Here is a copy of the email I sent to the president, my Congressman, and my two Senators. I urge you to do likewise. There is a link to their offices here on this blog.
“It used to be only the Republicans who did not care about ordinary people. Now I see the Democrats have joined them. Going on vacation while millions of Americans lose their unemployment benefits? Shame on you!
I live in Dayton. Like me, you are old-enough to remember when this city was one of the top in the world for industry. Have you seen it lately? Maybe you should visit it during your vacation and see the closed businesses & factories and talk to the people who struggle to hold on to their lives without jobs.
The unemployed are not slackers or lazy layabouts. They are people who had jobs & lost them because the president & Congress did not do their jobs of keeping the economy on-track.
Why did I vote for a Democrat president & Congress if you are going to act like Republicans. And save me the nice-sounding speeches, show me some backbone and take action! If I cannot count on you now, then do not count on my vote in the next election.”
I would not want to interfere with your holiday-shopping. Lord knows, our battered economy needs any boost it can get. But I felt I should remind you that another Memorial Day finds the United States at war.
In fact, there have been very few Memorial Days on which the United States was not fighting someone, somewhere in the world. Nor was our track-record any less dismal before the establishment of Memorial Day. Our country has actually had very few days of peace and very few periods of peace that spanned into years. Unfortunately, just about the only time America’s leaders talk about peace is when they toss it into a speech explaining why we are going into or staying in a war.
My original intent for this essay was to show readers the many conflicts in which America has involved itself. But the list is simply too long! Take a look for yourself here. I do not doubt that there are times when it is necessary to take-up arms…but this is ridiculous! Since our rebellion to gain independence from Britain, Americans have fought dozens of peoples, including the native American-Indians, Spain, Honduras, Cuba, each-other, Arikara, Paraguay, Germany, and even something called the Chiefdom of Quallah Battoo. Now we are fighting the Iraqis, Afghans, & Pakistanis in a war that just passed $1,000,000,000 ( 1 trillion ) cost. Soon we may be combating the North Koreans & Iranians. The hippies used to say that fighting to stop war is like fucking to stop sex; and there is a lot of truth to that.
What is it with us and our national military fetish? And I purposely use the word “fetish” to denote an icky type of turn on. Take a look at the orgy of movies, tv shows, songs, parades, magazines, bumper stickers, video games, and other professions of devotional love we have for all things associated with the military. A huge portion of our population lap this stuff up with an insatiable appetite. The late, great comedian George Carlin called these people “uniform-sniffers.”
Late 18th through early 19th Century Germany had a similar passion for the ideal of Prussian military discipline and all its overblown trappings such as spiked army helmets, goose-stepping in knee-length hobnail boots, and fashionable dueling scars. That cult-like devotion was in large part responsible for the insanity that caused Germany to destroy itself in two world wars.
Here in modern America we are marching (pun intended) down a similar path to ruin. We spend trillions of dollars on maintaining far too many troops with far too many far too expensive weapons in far too many places throughout our empire. Our “leaders” pick fights as a pretext for invasion in an never-ending and ever-widening crusade to rule the world. Meanwhile, the domestic economy has crumbled and the unemployed, the elderly, the children are told that there will be cuts in the funding that could help them. But there will be funding increases for the war-machine. The pentagon budget is sacrosanct. And one of the main ways our “leaders” keep it untouchable is through encouragement of our national military fetish. Our troops are loyal, brave, and unparalleled; how could we consider cutting the budget for the troops we worship?
Ironically, the uniform-sniffers worship a caricature. That leaves them little awareness or interest in how much this war is costing our soldiers in human terms: the wrecked families, suicides, physical & psychological disabilities, and combat deaths. Our megalomaniacal “leaders” care little to nothing about the troops, they certainly aren’t going to bring those weaknesses to the sniffers’ attention. And so it is up to people like you and I. We must honor America’s present-day troops and the memory of the casualties in that ridiculously long list of battles by doing our best to end all war.
Yesterday at about lunch-time, Myrtle and I walked in the door after running some errands. I switched on the tv and there he was, President B.S. Obama, trying to calm voters who are irate over the BP oil disaster. I immediately switched-off the set. Why bother wasting my time? I already know the routine:
1) President declares how serious the situation is and he is aware of how serious it is.
2) President deeply understands the distress of the American people. But everything will be alright. He has people closely following the situation and keeping him informed.
3) The situation could not be foreseen. It is not his fault. Nor is it the fault of anyone. It was brought-about by a few bad apples or a one-time anomaly that will never happen again. No one could have seen this situation coming. But our system/way of doing things is basically sound. He has total confidence in his underlings and his corporate sponsors.
4) President has absolute faith that American know-how will fix the situation. Meanwhile the same crooks/incompetents who caused the situation are in charge of fixing it.
5) President calls for a bi-partisan commission to look into the causes of the situation and make recommendations to the president. If any illegality was involved, it will be punished.
6) Meanwhile, he is ordering the following moratorium/temporary changes to prevent another situation like this until the bipartisan commission reports.
7) President will take questions from reporters. President displays testiness. Flippancy. Assertiveness. Reiteration. (Not necessarily in that order.)
And then,once voters are looking the other way, back to business as usual.
I did not watch the speech. How close did I get?
In a posting titled, “The Clinton Legacy,” over at the Bad Attitudes site, Jerome Doolittle reminds us that Bill Clinton, more than any other person, is responsible for passing the NAFTA (North American Free Trade) treaty. And therefore, he is responsible for many of our present problems with illegal Mexican immigrants. I was aware that NAFTA has undermined the U.S. workers but did not know that the legislation also allowed cheap U.S. and Canadian corn to undercut & bankrupt Mexico’s small farms. With their farms gone, the Mexicans come to the U.S. looking for a way to make a living (can we really blame them?)
Wait a moment! Did Bill Clinton not already apologize for ruining Mexican farmers this way? Oh, no…sorry…that was Haitian farmers to which Clinton apologized in March. He helped ruin them by getting Haiti to import cheap U.S. rice. I talked about it in my March 16 blog, “The Bill and George Tour.” Fortunately for American laborers so-far, the Haitian farmers could not get off their island so easily to come here. Instead, they have to just tough it out until U.S. Capitalists can ship the jobs down there to them. I figure that should start to happen very soon. The U.S. military occupation that started in March after Haiti’s big earthquake is even now making the island safe & stable for the empire’s business interests.
One could cut through my NAFTA-related disgust with a knife! I voted for Clinton twice but no wonder by the arrival of 2000, I voted for Nader mostly to send a message to Democrats that they needed to be more than “Republican-lite.” Those odious ogres, Reagan & George Bush #41 would have loved to have passed NAFTA during their times, but it took a Democrat, the worker’s friend, to coordinate that sell-out. (BTW- get ready for Obama’s similar Democratic presidential sell-out of Social Security)
Back in the pre-NAFTA days I still thought our “representatives” wanted to hear voters’ opinions and so I wrote them frequently. I mounted a one-man anti-NAFTA campaign where I wrote letters to political and business leaders and had as many of my family, friends, and coworkers sign them as I could get. And I got many.
I closely watched the sham debate leading up to the passage of NAFTA. The media and their Capitalist owners were of one voice: NAFTA would be a boon for Americans. Prices would drop and U.S. workers would safely move into high-tech jobs that are immune to being exported for cheap labor. Opponents of the treaty were portrayed in editorials & political cartoons as cretins on the level of cavemen afraid of the introduction of fire. The only notable person I recall as being anti-NAFTA was Ross Perot, who warned that businesses would move to Mexico so fast we would hear a “giant sucking sound.” 99% of working people I talked to were not fooled, they knew NAFTA meant unparalleled disaster for their future.
NAFTA passed and there was much rejoicing among the moneyed-crowd. The newscasts featured politicians and their owners grinning ear-to-ear in celebrations rivaling VJ day in 1945. I threw away my filing cabinet full of letters I had written over the years. I vowed never again to bother writing the politicians; a promise I kept until the run-up to the Iraq war.
Today we see the ramifications of NAFTA and similar policies that have been enacted by the evil monsters that pass for American “leadership.” Our industries lie in ruins. Working class income is in free-fall, with all classes but the topmost close behind. My beloved Dayton, Ohio, once one of the premier manufacturing cities of the world is little more than a ghost of its former self. Like most everything in the 21st U.S., the Capitalists made money off this economic destruction while the citizens got sold a pig in a poke.
Once again, as I did back in March, I ask: Will Bill Clinton will ever apologize to U.S. workers for NAFTA?
P.S. I was going to end this essay with the above question. And then I remembered that, during the 2008 campaign, presidential candidate Obama (now President George Bush III) said he would “renegotiate NAFTA.” Shockingly, he has since changed his mind about it.
A month has passed since BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil-rig blast in the Gulf of Mexico. My how time flies!
At this point, rational people (that excludes Rush Limbaugh & company) have started to ask themselves whether this mess may become the biggest man-made environmental disaster. Well, if BP and its wholly-owned subsidiary, the Obama Administration, keep things on the present course then the answer looks to be a resounding “Yes!”
BP had said the two holes in the ocean floor are spewing 5,000 barrels of crude per day into Gulf waters. Earlier today, the oil giant announced the latest fix it tried, which involved using a siphon tube to capture the gusher, is catching 5,000 barrels a day. Problem solved! Whew, we’re glad that’s over… what’s that you say? BP now says 5,000 barrels a day is just a fraction of the amount of oil that was leaking?! Independent scientists told Congress yesterday that BP’s hole is likely spewing 100,000 gallons of oil per day. Uh oh!
And speaking of holes… when fat-cats from the 3 companies (BP, Transocean, & Halliburton) directly involved in creating this catastrophe appeared before the U.S. Senate, they promptly and passionately helped clarify the situation by blaming one-another for the problem. Were any of us actually surprised at their cowardice? I am sure the Senators could appreciate & respect the blameshifting tactic since they themselves use it so well. It relies on obscuring who is specifically responsible for a disaster by making it look like everyone is responsible, because then no one is responsible. That same game-plan was used to explain the lack of response by the intelligence community and military to stop the September 11th attacks. They all failed so no one failed.
Yes, worthless Senators & environment-raping industry executives are all cut from the same cloth. They probably met for cocktails after the show, once they were safely out of the light of public scrutiny. Had I been a spectator in the Senate chamber during those ridiculous hearings, I can imagine myself reacting much like the downtrodden creatures at the end of George Orwell’s book “Animal Farm,” as they “looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”
And speaking of another hole… just where is our brave Commander-in-Chief during all this? By now even W, Godawful as he was, would have hopped into Airforce One and flown-over the disaster area.
Tragic, endless wars; largesse for big-business while the common folk foot the bill; and now, dawdling while destruction overwhelms a large part of the nation. The Deephole Horizon finally completes Barack Obama’s metamorphosis from agent of change to dark-skinned George Bush clone.
This is a time that tries the souls of conscientious people. The greed, graft, and crookedness has become overwhelming. I don’t need to tell you about it; you see the daily parade of corrupted politicians, plutocrats and public figures tipping their hats and waving as they pass by. Each one of them makes makes the world a little crummier, like a filthy King Midas turning everything they touch into a stinking pile of shit.
Citizen outrage has no affect. Oh sure, the media carps and Congress holds hearings seemingly every week and the President blusters about being angry and business leaders assure us it’s just because of a few bad apples. But nothing helps. The parade of bought bureaucrats, environmental rapists, and philandering celebrities gets larger every day until now there seem to be more people in the parade than watching it.
These latest few weeks have seemed especially bad. I think it’s a combination of factors: the realization that Obama is truly just more of the same, BP has decimated a large part of the world’s ocean and will skip merrily away without paying, and the long hoped for economic “recovery” won’t include jobs for the unemployed. I don’t think I’ve ever talked to more people who just seem ready to give up. They were once optimistic and now have lost hope. They would throw in the towel, but like Charlie Brown once asked in one of the old Peanuts comic strips, “Where does one go to give up?” An older man I spoke with said he was ready to wave the white flag of surrender while shouting to the elite: “You win! I give up! You’ve fucked me out of my job and everything I had. Go ahead and destroy the world- I can’t stop you!”
A young Obama voter I talked to rationalized his new found apathy by saying, “For hundreds, maybe thousands of years the people who are evil have lost but each time. But they learned a little bit more about how to do better the next time. Now they’ve learned enough that they control pretty much everything including the media. Nothing we say or do makes any difference. If we march in the streets it doesn’t get reported, so why bother?” I wish I could say that I had a response other than to mutter a few platitudes.
Telling people to let a smile be their umbrella seems futile when the rainshower has turned into a hurricane.
But still I refuse to give up. Why?
Part of it is that I don’t want to give the bullies of the world the satisfaction of winning. For over half a century I’ve endured physical and emotional punches that many times should have taken me out. But they didn’t. And sometimes I came back and won. Also, I don’t want to give up just before I could have won. It’s sort of like when someone asked comedian Woody Allen, since he was miserable and didn’t believe in God or Heaven or Hell or much of anything, why didn’t he just kill himself? His answer was that he wouldn’t want to blow his brains out and then read in the newspaper that “they’d found something.”
The other part is that usually at my moment of deepest despair something happens to inspire me to go on. The latest example being this: A young lady came to Easter services at the Spiritual Center. She didn’t normally attend church and had never been to ours before. She had come that day mostly because a friend had let her know that our progressive congregation includes an outreach program for pets. We pray for them, we conduct Reiki healing for them, and they can even attend services. This young lady was distraught because her beloved 10-year-old cat had developed a large tumor over his right ear. The veterinarian urged immediate surgery, which had no guarantee of success in stemming the tide of what looked like spreading cancer. She was willing to try it but the operation was impossible because her near minimum wage salary didn’t allow her to afford the $700 cost (paid in advance).
I introduced her to our head of animal spiritual connection. To be brief, we all agreed to frequently pray for the cat’s healing while picturing in our minds the cat as totally healthy (this is based upon the philosophy called Religious Science). For two weeks, I set aside 5 to 10 minutes a day for this task.
Good news! Earlier this week I heard from the young lady. Her cat is completely well! I went over to see. I had stopped by a few weeks ago and saw for myself the walnut sized tumor on his head and his noticeably shaky state of health. Now the tumor is gone without a trace and the affectionate creature could not appear happier or healthier. He has a new lease on life. And in some ways, so have I.
He beat the odds and so can we. Good people working together can make a difference. Yes there are many bad people in our world who seek to fill us with fear so they can keep us down. They want us to be like children who are afraid of the Boogie Man. When you feel that fear, stop and remind yourself that the Boogie Man only has as much power as we give him because he isn’t real. If we refuse to believe in him then he evaporates into nothingness. When you see others in fear, remind them of the same. The Apostle, Paul urged us to “… not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2) Transform your mind and the minds of people around you with positive and beautiful thoughts and the world will become better.
Perhaps the depth of despair which we find ourselves in will be the turning point toward better times, much like the old platitude says, “It is always darkest before the dawn.”
Last Friday’s beautiful spring weather caused me such giddy delight that I took a foolhardy risk and I mowed the lawn. The resulting severe bout of allergies put me almost completely out-of-action for most of this past week. I have been laid-low with snot-clogged head, nose, and chest and eyes watering like faucets. I teetered on the edge of severe illness from sinus & respiratory infections. But, at last, regular dosing with anti-histamines, nasal sprays, herbal teas, and other concoctions along with repeated positive self-affirmations re-enforcing good health have done the trick. I am well.
Hallelujah, I am saved! That is, saved from another run-in like the one I had this past winter, when my allergies brought on bronchitis, laryngitis, and near-pneumonia. I found myself in the unfortunate position of being forced to partake of this country’s “health-care system,” which is a draconian mess worthy of feature in a Charles Dickens’ novel.
How sad that our time has no equivalent to novelist Charles Dickens, who managed to so-effectively skewer the selfish cruelty of the dimbulb middle-class & aristocracy of Victorian-era Britain. While thoroughly entertaining his readers, Dickens was able to show how the British Empire was carried on the backs of the impoverished and mistreated masses and how unworthy the ruling class was of holding power. The popularity of his writings helped turn the tide against barbaric practices such as child-labor. Today’s updated Reaganite version of the Victorian-era begs to be savaged by a skilled lampoonist. Thank goodness we have Jon Stewart!
And I see that, while I have been down for the count, the greedy collection of nitwits that we Americans allow to rule our affairs continues to do their utmost to destroy civilization and the biosphere. The residual exhaustion of fighting illness all week leaves me in no mood to put-up with their shenanigans.
BP has blown a massive hole in the ocean floor which now spews unimaginable amounts of crude into the Gulf of Mexico. Ocean currents will carry the deadly goo around to the U.S. east coast and many other places on our globe. As usual, there are scandalous rumblings of slackened regulations in exchange for lined pockets. Here in America, we have become so used to this sort of graft that it barely brings our collective mind out of its coma long enough to become outraged. I wonder how much more environmental abuse can be absorbed before our ecosystem fails once and for all.
But hold on there! All is well. BP has stepped up to the plate and says they will bear the financial responsibility for the disaster. That is awfully nice of them, although I am surprised that there would even be a question about that. Quite frankly though, it looks to me like this clean-up is probably going to take a good bit more than even their latest quarterly profit of $6 billion will cover. If so, I say the U.S. government should confiscate all the assets of the company to use toward fixing this problem. And yes, they are a foreign company (BP = British Petroleum) but so what?
On Thursday the stock market plummeted frighteningly due to some sort of computerized trading problem. By now, anyone who does not realize that our entire financial system is one big, rigged casino would have to be completely brain-dead or Republican. Having lost my ass(ets) in the 2008 economic train-wreck, I have no stocks. As the old song says: “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” So I am tempted to say… actually I think I will say: let the stockmarket go completely off the cliff. Maybe then all the high-rollers that attach such importance to it will all jump out of skyscraper windows. Then we can start working on fixing the real economy.
While I was recuperating, I watched the 2007 movie, Zodiak, about the infamous serial-killer of perhaps 37 victims in the 1960′s-1970′s. Zodiak was never caught. And he was no shirker, he put time into his work. He was not satisfied to merely commit murders over a large area of California & Nevada, he also created & mailed complex coded messages to police and newspapers, he staged a phone-in tv news program with renowned attorney Melvin Belli, and he even sewed himself an elaborate scary costume to wear.
What I ask about creatures like Zodiac, or the heads of companies like BP, or any of the other assorted monsters who ruin life on this planet for the rest of us, is: why? Why can you not put your time, talent, and energy into things that will make the world better for us? And for some mysterious reason, the past few decades have brought us more and more and more intelligent people who choose to put their energies into things that harm the rest of us. I do not understand it, but to them it is fun.
Take Karl Rove, for instance. His activities during this past decade were among those that finally convinced me that some people are just evil. But let us, for a few minutes imagine if a brilliant mind like Karl Rove concentrated on some project like getting food to hungry children, instead of just being a complete, destructive prick?
Let us continue to ask why many of our best minds have gone bad and imagine them turning to good. Then, perhaps, we will reshape reality to manifest a better world.
by Reverend Hothoneywater
The oil rig environmental catastrophe taking place in the gulf coast is a national disgrace. Add it to the list. Along with the coal miners recently killed by cave-ins. Also, tack on the soldiers dying for control of Middle East oil to the list. And then remind yourself that it doesn’t have to be this way. The United States could be doing a lot more to wean itself off these dirty and irreplaceable forms of energy.
Germany, for example, has set itself a goal of obtaining 50% of its energy needs from renewable sources such as solar and geothermal by 2050. I wouldn’t bet against them; they’ve just finished building a huge offshore wind farm as one of the steps along the path and, thanks to cash incentives to citizens for installing solar panels, cloudy Germany is the world’s #1 producer of solar electricity. And do you remember all that blather during the campaign when candidate Obama pledged to create green jobs? Well, Germany already has over a quarter million jobs in the renewable energy sector and realistically expects many more in the near future. Japan is determined not to be left behind, so they’ve put many incentives in place to drive the their clean energy industries, including putting solar cells on all their public schools by the year 2020. Even Spain has positioned itself as one of the leading nations in solar energy technology.
And yet here in America, if you watch the tv news you’ll often see representatives of our business & politics sit there and pooh-pooh the practicality of these renewable energy sources. The technology is unproven, unprofitable, and can’t possibly supply enough power to meet our American demands. They portray green energy as a myth believed in by either science fiction buffs or the pitifully gullible. Meanwhile, our only real choice is to drill baby drill.
The “no we can’t” crowd finds it in their best interest to keep us enslaved to Big Oil, at least until they find a way to control the Sun. But what America finds impossible - other nations are doing.
Take trains, for instance. And I wish I could. Back in the early 1970′s my mother took me on one of the last runs of a train that went from Dayton, Ohio to Richmond, Indiana about 50 miles away. She wanted me to see what it was like before the trains were all gone. Although trains are one of the most efficient ways to move people or freight, America gave up on them a long time ago. For many decades, the majority of America’s transportation funding has gone into building highways for ever increasing automobile traffic. Back in 1964, Japan started running its “bullet trains” at speeds of 130 mph and has been improving them ever since. China runs trains at 220 mph. Imagine sitting back comfortably and reading a book or taking a nap while you are carried to your destination at 220 miles an hour! Most every developed nation, and a number of the less-developed, has high speed rail service. The U.S. of A. has a grand total of 1 high-speed (150mph) rail line and most the time it operates at an average speed of 63 mph. And I’d say that 63 mph is about double the speed of any American train I’ve ever seen. But at least we’re starting to make some effort in this area, as the 2009 economic stimulus included a relative pittance of funding for “projects that support the development of intercity high speed rail service.”
President Truman first proposed American universal government health care in 1945, calling it “a definite public responsibility.” By 1964, President Johnson got Medicare passed so the government would provide for the medical needs of our senior citizens (and it worked so well that even Tea Baggers love this socialist program). Finally this year, President Obama squeezed through a bill that promised to sort of bring us closer to almost making sure most law-abiding Americans maybe have health insurance even if that still means they may not necessarily receive health care. I won’t go into a detailed description about how civilized nations have managed set-up workable universal health care systems. But here is an excellent documentary from PBS Frontline called, “Sick Around the World.” Watch it and weep for the American people.
I can almost hear some of you saying, “Well then, Parson, maybe we just don’t have the money for all those fine things they have in countries like France or Cuba. And that’s because we spend so darn much of our money helping the poor, and the workers, and the families here in the Homeland. And on top of that, we give away so much darn money to other countries.” Sorry to deflate your hot-air balloon, friend, but the facts show the U.S. is actually one of the stingiest nations with its own people and foreigners.
No, we’re not falling behind because we share so generously with the downtrodden. In fact, the cause of America’s slide is exactly the opposite. Much like the kingdom of Israel in the Old Testament Book of Amos, fabulous prosperity for the ruling class has not been tempered with compassion and justice for the poor. God sent the prophet, Amos, to call-out Israel’s rulers about the way they selfishly trampled on the less-fortunate. Then he warned them that their behavior would bring about the near total destruction of their powerful nation at the hands of their enemies. By the way – they didn’t listen.
I would certainly never claim to be a prophet, but I can tell you this: The United States has enjoyed more than 60 years as the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. Unparalleled riches and power came our way. And it’s our national responsibility to use those riches wisely. Call it God or call it karma, but allowing millions of people to be exploited for the enrichment of a tiny greedy minority is a path to destruction of a powerful nation. Even a nation that has 5,113 nuclear warheads in its arsenal.
But as I said earlier in this essay: “It doesn’t have to be like this.”