Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Righties Running From Debate?!

It has happened that Bill O'Reilly's web site doesn't like having the anti-liberal violence and hatred posted their brought into question. So even paying subscribers that point it out are having their accounts closed. Apparently Bill really doesn't like "fair and balanced" viewpoints.

I usually post at Townhall.com. At least up until today. I decided to see what the comments were on an article, and I was told the service was not available. Not the posting aspect, but even accessing the article.And no matter what article I clicked on, I got the same message. So I'll be interested to see if the service interruption is temporary or not. I would think so. But it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if it was so far as my account was concerned.

And according to Lowes customer service department e-mail to me today, they have pulled their advertising from Bill O'Reilly's programs. Bravo Lowes! Let's put the pressure on other advertisers as well, and let them know our business goes elsewhere.

In my query to Lowes, I pointed out the opportunity for them to help shape the debate in this country. Hopefully this will help. Considering that the right wing shill machine isn't interested in debate, I doubt it.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

I think it's time that Americans invaded red blogs and hosting sites like TownHall.com, and started refuting the nonsense they can find there. I am seeing more of it as I go there regularly. It's basically the same shill noise they have always promoted.

But I think that perhaps a course of self education is necessary to really challenge the political rhetoric of the right wing extremists.

I would recommend the following:

Acquaint yourself with the writings of Tom Paine. Particularly Common Sense, The Rights of Man, and The Age of Reason. Then move on to Thomas Jefferson. The Library of America has wonderful volumes that contain Paine's writings, and a collection of Jefferson's most popular. They also have James Madison's writings, which is the trifecta of the founders writings one should know.

Then I would recommend America's Constitution: A Biography by Akhil Reed Amar to deepen your knowledge of that text. Alon side that, have yourself a pocket version of the Constitution, such as the American Bar Association sells for a couple bucks. Read them together.

I would also suggest you read The Conservative Mind by Russel Kirk. He wrote what has been the bible of conservatism. In it you will find the essential principles that make up conservatism, and you will see where the neoconservatism of today has drifted from it. You will also note that it draws heavily on British Tory loyalist, parliament member, and resister to American independence, Edmund Burke. The foreword was written by the head of Regnery Publishing, and contains some juvenile comments that otherwise betray the level of intelligence the conservatives aspire to.

Susan Jacoby's Freethought is also highly recommended to round out the history portion.

George Lakoff's works Don't Think Of An Elephant and Moral Politics, which deal with the rhetorical framing that the Republicans use, as well as humans in general. The Frameshop website is a good resource as well. And finish up with a text on critical thinking.

That may take some time, but play as you go! You will find stuff that is blatantly easy to refute. This morning, TownHall posted an article by John Boehner about making America safer. Many of the posts were about how ridiculous such a claim is in light of republican management of that issue. It was a no brainer to post to. You'll also find articles about our alleged Christian heritage. That might require regular visits to talk2action.org and Americans United The Wall of Separation blog.

You'll discover a few major things along the way here. First is that there is no historical basis for the idea that America is or ever was meant to be a christian nation. You will also discover that the historical references and roots of today's conservatism don't extend beyond 1980. So their idea of conservatism being an American idea is relatively new. You'll also find that there is no inherent logic in conservative ideas. That will account for many of the contradictions that appear in today's news surrounding healthcare, immigration, and the occupation of Iraq for example. You will also find a lot of fear mongering and bigotry. That obviously isn't a clear use of reason to finding solutions to problems.

John Stuart Mill stated that not all conservatives are stupid, but that most stupid people are conservative. I would alter that to say ignorant(unlearned) as opposed to stupid(unable to learn). However, there are many cases where stupid is the appropriate word. But you will occasionally find that there are some intelligent conservatives with viable solutions with whom you can have reasoned debate. And that is what makes America what it is.

Conservatism actually has a small base. I would venture to say that most Americans are more likely existing on a libertarian continuum to some degree, with most of that still left leaning. Liberalism is the value on which America was founded, and isn't defined by what the right wing extremists say it is. It's defined by the Preamble of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights.

So jump into it!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Republican Confusion

Maybe the cons on the Hill are still filibustering a vote on an issue at this hour. An issue there is much confusion on.

Yesterday, going into the debate, Mitch McConnell stated that the war in Iraq is the most important issue facing the country. However, David Vitter, his colleague from Louisiana, who thinks it okay for others to resign because of being caught in immorality but not he himself, thinks that gay marriage is the biggest issue facing the nation. And he made that declaration a year after Hurricane Katrina destroyed the major city of his home state! So I wonder how that debate will pan out between the two of them, and just how Vitter would vote.

Then we have a report I saw on CNN about the "sea-change" of security in Baghdad. Yessiree, the Iraqis are ready to take it on themselves. Which is surely what Maliki meant when he said the US could leave any time. But wait, as usual, the number of ready divisions to ensure that security is once again a yo-yo number.

And, to make for more confusion, there are now reports stating that we may need even another escalation of troops. Wha?

Is it any wonder that the only constant here is dying US soldiers? I don't think these Republicans could manage a fight between two year olds in a sand box.

It does point out though that Bush had no idea what he would create when he invaded Iraq. Not only did he not pursue the real enemy; which according to recent reports is back to nearly full strength, what ever that means, he upset the balance of power that existed between the Shiia and Sunni, and our presence or lack thereof in Iraq will do nothing to appease the strife between these two branches of Islamic believers.

So the fear mongering has begun with reports of more attacks imminent in America (that will make Arkansas GOP chair Dennis Milligan proud) from an enemy we have spent years ignoring because the Bush administration was more focused on Iraqi oil than justice. In fact, the lack of concern of justice in the Bush administration has become so evident that even this fear mongering will only become food for the talking heads that try to convince the faithful to vote Republican for more of the same lack of commitment and attention to not only justice but national security as well. The other 71% of the American population uses it's common sense to see that the Republican ideas of justice, national security, and just plain old governing are a complete failure. And an expensive one at that.

Just to add to the confusion, the Vice President states he doesn't belong to the executive or legislative branch of the government. No wonder there's confusion. I'd like to hear the talking heads explain the Constitutionality of that claim!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Pixilated Math and Values

Mr. Ho Bang (aka David Vitter) is saying he will stay in public office. Not only will he deny his own advice to others that immorality is grounds for resignation, , his wife flip-flopped on her statement that she would "Loreena Bobbit" instead of forgive David is he ever did anything immoral. I guess she likes that national health care she gets too much to let it go. Her and her husband will of course deny anyone else that benefit, so long as they get it. Fuzzy conservative values at their best!

And the fuzzy math? Ah yes, the evidence the military is growing. People just can't wait to get in. Take for example the HUGE re-enlistment ceremony that occurred in Baghdad on July 4. See? There's your proof, and of course the righties are all over that news in their continued efforts to promote this continued occupation. What they don't tell you is that re-enlistments were put off for months so they could stage this ceremony. And if there is such growth in the military, how is it that service terms are extended in length by 25%, and that several units are returning to Iraq for their fourth and fifth rotations? Mostly with the same soldiers. And what of the stories of wounded being shipped back to Iraq? And what of the whispers now of another troop escaltion? This is a fine example of conservative fuzzy math.

Another example of fuzzy math exploited by politicians is that of the stock market. It's running wild. See how well everyone in America is doing? Yet they fail to tell you that 75% of the stock market, well, actually almost that much of all the assets in America, are owned by less than 10% of the people. Which means that roughly 297,000,000 people, yes that's 297 million, split the remaining 25% of the wealth in America. Remember this scenario: 10 guys in a bar after work on Friday enjoying a cool one. Two laborers, 6 journeymen of various professions and length of service in their fields, and two office collars. Their wages when averaged out, is roughly the median wage in America which can be found at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In walks Bill Gates, and suddenly the median wage in the room jumps into the stratosphere. See how well everyone is doing? They haven't finished their beer, and they are suddenly all multi-millionaires. That's how economic numbers are being dished around the news. It ignores the realities of lack or loss of health care, either stagnant or declining wages, definitely loss of manufacturing jobs, the slowing housing market, the huge rise in foreclosures in places like Newark, Detroit, and Las Vegas, and the continued flood of immigrants that take low paying, no benefit jobs which are then added into the totals to show how well everyone is doing because look! Jobs are being created! They love to count them in as proof of a growing economy yet love to pound the pulpit about the rule of law these illegals ignore, and for six years under President Bush's careful commitment to national security, they didn't even address the southern border until last year.

Of course, if you read the speeches and testimony of Alan Greenspan before the Federal Reserve Board and the Senate, you'd see that making the labor pool grow is what was being promoted. And the basic tenet of capitalism that benefits the few at the expense of the many, according to Adam Smith, is low wages. Problem solved!

Maybe fuzzy isn't the right word. Fuzzy could be construed as cuddly and cute, like a bunny. maybe pixilated is a better idea. You know when a video shot wants to protect an identity, they pixilate the face of the person? That's what we have here.

A political party that loves to self righteously proclaim itself champions of traditional family values and prosperity has an identity crisis. They are discovering that they can't pixilate the picture despite what words emanate from their mouths.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Hiding Their Light

It simply amazes me that these right wing fanatics still have the audacity to claim anything of a moral compass.

Harriet Miers is refusing to respond to a subpoena. Good little Christian Monica Goodling had to actually plead the fith amendment. The White House has issued statements saying that aides won't repsond to subpoenas.

Where is the obedience to the rule of law in all this? Where is the rendering unto Ceasar what is Ceasar's? If they are acting in accordance with truth in their actions, and you would suppose that an administration that likes to open their meetings in prayer would be, then what have they to hide? Strangely, I've heard that justification for illeagal eavessdropping: if you have done nothing wrong, what's to fear? When it comes to immigrants, these same righties and their radio talking heads love to pound the pulpit with the rule of law.

The Bible states that believers, like Monica Goodling, and allegedly President Bush, aren't supposed to hide their light under a bushel. Yet they are doing that very thing. Unless of course, their light is really darkness.

Which is of course what Americans are coming to believe. This attempt to evade the law, the questions that will reveal their actions, the offered meetings with no oath taken, no witnesses and no transcripts is seen for what it really is:

A cover-up of corruption. All in the name of the God they pray to when they start their meetings.

But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great [is] that darkness! - Mark 6:23

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Do They Ever Learn?

I posted earlier about Republican Representative Vitter's talk not matching his walk. His comments are absurd. And yet he has been outdone by the chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party, Dennis Milligan.

"At the end of the day, I believe fully the president is doing the right thing, and I think all we need is some attacks on American soil like we had on [Sept. 11, 2001]," Milligan said to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, "and the naysayers will come around very quickly to appreciate not only the commitment for President Bush, but the sacrifice that has been made by men and women to protect this country."

Apart from the audacity of such stupidity, does any one else see the contradictions in this statement?

I see one! "...men and women to protect this country." Hmmm. I recall, and I'm no chess master, that a defensive posture means you have your army around you, not across the board. It seems to some that defending the country is best done by sending them overseas to the point that the military is so strained that they have to quietly try to lower the security clearance so they can utilize "ex-convicts, drug addicts and the mentally incompetent." And in case you missed this whopper, due to Bush's commitment in this global war on terror which has justified the occupation of Iraq for how many years now, Congress set up a front company to see if they could obtain material for a dirty bomb. Within a month, they had a license to but enough material for a dirty bomb. There was no face-to-face meeting, and no visit to the "company" by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. And; yes, there is an and to this unbelievable proof of Bush's commitment to out security, according to the BBC, those same agents crossed the borders into America from both Canada and Mexico, despite alarms sounding the presence of radioactive materials, on the basis of phony paperwork. Oh, and Micheal Chertoff has a "gut feeling" that this summer is a period of increased risk.

That makes me feel safer already.

I see another one! "...on American soil...." And then our intrepid federal government can make yet another location ring with the victory strains of governmental competence like those heard in New Orleans. Of course, maybe Mr. Milligan thinks like Dave Vitter that gay marriage is more important than the reconstruction of New Orleans, as I pointed out in a previous post. Oh wait, I get it! Then President Bush can attack someone else!

And the grand daddy of them all, "...need some attacks...." Mind you, not just one. But more than one. Now I think this way. If an attack were successful, than that would mean that the defender wasn't doing his job. More than one would mean that the defender-in-Chief is incapable of doing his job at all. And that would surely reveal the real commitment of President Bush. Yessiree, several attacks would surely show us just how effective President Bush has been at solving the southern border issue when he said nary a peep about it for six years. And that would surely show us just how capable our government is of detecting the actions of our enemies. All that illegal eavesdropping would really pay off. And having all our military people over in the Middle East would definitely be a big help if American soil were attacked again.

Can I pass this off as just some dumb southern hick blathering at the mouth? Maybe, if it was Cletus the Slack Jawed Yokel. But this man is the head of the GOP at the state level. I would think that type of position would be filled by someone who is intelligent, has somewhat a command of the English language, and would at least love his country enough to not actually think that attacks would be a good way to shine a spotlight on their beloved idol.

This sort of statement reveals the level of depravity to which at least this political party has sunk. That the GOP didn't fire him immediately is beyond me. There is no love of his fellow man or his country in this statement. This is pure ideological idolatry.

I can surmise that Mr. Milligan has less of a love of country than political partisanship at heart. I can also surmise that even after 6 years in office, of absolutely incredulous comments being made by a broad swath of administration officials and right wing supporters (eg Pat Robertson), that he hasn't learned a damn thing about turning the brain on before engaging the mouth. Which I as well as anyone knows is quite easy. However, given the subject matter, and his position, one would think that they would have learned by now.

Their own Bible states that out of the mouth the heart speaks. Scary isn't it? And it's true of course, according to them. This is something we need to consider when we vote in elections. Because these Republicans love to talk the talk, but certainly don't seem capable of walking the walk.

It isn't something they have learned how to do yet.

A True Lack of Integrity

David Vitter. His name is now in the news. He's the Republican representative from Louisiana that stated on June 7 of 2006 that the most important issue is gay marriage. Not the wars in the Middle East which are costing America hundreds of lives $12 billion a month, and not his own states embarrassingly third world condition of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

This is the same guy that was solidly behind the federal marriage protection act. And since he has had to apologize for his name being on the "DC Madame's" list of clients, apparently that's not all he was behind.

So what leads to such rank hypocrisy? How does someone come up so short of being out of touch with reality? Mind you, he's done the political acts of saying he confessed this to his wife and God. Yes, those were political acts, designed to save his political career. Vitter stated in reaction to his predecessor and President Clinton's sexcapades by saying,
“I think Livingston’s stepping down makes a very powerful argument that Clinton should resign as well and move beyond this mess.” [Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 12/20/98] So will Vitter follow his only advice?

And apparently, this isn't the first time accusations of hooking have attached themselves to Vitter. So just what is the problem?

The problem is that Vitter, like so many people, is out of touch with himself. He does not know himself, or live at peace with himself.

Let me explain, based on the supposition that Vitter considers himself a Christian. After all, he did say he confessed this to his God. If Vitter believes the Bible, and attends church sitting next to his wife, even while whoring, he has likely heard many times that all the prurient stuff that is inherent in humans is the work of the devil. it's the evil part of sinful man, and in Christ, there is a new man. So David I'm sure had struggles. In Christianity they like to call this "spiritual warfare." He probably was fighting like the dickens to rid himself of these demonic thoughts, and later, the guilt that came along with enjoying the services of a woman who would do things his wife wouldn't. So I imagine Dave here is sitting in a pew, just sweating bullets, because he's got this history and memories of the naked bodies of other women dancing in his head, and all this stuff isn't really him, so how can he get rid of it, and what happens if this becomes public knowledge? How pathetic and weak am I?

It then cuts to the reaction stage, where he doubles up his prayer life, and gets vocal on things like protecting marriage. He's riding the high of forgiveness, and shortly after that, he's riding a whore. What to do!? Just what are his values?

His values, like his confession statement, are simply facades. They aren't reality. He doesn't live them from the inside out, because David has never sat down to really learn what is inside him. David doesn't look in. To him there's nothing good there. You look in, and all that's there is the devil or the evil part of him, and Christ, which you see much better by looking up. So in essence, there is no David.

By looking in, he would learn what drives this need to be behind phony morality and hookers at the same time. And that means taking the time to quietly look at himself, all by himself. And to the extent that he fails to do that, the chances are he will repeat this kind of folly.

And this same problem cuts across party lines and issues. So a William Jefferson taking bribes is not all that very different than David Vitter taking hookers.

In some regards, I laugh at this because I know the arrogant part of me likes to point the finger at these ridiculous family values Republicans who don't walk their talk. But I know it's the arrogance I have, the pain of having seen my country hijacked by these liars and sold down the river. Another part of me though is sad and hopeful. Sad because Mr. Vitter is in a painful place, whether he acknowledges it or not. He betrayed a lot of people, including himself. He is struggling with his inner man. Hopeful though because this is another opportunity for David to become more human.

And he'll go back to Washington, where another "escort" service will be plying the corridors of power looking for clients. And they will find David Vitter. And he will once again have the opportunity to say "no."

Unless of course, he follows his own advice and steps down. That would be a real step of integrity.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Sicko is right!

Over at this link you can read the Blue Cross/Blue Shield response to the new documentary by Micheal Moore. Included is the text of an internal memo that got leaked. At the end of the article are stories that further confirm how backward our system is.

My own is rather simple: My employer pays mine. Our Blue Shield product wanted to charge more (a double digit increase) for less services. I lifted the comment below from the BCBS memo.

1) The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) and the 39 Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are committed to improving the U.S. health care system for our nearly 100 million members through continuous innovation that reflects the ever-changing health care landscape and the needs of the consumer.

How is less coverage for more money an improvement? So now I'm on a new plan, and who knows what the details will prove out. As for BCBS claims that they are non-profit, the obvious solution to that argument is what I experienced: more money for less coverage.
Considering that America doesn't lead any industrialized country in health categories, it amazes me that these insurance companies have the gall to try and pretend that the per capita expense leading the same industrialized world isn't ending up in someones pocket.

ANOTHER "Crusade"

Ah yes, as if it weren't already evident, here is the new brand of "evangelism" for the crowd that sold it's soul for 30 pieces of politcal silver.

Sad to say that this is what Christianity is turning into. I have to question just how much their God is really behind this direction of theirs. And I wonder what Scriptures they use to justify it. I wonder what they'll do when they find out their God isn't behind their efforts....

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Low Brow Ignorance in the White House

Despite an Ivy League degree (in, what, basket weaving, or maybe cheerleading?) it seems that ignorance has found a home in the White House.

I would be hard pressed to find any corollaries between the American Revolution and the invasion and occupation of Iraq. But somehow, in a very real revelation of administration grandiosity and it's natural setting of dysfunction, the President of the United States did just that.

Let's look over a couple of details. Our Revolution was based on throwing off the occupiers. A country developed beneath the occupiers who originally settled here a couple hundred years before, and those people born here were no longer satisfied with arbitrary justice and being a colony of the big corporations. Which is nothing like what happened in Iraq.

Our Revolution developed a national Constitution written by men who knew how to think, and is clearly a set of ideals we are still a long way from reaching. Again, this was done at the behest and effort of the natural inhabitants. And again, completely different than the situation in Iraq. Just read and compare the two Constitutions. Or for fun, the levels of intelligence between the two sets of deliberators who created them.

Our Revolution wasn't based on a lie. It was based on the principles laid out in the Preamble of the aforementioned Constitution: establish Justice, insure the domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty for everyone. Basically, the only thing that has happened in Iraq has been the insuring, establishing, and providing for of billions of dollars for private contractors that heavily finance the Republican party. The millions that are fleeing Iraq are testament to the reality that the domestic situation is both undesirable and unsafe. Because it all started on a lie about some sort of cloud, what was that, oh yea, a mushroom cloud, and all kinds other weapons they have now determined didn't exist. Oh yea, and terrorism....

So what level of intelligence could see any kind of comparison? If you responded with a "duh!" you may well feel insulted by any attempt to compare the founding of this country with the invasion and occupation of another. And particularly on the day we celebrate our collective birthday.

I think we deserve better in the White House.