA is this: According to numbers that were just released this week, 49.7 million Americans are living in poverty. That is an all-time record high.

On Nov 08, 2013 16:34 UTC the population of the US was 317,029,737, according to US Census Bureau. Employing the services of a calculator, it seems that 15.6% of the population of this wealthy nation (?) is poor!
And there is much much more. This article enumerates 21 hard-to-believe facts about America, the poor and the wealthy. [Update: This article was just given to me…]

The opening item was fact #5 from that article. Here is another:

#8 According to Forbes, the 400 wealthiest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans combined. So 400 people have more wealth in the USA than almost half the ENTIRE POPULATION of the same USA.

If you find this staggering and mind-boggling, you should. It means that the wealth transfer (a previously-visited motif in my blog!) continues apace, emptying your pockets and transferring its content to the pockets of the wealthy few. This is supported by fact #7 asserting that household incomes in the USA have declined over the past 5 years!!!

Here is another tidbit to drive home the point of wealth transfer: Fact #11 asserts that 18% of all food stamps in the USA are spent at Wal-Mart. You are aware of course (or are you?) that the Walton Family is the richest family in the USA and probably the world. In Forbes’ March 2013 Billionaires list, the name Walton appears in spots #11, 14, 16, and 17 with wealth totaling more than $107 billion. There are a few more Waltons on that list, but due to marriages they carry other names (suck as Kroenke, Laurie etc.)

Food stamps are financed by the taxpayers, you pay those taxes. Large sums enter the Wal-Mart coffers, and move to the pockets of the Waltons. the wealth transfer path is fairly straight forward – your pockets to the Waltons’ pockets.

Read the the article with the facts on wealthy and poor America – it’ll shock you!

So what can you do? A LOT! Vote with your dollar – DO NOT buy anything at Walmart. Vote with your dollar – DO NOT buy products from companies that participate in the wealth transfer. Vote with your dollar – change your lifestyle to rely on LESS items that are highly processed. You get the drift…

July 26th, 2013

The Common Ingredient

What do jet fuel, electrical transformers and breakfast cereal have in common?

BHT.

BHT is short for butylated hydroxytoluene and it is an organic compound that is used as an antioxidant additive in jet fuels, electrical transformer oil, and breakfast cereal.

Found this list of 25 Craziest Food Additives on a website listing all sorts of “List of of 25” items, many quite astonishing!

May 29th, 2013

Happy Days Are Here Again…

My least favorite politician is hanging up her tongue – finally! Congresswoman Michele Bachmann who represents (nominally) the people of the 6th Congressional District of Minnesota announced she is not going to run for another term in Congress.

I said above that she nominally represents the 6th District. I stand by that. Her representation is ideologically motivated, and she only represents the interests of Michele Bachmann and the Tea Party supporters who keep sending her truckloads of money in campaign donations. She also represents quite consistently the interests of the 1%ers in this country, while giving lip service to her concern for the country and its people, the financial stability and viability of the economy of the USA (which she probably has no understanding beyond what 1st grader has!)

Bachmann is also a dangerously corrosive and divisive player in American politics, undermining discourse with her utterly ideological stance and lack of understanding. She tends to whip up emotions in large groups of audiences and they go forth leming-like in Nazi troop formations to do her bidding, not asking questions, not being concerned about their leader’s ethics or the morality of their mission. In that, she represents an imminent danger to the democracy that she alleges she protects.

But for now, she is out of contention.

In her speech (see below), she left open the possibility that she will consider anything that “will help save and protect” the USA. I read that as anything that she is assured to win and will fill her bank account with more $$$.

Her opponent, Jim Graves, whom I met and respect a lot, must be happy although concerned with what else the GOP in the District will stand up as an opponent against him. You can see two interviews with Jim Graves on Access to Democracy here and here.


 

May 24th, 2013

Cut it, cut that branch you are sitting on!

In my own backyard in MN, in Minnesota’s Congressional District 2, we have a Congressman, John Kline, in Washington who has a problem: He is married to ideology – one of kowtowing to the rich, to the mighty, and to those who presumably benefit his political campaign to run again.

He is uniquely uninterested in his constituency. In previous runs for Congress, his opponent documented extensively how Kline had the most abysmal record of benefiting his Congressional District. He managed to secure $0.35 in Federal funds coming back to the district for every $1.00 the District sent to the Federal Government. He has held the US record in this incompetence.

Yes, he was elected again. He is the darling of ultra-right wingnut Conservatives in Minnesota. (I know, we welcome everyone to come live here, even this transplant Kline, and myself!)

He is quite a surviver! He voted against many veterans’ benefits because of some strange an unexplainable strategy of his own. Yet, Vets showed up for him and voted for him enthusiastically because he is Colonel in the military. His claim to fame: Carried the briefcase with the nuclear codes for President Reagan – in field conditions, under heavy fire, in the trenches, under harsh sun and in pouring rain… Wait… wait… I am confusing this clerk with some real serving military people.

In any case, Vets voted for him. We see this in the USA a lot. People vote vehemently and enthusiastically against their own interest and not even for someone of any moral stature and qualities that are overwhelming. Why? I dunno! I wish I knew.

Kline is chair of the Congressional Committee on Education and the Workforce. He renamed it from Education and Labor to Education and Workforce. This is a nod to his masters like the Brothers Koch et al. Labor has a positive meaning, a human component. But “workforce” is just a physics terms, like a bunch of robots, humans, and some animals, all working together for the Masters.

Anyway, Kline’s grand achievements in the last two years can be written inside the space of this letter -> 0 < - see? But now he is making up for the paucity of action with the latest attack on the middle class: The "Smarter Solutions for Students Act", John Kline-sponsored H.R. 1911. This bill, just passed by the House. will make students pay more in student loans. Here is how: The bill scraps the 3.4% fixed rate on student loans. It is not much, and it is a fixed rate. It allows students to plan their way through school and after they come out of school and join the labor force (Ooops!!! "workforce"!!!) So this rate goes away and it is replaced with a 2.9% rate PLUS market rate on such loans. Banks are salivating! The market rate is determined largely by what they charge, so they can easily influence the rates to climb. The banks gain – The Rich Masters can get RICHER! 

Students: Yeah, well, screw them. They are just “work force”, who cares?

That they have to contend with fluctuating (probably more often than not, rising!) rates and planning and budgeting is out the window, who cares? certainly not Kline!

He has his little pension from the House assured, and his little pension from the Military assured. WE ARE paying for it.

Obama, in a flash of benevolence towards the non-rich, threaten to veto the bill if it reaches his desk. I hope he remembers that promise.

Back to the title: Young voters are growing in numbers among voting masses. Young voters are often saddled with student loans – some in the hundreds of thousands! Young voters are increasingly getting upset about the lack of representation they have in Washington – and are more readily inclined to send the old goats (Kline among them!) packing to graze on some mountainside.

I hope that the young voters also realize that it is THEIR PREROGATIVE to vote changes in the terms of pension of the goats like Kline – he felt comfortable breaking promises to them.

We have in the District an option now, Mike Obermueller. He is a man with integrity and compassion. I urge you all to support Mike Obermueller and send Kline into retirement in 2014.

It is a dangerous and divisive politics Kline is playing on the backs of his constituency and in favor of his rich Masters. Don’t feel so confident cutting that branch, Rep. Kline!

March 31st, 2013

The New Landscapes

The Online magazine Slate published an interesting article about a Chinese-born and Beijing and Australia-educated artist, Yao Lu, and his art.

Here is an example of what he does:

Yao Lu 2007 Autumn Mist in the Mountain with Winding Streams

While this picture looks … well, picturesque, and a cultural sequel of the Chinese fine landscape art of the past, careful examination reveals that the scene is an orchestration garbage mountains.

So much for modern day technology improving our lives.

The article has many more images and some interesting narrative by the artist. Worth clicking through.

February 11th, 2013

The Dummification of America

Paul Krugman wrote another fine article in the opinion page of the NY Times.

It is about the adamance of the GOP to push through an agenda of dumb, dumber, and just plain stupid for America.

This time it is GOP Rep. Eric Cantor speaking about policy and spouting irrelevant and plain silly ideas.

Mr. Krugman also mentioned as supporting evidence the July 2012 momentous occasion when the Texas GOP’s Party Platform included this passage on education:

Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

God forbid, kids will develop thinking skills and be able make choices and decisions based on analysis and facts instead of hammered-in “fixed beliefs”.

We are marching gallantly towards the 15th Century!

As you read the article, pay close attention: you may not believe the other examples for deliberate dumbing attempts the GOP is doing, but what you read is right. The sources are all there, follow the links, lavish your eyes on the articles and resources. Your mind may reel, but you can probably control those convulsions. Good luck!

February 5th, 2013

God Loves the 1%ers

No Really! He does…

This fun article purports to explain, tongue very-very firmly stuck in cheek, how God views the 1%ers and the rest of us. Jesus, in this little tale, confirms the message.

It is fine reading but takes a wee bit more than watching Beyonce shaking her hair sexily (along with the rest of bootalicious herself! 😀 but I am sure you can do it…

January 28th, 2013

Political Sleaze Takes the Unknowing to the Cleaners

Gene Weingarten wrote a great little article published on Jan 22, 2013 in the Washington Post Magazine.

In it – tongue in cheek, firmly – he parodies the greedy adventures of that quintessential vulture Dick Armey.

it appears that said vulture is now taking the Tea Party to the cleaners. I hold little empathy for the Tea Partiers as a political movement. In fact, I feel they are outright dangerous.

Still, I want to believe they went into their political enterprise honestly believing their cause. Their great Führer, Dick Armey, seems to have been on the take and now seems to continue taking the movment.

Enjoy Gene’s piece, nice work.

January 2nd, 2013

Representing the People? Pshaw… [updated]

After the vote on the “fiscal cliff” (another con job on the People, we’ll deal with it later…) The House went home! There are thousands and thousands of people barely getting by on a daily basis in areas affected and devastated by Hurricane Sandy. They need federal assistance. That assistance is a decision that the House of Representatives need to take. But nope! These alleged “representatives” took themselves home. When the banks were in jeopardy and needed money to continue fleecing everyone, these same people stayed over time, stayed in the capital city stayed “on duty”! No one’s life was in jeopardy, just the wealth of the 1% – remember this…

Now we are told the financial assistance legislation will have to wait until these royalty deem the suffering of these people necessary to deal with. How disgusting. (I include in my disgust Democrats as well as Republicans! Selfish creatures all!)

I say, KICK THOSE BASTARDS OUT OF OFFICE NOW! They should be ashamed of themselves! 

The people of this country should have ZERO tolerance of these bastards. The gall…

[Update: It seems that I actually have a heavy-weight GOP agreeing with me – Chris Christie, New Jersey Governor. (Apologies for the light-weight pun…) Gov. Christie announced: 

“There is only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said Wednesday. “The House majority and their speaker, John Boehner.”  (Washington Post Report)

What a rare occasion!]

December 21st, 2012

Tell us how you really fell about them…

Tonight, before the end of the world 😀 Robert Reich took some time and posted this on his blogsite. It was about the monumental failure of the GOP in Congress to counter-punch the Obama administration and DO SOMETHING!

Speaker Boehner pushed through his “Plan B” that was going to raise taxes on earners of $1m. and higher by expiring their Bush-era tax break. But Boehner could not find the votes in the House and withdrew the legislation. The plan was going to affect 0.0033 (1/3rd of one percent) of the richest people in the USA, about 400,000 in number, according to Mr. Reich’s article.

Mr. Reich wrote 2 concluding paragraphs in the article describing the Republican Party. I enjoyed reading these:

It has become a party that routinely shills for its super-wealthy patrons at a time in our nation’s history when the middle class is shrinking, the median wage is dropping, and the share of Americans in poverty is rising. 

It has become a party of spineless legislators more afraid of facing primary challenges from right-wing kooks than of standing up for what’s right for America.

Mr. Reich, can you be more open and tell us how you really feel about the Republicans in Congress? Please, don’t hold back..

[Robert Reich is a professor of Public Policy at University of California at Berkeley, and before served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. He has written thirteen books, and is a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause.]
December 20th, 2012

Living in a cage

There are laws in the United States against cruelty to animals. Most States exempt animals raised for human consumption from these laws. In other words, if you will not eat your dog, you cannot keep it caged all its life in a cruel manner. But it is ok, if you will eat that dog.

Similar logic applies to chickens (hens, really) raised for their eggs. They are caged in tiny cages most of their lives and it is all about production, production, production. The fact that these hens cannot spread their wings, and barely have room to move, unless they move in unison with the other hen in their cage, that is not considered cruelty, thus the laws barring animal cruelty do not apply.

In an article from November 27, 2012 in GLOBAL POSSIBILITES, writer Casey Coates Danson tells how the days of animal factory farms may be coming to a screeching halt in Australia. 2 supermarket chains, accounting for 80% of their market, are moving away from pork and eggs that have been grown in animal factories.

Can this happen in the USA? Surely, but for the lack of gumption of people who buy the products offered. I count myself among them. I do not buy much pork, but I do buy eggs and I do not insist on cage-free egg production from my eggs. If I did, and thousands more joined me, we could tell a similar story about our own supermarkets.

Perhaps more chapters in this story will be written here!

Meanwhile, consider the cage we live in, stuck with products that are provided by corporate giants, that have zero interest in all considerations but the absolute last nickel in their P&L. Do we also live in a cage? It seems so.

 

You can read more interesting articles written by the same author at the website above. One fascinating article was about the hidden costs of using toilet paper. The video in the brief article is worth watching! (if the video window below does not play for you, click the word “vimeo” on the dark bar and it should open the clip in Vimeo’s site directly…)

October 16th, 2012

Time to UN-Friend Facebook?

CNNMoney.com Senior Writer Jennifer Liberto reports today that following their review of Federal elections records, they find that Facebook’s political action committee favors GOP somewhat. Republicans got $140,000 vs Democrats only $127,000.

This is not a landslide, nor are the amounts stunningly amazing, but it also indicates that Facebook is awakening to the need for it to lobby and influence legislation in its own favor. One wonders, might they have some plans to screw some of their subscribers somehow and obtain protection via favorable legislation? Hello? Are there really such questions?

Some comments in the article were clearly not complimentary of Facebook, and none of the 13 comments I read were defending Facebook.

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