Friday, November 22, 2013

November 22

The Inauguration

My first semester in college I went to University of Tennessee in Knoxville before I transferred to Tulane in New Orleans.  The word of the shooting came to all of us at the start of Engineering Chemistry.  We were a big class of over fifty of the best and brightest.  The Professor, Dr. Bowman curtly stated,  "It is sad, but there's nothing we can do so let's begin..."  Science was everything to Bowman.  He put out the cigarette and began his lecture on atomic weights.  

Bowman was a brilliant teacher.  Everyone thought he was an angry character because the school didn't choose his book as the official text for Chemistry 101.  Bowman always wore red ties and brown leather Wellington boots, and he chain smoked unfiltered Chesterfield cigarettes.   

After class I walked alone slowly through the main hall.  A young black man in a nice jacket and tie trudged past me crying openly swaying clenched fists as if to ask why.  The blonde woman who taught me freshman english leaned against a doorway and held her face in her hands to hide her tears.  A girl I knew from math class sat on the stairs shaking her head.  

As I walked back home to my dorm, I recalled the year before as I waited with my friend Marbut Gaston on the roadside near Vanderbilt University in Nashville.  We heard the president was speaking at the stadium there and his motorcade was going by soon.  For those days in small-town Nashville we always knew what was going on... always.  

Soon the motorcycles came by and then a couple of dark cars with very important people.  Then the black convertible slowly came over the rise to almost a stop.  The handsome sandy haired man looked directly into my eyes and smiled.  He saluted me and my friend as he spoke.  

"Hello boys you're looking good,"  said President John Fitzgerald Kennedy to me and my friend.  

"He's just like us!  What a good guy,"  I thought.  

What an incredible guy he was.  

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Neo-Know-Nothings

The Know-Nothing Flag of 1850

Long time Republican good old boy Ed Meese was Attorney General under Reagan. Nowadays Meese is part of Heritage Foundation... a John Birch Society clone from the Koch Brothers legacy (Poppa Koch founded the original). In the 1960s Civil Rights times, the Birchers wore respectable suits and ties, but if you scratched one you'd find a hooded white robe and a burning cross tattoo. 

As for our modern John Birchers, the Tea Party Republicans, to find any comparable movement I think you must go back in time to another Republican skin disease in the early days of our republic.  The stylishly named Know-Nothings had a run from about 1845 to about 1860. Nationally they called themselves both the American Republican Party and the Native American Party. In those days a "Native American" meant a white person born in the USA. They were a big deal in Ohio in the area that is now Boehner's district. Their big issue was immigration and they hated the Catholic Irish people invading America in those days. They were a violent sect, and they even burned a Catholic church in Maine. They had chaotic shoot outs over governor candidates in Kentucky leaving twenty-two dead. They were very secretive and even sounded like a fraternity. They probably had a secret handshake. In their twilight Lincoln quashed their candidates in Illinois. 

The Know-Nothings one saving grace was Congressman Nathaniel P. Banks who helped buy Alaska. Old Nathan served in the Union army where in perilous battle he learned well the corporate raider instincts that in our century young candidate Romney very safely picked up at Harvard Business School. All those business people in Washington knew there was certainly a lot of mining money to be made up north to Alaska. Just like the Mitten, the pluperfect patriot Nathan served a time as Governor of Massachusetts. 

Much later after the great Civil war some of the Know-Nothings Southern "nativist" members were founders of the Ku Klux Klan. Finally in our time, Martin Scorsese used one sordid killer Know-Nothing character in his "Gangs of New York" movie. All of the smelly Tea Party Republican creeps in congress are basically Neo-Know-Nothings. 

Really all these Tea Party Republican types and John Birchers should just move on down to Texas... where all are sheltered from everything Western civilization has discovered in the past thousand years. 

But please, please everyone... know about this: The present-day Tea Party Republican rave is not because of beliefs or opinions or philosophy. 

It looks like they really do not care about the polls. They must be getting their payoff some other way! And I believe it is all about the money. Everybody knows we have a Tea Party Republican Pay-Per-Vote™ US Congress. 

If the Tea Party Republican crew in our Congress can cause the market to tank or to rise they stand to make millions. Tea Party Republican skippers Ryan and Boehner and McConnell and Cruz and the Koch Brothers are all short-selling America and manipulating the stock market. 

Plus the whole scam is timed to be in the center of the Tea Party Republican Congress's term. They are counting on their constituents back home forgetting about all the disruption they caused. Very treacherous but probably very true. 

They should all be in jail with old Bernie Madoff... we could build a new prison in Texas.  

The Klan Parading in DC 1926 

Paul Ryan Posing in DC 2012  

Special thanks to Terraplane Marquez for his evocative comments 
on Ed Meese the original Neo-Know-Nothing pinup.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Trickle Down Economics Failed America

Any realistic look at the past six years of the US Economy proves without question the need for more reliance on Fiscal Policy for economic recovery. That is, the US Economy needs some pure Keynesian Fiscal Policy. The national government needs to hire people to boost the economy. National monetary policy is conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank. The Fed has done as much as it can with bond purchasing and interest rate reductions. 

Mainly by boosterism the Reaganist economic trust of the past century exalted the monetarists as the fountainhead of America's economic greatness. Monetary economists like Milton Friedman were deified and adored by the Reaganist "trickle down school." Reagan nominated Alan Greenspan to run the Fed based on that delusional pet dogma coupled later with the laissez-faire everything destruction of the Glass-Steagall Act. Passed under FDR in the depths of the Depression of the 1930s to closely regulate the banking sectors of the US Economy, the Glass-Steagall Act worked well for sixty-seven years. The Act had a simple purpose: To prevent the Federal Government from ever paying the bill when the banks went bankrupt. Under Glass-Steagall the banks had to pay for their own corrupt practices. Glass-Steagall was effectively repealed by the ironically entitled Gramm–Leach–Bliley Financial Modernization Act of 1999. 

As we all witnessed in 2007 our Federal government was forced to correct the lousy decisions made by unknown hucksters in the banking and finance businesses all over America and literally across the world. It was and remains a huge tab to both shore up these huge financial corporations, and deadly ground wars in Asia. The tab is still largely unpaid because the US Congress is unable to pass any needed increases in taxes. Many older people may recall that under President Eisenhower after World War II taxes were very heavy on higher income people and companies. The war debt needed to be paid. And incredibly, the American taxpayer continues to give a lot of money to some very, very wealthy managers and CEOs in the deal. 

Latter day Reaganists continue to celebrate the freedom for the very, very wealthy people who run corporations to trickle down their money to the peon workers of our nation. "Trickles" of money dripping into the economy controlled by hyper-wealthy individuals and oligopoly banks and other financial companies is now clearly not enough drip to sway the national economy one direction or another. So, listen to this all you GOTP congress people and loudmouths on cable news: Conspicuous consumption by a privileged few is not the key to a better nation or an elixir to an ailing US economy. 

The lack of funding for the US Federal budget engineered by the US Congressional GOTP faction has been a heavy weight on our growth. Sadly the USA has become a third world country in many ways. Our Economic system is a circus without a ringmaster because our national and state governments are largely controlled by sordid extremist business interests. 

The Reaganist laissez-faire dogma gives us streets controlled by militaristic police forces financed largely by the state and national governments. Can't really blame them. Look at the weapons the local police face in their day to day jobs. AK47s and Glocks and all manner of military assault weapons. Thank you NRA and other extremist dogmatic gun people for aiding and abetting murder of our police people and regular citizens. The nation looks like Lebanon in 1975. 

Every administration since World War II has tried to improve our educational system. Here the problem is too much regulation. Too much of some political agenda in the classroom. Our educational system is controlled largely by dogma from state and national governments and religious and political fascist groups. Teachers in schools all over America need more freedom to teach. Leave them alone and let them teach bird watching if they want. And if some GOTP creep representative can't stand more freedom for a worker teacher, let the representative go and try it themselves for a while. Put the class up on Cable news and C-Span. Let's all see how they do after seven months of ten hours a day classroom work for an eighth of the pay they get in Washington. 

Why does all of this continue? Our Pay-Per-Vote US Congress. Not satisfied with their Federal paychecks, GOTP creeps like Canter and Boehner and Rubio and many others are Cashiers for our Pay-Per-Vote congress. Now Ka-Ching, vote for this. Ka-Ching, vote for that. Ka-Ching, Ka-Ching, Ka-Ching. They love that sweet Ka-Chingy sound. Rubio even touts some cheapo bottled water by guzzling from the product bottle brand for his devoted audience on C-Span.  Ka-Ching. Ka-Ching. Ka-Ching. 

What more can be said? One long term solution may be to get the money out of politics, but this is such a cliche it has lost all meaning to the body politic. 

Call it what it is! The GOTP people are not clowns nor is their circus funny. They are dangerous and destructive to everything that is democracy. Their stated goal is to destroy our present form of government. Once we have voted these people and their Reaganist dogmas out of office we must restore the power of the Federal government to monitor and regulate not only our financial systems, but also all those weapons in the hands of hateful racist and sociopathic GOTPs in hiding. The time is now. We can't wait any longer because all our lives are at stake and our childrens' freedom is in the balance. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Listen Up America • Update Spring 2014 "Just like tobacco, guns do kill people."

Let's install a chip in every gun in America. If a gun is found without a chip the gun is to be scrapped and melted down. We Americans have GPS chips in our cars and in our phones and in our laptops and in our dogs and our cats and on many felons with ankle bracelets and even in some of our kids. So it is proven the technology works and works well. Authorities would have access to the position of any gun, anywhere in America at any time. This is not an invasion of privacy. This is a reasonable step in the prevention of gun murders and gun accidents in our nation. This could save untold lives. The NRA and gun people will not allow our congress or our states or our cities to effectively control gun sales and misuse so let's simply track where the people with guns are located. Then if some people kill or maim with a gun we'll be able to find them and the weapon for police and the courts to use as evidence at trial. 

In January 1936 Hitler's Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels declared, "We can do without butter, but despite all our love of peace not without arms. One cannot shoot with butter, but with guns." And for once in his wretched life Goebbels said something truthful. As a result of his media deceptions most savvy people consider Goebbels the father of modern propaganda. Now even with all the delirious militant gun carriers in Fly-Over-America and the lavish NRA spin doctors in Washington let's try to put some reason in a look at guns and the impact of gunshot trauma on the regular people of our nation. 

A couple of years ago January 2011 in Tucson, Arizona US Representative Gabrielle Giffords was direly injured by gunshot. A beautiful and bright nine year old girl Christina-Taylor Green was murdered by gunshot. A US Federal Judge John Roll was murdered by gunshot. Representative Gifford's aide Gabe Zimmerman was murdered by gunshot. Her husband George tried to shield her, but Dorothy "Dot" Morris was murdered by gunshot. Dorwan Stoddard tried to shield his wife Mavy and he was murdered by gunshot. A church volunteer Phyllis Schneck was murdered by gunshot. Susan Hileman, Pamela Simon, Ronald Barber, James Tucker, Kenneth Veeder, George Morris, James Fuller, Randy Gardner, Mary Reed, Kenneth Dorushka, and Bill Badger were all wounded by gunshot. The shooter bought his automatic hand gun with an extended thirty shot clip at a mall sporting goods store. Prior to trial, the shooter was diagnosed with schizophrenia and he is now in prison. How could these murders have been prevented? 

In July of 2012 a dozen people were murdered and over seventy injured at a movie house in Aurora, Colorado. Most of the murdered were young people: Jonathan Blunk, Alexander J. Boik, Jesse Childress, Gordon Cowden, Jessica Ghawi, John Larimer, Alex Sullivan, Alexander C. Teves, Rebecca Wingo. The shooter used several weapons including a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 (military & police 15) assault rifle. How could these lives have been saved? 

Six months later, in December of 2012 another rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.  A very damaged man killed his mother and then drove to a nearby school where he murdered Rachel D'Avino a teacher's aide, Dawn Hochsprung school principal, Anne Marie Murphy a teacher's aide, Lauren Rousseau a teacher, Victoria Leigh Soto a teacher,  Mary Sherlach, school psychologist, and first grade students Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Dylan Hockley, Madeleine Hsu, Catherine Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, Ana Marquez-Greene, James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Benjamin Wheeler, Allison Wyatt.  These are not just names. These are six year old and seven year old little kids. Twenty six people who were attending school or just teaching were murdered. After murdering all these people and wounding others the shooter killed himself.  The NRA gun people propaganda machine noted that the gun was given to the shooter by his own mother. The mother should never have been allowed to buy that gun. 

Recently this June 2013 a man firing an assault rifle along a street and at a college in Santa Monica, California killed five people. That man should never have been sold that assault rifle.

This past September week another twelve people were murdered in the Washington Navy Yard.  The shooter was a schizophrenic who heard voices in the wind, and the shooter was able to easily get cleared for a legal permit to carry a weapon by the vile adolescent cowboy culture of Texas.  

Now in June 2014 more murders of police officers in Las Vegas by psychotic white supremacists.  Last month a teacher and security administrator in Watts, Los Angeles was murdered in a drive-by shooting.  The murders continue every day in America.  The NRA and Wayne Lapierre continue to aid and abet the crimes of murder and child endangerment in our America. 

According to the FBI in Washington, every 58 minutes in 2009 someone in the USA was murdered by a gun either a handgun, or a rifle, or a shotgun, or some other unknown type of firearm. This statistic ignores the numerous wounded who may survive only to be subjected to months of recovery or those with spinal injuries whose lives are shattered forever. 

To not do something about all of these killings and all these sadistic injuries is cowardly and demented. It is simple ethics to consider how more murders may be prevented. What is the right thing to do about this? 

A few years in the past Americans smoked cigarettes in bars and in restaurants and even in elevators and on airplanes. Sometime in the 1990's an awareness came over the social consciousness of our nation. Scientists proved that cigarette smoke cause cancer. The scientists later proved that people who do not smoke can also get cancer from cigarette smoke just by breathing smokey air. So we stopped smoking so much. We passed laws to prevent people from smoking in public facilities, and then in work places. One solid reason for the new laws was that each government entity held a responsibility to protect the safety and health of the people. A cowardly government may be brought to account for relinquishing that government's responsibility to protect the people. A gun is no different than a cigarette. A gun murders people just like a cigarette murders people. 

The gun people and the NRA people have a propaganda mantra about people killing people not guns. That is a lie. Guns do kill people. Proof positive, ask any mother from the Tucson murders or the Aurora, Colorado murders or the Sandy Hook murders. Replace that lie with something truthful like "Only cowards carry guns." The gun people and the NRA people certainly will hate this epithet. They are cowards. The gun people and the NRA people are fearful of unseen evils. The gun people and the NRA people have always clearly known the price of everything, and the value of nothing. 

Conservatively about 250,000 people are living with Spinal Cord Injury in the USA. Of those about 13% are a result of gunshot wounds according to the American Medical Association. That is 32,500 people who may be paraplegic by gunshot and confined to wheelchairs or sometimes they may be quadraplegics by gunshot and cannot care for themselves at all. In the most extreme cases care would be provided for the rest of their lives by their families or possibly through state and federal crime victim funds. 

The human sorrow from gunshot violence cannot be measured. The medical cost of treating gunshot injuries is multiple billions of dollars every year. The cost of ambulances and emergency treatments at the scene of the violence is multiple billions of dollars every year. And police investigations for gunshot crimes is multiple billions of dollars every year. All these costs are born usually by city and county governments. There is no other way to cover those costs except by taxing the purchase of guns and ammunition. But the federal government's hands are tied by the deranged and cowardly NRA gun people in Washington. 

That deranged Nazi Joe Goebbels tagged the first rule of propaganda:  Loudly declare that the evil you are doing is "really" being done by your opponent.  Psychologists call this projection.  If some psychopath has a bag of money to buy media time the spinmeisters can succeed easily in distracting many, many people from the real problem just like the psychopaths did in 1930s Germany. 

The gun people and the NRA gun people say that only people kill people.  But that propaganda lie gives us a warning that we should prevent psychotic gun people from getting guns and ammunition. We need to severely restrict the types of guns sold in America. We need to severely regulate how guns are sold. We need to put in place a precise and comprehensive investigation of any buyer's background.  Only cowardly people oppose background checks. 

Our city and county and state and federal representatives cannot pass any new laws that regulate the sale of guns. So let the President declare that sales of guns and ammunition must be regulated for the safety of the people of the nation under the US Constitution's Preamble "to insure the domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our prosperity." 

Legally and ethically the Preamble trumps the Second Amendment. We need to codify harsh penalties for the illegal sale of guns. It is a heinous failure of our local and federal governments to not protect the regular people of America. We have a "Do Not Fly" list. Why not a "Do Not Buy" list to prevent psychotic and criminal people from buying guns? 

There's some foul sickness in the body politic that we have not yet vigorously demanded laws to regulate guns. The infection continues to corrode America's future, gunshot murder by gunshot murder. Any controls will take enormous resolve.  The propaganda spin by the gun people and the NRA gun people is oppressively loud and lavishly financed. Perhaps now at last there's some change in the air to quash that flood of distortion. 

A dead tenderhearted girl. A dead young father in a movie theater.  A dead first grader in a sheltered classroom surrounded by one after another dead school mate. Only cowards carry guns. 

(Please note this post updates for the third time, the commentary originally published in January 2011. The story of guns and gun people has become a continuing American cliche of horror and unremitting disgrace. The NRA has found a way to stop any legislation in the US congress, and the NRA is targeting Colorado legislators who voted for gun regulation. The NRA is clearly a propaganda cabal that aids and abets murder.) 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Storied Pomp & Politics of Immigration While Our US Congress Stalls Again

The Statue of Liberty 
Lower Manhattan in 1999

In Red Belt Tennessee in the McCarthy era we fourth graders memorized this insightful poem. Maybe all those tea party republican creeps in congress like Boehner and McConnell and Ryan who are trying to game the system for more lobby money before they vote on an Immigration bill should read this poem. Please put your pomp and the net balance in your leadership PAC aside and do something for the good of the nation.

The New Colossus 1883 

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; 

Her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" 

Cries she with silent lips. 
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" 

Emma Lazarus 

The writer Emma Lazarus lived for many years on West 10th Street in Manhattan. Much of her life was dedicated to helping newly arrived Jewish immigrants learn a new language and worker skills. Because of pogroms in Europe and Russia, she became an early advocate of creating a homeland for Jews in Palestine. She wrote this poem to help fund and to honor the new Statue in New York Harbor.