Hey, Lookee What We Found!

June 14, 2010 at 10:26 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Will you just look at that? Good fortune smiles once again on the U.S. of A. After spending a trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000), slaughtering over a million (1,000,000) enemy combatants & bystanders, and sacrificing over sixty-five hundred (6,500) occupation force troops so-far in our endless War on Terror, it turns out that Afghanistan has rich mineral deposits that should be worth one trillion to three trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000 – $3,000,000,000,000). And that is in addition to the oil we didn’t go in there for in the first place.

By Jupiter’s long, white beard! I should have know better than to doubt the good business-sense of our Capitalists. Their noses root-out money like Scout Hogs find truffles. When I stood in front of the local Federal Building almost 9 years ago with my “NO BLOOD FOR OIL!” sign, I had no idea the Afghans also had an immense treasure trove of iron, cobalt, copper, gold, and lithium. Senior American officials say the untapped deposits are “far beyond any previously known reserves.” America will never run-out of batteries. This changes everything!

Of course, the knee-jerk reaction of the hate-America crowd will be to say that our upper echelon knew of, or at least suspected, the presence of this highly desirable hoard. But this is utter nonsense and it is insulting! Our government and the companies that own it are scrupulously honest and above board. As the late, great Richard Nixon was fond of saying: “Let me be perfectly clear” about this: Our fat-cats absolutely did not allow the September 11th attacks to take place as a pretext to get us into war. They never set up our former ally, the CIA asset known as “Osama Bin Ladin,” as a straw-man in order to invade and occupy Afghanistan. They did not do these things so as to remove Afghanistan’s Taliban government, which had opposed a tremendously profitable oil pipeline that would carry crude from Eurasia, across Afghanistan, to Pakistan.

Since our masters did none of those devious things. Why would we doubt them about these suddenly discovered vast repositories of minerals? No, I feel we can rest-assured that they bumbled us into, and kept us in, this ridiculous costly & tragic war with no thought of long-term monetary gain for the elite. America’s corporations would have been happy to simply have the hundreds of billions of dollars they stole through war-profiteering. But then…this…unexpected gift just falls into their laps! CEO’s must be weeping for joy & falling on their knees to thank Beelzebub.

Well, now that we know our newly democratic friends have all this wealth, I think we can all agree that any plans to ever leave their country must be shelved. Will we annex Afghanistan as the 51st U.S. state or merely view it as a perpetual protectorate where we, of course, permanently station our troops? Either way, we can look at history to provide a clue as to how the U.S. will treat a population that gets in the way of exploiting natural resources. Just ask the Native Americans about that.

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You Know the Drill

May 28, 2010 at 12:45 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

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?

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Holes

May 21, 2010 at 5:24 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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.

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Another Word for Freedom

May 8, 2010 at 6:19 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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.

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See How the Mighty Have Fallen!

May 4, 2010 at 5:33 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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.”

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Late Night Ramblings

March 6, 2010 at 10:42 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

by Colonel Girdle

Dayton, Ohio, 3:30 a.m.

Since I could not sleep because of worry, I got online to find-out how to apply for a job with the U.S. Census. I have applied for job after job, even the ones that would probably not pay enough for me live. So that means I’ll have to work at two crappy jobs… or maybe three. I know people who are already doing that. Once upon a time, I was middle-class. I had worked my way through college and then, with 22 years of hard work, had made my way up into management at one of Dayton’s many solid, large companies. Then one day nine years ago, I was downsized along with hundreds of my co-workers. The company went away to greener pastures of cheaper labor/fewer regulations, and also there went my insurance, vacation, & retirement; all casualties of the only developed nation that ties everything to a person’s job.

Since that day, I have worked at jobs far worse than the crummy ones I had in my youth. For just one example, for about a month I was a subcontractor (that is like an employee, but they are not responsible for anything bad that happens to you) for a company that “recycled” the boiling-hot oil from restaurant deep fryers. I would pull the greasy van up to the back door, trundle a 200 lb. filtering machine on tiny wheels down the slippery ramp and into the building. There I vacuumed the 350 degree oil from the fryer so it could circulate through the filtering machine while I used putty knife & steel wool to scour char off the scortching cooker (all the while praying I wouldn’t get badly scalded), shoot the oil back into the fryer, then head to the next location. By the end of the day I was covered with reeking sour oil & sweat and could hardly stand-up because the bottom of my shoes were slick as snot.

In between the crummy jobs I owned a few small businesses. I sold natural pain cream at a flea market, I had a janitorial company where I did 90% of the janitoring, I sold used CD’s & DVD’s at a flea market. If any of those things were once a good way to make money, they sure aren’t now. Myrtle helped me with these, as best she could, while working at her own jobs.

I wound-up working in a convenience store and from that experience my desperation gave me the really awful idea that taking all our remaining assets and buying a store was a good idea. Blinded by love, Myrtle went down that bumpy road with me. I will not go into further detail recounting that four-year-disaster and the constant 100 hour workweeks we put in. Memory of it brings on a sort of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Suffice it to say that it was not too big to fail. It went belly-up during the late 2008-early 2009 crash with nary a peep from the Bush nor Obama Administrations.

As a result, I am more broke than I have ever been in my life. Actually, I’m far, far into the negative net worth zone. At first, I still hoped to find a way to dig myself out of debt. But I soon learned that was the impossible dream when, for instance, the credit card company I had for 15 years lent a helping hand by increasing my interest rate to 29.99% – when I had never missed a payment. Now they are getting 0%, since I’ll be filing for bankruptcy (guilt-free I might add) just as soon as I can finish the paperwork. I am far from alone in my struggles. My circle of friends & family recommend good bankruptcy lawyers the way we used to recommend good restaurants. People I know who used to “have it made” are sinking and everyone under them is drowning or already drowned. I personally know (and try to help) people who have taken to living in basements, cars, and tents! (By the way – See our “Friends” link to A Voice for the Commonwealth)

Being poor wasn’t a huge adjustment. Myrtle and I had never been big-spenders. We did not believe in materialism. We’ve never had a desire for trendy clothes or the latest electronic gadget. Instead, we put our spare time, money, and energy into charity work and enjoyed the simple things in life. However, I was used to paying the bills and having money left-over. Now buying a cheap bottle of shampoo is a financial decision that requires thought.

Our system will collapse, probably soon, from its own crushing weight. Every time I see, hear, or read about the latest actions of our business-government “leaders,” I derive comfort from knowing I am speeding that collapse along: My lack of spending denies money to the military-industrial-entertainment-healthcare complex and I’m too poor to pay taxes to the rotten government it owns.

But I don’t mean to sound bitter.

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Monster

February 15, 2010 at 2:43 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Afghan civilians were killed by mis-guided NATO rockets while American forces fought to take over the town of Marjah. The linked article says the deaths will be “a blow to NATO and Afghan efforts to win the support of residents in the Marjah area.” Gosh, do you think so?

I’m ashamed to admit this. But back in the mid-1990’s, in what seems now like someone else’s lifetime, I had a great job and money to spare to invest. In one of the financial magazines (I think it was Forbes) I read an article that said the U.S. had, for years, wanted to build a pipeline across Afghanistan so as to move Russian oil to port for shipment. What stood in the way was the Taliban government who would not let it happen. Well, I figured America’s oil company criminals would find a way to clear that obstacle, so I went out and bought stock in a few of the oil companies named in that article (Conoco was one of them). So I was completely unsurprised when the U.S. found a pretense to invade Afghanistan, remove the uncooperative Taliban, and occupy the country for the next gazillion years.

Unfortunately for my wallet, I had to sell the stocks long before 9/11 because I was downsized from my good job & needed immediate cash to survive. Besides, nowadays I could never countenance playing such games with peoples’ lives, especially after I learned first-hand that the rich & powerful can just as easily play with my life too.

My deepest sympathy & regrets to the Afghan people. America has truly become a monster.

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