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Friday, December 4, 2009

Little Green Footballs Blog: Why I Parted Ways With The Right

I've never considered myself to be anything close to a conservative. I have even less in common with extreme right-wing thinking, so don't misinterpret this posting because of the title.

I'm compelled to post this link mostly for the benefit of all of my conservative friends. It's your wake up call.

/span/a/divWhy I Parted Ways With The Right

You and anyone else who still considers themselves as conservatives better take back control of your beliefs and your movement. If there's even the slightest shred of intellect left in conservative thinking - a trait completely lost by your current lot of self-proclaimed leaders and media mouthpieces - then you need to start calling out the nuts for who and what they are. Your silence is at the very least disappointing apathy and at the worst complicity.

You are allowing whack-jobs, nut cases, and downright hateful people to usurp your causes. Only you can do something about it; otherwise, enjoy the social fringes as your numbers continue to dwindle.

And let's not pretend - if you're a conservative you are a Republican, and your numbers are falling.


Monday, October 26, 2009

When Will Rational People Take Back Conservatism from People Like Rush?

For those who missed it:

Rush Was Punked: “Obama Thesis” Hoax

The evidence just keeps piling up, doesn't it? Of late, there's the ongoing lies about the MIT report on climate change and the refusal by some to stop misquoting and misrepresenting it. Now this. The level of desperation and complete lack of ethics and integrity is awesome.

I'm thinking that self-described "conservatives" ought to be getting more than a little nervous. Conservatism is rapidly becoming synonymous with fanaticism. Unless rational people take back the cause and start to ostracize lunatics and liars like Limbaugh, Beck, O'Reilly, Coulter and all the rest, your ranks are going to continue to shrink. Those people aren't journalists or news people, they're commentators. Actually, they are snake oil salesmen. They know how to make a buck from a gullible audience!

I know, I know. I'm running the risk of offending someone by implying that listeners of Rush, Fox News, and the like are gullible. How about naive? Overly trusting? Seems tame, actually, to some of the names I've been called. Besides, I'm not name-calling. I'm just offering my observations and describing them in general terms.

Look, Rush's only talent is to spin. At the end of the day, that's all Fox News does, too. Yes, I do watch it. Not with any devout regularity, mind you. Mostly on Sunday mornings as I tend not to watch very much TV.

Slogan or not, Fox News does not report and let you decide. They comment and try to make you feel like you're some kind of an idiot if you don't see it their way, too.

And Rush's mea culpa ( is the real coup de grace. He's caught red-handed and has the audacity to try to reframe his being caught in his own trap of misinformation and commentary as unimportant and even ok. People have lied about him. And....and... and........besides.......he knows what's in the president's heart and mind even if the so-called story he was reporting isn't true.

Doesn't this tell any thinking and rational American that Rush and people like him have zero credibility? None. Nada. Zilch.

So, I'll say it. To all the Dittoheads out there - wake up. Your emperor and his court - all the "beacons" of neo-conservatism - have no clothes. They are entertainers. They are hucksters. They do and say anything that makes them money. And they make tons of money the way all money is made in media - from advertisers who, in the case of conservative talk radio and neo-con news outlets, want to reach what I think are probably the most gullible people in America - O'Reilly Factor watchers, Beckheads, the Savage Nation, and listeners of EIB.

If what I've written offends anyone, I am sorry you feel that way but I'm not sorry for saying it. If you're interested in helping me to understand why we should admire and respect nut cases like Rush, Beck, Savage, or the next layer of lunacy lorded over by Hannity, O'Reilly, Coulter and anyone else associated with conservative commentary or news, then I'm happy to have that discussion.

Just don't go all weak-kneed-nanny-nanny-boo-boo-Keith-Olbermann, ok? K.O. is simply the liberal mirror image of Beck. He knows how to make money by telling people what they want to hear, too.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Truth about CFLs

I received an email recently attacking "liberals" (not sure why they were singled out) for thinking we need CFLs and questioning their safety, so I did a little checking.

1.) Invent a reason for a revolutionary light bulb when none is needed.
  • CFLs use up to 75 percent less energy than incandescents
  • Each CFL can save up to $30 in energy costs over its extended lifetime
  • If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR® qualified bulb, it would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars.

Is there something wrong with saving money on our electric bills while burning less coal to produce that electricity?

2.) Invent a light bulb that requires a f***ing HAZMAT team to haul it away..
  • recycle them properly by wrapping them and dropping them off for safe disposal at a CFL collection site like Home Depot or Ikea, which also recycles batteries and other toxic household products.

I think we all have Home Depots or Ikeas within reasonable driving distances, and when was the last time any of us actually were clumsy enough to break a light bulb anyway? These bulbs last for years. When one does burn out, add it to your trip to recycle centers with glass, plastic jugs and bottles, newspapers, plastic grocery bags, metal and aluminum cans, and anything else that can be recycled.

3.) Invent a light bulb whose toxicity if broken in your home will f***ing kill you!!!!!!!!!!
  • According to the EPA, the amount of mercury contained in each bulb is an average of about four milligrams, which is roughly equivalent to an amount that would cover the tip of a ball-point pen. By way of comparison, older thermometers contain about 500 milligrams of mercury. It would take approximately 125 CFLs to match that amount.
  • Given the amount of energy and fossil fuels incandescents burn over their short life span, they emit more mercury (and other toxic chemicals like sulphur and nitrogen oxide) into the atmosphere than energy-efficient CFLs.
  • Thanks to technology advances and a commitment from the members of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, the average amount of mercury in CFLs will continue to decrease as time passes.

It doesn't seem like 4 milligrams would be deadly even if you somehow could extract all of it and somehow get it inside your body.

Compare that with all the additional pollution pumped into the environment by coal fired power plants to generate all the additional electricity needed to burn so many more incandescents versus the average 7 to 12 year lifespan of a CFL, and clearly the more deadly approach is the status quo.


Just in case anyone cares about the facts. ;-)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Medicare Denials Higher than Commercial Insurers?

Here's the version of the email recently sent to me:

According to the 2008 Health Insurance Report Card (PDF) released by the American Medical Association, the “carrier” with the highest percentage of denials is . . . Medicare.

Metric 12—Percentages of claim lines (i.e., records) denied

Description: What percentage of records submitted are denied by the payer for reasons other than a claim edit? A denial is defined as: allowed amount equal to the billed charge and the payment equals $0.

Source: NHXS


Count of records

Denied records

Percent of

claim lines


Date range





03/01/2007 – 3/10/2008





03/01/2007 – 3/10/2008





03/01/2007 – 3/10/2008





03/01/2007 – 3/10/2008

Health Net




03/01/2007 – 3/10/2008





03/01/2007 – 3/10/2008





03/01/2007 – 3/10/2008





03/01/2007 – 3/10/2008

My first reaction was to spend a few minutes simply looking at the table provided and thinking about what it meant. It was:

"So you're going to split hairs between Medicare and Aetna over 0.05% while Medicare processes 10 times as many claims and almost 7 times as many claims as the next largest processor, UHC?

That's something I call "reframing", (redacted friend's name), but I do appreciate the attempt.

Besides, statistically wouldn't it be fair to assume that the processing of the largest number of claims would yield the greatest likelihood of more denials?"

What's more telling on closer examination of the report card is that the commercial insurers are less efficient, less forthcoming with information, and more responsible for wasteful overhead than Medicare ever could be.

For example....

...CIGNA and Humana don't even reveal the date they receive a claim (Metric 1)

...while Medicare's median response time of 14 days (Metric 2) is among the longest, it's no longer than CIGNA and only one day longer than Aetna and Humana

NOTE: The "median" means the middle value, or the value at which there are an equal number of values above and below the median value. Think highway median dividing two sides of the highway equally. The "mean" is the arithmetic average. Further review of the details of Metric 2 show the following mean values:

Aetna: 13.81 days

Medicare: 13.83 days

CIGNA: 19.57 days

Humana: 21.85 days

...the coup de grace seems to me to be "Metric 5 - Contracted payment rate adherence" defined as, "On what percentage of records does the payer’s allowed amount equal the contracted payment rate?"

Medicare is 98.12%. The next closest is Coventry at 86.74%. Humana is 84.20%, Aetna is 70.78% and CIGNA is 66.23%.

Now I'm no expert, but it looks to me like commercial insurers don't seem to score very well at even paying what they contracted to pay. Some of them are getting what we called in school "failing grades."

And some of us think the big, bad government can't do things right? Please.

So if someone sends you something similar and wants to split hairs between Medicare and Aetna over 0.05% while Medicare processes 10 times as many claims as Aetna and almost 7 times as many claims as the next largest processor, UHC, then feel free to remind them that that is called "reframing the discussion." It's what people do when they want to cherry pick data, present it out of context, and without proper comparison to related data that forms the broader and more accurate picture.

Finally, the definition of "denial" seemed a bit unclear to me. I'm still not claiming to fully understand all of this but here is what it looks like to me.

Medicare's top reason for denying a claim (27.8%) is, "Claim/service lacks information which is needed for adjudication." Looks to me like something we call in the business world "cockpit error." Someone in the health care provider's office seems to have failed to fill out the form completely and/or correctly.

The carrier with the next highest percentage of denials, Aetna, has as it's top reason for denying claims (65.7%), "Payment adjusted because the benefit for this service is included in the payment/allowance for another service/procedure that has already been adjudicated."

Again, I'm no expert but I've raised 2 kids, have power of attorney for my aging mother, and have reviewed my fair share of claims. I think what this means - 2/3 of all their denials - is that they have made their plans and the processing of claims so complex as to result in 2/3 of denials being essentially a duplicative claim. No need for reform there, right?

CIGNA's top reason for denying claims (37.6%) is simply, "Deductible Amount." Again, I wonder how it is that just over 1/3 of all the denials end up being this. Could it be that CIGNA's plan definitions, processes, and claims processing are so confused and confusing that 1/3 of all denials are because the patient and health care provider claims administrator can't tell that the claim is part of a deductible? I don't know; just speculating.

So before anyone starts reframing the discussion and dissecting and distributing misleading or self-serving information, ask questions, do some homework, and challenge the assumptions and conclusions.

I'm on the record as supporting single payer. If this report card is any indication of how that might work under a government-run program, I'll gladly pay higher taxes instead of insurance premiums to companies that have never proven and still can't prove that they can do a better job.

"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."
Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Thursday, September 10, 2009

“California’s Real Death Panels”–Data Reveals California’s Private Insurers Deny 21% of Claims

"The insurance companies aren’t in business to provide care; they’re in business to make profits for their shareholders. One of the ways in which they make profits, the main way they make profits, is by collecting money from patients and from families and not paying money back in claims. They call it a medical loss ratio, every time they make a payment on a claim."
Charles Idelson, Communications Director for the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee.

Wendell Potter, whom you may recall from a previous email, is the former p.r. head at CIGNA also appears in this story.

So does a mother, Hilda Sarkisyan, who lost her daughter who needed a liver transplant but whose insurance company, CIGNA, reversed their decision to deny the claim too late and only after public outrage was raised.

If you bother to read or listen or watch this and still think that the status quo - a market-based health insurance industry without a public option - can be trusted to do what is morally right and humane; if you think that it's best for America that every single fellow American cannot get health care because they all aren't insured and can't get it or have their coverage dropped or denied, then I have to ask you if you are simply in denial about the realities of health care in this country, or are you just resisting change over petty partisan politics?

I actually hope it's one of those two because the only alternatives I can come up with are much less palatable. One other possible explanation that occurs to me seems to be that money must be more important than human life.

Those campaigning against change seem to be simply lying about the notion that if people who don't have health care suddenly have some means of getting it means it can only come from something that is taken away from those who do have it need to hear one word; Ridiculous.

Something else about all of this debate troubles me. Whatever happened to being a Christian nation and taking care of one another? Is the guiding religious principle really just "cafeteria Christianity", allowing people to decide which teachings to accept and which to ignore? Whatever happened to the "least of my brothers" teaching? I'm not at all qualified to comment on Christian dogma, but I don't recall anything from Catechism classes about any qualifications or fine print that went along with that lesson.

Or is the real religion - especially among conservatives, it seems to me - really about worshiping wealth and the aspirations for wealth and the acceptance that stepping on whomever's neck it takes to get to whatever your own definition of prosperity might be perfectly fine?

I mean, what other possible reasoning and rationale can their be for not putting private insurance companies on notice? What other reasons are there for resisting change and everything that doesn't have a certain political party's stamp on it?

Only in America, it seems, does greed and lust for wealth take precedence over proper medical care for every citizen and the humane treatment of fellow human beings.

Only in America would the same people who want to bring the Christian Bible into the public schoolroom while they overturn a woman's right to choose using arguments about protecting the unborn life be the same people who place more meaning on shareholder wealth than they do on the life of someone who needs health care and can't afford it. (While they tend, it seems to me, to ironically also be the biggest supporters the death penalty.)

Only in America would the argument against a public option be based on an unfounded fear that those who have health insurance might somehow lose what they have if the less fortunate among us were to now have it.

Sorry, but I see all of this as just being greedy and hypocritical. In fact, I think it's totally and completely reprehensible. It makes my blood boil that some of us in this country continue to choose to vilify the poor and less fortunate because, as we all know, they are just a bunch of lazy, good-for-nothing slackers who want to sponge off the rest of us and don't deserve any help, including affordable health care.

Let them die in the streets or in over-crowded and under-funded emergency rooms, right? Let's keep turning a blind eye to patient dumping? Let's not do anything to stop health care bills from bankrupting good old fashioned middle class American families?

Let's let kids who need transplants die?

And please don't tell me that you think it's the illegal alien who'll benefit from health care reform or that your new hero is that uncivilized and juvenile buffoon, Joe Wilson. I think the GOP can kiss another Congressional seat goodbye in South Carolina.

I don't mind telling you that I'm about this far away from being one of those Americans who has to go without any health care coverage. I'm out of work and can't afford a grand a month to pay for health insurance much longer. I'm not looking for pity or sympathy, just making it real for those too far on the right-of-center on this one.

What confounds me about the GOP and makes their position so completely unbelievable is their resistance to changing the system. The financial services industry proved that they cannot be trusted, and it seems painfully obvious that the health insurance industry cannot, either. More of the same is simply more wrong, and the Rs really have become the party of No on this issue. They seem to have had too little interest in compromising on anything when they were in power, and now the chickens have come home to roost.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Someone Want to Verify or Validate Please


Dear Anonymous of 9/24/11 (and all future visitors),

Thanks for the visit, the link and your comments.

No tin foil hats here.

The original post was in 2009. At that time, the site was different. It was much thinner in content and there was no advertising. See older posts for details on the changes I've observed. My suspicion, then as now, could be called a "conspiracy theory", I suppose, if you as the reader want to read more into the post and the subsequent discussion than is really there.

Two years ago I was asking questions based upon what I saw as some suspicious observations I was making. To date, no one has really addressed those observations.

1. It seemed to me that the timing of when this site was brought to my attention by an ultraconservative friend was suspicious considering it was W's debt, not O's.

No one can dispute that fact.

2. To this day, no one has stepped forward to indicate ownership of the site beyond what I found by checking the web site name's registration. There is nothing of significance on to identify who started, owns, or operates this site.

No one can, as of today, dispute that fact.

3. Why did I never get a response from the about any of these questions?

Unless someone wants to accuse me of lying, I did send that email 2 years ago and to this date I have never received a response.

So I ask you and all future visitors to please resist the temptation to jump to too many conclusions about me or anyone for that matter. Instead, I would ask that responses to the outstanding questions from the original post be the focus.

"Where was this site when W was running things into the ground at historic levels not seen since Reagen?"

"Did I just miss this site back then? Did no one think to send it to me back then? Why am I only getting it now?"

If anyone wants to address these issues, I'd very much like that. Thanks and have a nice day.


Ok, everyone has seen the link.

Well, you know me, the first thing I want to know is if this is verifiable?

The web site itself is very, very thin. It's the counting clocks page which some of us learned to program into 8086 microprocessors back in the day at PSU Lake Lehman, so I'm not impressed. They're freakin' counters, for chrissakes. I could probably still do the programming, and I haven't written a line of real code since 1984 in BASIC on a Radio Shack TRS-80.

There's no other web page except the About page. It has no information identifying who this dot-org is.

And, being the heathen that I am, I get immediately more suspicious any time I see the words "....and God Bless America!" preceded by "Thank you for your continued support..."What support? From whom? And for what nefarious purpose?

Where was this site when W was running things into the ground at historic levels not seen since Reagen? Did I just miss this site back then? Did no one think to send it to me back then? Why am I only getting it now?

Did someone wait until Obama came into this "inheritance" to try and make him look bad?

So, being the ever inquisitive liberal, I checked Snopes. Gasp! Nothing! Not to worry, I've sent them a note asking about it.

I then started searching all over the web trying to find out who this organization is and who owns the domain. Nothing. The domain is registered to a company called DomainsByProxy. (See

Hmmm.....wonder why someone would "hide" behind this sort of registration?

So I decided to ask using the only means offered on the web site; Again, no surprise that the only answer received so far is an auto response thanking me for my comments and for my support. What support?

You don't suppose that someone with an agenda might be making this site up just to try and create angst and anger, do you? You don't suppose it could be someone with a desire to try and make this mess look like it's the current administration's fault?

My email to them asked some really straight forward and simple questions. I'll let you know if I ever get a response.

If anyone knows anything more about this website, its origins and, most importantly, who is behind it I would like to know.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

More Lies from the Whacked Out Right; Why Not Register that Piece?

Just got an alarmist email from a right-wing associate yelling about how the sky is falling because of SB2099 and HR45.

SB 2099 - FALSE

It's a bill from 2000, for chrissakes.

Seriously, how much longer before we all take some responsibility as educated and rational adults to do our own homework and examine sources in order to determine their validity and truthfulness before going on our merry way and helping to perpetuate lies and misleading information? Doesn't anyone care if what they read is true or not? What, if it fits your belief system it must be true and is ok to send to others?


What I don't understand is why anyone has a problem with a gun registration requirement as it would be applied in HR-45. The actual bill is worth the read to understand the facts.

It applies only to a certain class of qualifying firearms (

The term 'qualifying firearm'--

'(A) means--

'(i) any handgun; or

'(ii) any semiautomatic firearm that can accept any detachable ammunition feeding device; and

'(B) does not include any antique.'.

So what's so wrong? I had to take a hunter safety course as a kid before I got a hunting license and voluntarily took it again as an adult. When guns are involved, it's worth having some knowledge about the rules and regulations, as well as guidelines for safety. I thought it was reasonable considering firearms are involved. I would have gladly had my picture taken and given them a thumb print. If you think you walk around in this world anonymously today, you really don't understand reality.

So why is the idea of registering the fact that you own a handgun or semi-automatic firearm such a big deal?

You can't get a driver's license without passing a test. You have to pay to renew it every 5 years and I am one of those people that favors testing the elderly and revoking their licenses if they present a safety hazard. If there's a time in your life when you're too young to drive, there could come a time in your life when you're too old, too.

You have to register your car when you buy it so that "the state" knows who owns it. You have to pay that registration fee every year.

Some states require you to register ownership of your quad, your snowmobile, and your boat. I would imagine fewer people would get killed every year if every state required "operator licenses" for these, too, that included a safety course akin to driver's ed. I'd support that. You shouldn't be allowed on the water or in the woods with these vehicles without some amount of training as there's too much opportunity for you to hurt yourself and others. Why do you think people have to pass a driver's test or a hunter safety course? Because you might injure yourself and, more importantly, others.

So what's the problem with registering something like a handgun or semi-automatic? Don't those items have more capacity to be used to kill someone better than anything else generally available to us citizens? Why is the idea of registered gun ownership so distasteful? Why shouldn't gun owners (like me) be held accountable for the proper storage and safe-keeping of those guns? Shouldn't we be held accountable to report a lost or stolen gun the way we are if our car is stolen?

Yeah, yeah, I know. This some sinister plot by Big Government to take away all our guns so we can't form militias to resist the next tyrannical leader who comes along. Please. In case you don't have a calendar, this isn't the 18th century. You're out-gunned. Even the world's shittiest military has you out-gunned. If you think the idea that your gun collection is what keeps you safe, you're......well, mistaken. You won't be able to resist government forces from your bedroom windows no matter how well armed you are and no matter how well you can "deploy the family."

And if you think the likelihood that you as a homeowner will be broken into or otherwise criminalized goes up because you have to register - not surrender, register - your piece is an argument I don't get either. What, the thing that keeps you safe is the possibility that you might be packing? Again, please. This ain't West Side Story, and the Jets and Sharks have you out-gunned, too.

Everyone has you out-gunned because there is too little accountability and responsibility on the part of gun manufacturers, distributors and owners. What do you think would happen to gun crimes if every single gun from cradle to grave was registered to someone? Do you think they'd end up sold on the streets, in pawn shops, or at gun shows to anyone and everyone? Not likely.

If you bought a 357 Mag or semi-automatic weapon, had to register it, you couldn't then get away with selling it and then claiming it was lost or stolen. You'd be responsible for that weapon and for at least reporting that it was lost or stolen.

It reminds me of the movie Tombstone, I think it was. "No one is saying you can't own a gun. No one is saying you can't wear a gun. You just can't wear your gun in town."

Enjoy that NRA Kool-Aid

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Transcript but Not a Translation of Sarah Palin's Resignation Speech

Transcription by Greg Russak, July 5, 2009, from

If anyone can translate this into something meaningful,
I certainly would be glad to see it.

Begin transcript

"I will not seek reelection as governor.

And so, as I thought about this announcement…that I wouldn’t run for re-election, and what that means for Alaska, I thought about….well, how much fun some governors have as lame ducks. They maybe travel around their state, travel the other states, maybe take their overseas international trade missions….so many politicians do that…..

Then I thought that’s what’s wrong. Many just accept that lame duck status. They hit the road. They draw a paycheck. They kind of’ milk it. And I’m not going to put Alaskans through that.

I promised efficiencies and effectiveness. That’s not how I’m wired. I’m not wired to operate under the same old politics as usual. I promised that four years ago and I meant it. It’s…That’s not what is best for Alaska at this time.

I’m determined to take the right path for Alaska even though it is unconventional and is not so comfortable. With this announcement that I’m not seeking reelection I’ve determined it’s best to transfer the authority of governor to lieutenant governor Parnell. And, I am willing to do this so this administration, with its positive agenda and its accomplishments and its successful road to an incredible future for Alaska… that it can continue without interruption and with great administrative and legislative success.

My choice is to take a stand and affect change….and not just hit our head against the wall and watch valuable state time and money…millions of your dollars…go down the drain in this new political environment. Rather, we know we can affect positive change outside government at this moment in time on another scale and actually make a difference for our priorities and so we will for Alaskans and for Americans.

Let me go back quickly to a comfortable analogy for me and that’s sports. Basketball. And I use it because you are naïve if you don’t see a full court press from the national level picking away right now. A good point guard…here’s what she does…she drives through a full court press, protecting the ball, keeping her head up because she needs to keep her eye on the basket….and she knows exactly when to pass the ball so that the team can win. And that is what I’m doing. Keeping our eye on the ball. That represents sound priorities. Remember, they include energy independence, and smaller government, and national security and freedom. And I know when it’s time to pass the ball for victory.

And I’ve given my reasons now very candidly, very truthfully, and my last day won’t be for another few weeks so the transition will be very smooth. In fact, we look forward to swearing in Sean Parnell up there in Fairbanks at the conclusion of our governor’s picnic at the end of the month.

And I really don’t want to disappoint anyone with this announcement….not with the decision that I have made. All I can ask is that you trust me with this decision and know that it is no more politics as usual. And some Alaskans it seems today….maybe they don’t mind wasting public dollars and state time but I do and I cannot stand here as your governor and allow the millions of dollars and all that time go to waste just so I can hold the title of governor. I don’t know if my children are going to allow it anyway.

Some are going to question the timing of this. Let me just say that this decision has been in the works for awhile. In fact, this decision comes after much consideration….prayer and consideration. And finally I polled the most important people in my life, my kids. Where the count was unanimous….well, in response to asking, “Hey, do you want me to make a positive difference and fight for all our children’s future from outside the governor’s office?” It was four yeses and one hell yeah and the hell yeah sealed it and someday I’ll talk about the details of that.

I…I think though much of it for the kids had to with recently seeing their baby brother Trigg mocked and ridiculed by some pretty mean-spirited adults recently. And by the way, I…I sure wish folks could ever understand…. all that we can learn…. all of us from someone like Trigg. I know he needs me, but I know that I need him even more. And what a child can offer to set priorities right. Know that time is precious. The world needs more Triggs, not fewer.

My decision was also fortified during this most recent trip to Kosovo and Landstuhl to visit our wounded soldiers overseas….those who truly sacrifice themselves in war for our freedom and our security. And we can all learn from our selfless, selfless troops. They’re bold and they don’t give up and they take a stand and they know that life is short so they choose not to waste time. They choose to be productive and to serve something greater than self and to build up their families and their states and our great country.

These troops and their important missions… now …there is where truly the worthy causes are in this world and that’s where our public resources should be….our public priority….with time and resources spent on that not on this superficial, wasteful political blood sport. So may we all learn from them.

Really….we just got to put first things first…and first things first as governor….I love my job and I love Alaska. And….it hurts to make this choice, but I’m doing what’s best for Alaska and I have explained why…. though I think of the saying on my parents’ refrigerator, a little magnet that says, “Don’t explain. Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe you anyway.”

But I’ve given my reasons. It’s no more politics as usual….and I’m taking my fight for what’s right for Alaska in a new direction. Now despite this, I sure don’t want anyone…any Alaskan…dissuaded from entering politics after seeing this real climate change that began in August. No, we need hard working average Americans fighting for what’s right and I will support you because we need you and you can affect change and I can, too, on the outside.

We need those who will respect our Constitution where government is supposed to serve from the bottom up and not move toward this top down big government takeover but rather will be protectors of individual rights who also have enough common sense to acknowledge when conditions have drastically changed and they’re willing to call an audible and pass the ball when it’s time so the team can win… and that’s what I’m doing.

Remember, Alaska, America is now more than ever looking north to the future and it’ll be good. So god bless you. And from me and from my family to all Alaska… you have my hearts and…. we’re going to be in really great hands… the capable hands of our lieutenant governor Sean Parnell and lieutenant general Craig Campbell then will assume the role of lieutenant governor and it’s my promise to you that I will always be standing by ready to assist. We have a good positive agenda for Alaska.

Take the words of General MacArthur. He said, “We’re not retreating, we are advancing in another direction.”

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Vilifying the Poor Part II - Facts About the GOP, Poverty and Unemployment

Daniel Patrick Moynihan is attributed with saying, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."

Many of my friends who are members of the GOP and proudly call themselves conservative - or at least would say they are way right of me - seem to cling to Reagan's belief in trickle-down economics. A recent email from one such friend said that his opinion was that "...the war on poverty and the Great Society are abysmal failures..."

My response was, "You can have your own opinions, but you don't get to have your own facts." The rest of this post offers some facts about the relationship between which party controls the White House and the affects on poverty rates and unemployment in America.

Here are a few sources of data - facts - that should offer a clear picture of reality if only one takes some time to look.

Census Bureau Poverty Data, 1959 - 2007 (from

A Visual Guide: The Balance of Power Between Congress and the Presidency, 1945-2010

Bureau of Labor Statistics' Employment status of the civilian non institutional population, 1940-2008

Here's how I interpret the facts presented in these documents.....

1. Poverty rates declined dramatically in this country from 1960 to 1970, after which they remained pretty much flat before rising again in 1979
Unemployment in America, BTW, had risen from 2.9% in 1953, Eisenhower's first full year after taking the reigns from Truman, to 5.5% in 1960, his last year in office.

2. JFK and LBJ held the White House from 1961 to 1969
Unemployment drops from 6.7% during JFK's first year in office in 1961 to 3.6% by 1968, LBJ's last full year in office.

3. Democrats controlled both houses of Congress from 1955 to 1979
Unemployment ranged from a low of 3.5% in 1969 to a high of 8.5% in 1975 (the heart of Ford's administration).

4. A Democratically-controlled Congress seemed to somehow overcome what can only be characterized as the failed presidency of Nixon and the stagnant presidency of Ford from the years 1969 to 1977, at least as far as poverty was concerned.
Unemployment, however, rises during the Nixon and Ford administrations reaching a high of 8.5% in 1975 and falling back to 7.7% in Ford's last full year in office in 1976.

5. The second half of Carter's presidency was marked primarily by inflation from rising oil prices thanks to our "friends" in OPEC and the image of weakness over the Iranian embassy.
Poverty begins to rise as his presidency comes to an end.
Unemployment had fallen during his first two years in office and was back up to 7.1% for his last full year in office, 1980.

6. Reagan's platform of smaller government and Reaganomics helped him to win the 1980 election.
Admittedly, he came into a bad economic situation but his cure seemed to be worse than the disease. Reagan succeeded only in introducing us for the first time ever to the word "trillion" as part of the national debt.

"By buying into the supply-side notion that the U.S. could cut income taxes while simultaneously paying for massive increases in defense and certain highly popular domestic programs, Reagan may be justly dubbed the Father of the 12-Digit Deficit."
The Federal Deficit, Time. June 1992. p2. (,9171,975829-2,00.html)

Prophetic in many ways considering W did exactly the same thing 20 years later - cut taxes and increase spending. We never learn....

7. Reagan's election helps the Republicans to take back the Senate but not the House.

8. Poverty skyrockets in Reagan's first term and begins a modest downward trend in his second term
Unemployment continued to rise - in fact, leapt - hitting highs of 9.7% and 9.6% in 1982 and 1983, rates that hadn't been seen in 40+ years.
Unemployment begins to decline in 1984 (how could it not?), hitting 5.5% his last year in office, 1988, perhaps thanks in part to the fact that Americans returned control of the Senate, and thereby Congress, to Democrats in 1987.

9. Bush 41 is elected in 1988 and poverty skyrockets again.
Unemployment is back up to 7.5% by 1992, GHWB's last full year at the helm.

10. Clinton is elected in 1992 and takes office in 1993.
Poverty drops dramatically from the start of and throughout his presidency guessed it....W takes office
Unemployment drops immediately in Clinton's first year in office, going from 7.5% in 1992 to 6.9% in 1993
Unemployment continues to fall during the Clinton administration, hitting a low of 4.0% in 2000, Clinton's last full year in office

(GOP took back the Congress in 1995 and held both Houses essentially for the next 10 years until the 2007 elections. Republicans have W to thank for that.)

11. W is elected in 2000
Poverty skyrockets again during his presidency
Unemployment didn't climb dramatically, but it did go up to a high of 6.0% in 2003 and was at 5.8% in 2008

The number of people living in poverty has generally trended upward and unemployment tends to rise whenever there's a Republican in the White House. This is especially true since the Reagan years but can be traced back to Eisenhower at least as far as the affect on unemployment.

I really don't see how or why the poor keep getting blamed. This question of the affects the poor have on the economy is really a pretty sad and tired red herring of the Right.

So, it's perfectly fine to have an opinion about whether or not J-Lo has too much junk in her trunk (haven't seen her lately, but I say no), or whether or not you like Ted Nugent's music regardless of his politics (I love his music and now no longer believe he never did drugs because he's clearly brain-damaged!) but you don't get to have your own facts.

If you want to debate cause and effect, that's ok. But what you cannot debate is whether or not poverty and unemployment go up when Republicans have been in the White House at least over the last almost 60 years. This is quite evident from the data presented here.

Vilifying the Poor - Rebuttal to Star Parker

So, a friend sends an email to me containing a piece written by Star Parker summarizing (pitching?!?!) her 6 year old book, Uncle Sam's Plantation. This was my response....

Let's face it. One has to deal in facts - true facts or lies that are claimed to be facts - to get the attention of Star Parker offers neither. She only has opinions. Maybe her absence from sites like Factcheck ought to be read as testimony to her utter irrelevance in the larger debate about federal spending, policy matters, budgets, and the poor.

In my opinion, she's nothing more than the African-American Ann Coulter. Have a listen to her at: She and Ann make about the same amount of sense to me, too.......none.

And it comes as no surprise to me that only the yellowest of all the news networks, The Hannity/Beck Network, would even care about what she has to say.

If anyone is interested in some facts about the programs she vilifies, here are some links you might find useful.
* Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF):
"Under the welfare reform legislation of 1996, (the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act – PWRORA – Public Law 104-193), TANF replaced the welfare programs known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) program and the Emergency Assistance (EA) program. The law ended federal entitlement to assistance and instead created TANF as a block grant that provides States, territories and tribes federal funds each year. These funds cover benefits, administrative expenses, and services targeted to needy families. TANF became effective July 1, 1997, and was reauthorized in February 2006 under the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005."

The Goals stated are
" States receive a block grant to design and operate their programs to accomplish the purposes of TANF.

These are:

  • assisting needy families so that children can be cared for in their own homes
  • reducing the dependency of needy parents by promoting job preparation, work and marriage
  • preventing out-of-wedlock pregnancies
  • encouraging the formation and maintenance of two-parent families."

Now we can't have any of that, now can we?

Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS): was replaced 13 years ago by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) (see above and

Emergency Assistance to Needy Families with Children (EANF)
One of the rare situations where you can actually stump Google.
Your search - "Emergency Assistance to Needy Families with Children (EANF)" - did not match any documents.
If she's going to criticize a program - one that looks like it no longer exists (see above), was administered by states and, at least in New York, required conditions like you to be homeless with little or no food ( - she should at least get the name right. Those kinds of errors tell me a lot about the credibility of the source......again, none.

So what's my point? To point out what I consider to be the obvious, of course! ;-) Like most people with an agenda, she's not letting facts get in the way.

And why this fascination with vilifying the poor?
...They don't make laws
...They don't have lobbyists
...They don't have much, if any, money
...They don't own banks, brokerages, or insurance firms
...They aren't typically registered as members of the party who passed such legislative gems in the name of capitalism and free markets as the Graham-Leach-Bliley act which, as you all know, removed all the safeguards, oversights, regulations, and restrictions on financial services companies created by the Glass-Steagall act which, as you also know, had to be passed by a Democratically-led Congress in 1933 to try and protect us from the greedy motherf***ing capitalists who gave us the first Great Depression and are back with their sequel, "Great Depression II: You Dumb-Asses Didn't Learn a Thing the First Time, Did You?"
...The poor didn't create bullshit investment instruments like collateralized debt obligations that tanked the whole friggin' world's economy while the modern day heros of capitalism were still getting paid their obscenely large bonuses
...The poor weren't the ones buying homes they couldn't afford, nor were they the ones writing the mortgages without so much as a passing interest in anyone's ability to repay the loan because the mortgages were being bundled and sold to someone else which eventually turned into the CDOs which.....oh hell, my head is spinning.
...They don't lobby their Senators and Representatives for tax cuts to wealthy Americans that accomplished nothing except to piss away a federal surplus and didn't create any noticeable improvement to the economy
...They didn't leave the Obama administration with a wrecked economy, a $500billion deficit (which probably doesn't really account for everything since W did Iraq off the books), a financial system in total ruin thanks to a lack of regulation, and a world roiling in political, social, and cultural turmoil

Do I really need to go on?

So what's her message - all you poor African Americans stop sitting around pretending that there's no work and go out there and make your mark in the world? Is that it? Is that all that's needed to get our economy growing again?

So Obama should abandon social programs and keep funneling money to the wealthy? Will that solve our problems?

Or is she also complaining that the president didn't just let W's utter and complete disaster culminate in the closing down of the world's economy? Let them fail, is that it? No such thing as too big to fail? Now that really would have been poetic justice for those who really think there is such a thing as capitalism and free markets, now wouldn't it?

I've news for you.....there's no such thing. The world is run by an oligarchy of rich and powerful people. It's not James Bond versus Specter, but it's not truly capitalism or free markets, either. And Oboma ain't no savior and he ain't no devil. He's one of them, too, just a little further to the left than others.

Hell, it's starting to look more and more like how Bill Mahr recently described our two-party system, "Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital."

So let's say that Star (is that really her name?) is right. How could she not be, right? Hell, just look at the facts.
1. Our primary and secondary public education is extremely well-funded, progressive, and effective especially in inner city neighborhoods.
2. Higher education is eminently affordable to anyone who wants to go.
3. And the Republican administration of the last 8 years with all of their free market deregulation, tax cuts for the wealthy, and sound economic and fiscal policies has left us with an economy so sound and robust that it's just chock full of great paying jobs whether or not you even have a degree and so long as you get your sorry, shiffless, ass of the front stoop and go looking.



Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sanford Compares Plight To King David - Are You Kidding?

LMAO!!!!! Who didn't see this coming?!?!? Okeeee-dokeeee, then. What's next, Sanford, "The devil made me do it?"

Not only did this guy abandon his responsibilities as governor, cheat on his wife, and use taxpayer money to fund his little love trips, now he wants people to pity him and think of him as a fabled leader of equally dubious morality who supposedly turned out to be a great leader if you happen to believe that particular fairy tale.

So, somebody needs to get Markey some serious counseling and mental health treatment fast. They need to get him out of government even faster. Next thing you know he'll be walking the streets of Columbia in flowing robs and proclaiming himself to be the Second Coming.

I really feel bad for his wife and kids. How awful must it be to have a complete and total schmuck like this guy as your husband or father?!? He's embarrassed himself, his family, the state of South Carolina and, with my own personal and heartfelt congratulations, the Republican party.

Like you Rs needed a member of the self-righteous, ultra-conservative, Christian neo-con element of your party to come out of nowhere and shoot another foot off.
- Having a born-again moron like W leading your party and believing that his god told him to invade Iraq wasn't enough.
- Having Cheney come out of 8 years of hiding to try and protect his own ass and, by extension, admit that he violated the Constitution and everything this country stands for and is now trying to completely and totally alienate and remove any semblance of rational thinking in the party by siding with Limbaugh over Collin Powell wasn't enough.
- Having the Laurel and Hardy team of Rush and Beck as your new public relations guys wasn't enough.

Now you have your own reincarnation of King David governing a state which brought us such bastions of progressive thinking and inclusion as Strom Thurman (anyone know if they buried him in his Grand Dragon hood) and, until recently, was still flying that ultimate symbol of American racism, the Stars and Bars, over the very dome where Sanford stumbled all over himself trying to apologize for something that if done by a Democratic governor Limbaugh and Beck would have already whipped up enough outrage to motivate another shooting.

It's bad enough that Sanford cheated on his wife, but what kind of insanity leads the governor of a state to think he can disappear for days and no one will notice or care?!?? And has he never heard of airport security cameras? He's clearly not processing his thoughts and emotions on a rational level and needs serious help. The state legislature needs to remove him immediately. That would actually be the best thing, relatively speaking, that the Republican party could do for itself. At least it would show some amount of consistency between all the blow-hard self-righteousness and how the party actually behaves.

One last thing before anyone starts trotting out the tired, old Clinton and Kennedy stories - kudos again btw, Brucey, for at least updating to Edwards on Facebook!.

Check this related story:

At least the R's are winning - by my tally 7-1 - in something.....................Too bad it's the game of Moral Hypocrisy.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Commonwealth Club of California: Torture Touches Everybody#links

Commonwealth Club of California: Torture Touches Everybody#links

This erudite review of the "moral hazards" of the Bush administration, as well as what is now expected from President Obama - and how he's already failing to demonstrate his commitment to the rhetoric that helped to get him elected - was one of the best hours I spent in at least the last week.

Will illegal actions be tolerated at the highest levels of government?

Will this administration turn its head and simply "look forward"?

If waterboarding was considered a crime...
....worth court-marshaling U.S. soldiers who did it to Filipino guerrillas
....the U.S. could sentence a Japanese army officer in 1947 to 15 years of hard labor to for waterboarding a U.S. citizen, and
....the U.S. military could court-marshal 2 soldiers for in 1965 after pictures of them waterboarding Vietcong were published,
then how is that waterboarding can be defended today by Cheney and his supporters?

And why is there hesitation by Obama to call for a vigorous investigation to uncover those guilty of authoring, authorizing, *and* committing such atrocities has not already begun?

What does it mean if the U.S. government has over 2000 - yes, two thousand - photographs that possibly depict torture authorized by the Bush administration?

Will this president bring real change to the way in which our government functions and how the office of the president affects our values and ethics, and will it be enough to make a real difference?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cheney on Torture

I suggest listening to this news program and the Cheney interview video at:

Here's what I did as a result of hearing this. You can decide for yourself what you do.

When I listened to this, I started (and am still) thinking about the implications all of this has on our country.

It raised questions for me like....

....What does this say about a populace who elects - and even more painfully, about those who continue to support - leaders like Cheney?

....What does it say about a political party and, with apologies, about those who support that party if he's considered one of its leaders?

....What does his position on torture say about him and those who agree with him as human beings?

....What does this do to the legitimacy and aspirations of his political party as the self-proclaimed standard bearer of such noble ideals as family values and big tent politics?

....What affects will we see happen to our collective morals and on our laws from even having a debate about the merits of torture?

....What is all of this politicization of torture having on our self-image as a society, as well as the view the rest of the world has about our legitimacy as a global economic, social, moral and political power?

Here's how what I see as Cheney's strategy for now being front-and-center.

He wants to.....

....try to rewrite history in order to protect his own legacy and the legacy of the last 8 years

(I believe it's way too late for that.)

He wants to.....

....try to frame the current discussion in terms of some perverse return on investment for torture

(As if America can do whatever it likes, including torture, if that's what it was and even though it's illegal, because of what we supposedly learned and can learn in the future about threats to America.)

He wants to..... what he can to try and protect himself from prosecution

(I think and hope that his actions now will actually serve just the opposite purpose and help to secure a conviction for a crime which I personally believe he's guilty of committing.)

He wants to.....

....move the Republican party even further to the extreme right by saying things like Rush represents the Republican party more so than Collin Powell

(I think anyone who is a Republican should be very concerned politically about this one. If you're not careful, the party is going to be left with nothing but angry Bible thumpers and fliers of the Stars and Bars being led around by their collective noses by the wealthy oligarchy, present company excluded, of course.)

All of Cheney's words and deeds just reinforce my belief that he's completely out of touch with thoughtful, ordinary citizens. Frankly, I think he's one of the most reprehensible human beings ever to have walked the planet and unquestionably walking the planet today. He is, in my opinion, totally absent of the slightest shred of legitimacy as a leader and is the absolute epitome - along with people like Limbaugh, Rove, and yes, bin Laden - of an ugly political creature intent on self-preservation and power usurpation based solely on the fomentation of hatred and division.

He and his junior running mate, W, tricked this country twice. (Well, "stole" elections by some accounts.) We really shouldn't let him or them trick us again.

I think it's time for us as a democratic citizenry to rise up and to admit that we made a mistake electing him and W to 2 terms (if you can call them elections) and that those elected leaders, intentionally or unintentionally, may have violated laws. (It's ok to admit mistakes were made. I was once totally pro-business and leaned to the right on economic and fiscal policy issues. Life has changed my mind about a great many things, and I regret the mistakes I have made in the past like voting twice for Ross Perot.)

When it comes to the question of the legalities of policy and torture we need to let - hell, demand - that Congress and the courts investigate and decide the matter.

Cheney has publicly admitted to authorizing procedures which, by many definitions, are torture. It's time for a sincere and complete investigation into what he and others in the Bush administration did when it came to policy decisions about interrogation techniques and if any of them can be considered to be torture.

My own personal opinion about the "ROI" arguments Cheney or anyone else thinks can be made are absolutely without merit. They are a dodge; a red herring; an attempt to reframe the discussion in order to obfuscate us about the fact that torture is illegal no matter what the outcome.

Certainly I'm no legal expert, but it seems to me the way our society determines guilt or innocence is to first determine if suspicions and facts warrant investigations. I think they do in this case. If the investigation leads somewhere, courts have to be petitioned to issue subpoenas. People are questioned. Warrants for arrest are issued if it appears someone has committed a crime. We assume innocence first and give the accused their day in court - something we as Americans I think like to call habeas corpus but which the Bush administration denied to citizen and non-citizen alike whenever it suited them. If the prosecution convinces a judge and/or jury of the guilt of the accused - and in this case, regrettably, that is likely to include a re-examination of the definition of torture, but so be it - then those who authorized and committed the crime need to be punished.

So, if Cheney is so convinced that he and the administration are innocent of the crime of torture, then he should embrace - even demand - that an investigation begin to clear him and his compatriots of even the slightest hint of guilt. This notion of releasing memos about the value of torture is just another dodge. He's trying to make the "torture ROI" argument. Go ahead and release them, I say. I expect that rational people will look at them and conclude that we did, indeed, commit torture and that torture can never be justified by a peaceful and civil society regardless of the intelligence that is claimed to have been extracted.

What we as human beings - and especially as Americans - cannot and should not condone or tolerate is whether the "torture ROI" justified any decisions or actions if they are determined to be torture. That's like saying I'm innocent of the crime of bank robbery because I used the money to feed my kids. Bank robbery is still a crime no matter how supposedly noble the intent or desired outcomes.

Now Cheney and his supporters want to have a debate about the MERITS of torture?!?!?

Talk about relativism!!! Watch out you Republicans - it's starting to look like you're losing your moral compass and abandoning the black-and-white-right-and-wrong view of the world! ;-)

"For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie - deliberate, contrived and dishonest - but the myth - persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic."
John F. Kennedy, Yale Commencement address, 1962 (


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

International Tax Reform

A May 4, 2009 analysis titled "International Tax Reform" published by Credit Suisse came to me from my broker. Just in case your news source of choice is spending all of their effort on politicizing the issue instead of focusing on the facts, I thought I would worth offer a few tidbits as food for thought....

"If you had been expecting the Administration to try and completely eliminate a company’s ability to defer U.S. taxation on its overseas profits (subjecting worldwide profits to a 35% tax rate whether repatriated or not) the targeted nature of the proposals may come as a relief." (p.1)

"Three of the proposals are projected to generate $189.6 billion of additional tax revenue from Corporate America between 2011 and 2019." (p.1)

"So where does one go to get a rough idea as to which companies ...the amount of earnings that have so far escaped U.S. taxation. We pulled together the undistributed foreign earnings for each company in the S&P 500 as disclosed in the 2008 10-K’s. It amounted to over $1 trillion. The amounts are highly concentrated among a few sectors, Health Care and Information Technology account for about 41% of the total." (p.1)

Reform deferral rules

"The Administration is proposing that companies could no longer get the best of both worlds ; they would be required to defer the deduction of expenses (except R&D) on a U.S. tax return that are associated with foreign income until it’s repatriated."

Close foreign tax credit loopholes

"The Administration is proposing to change that , so companies could only use foreign tax credits from foreign taxes paid on income that is subject to U.S. tax." (p.2)

Eliminate loopholes for “disappearing” offshore subsidiaries.

"... the “check the box” rules allow the two subsidiaries to disappear (i.e., branch to branch transactions are ignored) and as a result the company avoids...taxation. (p.2)

"In addition to the concentration by industry, there are also a small group of companies that account for much of the undistributed foreign earnings. We found 145 companies with more than $1 billion of undistributed earnings, including the 10 companies in Exhibit 2 where undistributed earnings exceed $20 billion. Those 10 companies have $360 billion of undistributed earnings, more than one third of the total for the S&P 500 companies." (p.4)


Wonder what can be inferred about "big business", "special interests" and the "richest 1%" from any of this?

Wonder if the politicization of the issue of tax reform might not be getting spurred on by those with the most to lose from the application of a little fairness? You know, that richest 1% that professes to be looking out for us, American business, for smaller government, family values, and all of that.

While it's no surprise to see big companies as the ones in the top 10 S&Ps who have the most undistributed foreign earnings, I wonder what conclusions might be drawn from a little speculation about the influence big oil, big drugs, and big banks have in our lives, our government, and through which party?

I wonder if there's room for discussion about which party has the average citizen's best interests in mind, which one concerns themselves primarily with the wealthiest among us, and with which party's constituents might each of us have the most in common - not so much on an ideological level but on a practical level?

At the risk of offending yet again - and believe me that's not what I'm trying to do, I'm only expressing my opinion - I want to compliment the Republican leadership. Huh? Yes, compliment.

Since the days of Reagan they have, in my humble opinion, done a masterful job of what I would describe in my own limited way as "hood-winking" Americans. The Republican leadership set a course back then and has had a measure of success in getting people to think that the party's core values and platforms are based on beliefs and ideas that benefit "Main Street Americans."

Again and only in my opinion, the platform of the Republican party is built on the reddest of herrings.

Issues like....

...the Constitutional right to bear arms includes things like semi-automatic assault weapons. (What's next, recreational RPGs?)

...a woman's right to have an abortion should be unlawful. (Why, so we can have our own version of Sharia law but with a Christian twist?)

...we need a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as only between a man and a woman. (Why, so we can then make legal our own unique brand of religiously-based hatred and discrimination? Hey, it'll give us something in common with radical Islamists! Who knows, it could be the first step in a bridge to better understanding and acceptance between our cultures!)

...Christian creationism - now euphemistically called intelligent design and never ever, ever, even with the slightest consideration for what other religions and their beliefs have to say about creationism - should have a place in science curriculum in our schools. (Why, so we can raise a nation of god-fearing Christian xenophobes to the exclusion and peril of all non-believers?)

...the so-called "war on terror" gives us the right to invade sovereign nations at will and regardless of the justification (or lack thereof), and to then violate international law and any shred of decency by torturing people. (Why, because we're Americans, dammit, and you can love it or leave it!??)

...environmental protection laws and policies aren't warranted and only hold back American enterprise and energy independence. (Because, after all, climate change is a myth and, besides, we need that additional 3% of our domestic oil consumption hiding in pristine wildernesses like ANWR and the outer continental shelves so we're no longer dependent on foreign sources who, for some strange reason, seem to hate our guts. Crazy Islamo-facists that they are...)

...the way to feel more secure in the homeland is to do things that make us feel safe like taking off our shoes in airports and building walls on our borders....but only on our southern border. (Why? Isn't it obvious? All terrorists are Muslims from the Mideast, and everyone knows all those camel jockeys are from desert countries. The soles of their feet are rough from wearing sandals in the sand so they're easily recognized at airport security. Besides, everyone knows they hate the cold so they'll never come across the Canadian border.)

Alright, that's enough of that silliness.

Here's my opinion. None of this bullshit really matters to the true Republican leadership. It's a ruse. The neo-conservative-gun-toting-drill-baby-drill-you're-either-with-us-or-aginst-us-love-it-or-leave-it-mission-accomplished-Minuteman-faux-patriotism-bible-thumping-divisive-focus-on-the-family stuff is only window dressing meant to attract, seduce and lull people into believing that the Republican party has some kind of concern about average Americans.

Hey, it's just my opinion, but they don't. I'm not telling anyone what to believe; just expressing my opinion.

In my opinion, it is the oligarchy of the wealthiest 1% who run the Republican party. If they had their way, they'd run every aspect of our lives because of the obscene profit and power in it. They are the Orwellian 1984 force that we need to be worried about, not the supposedly big government-minded Democrats. We are, in my opinion, just another resource to the Republican oligarchy; another raw material from which they become even wealthier and more powerful.

This isn't, by the way, limited solely to Republicans. Sadly, too many people of power of every stripe exercise their will on others without real regard for their followers or the organization.

I just think that there's a whole lot more to fear from Republicans than from Democrats. Democrats can't seem to agree on enough, always seem to be getting each other's way, and aren't very good it seems at towing a simplistic party line that everyone in America can understand.

The Republicans, on the other hand, seem to have decided about 30 years ago that they would cast themselves as the ultra-conservative party on social, economic and political issues. Simple message: The party of good old fashioned American values - small government, baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and church on Sunday - and leave the rest to us and to hell with anyone who doesn't conform to our beliefs.

Those ideas serve the interests of the wealthy extremely well. Republican dogma is better for a rich oligarchy than ideas and principles that...

....allow for different belief systems and cultural norms

....put restrictions (call them whatever you like; rules, laws, regulations, etc.) on what businesses can and can't do to make a profit

....keep and strengthen the separation of church and state

....create and fund social programs designed to help the poor and middle class.

Which is why I rail against the Republican party - not you the member of the Republican party - the party's leadership and the values they profess to stand for and perpetuate in the face of what I see as the reality of who I think they truly have as their core constituency - the ultra-wealthy.

Shit. I probably offended someone with that statement, too. I'm sorry if anyone reading this is a mega-rich member of the RNC leadership.

Believe me, I don't see the Democratic party as perfect by any stretch. It just seems to me to be more concerned about the average citizen and the issues with which I, on a practical level, have much more in common with than the richest 1%.

Anyone want to get into how the swine flu can be tied to unrestricted greed on the part of American pork producers moving production and jobs overseas because of a lack of regulation? ;-)


The Straw That Stirs the Drink!