* The brainwashing of America – It is the customary fashion in American thinking and politics today that every idea and concept be put into a neat box so that it fits or does not fit one’s predetermined mindset. The effect of this binary approach is that it fosters polarization. Conservative or Liberal. Republican or Democrat. Urban or rural. Young or old. Business or labor. Rich or poor. Once established this stereotyping filters information and precludes new ideas and creative solutions. There is no room for discussion, mediation or compromise. We dig in our heels so deeply that we become immobilized. Almost all of us are culpable. And the result is that we are all the poorer for it. Like most sentient beings I have an opinion as to how the world should be and in my case it is progressive. In today’s atmosphere when I criticize the Department of Justice for the politicization that took place under John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales a conservative will likely tune me out. Yet such politicization is damaging to all Americans. It is time that we begin to refocus the narrow perspectives and divisiveness that people like Karl Rove took to new depths and seek policies that enhance America. Divisiveness only serves the agenda of special interests. It is time to end their day in the sun.
* Burning my condom in protest ~ but not while wearing it – Three weeks ago I commented about the attempt of the Bush administration to define birth control as abortion. Upon further reflection I considered the implications of this proposed policy change. The next “logical” step would be to accuse Catholics of abortion when they use the rhythm method to avoid pregnancy. And then we can accuse gays of abortion because their union does not lead to conception. And then we can extend the prison terms of those who are incarcerated because most of them are not permitted conjugal visits and therefore they are also contributing to abortion. When your head stops spinning MoveOn.org has a petition you can sign that will be sent to Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, whose department is considering this rule change. I am not fond of sending petitions to Bush administration officials because their political agendas preclude the interests of most Americans and they could arrogantly care less about what we think. However, I did sign the petition hoping it might lower my blood pressure and raise my testosterone.
* Good news for parents ~ the U.S. is phasing out its military ~ at least it seems that way – The question is often asked how the U.S. can fight two wars over a more than 5 year period and not need a draft to supply the military with personnel. Initially this feat was achieved by devastating the National Guard – forces intended to protect the states domestically. The magic of the Bush administration has been to hire private contractors who perform duties formerly assigned to the military. “The U.S this year will have spent $100 billion on contractors in Iraq since the invasion in 2003, a milestone that reflects the Bush administration’s unprecedented level of dependence on private firms for help in the war, according to a government report… one out of every five dollars spent on the war in Iraq has gone to contractors for the U.S. military and other government agencies, in a war zone where employees of private contractors now outnumber American troops.” The use of private contractors has resulted in excessive over-billing and fraud and more often than not by contractors such as KBR and Blackwater Worldwide who are closely tied to Bush and Cheney. Also of significance is that these contractors have operated outside of the law. Twenty years from now we will erect a monument in Washington to these mercenaries – if there is any money left in the U.S. treasury. Standing on each side of the monument will be statues of George W. Bush and Richard Cheney – in prison stripes.
* Who is paying for the private contractors? ~ Hmmm, us – A report by the Government Accounting Office (GAO) about to be released incredulously says “most U.S. corporations pay no federal income taxes… And most foreign companies that do business in the United States aren't paying corporate taxes.” From 1998 to 2005 two-thirds of American corporations paid zero income taxes and an even higher percentage of foreign corporations paid zero income tax to the U.S. although they had trillions of dollars in sales. This report leaves me confused because Republicans and John McCain keep telling us that we have to lower the tax rate of corporations so they will be competitive. How much lower than zero can you go? Imagine if you and I did not pay income taxes we would have funds available to personally lobby (read “pay for”) the actions of our elected representatives. Remember the good old days when that is what our vote accomplished?
* “Hosed at the Pump, Again” – This could be a Blues song but it definitely is reality in the land of the free and home of the brave. As the Republican Party and the oil industry sing “Drill, Drill, Drill” to relieve the pain of high gas prices the American public is forced to dance to that familiar golden oldie “Screwed, Screwed, Screwed.” We learn this week that U.S. oil refiners are increasingly exporting their production. Reuters is reporting, “While the U.S. oil industry wants access to more federal lands to help reduce reliance on foreign suppliers, American-based companies are shipping record amounts of gasoline and diesel fuel to other countries… A record 1.6 million barrels a day in U.S. refined petroleum products were exported during the first four months of this year, up 33 percent from 1.2 million barrels a day over the same period in 2007. Shipments this February topped 1.8 million barrels a day for the first time during any month, according to final numbers from the Energy Department.” Caution: Do not play this music too loud for fear of waking a comatose Congress.
* My rant to a friend – A friend who I will call Bob is fond of sending me misleading and dishonest emails about Barack Obama. We all are too familiar with this spam and sham that floods our inbox. This week I felt that I had had enough. The following is my response to my friend and all of the other Bobs out there: Obama or McCain – tough choice. One candidate wants to water down your company-paid health insurance while putting your pension plan in jeopardy, send your daughters and sons off to an unprovoked war, raise the cost of everything you purchase by expanding the federal debt and destroying the value of the dollar as you choke on pollution not noticing that the water supply is evaporating and what is left is filled with carcinogens. This candidate seeks power through funding by a small but increasingly powerful wealthy class whose motto is “more for me is better.” This Oval Office wannabe would rip the “separation of church and state” from the Constitution and strip women of their reproductive rights. The other candidate is Barack Obama.
* DHS is the pits – meet Sonia Pitt – You may share my opinion that the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) is fraught with incompetence and cronyism. However, there are always new depths to plumb. When the Minnesota Interstate 35W Bridge collapsed Ms. Pitt, a MN state transportation official, failed to return for 10 days from an unauthorized state-paid trip to Washington. She misspent $26,400 in state funds and made 94 hours of personal calls from her state-paid cell phone to a Federal Highway Administration official with whom she had a relationship. Not surprisingly, one week after she was fired she was hired by DHS. Somewhat surprisingly, DHS officials have fired Pitt and are now investigating why she continued to hold a federal security clearance after her MnDOT dismissal, whether her TSA application was complete and truthful, and whether cronyism or corruption was involved in her hiring. Probably yes to all of the above and, yes, our federal government is giving me a sharp pain behind my twitching left eye. Bring back Michael Brown!
* Derriere Orifice of the Week ~ meet Michele Bachmann – The Republican Congresswoman from MN and champion of the Christian Right this week told the right wing news site OneNewsNow, "[Pelosi] is committed to her global warming fanaticism to the point where she has said that she's just trying to save the planet. We all know that someone did that over 2,000 years ago, they saved the planet -- we didn't need Nancy Pelosi to do that." Other MENSA comments by Bachmann include: that there isn't actually any wildlife in the areas of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge where she wants more drilling; Democrats want high gas prices so as to force people to move into "inner cities" and "the urban core.” Knowing that this woman is voting on national legislation in itself explains the skyrocketing sales of anxiety medication in this country.
* No surprise here! – “The Bush administration yesterday (Monday) proposed a regulatory overhaul of the Endangered Species Act to allow federal agencies to decide whether protected species would be imperiled by agency projects, eliminating the independent scientific reviews that have been required by law for more than three decades.” George Bush has provided us with voluminous evidence that he does not give a polar bear’s ass about the American people. There is no reason to expect he would care about America’s fauna. And don’t you just love the moronic spin that these Bushite/Stepford Wives spew? “Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne described the new rules as a ‘narrow regulatory change’ that will provide clarity and certainty to the consultation process under the Endangered Species Act."
* Soul mates ~ Vladimir and George – Recall how surprised we were when President Bush said he looked into the eyes of Vladimir Putin and saw his soul. There must have been much that he recognized: invading a sovereign country based on false charges (with oil being the real reason); running their respective governments in secrecy and stifling the opposition; ignoring laws; placing puppets in authority to fulfill political agendas… Spell check – Sole Mates.
* Don’t forget your ark ~ and bring two aardvarks – James Dobson is a religious-right preacher, founder of Focus on the Family and, in the opinion of some, a part-time snake oil salesman. Last week Focus unveiled a new video asking politically-conservative Christians to pray for rain on Aug. 28, in order to disrupt Barack Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention. Not just any rain – “abundant rain, torrential rain … flood-advisory rain… rain of biblical proportions.” One wonders if God is a registered Republican. I can’t wait to see her voter ID. Oh for the good old days when those of the cloth prayed for peace and freedom from hunger, locusts and pestilence.
* Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.
Blaise Pascal (1623 – 1662) French mathematician, physicist, and religious philosopher