Thursday, November 17, 2011

Supercommittee wants to supersquash us

The so-called supercommittee in congress is poised to pass a bill to make big cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
I'm going to quote from an email I got from
 "If one Democrat out of six total on the supercommittee goes along with the Republican's plan for massive cuts to crucial programs, it passes. Then their proposal gets fast-tracked through Congress, without amendments, filibusters, or other good ways to stop it.
We are directly lobbying the Democrats on the supercommittee to make sure they don't strike a bad deal. MoveOn leaders in Massachusetts are going right after Sen. Kerry, who amazingly may be the Democrat most likely to cave.  The phones are ringing off the hook in all of the committee members' offices. And we are keeping the pressure on the ground in all of the supercommittee members' states and district with our "We are the 99%" events today.

It's not just potential cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid that have us concerned. Things have gotten much worse over the last week.
The New York Times reported this week that members of the congressional supercommittee are looking for ways to agree to deep cuts to social programs now but defer any decisions about how to raise taxes until next year.
That's a recipe for total disaster. Congress already slashed programs that the middle class relies on by almost $1 trillion this past summer. What's needed now is for the rich and corporations to pay their fair share—not for the 99% to suffer more so the 1% can keep their tax cuts."

How many of you really think the congress would keep that promise to "look at" raising taxes next year? Don't all jump up at once. My own feeling is that NO cuts should be made to any more programs which benefit the poor and middle class until taxes on the wealthiest are returned to pre-Bush era levels, at least.
If you live in Massachusetts, here's Senator Kerry's phone number, send him a message—be polite:
Senator John Kerry, 202-224-2742

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why o why o why o did i ever leave Ohio?

Believe it or not, that used to be a song. Seriously.

I've been reviewing Rachel Maddow's show over the last week or so (I don't spend ALL my time on the computer) and have been delighted at the news of the vote in Ohio.

And no I don't want to go back except to visit. But I am proud of my former childhood home for defeating SB5 which the Republican legislature and governor rammed through last year. It would basically destroy the idea of collective bargaining, would have reduced the power of unions to nothing, would have been a boon to the corporate oligarchy as proved by the amount of Koch brothers' money that went into the fight for that vote.

I don't know where the hell Gov. Kasich got that idea from. He's got an Eastern European-sounding name. Eastern Europeans are plentiful in Ohio. And they are laborers and belong, in large part, to unions. Doesn't he know any steelworkers (former steelworkers—all those jobs went overseas)? If any place is a union state it's Ohio. At least I can say that about Northeast Ohio. My father was a steel mill worker (until someone dropped a palette full of bricks on his foot—he walked with a limp forever after and lost his job—in 1917 or thereabouts. I wasn't politically aware enough when he was alive to ask if he got workmen's comp or a severance pay. Snort. It was 1917.)
And almost everyone who was a friend of my family was a union member. Usually steel, but often also police. Only wives and priests were not union members. Priests had a different kind of organization which did not empower them, alas. They coulda used a good union.

My father had a thing against blacks because they were brought up from the south in an effort to break the union-forming activists. He never realized that the blacks were being used by the corporate owners just as he was. That's the way capitalism works.
Where was I? Oh, Ohio shot down that attempted legislation decisively. And good for them. If someone in that state doesn't belong to a union, they have a family member who does. Chalk one up for Ohio.

And chalk one up for Mississippi. They shot down, again decisively, a law declaring a fertilized egg a person.  This meant if you were raped, you had to bear the rapist's child. This meant that if you might die if you went into labor, tough luck, you're going into labor. This meant if  you used birth-control pills you were a felon. And Mississippi, that anti-abortion, conservative state, saw how wrong-headed this legislation would be and shot it down. Way to go Mississippi!

It's way beyond wonder, way beyond snark, way beyond disgust, what the Republicans all over the country are doing to try to put down the majority of people in support of their corporate money pot. So far they are trying, sometimes succeeding, to destroy working people's bargaining rights, create barriers to voting for the minorities—who may vote Democratic, insert the federal government into our personal lives, insert very conservative religious beliefs into our laws and basically sucking up to the likes of the Koch brothers.
How can anybody vote for these wingnuts?

I know someone who thinks that things aren't going to get better until we "break the unions." Hello?
If you think that unions are getting too much in the way of benefits, take  look at how much 1% of our population is sucking up at the expense of the rest of us. If we can even things out about THAT, then I might consider looking at whether or not working people are getting too much from our society. But only then.
If it weren't for unions we wouldn't have the weekend, we wouldn't have workmen's comp, we wouldn't have even the pathetic (compared to the rest of the western world) health care we have (just ask my dad's ruined foot). Are there excesses? Yep. But are they worse than the excesses of the richest among us? Nope.
I mean, this is a no-brainer.
As far as I am concerned, you can't pay teachers ENOUGH!

Aagh, here I am  bitching about politics again. I don't want to do this, but it is getting really important to be aware of what is going on. It seems like Republican leadership (not necessarily the Republican proletariat—see Ohio and Mississippi—those votes weren't from Democrats alone) has just swallowed all it's corporate masters' kool-aid and is entirely oblivious to the needs of the rest of us, and oblivious to the idea of what America is supposed to be.
We were not meant to substitute the rule of corporations for the rule of kings. Really— to take the Suprenme Court at it's own (misguided) word—if corporations are persons, then they shouldn't be kings. Getting rid of kings and giving power to the people, not corporations, is what the American Revolution is all about.

Think about that next time you go to a voting booth—if a Republican-sponsored restriction doesn't keep you out of it.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rant digest

So I haven't posted much lately. There is this thing called life I've been concerned with—you know how that gets in the way of internet activity, takes you away from the computer. It's a shame, but there it is.
One of my problems lately is the paucity of new and original things to rant about. Maybe that's my rant. It's not that the Republicans and Fox Unnews aren't committing new crimes against intelligence and humanity—it's just that going on about their doings is like shooting ducks on a pond, or fish in a barrel—whatever. It gets predictable and boring. Can you expect anything different from these characters? Can you expect anything from them that an intelligent 8-year old can't refute?
I didn't think so.

If it's stupid and  so obvious a ploy to suck up to their corporate masters, then the Repubes will embrace it. Unemployed? Get a job. Don't matter if there aren't any jobs, it's still your fault. Occupy Wall Street (the horror!)?  You must be a hippie socialist pot-smoking free-lover who is in favor of gay marriage and trying to destroy the moral underpinnings of America.
Get a job (see above).

It's pretty hard to destroy the moral underpinning of a nation that tried to exterminate the native population, brought Chinese laborers over to build the railroads (and treated them like dogs), fought a civil war about slavery but still tried to keep the former slaves and their descendants in their place for a hundred years after that war; that supported many ruthless tycoons in their railroad and mining and steel-making industries at the expense of the workers actually doing the labor; that engaged in a bunch of military involvements in Haiti, the Philippines and Central America which didn't add any luster to our achievements; that supported a number of dictators solely because they (seemingly) provided a buffer against communism. Remember communism? So last millennium.

But still—there is always a "still." If you're looking for moral absolutism you have to go to some other blog. "Still" America is the one place in the world where people of all nations, creeds and colors have looked to for a chance to be better in their lives. That's why people risk coming thru the deserts of the southwest with questionable guides, why even people from India (you know, our corporations' favorite place to outsource jobs) want to come to get an education and find jobs,  why my old man came here back in nineteen ought-ten and why I am here to live and have the freedom to rant.

It's still the case that someone like me would end up dead or in prison for an awful long time for speaking my mind, in some other place. But, it's still the case that the fact that I can speak my mind is essentially co-opted by the fact that I can speak my mind.

Say what?
There is a trap here. Allowing people to vent is a way to defuse their anger and showing how open the ruling body or bodies are. If getting what you want off your chest is all that you need, well, American free speech is there for you. If you expect your free speech to affect the ruling bodies, that's another story. You have to write your congressman, maybe take your body to his office, let everyone you have any hope of influencing also write your congressman and maybe take their bodies to his/her office. If you can counter-act the contributions from the corporations which want to control things in this country (including how much you have to eat every day), if you can see that your congressman/woman is a human being with responsibilities to other human beings, then you can get beyond the trap. You can realize that spouting off isn't always enough, action has to follow.
Am I calling for revolution? Yep. I am.  FBI take note. I want an actual conservative (as in conserving the good of the past while leaving behind the dross) revolution that takes us back to some of our founders ideas. One that recognizes our founders' desire to keep religion OUT of our politics no matter what. That would benefit the country. One that recognizes Dwight Eisenhower's warning about the military-industrial complex (so obvious now); one that follows up on JFK's exhortation to do for our country; one that follows up on Martin Luther King's vision of what America can be.
I want a revolution that recognizes that every generation has the possibility of revolution which can advance the evolution of the human race. We are in a unique position—we don't have to depend on Darwinian evolution—we can intellectually choose how the human race will evolve. What way will we go? YOU decide.
Me? I'm going to bed. It's late.
Cheers, everyone.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve jobs

I've come out from under my rock—not to inveigh against the chicaneries, cowardice and general stupidity of government (there just isn't enough time in one lifetime for that), but to talk about an extraordinary person.
Today Steve Jobs died. I'd expected that this was coming, a driven person such as he does not willingly relinquish his command of the second richest company in the world—behind Exxon.
And tho it was expected, and tho I never met the man, I found myself sorrowful, sobbing a little even, at his passing. I am sure I would not have been supporting myself since 1995 without Macintosh computers. I certainly would not have had as much fun using a computer, not had as much fun anticipating and watching his keynote addresses waiting to see what new miracle of technology  has sprung from his brain, like Athena from the forehead of Zeus.

    When  I first started working as a graphic artist for Star Press back in '95, Apple was on the ropes. Yes they had a good computer—I was using a 6100 powerPC  which was a great machine that I enjoyed using. It had a hundred megabytes of memory! But the company was fading. Then Apple bought Next, and got Jobs back into the fold.
Boy did he change things. That funky, spacey iMac came out, first in that Bondi blue color, then in a bunch of other colors. The colors were nice but the all-in-one space age chassis was revolutionary. "You mean I don't have to have a beige computer that looks like a box?"
    There was no looking back after that. In 1999 I bought my first computer, a blue-and-white tower affectionately referred to among aficionados as a "smurf". It had 6 gigabytes of memory!! In the meantime the towers, the laptops and the desktops changed and became more popular. Hey, Apple's share of the market went from 5% to oh, at least 8%. Or thereabouts.
    Then came the iPod, and iTunes. Jobs managed to convince the music industry dinosaurs that selling music at 99¢ a track could be profitable. Boy was it ever. And it changed the way music is presented and sold forever. People i know who don't like Macintosh computers are listening to music on Apple iPods.
    IMacs, iPods, iPhones, iPads—in the last twelve years Steve Jobs has changed the way you and I listen, watch, and communicate with each other in an irrevocable way. This may be good, it may be ill, but there it is.
    And a lot of this Jobs didn't actually put his hands on physically making. Steve Wozniac actually made the first prototype Apple computer—but Steve jobs recognized the value and was able to sell it. And everything that Apple has produced since Steve Jobs came back in 1996 has had to pass his aesthetic and practical judgement. He knew what people wanted before they did.
    Some might say he knew what he could convince people they wanted before they knew they wanted it. Whatever, it worked. Apple products are imitated all over the world in an effort to acquire some of their magic.
    Inevitably, as the hagiographies and opposing debunkings come out over the next few days, you'll hear that Jobs had an illegitimate child who he refused to acknowledge for years before finally accepting her. You'll hear about his management style, which sometimes veered into terrifying territory. And these things are true, and pertinent to those involved, but they don't diminish the effect he has had on the world. Everyone has faults, and I am not excusing his by saying that. Gandhi was rumored to have strange relations (tho not necessarily sexual) with the women who visited him, Martin Luther King is said to have had extra-marital affairs, and many other famous people who have made a positive contribution to the world and human life have had incidences or proclivities which are to us regrettable, maybe even criminal.
    But that's humanity.  People who do good things are not always good themselves. And their contributions to humanity should not be diminished by their personal peccadilloes. Turn it around—if you knew that Heinrich Himmler rescued abandoned puppies and found homes for them, would you think he was less of a criminal?
    In the case of Steve Jobs, I think we have to look at what he has brought to our lives, and think about that. Admiring what he has done for computers, music, phones and communication in general doesn't mean endorsing his personal faults.
    Me, I'm too busy thinking about how I could have been better, to worry about how Steve Jobs could have been better. I only know that he profoundly changed my life, and has changed the lives of many others, whether they know it or not. I regret his passing at the early age of 56, and wonder what else he could have come up with. I can't imagine it, but then, I'm not Steve Jobs.
Rest in peace, Mr. Jobs, and may God help your loved ones to find solace in what you have brought to their lives.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Can you believe it?

Can you believe that a group of House Republicans are ready to throw this country into a deep recession for ideological reasons? It's more than mind boggling. I took drugs in the sixties that had a less deleterious effect on my brain than this realizatin. Where are these wingnuts coming from? Were the people in their districts so traumatized by the advent of a black (read Negro) president, that they were ready to vote for anyone who crawled out from under an ideological rock? Ron Paul was fun when he appeared on Rachel Maddow's show, but when he is actually in congress he is a threat to the nation, he and his fellow political miscreants.
These people have no concept of what it is like to be out of work and struggling (they think it's just laziness that keeps you from getting a job in the worst economic climate in recent American history), to have children you can't feed (you must be sexually sinful and let's not talk about restrictions on birth control and abortion), to be elderly and unable to work and having to choose between rent and food. Hey, just die already. Save the country some money.
These asshats think that stimulating the economy is creating debt. What they don't realize is that those dollars, which give people the ability to buy food, pay medical practitioners, take care of other needs, come back to the government in taxes, both from the actual transaction and from the continued ability of people to feel like they can get things they need (put money back into circulation), and have hope that they can be wage-earners and tax payers again. If, that is, they can get jobs, and for some, that means government having the resources to enforce hiring practices, job discrimination and minimum wage standards.
Some people think getting a new job is easy. They haven't been 63 years old and appearing at interviews where one is facing a group of thirty-somethings who look at you as if you are a creature from an earlier geologic age. It's hard to claim age-discrimination. It's hard to claim any discrimination ("Oh, she was black? We hadn't noticed.)

I used to think that people inveighing against our education system were blowing smoke out of their collective asses, because we weren't producing the productive robots we need for a manufacturing economy. Now that our economy has gone south, or at least east to India and China (which, incidentally holds a lot of our debt) and we don't need to produce the 1950's era kind of workers (both blue and white collar), I see that our education system in the last thirty years has really fallen short.
My sister was an English teacher in a junior high school, and she can tell you story after story of protective parents coming to her complaining of a bad grade their child got because s/he didn't study, try, think, about an assignment.
Does the government do anything to help our teachers in saying "Dude, I know you smoked a lot of dope and saw God in the seventies, and believe in free expression, but your kid is still f-king up in class now, and hasn't a hope of going to college"? Does the government help teachers when they say "I know you want your kid to go to Harvard Law School, but s/he's as smart as a box of rocks and you should prepare her/him for some other kind of work?"
Naw. The wingnuts/asshats (your choice) in congress now only look at how much money they can save, as long as it doesn't affect their corporate sponsors. God forbid that we should require corporations, especially oil and gas corporations, to pay a proportionately equal part of their earning in taxes as we, the hoi polloi, do. And besides, a poorly educated citizenry is more malleable to the propaganda of the ruling classes, that is, the classes which have enough money to influence our Congressmen.
Some of these characters claim to be Christian. If so show them this:
Matthew 25: 31-46
…(then they will answer) “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, and thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are my family, you did it to me.”
Feeding the poor, helping the sick or troubled or struggling—Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Health Insurance, Food Stamps, Unemployment Insurance—this isn’t socialism, folks, it’s Christianity.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Edward R. Murrow said it best

Theres no way I can improve on what he said. Happy 4th of July everyone.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

New York, New York

I'm ba-a-ack.
There's been some trouble with google now owning blogspot, I think—anyway I couldn't even get to my own blog for a while, and that's why I have been bottling up my curmudgeonly gripings lately.

Tonight tho I start off with a joy, tempered by a realization of how far there is yet to go.
Today the New York State Senate approved a bill allowing same-sex marriage. In a senate led by Republicans. Holy  mackerel! It's been a struggle but the goal is finally achieved.

This is a big disappointment to the Catholic Church and many other conservative Christians. They are so hung up on believing that the Bible is the actual teaching of God, rather than the attempts of an early society to protect itself and make sense of the world. There was an older translation of the bible in my church which said that eating the flesh of the pig was an abomination and later said that a man having sex with a man was an abomination—and I liked to bludgeon those who were against homosexuality with the thought that eating a BLT was a bad as a man sleeping with another man.
Had a BLT lately?
The NRSV bible, alas, only says that eating the flesh of a pig is unclean. Doesn't have the same punch. New translations are not always better.
In Leviticus, women aren't considered in same sex relations, being pretty much second-class citizens so who cares. It is only in the letters of Paul (my minister says it is in there somewhere but i forget where and I'm too lazy right now to go looking) that women sleeping with women is given equal condemnation as men sleeping with men. That's progress for the status of women, kinda, I guess.

Anyway, I'm happy that NY State has finally decided to enter the 21st century. And kudos to Governor Cuomo  for pushing this to victory. I'm having a vision of "Cuomo for President in 2016" placards right about now.
Obama better hope it's not "Cuomo in 2012." Obama was in NYC telling gays that he was against any kind of discrimination. But I'm not sure that he came out in favor of actual marriage. Someone, one of my two actual readers, can correct me on this if they have the energy.
He does belong to a UCC church and should know better. The UCC is a church which says that "God is still speaking" and that means that what was understood by the ancients is not the end and is not necessarily apropos today.
The world and humanity is still growing and evolving. It ain't over yet, folks.
I think Obama, and the Democrats in general, should consider speaking their minds and openly and aggressively fighting for their goals, instead of weaseling  around worrying about 2012, and also achieving consensus—and those goals are not necessarily compatible.

Goodnight all.