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Truth To Power

the strong do as they wish, and the weak suffer as they must

The craven bootlicking of the status quo

November 19th, 2011 by James Mann

The “Occupy” movement is a cancer. The “occupiers” are criminals and terrorists. The Obamaville is a creeping death made of Nylon, placards and human waste. This movement is a third-world rot that will infect us all if we do not sterilize it now.

Phil Elmore, The festering Obamavilles

Phil Elmore writes for World Net Daily, which gives you pretty much everything you need to know about him. WND is a place where facts and reality take a back seat to spurious rumors, internet get rich scams, and of course anti-Obama racism. It’s a playground for the reality-challenged among us, home to the 25% of citizens that just can’t accept and instead read Chuck Norris. As the Occupy movement has grown, the crowd at WND has upped their condemnation of it, of which “The festering Obamavilles” is just the latest example of their blind panic that someone might upset the status quo. “Protesters” and “occupiers” in quotes, because they aren’t really protesting, instead they’re “shiftless losers who don’t care about anything” who “comprise countless lesser terrorist campaigns whose goal is to intimidate and punish the public“.

“Call out the National Guard. Turn on the fire hoses. Send bulldozers. Bring flame-throwers, for pity’s sake. Men and women who give a damn about their country, wearing Hazmat suits and respiratory gear, empowered by the lawful government of this nation, should be marching in ranks on every Obamaville this very moment, prepared to beat with truncheons and shoot with rubber bullets every last filthy hippie. Put a stop to this miserable army of miscreants before they are permitted to rape, infect, or ruin one more person.”

Goodness, methinks Phil- self-proclaimed martial arts “expert”- is frightened. He’s frightened that his Horatio Alger/God Bless America fantasy is finally being shown to be rubbish. Every paragraph in his screed contains a lie, even the title. “Obamavilles” is a misnomer- they can’t stand him, and for all his “understanding” of the movement, he still sicced the DoJ on the protesters in a coordinated effort across the country. Phil can’t seem to find any “message” in the movement- “Their targets range from shadowy corporate interests to equally ill-defined powers-that-are“. Oh no, someone said something mean about a corporation, thank goodness Elmore springs to the their defense. The fact that big business- and particularity the big banks- will grind him up just like everyone else matters not to Phil, as long as “filthy hippies” get crushed.

“They are lib hippie left-wing protesters, and lib hippie left-wing protestors are notorious for flouting basic standards of human decency.” Those “standards” are defined by a good American such as Phil Elmore, one suspects. Drawing attention to the income inequality in this country and stating the common-sense “Corporations Aren’t People” is “endangering the public” whereas his censorship of free speech by flamethrower is a-ok. It’s as if Elmore was in a coma since Woodstock, and like the Japanese troops stuck on islands that didn’t know the war was over, you can almost imagine Phil shouting “Get a haircut!” and racing home to watch Lawrence Welk.

Conservatives and liberals literally have different brains. Liberals cope better with change, whereas conservatives enjoy the status quo, and have a larger part of the brain that deals with fear and recognizes threats. Change to a conservative means potentially abandoning long-held beliefs and practices, and is something to be viewed with uncertainly and doubt. If one begins to question authority, then who will protect you when times are tough? For all the Ayn Rand dribble about “going it alone” and the “individual over the masses”, conservatives crave a big government that can stomp out “the filthy rabble” that dares voice another opinion.

I hate to break it to Phil and his fellow armchair patriots, but their days are numbered. The greed and selfishness that has mired this country in the economic toilet since Reagan is rejected by the 99% movement. They don’t want endless wars, they don’t fear Sharia, or gays, or “illegals”. They don’t want Citizens United to be the law of land, they don’t want BP to poison the Gulf or a pipeline to pollute the midwest. The 99% want equality, not entitlements. They aren’t against corporations, but they don’t want them to own our government. For Phil and his followers, it’s ok to provide socialism when Goldman Sachs gambling goes south, but if a single mother needs healthcare, it’s “not with my taxes!” Billions and billions to fight little brown people in caves, but none to feed a homeless man. They think it’s fine for our tax dollars to go to rebuilding Afghanistan- but not Detroit.

One feels almost sorry for the Phil Elmores of the world, trapped in a make-believe world of “us vs. them”, trotting out tired, disposed of slogans from battles already lost, craving the comforting dominance of authority to make sense of a world that has passed them by. Almost sorry. But not really. Because it’s these people with their craven whimpering for the mommy/state to keep them safe and quash “the hippies” that holds us back, and drags the inevitable evolution of society to a crawl. It might take 5 years or 50, but in time the Phil Elmores and his ilk will be no more.

As someone who will always identify more with the “filthy hippies”, I say good riddance. Your generation has received your final grade- and it failed. Be a man and admit it. Or continue to read World Nut Daily in your mom’s basement- just get out of the way. Some people have had enough of the status quo.

Dear Tea Party: The honeymoon’s over.

November 9th, 2011 by James Mann

Well, had a few elections last night, how did that turn out?

Mississippi Voters Reject Personhood Amendment
Mississippi voters rejected a radical “personhood” constitutional amendment that defined a fertilized egg as a “person,” which effectively banned all abortions, birth control, and couples from conceiving children through in vitro fertilization.

Ohio Voters Emphatically Reject Kasich’s Anti-Union Law

Ohio Democrats, who got absolutely creamed in the 2010 elections, have now won a major victory over Republican Gov. John Kasich — massively winning a referendum to repeal Kasich’s anti-public employee union law.

AP: Maine Voters Say Yes To Same Day Registration
Voters in Maine have approved a ballot measure on allowing same day voter registration. The state had previously moved to require voters register no later than two days before an election. The state Republican Party had run ads urging the issue’s defeat, by suggesting that pro-gay rights groups supported it.

Arizona election results: Russell Pearce ousted, Jerry Lewis wins
The Arizona election results are in: according to the Associated Press, Arizona state Senator Russell Pearce has been ousted by voters and Republican Jerry Lewis has been elected to the state Senate. Senator Pearce was the chief proponent and architect of SB1070, Arizona’s controversial immigration law. According to the text of SB1070, the immigration law was designed “to discourage and deter the unlawful entry and presence of aliens and economic activity by persons unlawfully present in the United States.” However, SB1070 generated an intense public outcry from immigration rights activists.

Hmm. It appears that Americans love affair with the Tea Party has run its course. That was quick, almost like the Kardashian wedding. Since the elections of 2010, where the Astroturf Tea Party garnered impressive victories, folks have gotten a chance to actually live under the rule of the Koch brothers and Dick Armey. Farmers in states where severe anti-immigration laws became law hate it; they have no workers to pick the crops. It’s one thing to carp about illegals watching Fox and Friends, but faced with the reality of your livelihood going down the tubes due to racist demagogues is quite another.

John Kaisch, anti-union poster boy for the ALEC and the Koches, watched as voters emphatically put the smack down on his union-busting law, passed earlier this year. Guess Ohio voters didn’t like their collective bargaining rights stripped away to give more goodies to Republican-backed corporations. Didn’t help the Kaisch is a Neanderthal- check out the shirt he wore at a “Building A Better Ohio” meeting. What a yutz.

In their mad passion for power, the GOP around the country has attempted to limit the voting rights of, lets face it, democrats by various means, all supposedly to combat “voter fraud”, a problem that doesn’t exist- unless you think that voters not voting for them is fraudulent. In Maine they even trotted out the gay card in an attempt to sell their message, but even the “gay agenda” wouldn’t stop people from repealing a law meant to deprive people of their civil rights.

Will the Tea Party blow away? No, not entirely. There are a lot of confused, easily manipulated people out there, and as long as Obama is President, they will continue to blame him for all their woes- its just too easy. But in a recent poll, Americans showed where they stood:

Poll shows Occupy Wall Street more popular than Tea Party

A new survey from Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows that Occupy Wall Street, also known as the 99 Percent Movement, now has much more public support than the Tea Party. The PPP poll of 1,000 American adults shows that 27% have a “very positive” or “somewhat positive” view of the Tea Party, compared to 44% who have a “somewhat negative” or “very negative” view. In contrast, 32% have a “very positive” or “somewhat positive” view of Occupy Wall Street, compared to just 35% who have a “somewhat negative” or “very negative” view.

We’ll just have to admit that for about a quarter of our population (and tragically our corporate-owned media), reality doesn’t intrude. They will carry the posters with “Obama=Socialist” and leap to the defense of CEOs over school teachers, voting against their own interests each time. A rational person can’t debate them- their cluelessness is literally in their genes– so don’t even try. But as Tuesday’s voting around the country shows, the honeymoon is over for the Tea Party.

Thank god.

“The Iraq war is mine, yours, ours”…Not so fast.

October 31st, 2011 by James Mann

Henry David Thoreau was jailed in 1846 due in part to his refusal to pay a poll tax, because of its use in funding the Mexican-American War. From this experience he wrote The Rights and Duties of the Individual in relation to Government or as it is known today, Civil Disobedience. I wonder what Thoreau would have to say about this CNN op-ed, by Paul Rieckhoff, Iraq veteran, and the founder and executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, entitled The Iraq war is mine, yours, ours. In it Rieckhoff writes:

Whether one agreed with the Iraq war or not, we all own it now. That’s how our country works. Every single brave man and woman who wore the uniform overseas went over there wearing the American flag, representing us and our nation’s ideals.

I’m not Thoreau, just someone touched by his message. I find it reprehensible the statement “…representing us and our nation’s ideals.” My ideals do not include the invasion of a country based on lies. My ideals don’t involve regime change based on the whims of defense contractors. My ideals -and my flag- don’t include murdering innocents because of their religion and/or their geographic relationship to oil. My ideals cannot tolerate Abu Ghraib, the war crimes of Fallujah, or the endless destruction and loss of life that our debacle in Iraq continues to cause.

In Civil Disobedience Thoreau writes:

How does it become a man to behave toward this American government today? I answered that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it.

162 years later, and the disgrace continues. There is no reason to debate the Iraq war again. It was a mistake, a tragedy, and a farce- but I had nothing to do with it, because I had no input in the decision. I voted for no one who wanted to continue it, I marched against it before it began, and I wrote about the horrors and the depravity as it was on going. As much I as could- short of not paying my taxes- I resisted. When I see the “Support Our Troops” stickers I cringe. For those who were forced by our economic system of inequality to enlist, and then suffered brain injury and more because of it, I can understand, somewhat, the rational behind the action, and I feel for you.

But those who convinced themselves that “America’s Way Of Life” needed defending in the sands of some Middle East desert by waging a war against Islam and any other dark-skinned people we could find, fuck that. My nation’s way of life wasn’t impacted – except in the propagandist media – by Iraq. No one sent a scud or piloted a drone remotely so I could vote. Or exercise my free speech. Iraq didn’t threaten me or my country, and anyone who says different is either paid to say it, or a stooge for American Exceptionism, which is even worse. In fact, I’m 49 years old, and no war fought by my country in my lifetime has been a legitimate use of the American war machine. Not Vietnam, not Iraq, not Afghanistan. They were fought because men made money doing it. No other reason. So Paul Rieckhoff, you can keep the war. You made it possible, I didn’t. You made a salary fighting it, I didn’t.

Thoreau said: Any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one.

It’s not my war.

When wrong doesn’t matter

October 28th, 2011 by James Mann

Everybody knows at least one. A friend or family member who forwards you ridiculous emails, generally about one world government or Obama taking your guns away- he’s not, btw- or posts equally stupid crap on Facebook that makes you, by association in public, appear to be in solidarity with whatever nonsense their fevered brains cook up between World Nut Daily and Fox “News”. You can delete the emails or turn off their wall in Facebook, but still it leaks through. You can attempt to reply, but the true believers will never be convinced by mere facts, not when “FREEDOM!” or “LIBERTY!” is at stake- and they eventually make every argument boil down to that. For example, Michelle Obama wants to take away your breadsticks, don’t ya know? Probably the first step in the Obama plan of having us eat Soylent Green. You can go on and on, but I have to keep my blood pressure low, so I won’t.

But one of the most infuriating biases you run up against is the conservative manta that global warming or climate change is all a big hoax meant not to save the planet from its most meddlesome inhabitants, but rather a cunningly devised scheme to ban capitalism. Not that capitalism doesn’t deserve it, in a way- eat any shrimp from the Gulf recently? But any mention of cap and trade, or increasing car mileage standards gets the Hannity’s and the Cato Institute in a uproar, and they go on for hours about “evil liberals” and their “environmental activism” that is ruining life here in “…the greatest, best country God has ever given man on the face of the earth.” Now, I recycle and drive a hybrid, so apparently I too want to ban capitalism, by their fractured logic. Funny, I thought I did it to actually reduce my impact on the world. Gosh, I’ve been duped by those evil treehuggers!

Earlier in the week a friend posted this:

with “The picture says it all…” atop it. Now, the gist of the picture is that anytime large amounts of “liberals” get together, they trash the place. You heard the same charge after protesters filled the Wisconsin capital, and it was equally erroneous. The picture above, near as I can tell, is the aftermath of Occupy Oakland, after the police fired upon non-violent protesters with rubber bullets and tear gas. When you’re running for your life, you don’t have time to take down your tent. The police did that for you, after the park was cleared, by flattening the protesters personal property in a “search for contraband”. So much for the “picture says it all”- as long as the image can be used for propaganda, it will.

Well here’s an image that Sean Hannity won’t like:

That’s Miami. See, to some Floridians, climate change isn’t a myth, its actually happening in their front yards:

“Kipness says he never saw such flooding until a decade ago, but now sees it up to twice a day during the fall, when tides are especially high. He says he’s watched the undersides of $100,000 cars get rusted away by salt water.

This happens, many experts say, because of rising sea levels attributed to the melting of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. We can expect to see more of the same across South Florida in the coming years, as a warming climate accelerates the faraway melting. Researchers are just now beginning to grapple with what this will mean for the inner workings of the city.”

Cable news was all over the “climategate” myth, all smug and self-righteous that they had vindication of a hoax. But when Richard Muller, a former “skeptic” on climate change published “The Case Against Global-Warming Skepticism” in the Wall Street Journal, the Daily Show found that the 24 hours a day cable news organizations could only devote 27 seconds to the piece. Doesn’t matter the damage they did trumpeting disinformation, just so long as their rhetoric continued. Who cares about the facts? In an age where human beings are undoubtedly the most educated they have ever been, we still have to suffer from religious extremists “debating” evolution, or quoting fairy tales from a book of mythology to deny gay rights. Facts are open to bidding- and the Murdoch’s of the world, they have deep pockets. Maybe when the underside of their Mercedes gets rusted from saltwater in South Beach, they’ll come around.

Of course, then it’s most likely too late.

After 44 years, finally a discussion

October 22nd, 2011 by James Mann

True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

Martin Luther King, Jr.
Delivered 4 April 1967, Riverside Church, New York City

King made that remark in a speech entitled Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence. And now, 44 years later, we have arrived at a point in our history where we have finally been forced to confront that edifice. The month-long Occupy Wall Street movement has already achieved more than we could hope, simply by raising the point. The point that government has failed us, big business has abandoned us, and that for the majority of people in this world, life is a narrow straightjacket of economic slavery. King was right, of course; we don’t need coins flung at us. Rather, the system where 400 people in the United States have wealth equal to the bottom 150,000,000 needs to change. Change because it is grotesquely unfair. Change because it is unsustainable.

The dynamic of capitalism is relentless growth, an ever-expanding pool of consumers. For a finite resource such as our planet, this is obviously impossible. We have long past reached the point of diminishing returns. No matter how cheaply you can make them, once everyone has a cell phone or a TV, you can’t sell anymore. The robber barons of Wall Street knew this long before the man in the street, that’s why they came up with default credit swaps and derivatives. They cost nothing but fictional money to produce, deliver vast returns when they work- and even more when they fail. Of course, only the 1% get anything from them. They are the ones who reap the rewards, adding more and more fictional money to their coffers, without producing a thing. The only time the entire arrangement is brought to the attention of the rest of us is when their irresponsible gambling has gone woefully sour and we have to bail them out. At this moment instead of watching Bank of America fail and their management team in jail, we’re about to pay up another 75 trillion because their 3 Card Monte scheme in Europe went belly up. No one but the 1% got anything out of this. Not one job (other than hedge fund managers) got created, not one factory was made, no bridges got repaired.

We have no idea how the OWS movement will end up- I suspect it won’t be pretty- but its a beginning. When people take their money out of the behemoth “too big to fail” banks- at the point of getting arrested– and put their savings in a local credit union, its a beginning. When people who can’t occupy Wall Street instead beginning addressed their concerns via Occupy the Boardroom and cause panic among the plutocracy, its a beginning. When the grotesque imbalance in the pay of CEOs versus the workers in this county results in the public shaming of these leeches instead of flattering reach-arounds on CNBC and Fox, its a beginning.

This is a discussion I never thought I would see in our country. When people are awaken to the truth they can do one of two things. They can ignore it and live their days in a comforting fog of unreality, or they become energized to make a change. I believe we are witnessing the dawn of some sort of evolution in our way of thinking, one that looks past short term gains for long term results. One that values school teachers more than the Chairman of the Board. Where people are not just wage slaves and consumers, but equals. I don’t expect this discussion to be done in my lifetime. And I suspect it will get messy- as Gandhi said First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you,… and we’ve seen the inklings of that already, with the fraudulent “We Are the 53%” movement– but remember how the quote ends:

Then you win.

It’s taken 44 years for America to “see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring”. How long will it take to find the answer? Who knows. But finally, we’re having the discussion.

Sad week to be a GOP voter

October 6th, 2011 by James Mann

If you’re a GOP voter you’ll probably not look back in fondness at the first week of October. Everywhere you turn that demon reality smacks you yet again. First, Chris Christie says, for the 1000 time, that he’s not running for president. Not that he was a viable candidate; for all his “let them eat cake” attitude toward his citizens he shows a little too much sense when it comes to say gun control, immigration and climate change. The GOP, the party that believes science is a debating society certainly isn’t going to flock to a guy who says humans can affect the weather, surely you jest.

Then the hammer fell down on the legions of Facebook/Fox News devotees as Sarah Palin made it official, that she’s not running for president. As one wag said, now she can quit jobs she can’t even get. Not that she could have been elected; she polls in the single digits and outside of a green screen at Fox, she doesn’t exist. But I’m sure we’ve not see the last of her. Five minutes after Obama takes the oath again, she be back on Facebook spewing her own particular insipid vision and hawking whatever TV show or infomercial she has running.

Yes, I said Obama takes the oath again. The eventual GOP candidate is Mitt Romney, and he’s just a pale caricature of Obama himself. The biggest thing against Obama, to the minds of a GOP voter is the Affordable Heath Care act, and it was the brainchild of Mitt when he was Governor of Massachusetts. And I imagine that quip “Corporations are people too” will come back to bite him, as it should. The rest of the woeful crew- Cain, Perry, et al, well, they’re just too insignificant to matter. The only candidate polling better against Obama is “Unknown Republican”, meaning that any of the ones that are actually running are wasting their time. The guy who killed Bin Laden and quotes Ronald Reagan is going to be hard to beat down the stretch, and while the average GOP voter will hold their nose and cast a ballot for Romney, so will the Democratic base-whipped puppy that they are- vote for Obama.

The world has gone into mourning over the death of Apple visionary Steve Jobs, and you know, no matter how much they like their iphones, the attention given to such a liberal giant must be madding to the true believers of the GOP. He made his fortune not by government bailout or derivatives, but by making a product someone wants to buy. Take that, auto industry. The man hand-picked by Jobs to run Apple, Tim Cook? Gay. Take that, hate groups such as American Family and Pat Robertson.

And finally, Occupy Wall Street is growing, with labor unions, nurses and even veterans joining the cause. And don’t think it has nothing to do with you, loyal GOP voter. Sure, Herman Cain can call the protestors “anti-American“, but that’s because he, like his party, are beholden to greed. There is nothing more American than protest, and while I think in the end this drama will end poorly- Major Bloomberg is just itching for the chance to really call out the goon squads and protect his base-hell, you don’t think JP Morgan just gave them 4.5 million for nothing, do ya? No, this probably will not be our Arab Spring- but its a start. As any ’60s hippie can tell you, getting Maced in the face doesn’t make you go home- it makes you angry. And the last thing any GOP voter wants is a bunch of 20-somethings getting riled up- and going to the polls. Nope, the first week in October hasn’t been kind to the GOP, for as much has they try to run from it, reality eventually wins. What did Stephen Colbert say? Oh yeah.

Reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

Heh heh.

R.E.M. and a better time

September 28th, 2011 by James Mann

R.E.M. had been a part of my musical world since I graduated high school in 1980, yet their demise was clearly a non-event in my life. I hadn’t listened to any new music by them in years; while I still enjoy Chronic Town and Murmur, after that they seemed to be more obvious, less mysterious. But their breakup made me realize something about myself, and the world around me.

They came along when I, and most of my generation were shrugging off the ways of adolescence and the enforced conformity of high school and going out in the world. No longer would we be riding in the same cars to the same parties with the same friends listening to either Pink Floyd’s The Wall or the vapid Hotel California by The Eagles. For us, facing life on our own via college or work, meant discovery and the shock of something new. To some this was a heady sensation. I remember discovering a new band every week, from punk to blues to country. I recall hearing Texas Flood by Stevie Ray Vaughan and early Jason and the Nashville Scorchers during one month in the early ’80s- and remember, at the time, no one played the blues and certainly didn’t combine Hank Williams and AC/DC the way the Scorchers did. It was grand. About the same time I drove my roommates crazy with a pair of singles- “Too Drunk To Fuck” by the Dead Kennedys and “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division. To most of them music was a mindless supplement to whatever else you were doing, and it certainly wasn’t supposed to be as grating and angry as punk.

For those people, R.E.M. was perfect. While they didn’t sound like what you had just spend five years in high school listening to, you could still dance to them, and since Michael Stipe’s lyrics were impossible to fathom, you could safely ignore them. Couldn’t do that listening to Johnny Rotten’s acerbic “Anarchy in the UK”- I am an anti-Christ– or Black Flag. But for 20-somethings in a brave new world- even if that meant the community college down the road- R.E.M. was the soundtrack. And by the reaction that their breakup garnered in the online community, you’d think the last 25 years didn’t happen and “Don’t Go Back To Rockville” had just been released.

When I read “R.E.M.: America’s Greatest Band” in The Atlantic, it gave me pause. To me, R.E.M. had long since faded into the past, kept on a shelf along with Led Zeppelin or Aerosmith; i.e., music that once meant something to me at one time, but that time was past. I wasn’t the same person, and I had no desire to be that person again. But for some, R.E.M. reminds them of a charmed time in their lives when they were young, with the world in front of them. And not the world of mindless work and foreclosed houses, but rather a perhaps the last time you thought of yourself as able to do anything, the skies the limit. After a few margaritas and a spin of “Stand!” these people are able to escape back to a more hopeful time, free of the challenges of adulthood. Some people on Facebook remarked that the breakup meant “The 80s just died“- and for them, it probably has. To spend your life looking backwards at what used to be seems to me a life just waiting out the years, with no joy left to anticipate. And to me, that is inexcusable. I relish the thought of a lifetime yet to come, with new books to read, new musical journeys to follow. It’s what makes life worth doing. I don’t chide my friends for their nostalgia, but I don’t look at life that way. To each his own, I suppose.

And anyway, R.E.M. as America’s greatest band? Good grief, that’s silly. That would be Pere Ubu.

Barbaric behavior vs. “Liberal Bias”

September 13th, 2011 by James Mann

As Williams tried to continue asking his question, the crowd broke into applause, prompting Williams to pause.

The moderator then continued: “Have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent?”

Perry responded, “no, sir.”

“I’ve never struggled with that at all,” he said. “The state of Texas has a very thoughtful, a very clear process in place of which — when someone commits the most heinous of crimes against our citizens, they get a fair hearing, they go through an appellate process, they go up to the Supreme Court of the United States, if that’s required.”

For the state to commit murder against itself is barbaric, which is why most civilized countries don’t do it. American stands fast with other champions of “justice” such as Iran, North Korea, and Singapore in allowing the state to feed on itself. Our country’s inhumane tendencies can hardly be seen in a more compelling example than the death penalty, and it’s to our shame that it continues. As Helen Prejean said, “The profound moral question is not, “Do they deserve to die?” but “Do we deserve to kill them?”

It’s one thing to allow the state to kill it’s citizens, but it is a truly monstrous lack of humanity to cheer for it. Unfortunately it comes as no surprise that the crowd at the the Reagan Library- a library dedicated to legacy of yet another American tyrant- would stand in applause when Rick Perry’s murderous toll was brought into question. From the Reagan era at least, the GOP has garnered voters by being the “strong” party- of course, its strength comes from attacking the most vulnerable among us. Blacks, gays, women, Muslims- anyone that a typical GOP voter can rise above by squashing their humanity, they’ll do it, and cheer as they do so, apparently. In fact, you could say it’s their only real draw as a party- that someone, somewhere, isn’t worth as much as you. It is both terrifying and sad. Terrifying because of the damage they inflict from it, and sad because it reveals their utter lack of compassion.

Fox “News” Chris Wallace apparently thinks that Brian Williams’ question reveals yet another example of “liberal bias”. Of course there is no such thing in our Murdoch-controlled media universe- it there was, there would be no wars in the Middle East- or against unions, for that matter. Or the death penalty. Liberal bias is a fiction spouted by Fox, Rush et al to allow their Orwellian disinformation to prattle on 24/7. But beyond that, Wallace’s question reveals so clearly the “conservative” mindset:

Chris Wallace appeared on Friday’s Fox and Friends and assailed NBC’s Brian Williams over his question to Rick Perry about whether he ever struggled to sleep at night over the potential innocence of one of his many executed inmates, calling it an example of a “liberal bias.

Any sane person would “struggle to sleep at night” over the killing of another. At least, you hope they would. The case Williams was referring to was Rick Perry’s apparent murdering of an innocent man. We can expect no humility from Perry- he’s a politician, and a Texas one at that. Forgiveness and big thinking aren’t in his makeup, whereas lying and vengeance is. But apparently just asking the question- do you struggle to sleep at night over potentially killing a innocent man– is liberal. To be troubled by the awesome power of the state to kill it’s own, that’s liberal. To have doubts about the innocence of one you condemned to die, that’s liberal.

If evidence of humanity therefore is liberal…sign me up.

Please shut up!

September 8th, 2011 by James Mann

Since I’ve been at home for the last month, I’ve wasted way too much time on the net. Do this too long and you get overloaded with information, so that you wouldn’t know a good idea if it bit you on the ankle. But one thing I can tell you without any fear of being contradicted- there are a lot of foolish, foolish people out there, who, in our age of “If I say it, it must be so!”, distrust of reality, 24/7 vomit of opinion think that whatever they have to say is, um…relevant. Before the internet and cable news these people were confined to the fringes of society- a sort of Hazel Motes you might say. No more.

To change the beliefs of an entire community, only 10 percent of the population needs to become convinced of a new or different opinion, suggests a new study. At that tipping point, the idea can spread through social networks and alter behaviors on a large scale.

That’s scary stuff. Combine that with the never-ending barrage of propaganda from cable news being pumped everywhere, you can see how the most idiotic of notions gets a foothold in our national discourse- particularly if there’s money to be made. Now, I could devote a full, thoughtful piece to each of the following, but really, I think I’ll cut to the chase.

If you’re attempting to teach “creationism”, deny climate change, or think that homosexuals “choose” who they’re attracted to (but some how you didn’t pick yours, imagine that), oh, shut up. There’s a nifty fact about science- it has a self-correcting aspect build in it. It’s called testing. If one scientist decides to make the claim that huffing Marlboro’s doesn’t cause cancer, then a score of other scientists will test it, find that in fact, smoking kills you, and move on. No matter how great your faith is (which must again be noted, is defined as “believe in things not seen”), no matter how many episodes of PTL club you preach it on, science will always “win”. The Dali Lama once said “If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change.” Buddhism gets it, wonder when the rest of the world will accept it? Until then, please shut up.

One of the greatest things about how our country was setup is the notion of “one man, one vote”. A great amount of bloodshed and struggle led to it, and it’s a cornerstone of our democracy. Everyone gets to do it, even blacks. Or women. Or poor people. So Matthew Vadum, Registering them to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals,” , please shut up. Go find a island and you can be a king and let anyone vote or not, but here in America, your idea is repugnant. Then again, look at what network let him say it.

The only people who want you to be concerned- and give up your rights and tax dollars for “national security” about Muslims and “Sharia” are people who stand to profit from your misconceptions. If we haven’t made this a Christian nation in 222 years or so, despite the majority of people who proclaim themselves as such, how would you think that Muslims, who only account for 2% of our population, would do it? So Frank Gaffney, Alan West and all the other “Sharia scaremongers”, please shut up. Your continued employment may well rest on feeding disinformation to the fearful rabble, but it doesn’t make it accurate- or any less vile.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. You could fill a dozen columns like this, but frankly, who’s has the time- or the stomach? There are far more pressing things in the world that we could be doing instead of this- go find them. Turn off the internet, read a book. Take a walk. Volunteer. But if you want to fill the world with disinformation, bigotry and hatred, please shut up. We’ve certainly had enough.

The end of our empire

September 1st, 2011 by James Mann

That the United States will no longer function as an empire is plainly evident to anyone who cares to look. Our government is, to put it nicely, “dysfunctional” – the actual word is criminal. It exists solely, at this late hour, to funnel money to the wealthiest 1%. There is no free market – not that we had any at any time in our history anyway. The rich make the rules, and they always get theirs first. The only sops given to “the people” is just enough to keep them off the streets. The powerful care not a whit about whatever your pet issue is- and if they seem to care, just follow the money. Drug legalization? It only exists to create a criminal class and those that get rich off it. And don’t forget the medical community, who of course don’t want marijuana legit- a weed that grows in a ditch, has never resulted in one death? Who would need big pharma, and their willing pill-pushers in the AMA?

Or, perhaps this:

“Almost $43 million from seven charitable groups went toward financing anti-Muslim campaigns, the report said, including proposed state laws to ban judges from considering Islamic laws in U.S. courts, opposition to the Islamic center near Ground Zero, and a general encouragement of anti-Muslim rhetoric in politics and elsewhere.

Dig down deep enough, and you’ll find, I bet, money to made. As long as our population has someone to blame, they will keep the war machine going, cable news will have good ratings, and moron politicians will get elected spouting gibberish like “Sharia law”, no matter how insane it appears to normal people. And while we bicker about it, the relentless, always hungry for more, damn the little people orgy of greed continues. Unstopping, unregulated, oblivious to everything but itself greed. People on every “side” can prattle on about “entitlements” and austerity in some Randian circle jerk, or on the other, wanting a Prius and a solar panel installed by the government. But as long as our country things of itself as the world’s policeman, nothing will ever change.

And because the United States has the world’s largest economy, its share of world military spending is outsized, accounting for 43 percent of all the military spending on Earth — six times as much as China, which has the world’s second largest military budget and accounts for 7.3 percent of world military spending. Russia accounts for just 3.6 percent.

With polls showing declining support for the war in Afghanistan and increasing talk in Congress, even among Republicans, about cutting the military budget, it appears certain that the Defense Department is going to be downsized and our foreign military commitments scaled back in coming years.

This is going to require serious rethinking of what we perceive to be our strategic threats and whether the United States can continue to afford to be the world’s peacekeeper.

Of course it can’t- not to mention it shouldn’t. But every rational person knows this, so there isn’t a lot to debate. At some point the money will run out- what do we do then? Will we go the USSR route, with rebellions and food shortages, or will we just fade in prominence ala the British?

For the U.S., declining economic growth and rising military commitments won’t necessarily signal the decline of Pax America unless others become disproportionately richer and stronger. That is why the rise of China and the resurgence of Russia are such threats to American power. And while it is difficult to imagine the U.S. accepting a diminishing status gracefully, it will have to find a destiny in that seam where finance and commerce meet politics and strategy. Post-imperial Britain shows a possible path.

As for me, I cannot wait. All empires fail, and Fox News notwithstanding, ours is not “the greatest glory God ever placed on the earth”. We will fail, one only wonders if it will be graceful or brutal. In any event, it’s past the point of if, but when. So, what do you do? Well, for starters, assume that its already happened, and that we’re five or fifteen years down the road. Do you live off the grid? Do you make most if not all your money in an underground economy or with barter? Do you grow food? There are a thousand things that can be done- investigate. But in a “post-American” world, things will be changed, some rapidly, some incremental. This will require you to adapt and evolve- or face a world unfamiliar.

One man spoke to this. He was Gandhi, and he spoke multitudes when he said:

You must be the change you want to see in the world.

Until you understand this – really understand this, deep in your soul, until it is second nature, like breathing, you will be forever out of step. You don’t want war? Then be a beacon of peace, not hostility. You want freedom for all? Then approach everyone as free. Quite simple. Except for actually doing it. It might take you a lifetime to achieve.

If you’re lucky.