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Saturday, January 30

Why do people often vote against their own interests?

BBC NEWS: Why do people often vote against their own interests?

Excerpt (but there's more):

Instead, to many of those who lose out under the existing system, reform still seems like the ultimate betrayal.

Why are so many American voters enraged by attempts to change a horribly inefficient system that leaves them with premiums they often cannot afford?

Why are they manning the barricades to defend insurance companies that routinely deny claims and cancel policies?

It might be tempting to put the whole thing down to what the historian Richard Hofstadter back in the 1960s called "the paranoid style" of American politics, in which God, guns and race get mixed into a toxic stew of resentment at anything coming out of Washington.
But that would be a mistake.


If people vote against their own interests, it is not because they do not understand what is in their interest or have not yet had it properly explained to them.They do it because they resent having their interests decided for them by politicians who think they know best.There is nothing voters hate more than having things explained to them as though they were idiots.As the saying goes, in politics, when you are explaining, you are losing. And that makes anything as complex or as messy as healthcare reform a very hard sell.

Thoughts for the day

Yesterday's Mark Morford column Why are you so terribly disappointing? really made me think. Do we expect too much? We are so disappointed in everything.

As a society, we are so miserable lately that nothing is going to please us. I always wonder where is it written that we are supposed to be pleased all of the time? Even when something not bad happens, our collective whining goes into full gear and when something bad is happening and it's not as bad as we envisioned or was predicted, we whine that it was supposed to be worse.

H1N1 didn't devastate the world. (We worried about it for nothing.) Obama didn't fix the thousands and thousands of problems our country faces in his first year. (But we also elected the congresscritters that have the power to defy everything he suggests for the country.) Where's the mini ice age that's supposed to happen because of global warming? (We don't believe in global warming so much anymore because we don't see proof and if it's cold in our neighborhood, it must not be real.) The Apple iPad isn't mind blowing enough. Let's whine about that too because we just like to whine about everything. I like to whine about the corporate media. Of course if we had a society made up of more people who think critically the corporate media wouldn't be such a threat.

Are we just spoiled or are we just so fucked over by the powers that be that we're deep in the hole of despair? Or both? We're turning on each other. Is this part of the plan or is this just what happens when the shit keeps hitting the fan?

Morford concludes:
Maybe this, then, is the ultimate upshot of our endless, self-wrought swirl of sour disappointment, of never having our impossible needs fully met, of constantly being thwarted in our desire to have the world revolve around our exact set of specifications and desires.

Our disappointment begins to curdle, to turn back on itself, poison the heart, turn us nasty and low. It shifts from merely being a national mood or general temperament, into a way of being. A wiring, deep and harmful and permanent. It's all very disappointing, really.

I want to know how and why we got to this. Why do we have impossible needs anyway? Was it always this way (and I wasn't paying attention)? What gives?

We need jobs! We need to be paid living wages. Where is the national outrage about that?

How to Report the News

Courtesy of AmericaBlog.com:



Looks nice and easy ... I wonder when the Mainstream Media will sue this guy for revealing trade secrets.

Science Saturday

How about a little archeology?

Cambridge's Fitzwilliam Museum has opened a new Gallery of Greek and Roman Antiquities, and the BBC was kind enough to toss out a small video clip showcasing some of the items on display.

Check out the Roman "Swiss Army Knife!"

The March of the Venal Bastards

Oh boo flippin' hoo, we saw during the State of the Union address President Obama being all mean as he called out the Supreme Court of the United States for being a bigger bunch of venal bastards than this piss-poor bowling team* actually is, and Associate Justice Samuel "Baldy" Alito shaking his head and mouth either "Not True" or "Fuck You."

Either of which should have netted him an elbow to the ribs from Justice Sotomayor.

Perhaps I am being too harsh for referring to the Supreme Court as a bunch of venal bastards, but I calls 'em like I sees 'em. Associate Justice Antonin "Blood Sausage" Scalia went duck hunting with VP Cheney back in the day and didn't recuse himself from any court decisions afterward.

But let's not lose sight of the true people to blame for the current makeup of the Supreme Court, and recall that the Justices have life tenure unless they are either impeached or retire.

No, not the Bushite Junta - although they bear blame for suggesting the names.

Yep, the Democrats in the Senate.

See, they had the chance to filibuster Roberts and Alito, the opportunity to so hamstring things that Bush would have been forced to withdraw the nominations and select someone else. Hell, I watched the Roberts nomination hearings - he was practically laughing his head off at the questions he was being asked, and the smirk on his face boded ill.

But they didn't.

And now the Supreme Court, by the inevitable 5-4 margin, decided to piss a century of precedent away and declare that corporations were people and that Money Does, In Fact, Talk.

My suggestion for the Democratic leadership in the Senate - well, mass seppuku is so messy, so I'll accept a mass resignation.

Now let's drift across the pond to where the British, still proud of their Imperial past, have set up the Chilcot Committee to explore the reasons and whys and wherefores behind the United Kingdom's involvement in the Iraq War and the shenanigans the Blair Government pulled to draw the British into the conflict.

Yesterday it was former Prime Minister Tony "Monsignor" Blair up before the Committee, who allowed him to slip in via a back door rather than face the crowds gathered outside the building howling for Blair to be hauled off to the Hague and tried for war crimes. In his testimony, he reiterated his assertion that the world is a safer place with Saddam gone, and the blame for the current state of affairs is the fault of ... the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Yeah.

Tony, Tony, Tony - didn't they teach you anything in those schools you attended apart from how to avoid being anally raped? When you destroy a regional power, you create a vacuum that inevitably draws another power into primacy. Iraq was the only counterweight to Iran in the entire Southwest Asian region (I exclude Israel as a matter of course), and if Iraq was taken out it was obvious that Iran would take advantage of the new power realities. Of course, geopolitics is no longer taught, but history is. There are ample examples.

Not your fault - you were obviously either blinded by your messianic vision or by the need to find some way to restrain George Bush and the neocons, who were planning on invading and destroying Iraq as far back as the late 90s. Interestingly, though, the people who the neocons relied upon to buttress their anti-Iraq arguments were all Iranian or had been on the Iranian dime (or dinar).

The Democratic leadership in the Senate still refuses to believe that they have a greater majority in that chamber than Bush ever had, and still act like a bunch of spineless jackoffs. The current breast-beating over the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United is disingenuous at best.

And while our principal ally seeks to get to the bottom of the debacle that was, is and will be the Iraq War, we continue to allow the neocons and their enablers to whitewash history and make Our Iraq Adventure into a glorious struggle for peace and freedom, rather than for what it really was.




*A piss-poor bowling team in Biloxi, Mississippi, no less.

Friday, January 29

Haiti and Theodicy

Well, we've already heard (and roundly vilified) Marion G. "Pat" Robertson's take on the Haiti earthquake and its role in explaining how 'God' runs the world (the basic definition of theodicy).

Stand back, because here's Richard Dawkins on the attack. Very interesting stuff from one of our favorite atheists.

Corporation Runs for Maryland Congressional Seat

I was kind of expecting something like this to happen.

From Think Progress:
The progressive PR firm Murray Hill Inc. has announced that it plans to satirically run for Congress in the Republican primary in Maryland’s 8th congressional district to protest the Supreme Court’s disastrous decision. A press release on its website says that the company wants to “eliminate the middle man” and run for Congress directly, rather than influencing it with corporate dollars:

“Until now,” Murray Hill Inc. said in a statement, “corporate interests had to rely on campaign contributions and influence peddling to achieve their goals in Washington. But thanks to an enlightened Supreme Court, now we can eliminate the middle-man and run for office ourselves.”

“The strength of America,” Murray Hill Inc. says, “is in the boardrooms, country clubs and Lear jets of America’s great corporations. We’re saying to Wal-Mart, AIG and Pfizer, if not you, who? If not now, when?” [...]

Campaign Manager William Klein promises an aggressive, historic campaign that “puts people second” or even third. “The business of America is business, as we all know,” Klein says. “But now, it’s the business of democracy too.” Klein plans to use automated robo-calls, “Astroturf” lobbying and computer-generated avatars to get out the vote.

Murray Hill Inc. plans on spending “top dollar” to protect its investment. “It’s our democracy,” Murray Hill Inc. says, “We bought it, we paid for it, and we’re going to keep it.”

Thursday, January 28

Alito ought to be taken to task

In his SOTU speech last night Obama blasted the Supreme Court's decision to allow our election process to be financed by corporations and special interest groups:

“Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests -- including foreign companies -- to spend without limit in our elections.”

Activist Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito mouthed the words "No, that's not true." At least he didn't scream it out... but the television cameras caught it. It's all over the tv today and of course the commentary by the so called reporters and journalists reeks of partisanship and a total lack of understanding about fascism.

What does Alit0 mean that it isn't true. Of course it's true. This is America Inc. He ought to get on the television and explain himself.

I think it's time to review the whole Supreme Court. These guys aren't elected. They are selected by the sitting president and the congress critters who are in office at the time may confirm them. Most of the congress critters were already beholden to special interest groups and not the American citizens. Maybe we need to vote for justices too... but then again that opens up another can of worms... the corporations will buy those elections too.

Will we need a bloody revolution to stop the madness? There's one little problem about who will be on what side....

"I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half. " - Jay Gould, US financier & railroad businessman (1836 - 1892)

Indeed.

SOTU: Have you EVER seen so many smiling faces in your life?

Beware, beware of the handshake
That hides the snake
I'm telling you beware
Beware of the pat on the back
It just might hold you back
Jealousy (jealousy)
Misery (misery)

Smiling faces sometimes pretend to be your friend
Smiling faces show no traces of the evil that lurks within





I really wanted to smile. His address was amazing. WOW! Can this guy give a speech or what!!! I fell asleep with a positive feeling (may have been the sleep aid though). I really hope some of his proposals come to light. Let's see what happens....





“I wish you wouldn’t keep appearing and vanishing so suddenly; you make one quite giddy!”
“All right,” said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.





“Well! I’ve often seen a cat without a grin,” thought Alice; “but a grin without a cat! It’s the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life!”


Wednesday, January 27

Just an observation...

Languages are fascinating. But of all of them, English is the most special. Maybe it's because the way we place adverbs or adjective before verbs or nouns. Maybe it's just the way life can be described (which is much gooder than any other language).
So tonight, between 9 and, say 10:15, I had this remembrance of an old Night Gallery Episode;"The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes."

For those who never saw it, this youngster (a VERY young Clint Howard, Ron's brother) has the ability to predict what will happen in the very near future. People become believers quickly. Everyone rallies around him, believing things he says. But one day he predicts that tomorrow there will be peace on earth and everyone will be happy.

Humans, being the natural cynics they are, react quite negatively to the kid they all praised. When his mother asks why he said what he said, little Clint looks at her and asks, (and the quote is close) "Do you know what a nova is?"

behold.... the iPad?

Sweet baby Jesus, does no one at Apple watch tv?
 
I can't believe they called it the iPad.  I mean seriously.  Here's what Mad TV did to spoof the iPod several years ago.
 
No, I had no plans to buy the damn thing (I haven't bought anything Apple since the last ink cartridge for a StyleWriter in 1995 or thereabouts), but good grief, this comic material just writes itself.

No wonder this country is going to hell in a handbasket

Poll finds Americans trust Fox News more than any other network

Of course I don't trust any of them... I prefer to read but reading is waaaay down in America.

Tuesday, January 26

Better to be pissed off than on...

While we were sleeping…

Who decided that a neophyte Senator from Illinois should run for and might make a good president – and when? Was it based on his 2004 Convention Speech? If so, that puts him right up there with the likes of Bush the Second in qualifications; because he talks gooder?

Was there a meeting in a Chicago back room in 2006 when the Democrats decided to abdicate responsibility to the people they represent? Looks like the Democratic Party was hijacked mid-flight 2006, pushed through, excuse me…Rahmed through the door without parachutes and replaced with Manchurian Clones.

We need a Congressional inquiry into party crashers? But when people carry guns to a presidential speech, that merits…nothing? Way to stick to your priorities Democrats!

Don’t cry for me, America. There are a lot of cushy lobby jobs waiting for losing Democrats after 2010 who sold out the people.

Maybe there has been some secret revelation to the U.S. and world governments, kinda like those special letters the guy who wears the funny hat in Italy has. Maybe aliens have already told the politicians there’s no god so they can screw whomever they want anyway they want and not worry about eternal damnation. Think about it! UFOs debunked by the government even though lots of sane people have seen them. But there really hasn’t been that many sightings of late! Hmmmm? About those clones…

Quiz Time!

Finish these sentences:

Obama’s Health Care Bill will help you by ____________.

The Health Care Bill won’t ever affect me because ___________.

I have no objections at all to a Health Care Fee or Fine because __________.

Imagine what America would be like if Obama weren’t a Democrat __________.

The Republican mind is like a ___________.

The Democratic mind is like a ___________.

The difference between Republicans and Democrats is ____________.

The last good Republican or Democrat was _____________ because ___________.

Wall Street and American Banks need the bail out because _________.

We can’t appoint progressives to cabinet or judicial positions because ________.

Trading pollution credits is a good thing because _______.

Right Wing politicians aren’t against abortion because of religious reasons. They just want to save lives because __________.

It’s better to spend money to kill people in Iraq and Afghanistan instead of helping Americans because _____.

We can’t spend money taking care of Americans because the cost would keep Republicans from spending money on _________.

Barack Obama will make a great president because _________.

Teabaggers believe big corporations rather than our government because ______.

It’s better to cut taxes on the rich than to give aid to the middle class and poor because _________.

My son or daughter should marry a politician because _______.

Politicians should be protected from the people because _________.

Remember! He who dies paying the least taxes…wins!

SC Lt. Gov. compares people getting gov’t help to ‘stray animals’ who ‘breed’ because they don’t know better.

From THINK PROGRESS

South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, who is running for the Republican nomination for governor, held a town hall meeting yesterday where he argued government should be tougher on families whose children receive free and reduced-price lunches. Bauer said that parents should be required to “pass drug tests or attend parent-teacher conferences or PTA meetings.” To make this argument, however, he compared people receiving government assistance to stray animals:

“My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that. And so what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to curtail that type of behavior. They don’t know any better,” Bauer said. [...]

Later in his speech, Bauer said, “I can show you a bar graph where free and reduced lunch has the worst test scores in the state of South Carolina,” adding, “You show me the school that has the highest free and reduced lunch, and I’ll show you the worst test scores, folks. It’s there, period.“

Bauer later insisted that he “wasn’t saying people on government assistance ‘were animals or anything else.’”

--------------
Oh good lord.

His grandmother was OBVIOUSLY NOT a highly educated woman. What he was saying that if you starve poor people, especially their poor starving children, they'll die off and then they won't grow up to breed and then there won't be anymore poor people and everything will be peachy.

This absolute maroon sees no correlation between poor test scores and hunger? Just cause a kid gets a free lunch doesn't mean he or she is getting proper nutrition at school or afterward. Would you give a shit about learning in school if you lived in abject poverty and was hungry? People with this mindset also don't get that poverty breeds crime.

According to his website, "André believes elected officials should run government like a good businessman runs his own company - by maximizing results while keeping overhead low."

Well that says it all. It's more expedient financially to starve the beggars...

Editorial: The State of the Union Sucks

After months without healthcare insurance we have it again (not that it really mattered because my previous healthcare insurance DECLINED all the claims and I have bills galore that I cannot pay). The co-pays on the monthly prescriptions that I need filled are so high that I cannot afford to buy the meds. I'll have to take them every other day or every few days so that one prescription can last a few months... and if I get really sick as a result... then the insurance company will have to pay (or not) big bucks to fix me unless they are lucky and I drop dead. You'd think that they would be happy to support preventative care... but nooooo.

So what's my latest gripe?
I need a fucking job. My son who is out of college for 3 years needs a fucking job. We apply for job after job and it appears these days that employers don't even bother to contact you to tell you that they're not interested... why? because thousands of people apply for every stinking job that comes along. The competition is staggering. I can't even get a $7.50/hr job at a store cutting fabric! (I never put on my resume or applications that I have 2 masters degrees.) My son can't even get a job at a supermarket, for god's sake.

Did you know that it's also damn near impossible to get a volunteer position as well? Thousands of applicants, especially recent college grads, are applying for those too. I suggested to my son that he go out there and do volunteer work... no luck yet. Still trying.

I looked into going back to school for my son and I to learn an actual skill... it seems that the healthcare industry has the most jobs and I wouldn't mind being one of those people who operates xray machines or sonogram machines. Hell I could learn how to take blood. Whatever. But you need money to go back to school and when you don't have a job, how do you pay for school? Loans? Good god, who needs more loans... especially young people trying to start out? And what if you still can't get a job after going for job training because there are still thousands of applicants for every job that might come along? (And who's hiring 55 year olds?) That option is still on the table though.


Okay, okay.. yes I'm fortunate that there is one gainfully employed person in the family, but it's in the automobile industry... talk about a shaky job. So after 28 years in the same house which is paid off we still face losing the house should someone lose their job because our taxes are so enormous in Nassau County, NY. We have the highest paid police force and teachers in the country. Never mind that the tax payers who pay those salaries should be so lucky to have such fabulous income and benefit packages (save for the stock brokers and bankers who live here). Most of these idiot asses in the cushy municipal and union jobs support the fascists because they watch Faux News and think they are patriotic! They have no idea just how stupid they are... and the rest of us have to pay for it. The high paid teachers aren't exactly churning out any great minds around here. They want their unions, but they support those who would loooove to destroy unions. duh. How can I keep my sanity? Help!

Never in my 55 years on earth have I seen such a mess handed to the American people.

The robber class has succeeded in doing away with the the American experiment. I personally know dozens of people, living paycheck to paycheck, who believe that the result of the Massachusetts election last week will finally bring America back to a real democracy. Viva la corporate media! God help us.

/rant

Monday, January 25

It took so long to bake it...

As a former supporter of change I thought I could believe in, I was asked if I would be watching television January 27 around 9-ish. Well, the Honeymooners isn't on, neither is Ernie Kovacs. So...

Thinking about it for a few, I decided there may be other options instead of viewing. No, not the fools on Fox who probably would rebroadcast 2004 and 2008 Republican primary debates, rather, things that might just be more pertinent. Down to what's left of a full gallon of high expectations from last SOTU this last ounce of frozen hope is melting in the dark.

So I found a few things that appeal more to me than watching or listening to cliches, anecdotes, fluff, good - and bad intentions, embellishments, exaggerations, empty promises, placations, duplicity. More than watching or listening to veiled or overt threats, disaster stories, excuses, blame, posturing, intimidation, pleas or outright lies.

All of that made my decision for me. I plan on clipping an irritating toenail; watching that last bit of snow in my front yard melt; finishing "War and Peace" (are there many chapters after number 5?).

The love affair is over, MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark, and I don't think that I can take it...anymore.

With more than a little poetic license...



In case that's too exciting...




Besides, I can always catch the reruns on the History Channel in 2013...watching while standing in front of a window before I return to my spacious container in what's becoming a crowded alley.

Here we go with "The American Dream" crap again.........

Is The Middle-Class American Dream Still In Reach?

Thanks, but no thanks Messrs. Obama and Biden. PLEASE wake the sheeple up and give them a hard dose of reality.......

Middle Class = WORKING CLASS

Sunday, January 24

A Sunday short........."HOW IT HAPPENED" by Isaac Asimov

My brother began to dictate in his best oratorical style, the one which has the tribes hanging on his words.

"In the beginning," he said, "exactly fifteen point two billion years ago, there was a big bang and the Universe--"

But I had stopped writing. "Fifteen billion years ago?" I said incredulously.

"Absolutely," he said. "I'm inspired."

"I don't question your inspiration," I said. (I had better not. He's three years younger than I am, but I don't try questioning his inspiration. Neither does anyone else or there's hell to pay.) "But are you going to tell the story of the Creation over a period of fifteen billion years?"

"I have to," said my brother. "That's how long it took. I have it all in here," he tapped his forehead, "and it's on the very highest authority."

By now I had put down my stylus. "Do you know the price of papyrus?" I said.

"What?" (He may be inspired but I frequently noticed that the inspiration didn't include such sordid matters as the price of papyrus.)

I said, "Suppose you describe one million years of events to each roll of papyrus. That means you'll have to fill fifteen thousand rolls. You'll have to talk long enough to fill them and you know that you begin to stammer after a while. I'll have to write enough to fill them and my fingers will fall off. And even if we can afford all that papyrus and you have the voice and I have the strength, who's going to copy it? We've got to have a guarantee of a hundred copies before we can publish and without that where will we get royalties from?"

My brother thought awhile. He said, "You think I ought to cut it down?"

"Way down," I said, "if you expect to reach the public."

"How about a hundred years?" he said.

"How about six days?" I said.

He said horrified, "You can't squeeze Creation into six days."

I said, "This is all the papyrus I have. What do you think?"

"Oh, well," he said, and began to dictate again, "In the beginning-- Does it have to be six days, Aaron?"

I said, firmly, "Six days, Moses."

Go Cindy!


Cindy McCain surprised me this past week. She came out for gay marriage in an anti-Prop 8 ad, defying her husband's vocal support for Prop 8. Meghan McCain supported anti-prop 8 last summer. I anticipate other family members of prominent politicians who are against gay marriage to come forward and do what Cindy has done... at least I hope so.

In addition, I would like to add that I love Cindy's haircut. She looks great.

PS Did you see Will Ferrell doing Free Bird on Conan the other night?

Saturday, January 23

Is it time to limit the terms of the justices of the SCOTUS?

Just a thought...

1 - 5 year term - (Eligibility of candidate to be determined).
Publicly electable - (During decade presidential or mid term elections).
Single term only - (With rules for succession in the event of death).
Retro-Active to 2000? - (Maybe a little too much!)


Here's how it can be done.
Letters, maybe?


The Constitutional Amendment Process

The authority to amend the Constitution of the United States is derived from Article V of the Constitution. After Congress proposes an amendment, the Archivist of the United States, who heads the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), is charged with responsibility for administering the ratification process under the provisions of 1 U.S.C. 106b. The Archivist has delegated many of the ministerial duties associated with this function to the Director of the Federal Register. Neither Article V of the Constitution nor section 106b describe the ratification process in detail. The Archivist and the Director of the Federal Register follow procedures and customs established by the Secretary of State, who performed these duties until 1950, and the Administrator of General Services, who served in this capacity until NARA assumed responsibility as an independent agency in 1985.

The Constitution provides that an amendment may be proposed either by the Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures. None of the 27 amendments to the Constitution have been proposed by constitutional convention. The Congress proposes an amendment in the form of a joint resolution. Since the President does not have a constitutional role in the amendment process, the joint resolution does not go to the White House for signature or approval. The original document is forwarded directly to NARA's Office of the Federal Register (OFR) for processing and publication. The OFR adds legislative history notes to the joint resolution and publishes it in slip law format. The OFR also assembles an information package for the States which includes formal "red-line" copies of the joint resolution, copies of the joint resolution in slip law format, and the statutory procedure for ratification under 1 U.S.C. 106b.

The Archivist submits the proposed amendment to the States for their consideration by sending a letter of notification to each Governor along with the informational material prepared by the OFR. The Governors then formally submit the amendment to their State legislatures. In the past, some State legislatures have not waited to receive official notice before taking action on a proposed amendment. When a State ratifies a proposed amendment, it sends the Archivist an original or certified copy of the State action, which is immediately conveyed to the Director of the Federal Register. The OFR examines ratification documents for facial legal sufficiency and an authenticating signature. If the documents are found to be in good order, the Director acknowledges receipt and maintains custody of them. The OFR retains these documents until an amendment is adopted or fails, and then transfers the records to the National Archives for preservation.

A proposed amendment becomes part of the Constitution as soon as it is ratified by three-fourths of the States (38 of 50 States). When the OFR verifies that it has received the required number of authenticated ratification documents, it drafts a formal proclamation for the Archivist to certify that the amendment is valid and has become part of the Constitution. This certification is published in the Federal Register and U.S. Statutes at Large and serves as official notice to the Congress and to the Nation that the amendment process has been completed.

In a few instances, States have sent official documents to NARA to record the rejection of an amendment or the rescission of a prior ratification. The Archivist does not make any substantive determinations as to the validity of State ratification actions, but it has been established that the Archivist's certification of the facial legal sufficiency of ratification documents is final and conclusive.

In recent history, the signing of the certification has become a ceremonial function attended by various dignitaries, which may include the President. President Johnson signed the certifications for the 24th and 25th Amendments as a witness, and President Nixon similarly witnessed the certification of the 26th Amendment along with three young scholars. On May 18, 1992, the Archivist performed the duties of the certifying official for the first time to recognize the ratification of the 27th Amendment, and the Director of the Federal Register signed the certification as a witness.

CORPORATE MEDIA: PROPERTY TRUMPS HUMAN SURVIVAL

The desperate people of Haiti are now turning on each other. The aid that you've been contributing has not reached most of the people. They're starving and they're scared. Supplies are being turned away at airports. Doctors are being told to evacuate field hospitals due to security concerns. It's a heinous disaster.

But I ask you-- Is it "looting" when your economy has crumbled, your hometown has been decimated by an earthquake and you or your family or neighbors are starving or in need of medicine so you pick up some supplies from a store that has been abandoned?

WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE MEDIA? Why do they call saving your life after a disaster 'looting'? I hardly think that so called "looters" are in it for the joy of obtaining free stuff. What would you do if this happened in your town? And who are the real criminals in most disasters? Why it's the politicians in charge who are utterly incapable of organizing a rescue mission. In Haiti, there are reports of many citizens taking charge and distributing necessities to others.



THE CORPORATE MEDIA WANTS YOU TO BELIEVE THAT PROPERTY AND BUSINESSES ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN HUMAN BEINGS: During the Katrina aftermath when people dared to procure food and water the media deemed them to be criminals. This is what's happening in Haiti now... and happens after every disaster in every country.

The NY Daily News reports:
"Police fatally shot two men in an attempt to stop hundreds of people looting a supermarket. There were scattered reports of other looters being badly beaten by crowds."

Are they fucking kidding me? Aren't there enough dead people in Haiti already? Maybe one of those men was trying to get water, food or bandages for his family who are now homeless or badly injured?

Sure, there will be people who will take unnecessary items from stores... but do they deserve the death penalty?

Why don't the cops try to organize a salvage operation and distribute abandoned property in business districts to the citizens?

Check out this website, KMOX.com where there is a whole series of photos of Looting in Haiti.
This is why the corporate media disgusts me. Are we to believe that it's some sort of virtue to starve to death or bleed to death rather than salvage life saving supplies from an abandoned business? Sure it's chaos... but the media wants you to side with the property.

What would you do in such a dire situation? What would the writers and reporters for the corporate media do if they were in the same situation?

Friday, January 22

Money DOES Talk, It Seems

And it screams rather loudly, too.

Said loudness in proportion to how much of it's being ladled out, I suppose.

The Supreme Court of the United States, by the usual 5-4 vote (and I'll bet those Democratic Senators are really regretting not filibustering Scalia, Roberts and Alito now, I'll betcha) decided that corporations are people and that money is speech. So, for campaign purposes, big corporations and even large nonprofit groups will be able to spend great dirty whopping piles of filthy lucre in order to get certain candidates elected to office. Not through direct contributions, oh my goodness no (that would be way too obvious), but through bombarding the hapless American voter with direct mailings, handbills, radio ads, TV ads, internet ads, emails, tweets, and of course microwave transmissions direct into the chips embedded in our skulls.

The actual American voter, of course, still has a cap on how much he or she can directly contribute to political campaigns.

So, what does all this mean?

Well, for starters it means that the voice of The People will be drowned out by the massed voice of Big Business.

But I am grateful.

I truly am.

Why?

It means that the political process can finally come out of the closet and own up to the fact that the people no longer matter and never have, really. It's whoever has the most money that will dictate whoever gets into office now.

But let's face it - all that "of the people, by the people, and for the people" bullshit was so Nineteenth Century.

Tuesday, January 19

What's Up In Massachusetts Today?


(Scott Brown, Cosmo, 1982)

Martha Martha MARTHA!!! I'm beginning to think that you really dropped the ball BIG TIME here

Double standard or what folks? If Martha or any other female politician had done a similar "photo shoot", I'm pretty sure they'd be run out of town before their name even hit a ballot.

I understand that it's a tight race at the moment.

Now, it's all up to Diebold


(I'm hoping that our resident Bostonian, Saborlas, might be able to shed some light on this)

Friday, January 15

Obligatory Friday Sex Post

From 9 Hours of Sex? 5 Things You Can Do to Burn Off Gross Fast Food Meals

"Six pieces have 290 calories and 17 grams of fat. Sounds like a lot, right? Easy enough to fix: a few hours of vigorous sex will burn that off! Just 9.06 hours in bed will take care of those six McNuggets.

Up for it?"
Sure I'm up for it (in my mind.) But this is not really accurate because vigorous sex burns more than 30 cal/hour. In fact, typing this on the computer burns more than 30 cal/hour. According to my calculations, a 150 lb person burns about 300 cal/hr just walking.

A more interesting sex story is this one 'She Orgasms When You Touch Her': The World's First Sex Robot?

Thursday, January 14

Monsanto's GMO Corn Linked To Organ Failure, Study Reveals

From HuffPost

In a study released by the International Journal of Biological Sciences, analyzing the effects of genetically modified foods on mammalian health, researchers found that agricultural giant Monsanto's GM corn is linked to organ damage in rats.

According to the study, which was summarized by Adam Shake at Twilight Earth, "Three varieties of Monsanto's GM corn - Mon 863, insecticide-producing Mon 810, and Roundup® herbicide-absorbing NK 603 - were approved for consumption by US, European and several other national food safety authorities."

Monsanto gathered its own crude statistical data after conducting a 90-day study, even though chronic problems can rarely be found after 90 days, and concluded that the corn was safe for consumption. The stamp of approval may have been premature, however.

In the conclusion of the IJBS study, researchers wrote:
"Effects were mostly concentrated in kidney and liver function, the two major diet detoxification organs, but in detail differed with each GM type. In addition, some effects on heart, adrenal, spleen and blood cells were also frequently noted. As there normally exists sex differences in liver and kidney metabolism, the highly statistically significant disturbances in the function of these organs, seen between male and female rats, cannot be dismissed as biologically insignificant as has been proposed by others. We therefore conclude that our data strongly suggests that these GM maize varieties induce a state of hepatorenal toxicity....These substances have never before been an integral part of the human or animal diet and therefore their health consequences for those who consume them, especially over long time periods are currently unknown."

Monsanto has immediately responded to the study, stating that the research is "based on faulty analytical methods and reasoning and do not call into question the safety findings for these products."

The IJBS study's author Gilles-Eric Séralini responded to the Monsanto statement on the blog, Food Freedom, "Our study contradicts Monsanto conclusions because Monsanto systematically neglects significant health effects in mammals that are different in males and females eating GMOs, or not proportional to the dose. This is a very serious mistake, dramatic for public health. This is the major conclusion revealed by our work, the only careful reanalysis of Monsanto crude statistical data."

Pat Robertson: The Haitians have been cursed because they swore a pact with the devil. True Story.

The man who owns blood diamond mines in Africa insinuates that it was not the fault of the fault which caused the devastation in Haiti:

PAT ROBERTSON: And, you know, Kristi, something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, "We will serve you if you will get us free from the French." True story. And so, the devil said, "OK, it's a deal."

And they kicked the French out. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other. Desperately poor. That island of Hispaniola is one island. It's cut down the middle. On the one side is Haiti; on the other side is the Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, et cetera. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island. They need to have and we need to pray for them a great turning to God. And out of this tragedy, I'm optimistic something good may come. But right now, we're helping the suffering people, and the suffering is unimaginable.

KRISTI WATTS (co-host): Absolutely, Pat.

Teh stupid hurts. Interestingly, Haiti is 80% Catholic, but then again, Catholics are not christian to Robertson.

When Raymond Joseph, the Haitian ambassador to the United States heard such drivel, he responded on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show:

"I would like the whole world to know -- America especially -- that the independence of Haiti, when the slave rose up against the French and defeated the French army -- powerful army -- the U.S. was able to gain the Louisiana territory for $15 million. That's 3 cents an acre. That's 13 states west of the Mississippi that the Haitian slave revolt in Haiti provided," explained Joseph.

"Also the revolt of the rebels in Haiti allowed Latin America to be free," Joseph continued.

"So, what pact the Haitian made with the devil has helped the United States become what it is," he said.

“You know the good part about all those executions in Texas? Fewer Texans”.....George Carlin

Forgive me lord, but I've heard eee-nough from the state of Texas (The Texas School Board will be taking its first vote today on the history curriculum in its public schools)


This piece from back in July has a detailed outline of some of these proposed changes. The Culture Wars' New Front: U.S. History Classes in Texas -- check out some of the outside experts appointed by the Board to review the curriculum.


I also just saw this news item from Texas. I wonder why no possible connection to the above was mentioned as a reason
for Perry to reject federal money -- Perry won't let Texas compete for federal school money


Yep - enough from TX already. On second thought, don't waste your time on the above -- head over to Fark.com and read about it in one of today's submissions: Texas school board redefining history curriculum "He'll also ask the board to reconsider mentioning makeup entrepreneur Mary Kay Ash more often than Christopher Columbus in the curriculum standard." Wait....what? (it's true!)


I hope they make room in those books for some quotes from the 46th Governor of the State of Texas, and the 43rd President of the United States of America --

"As governor of Texas, I have set high standards for our public schools, and I have met those standards.”

“I appreciate that question because I, in the state of Texas, had heard a lot of discussion about a faith-based initiative eroding the important bridge between church and state.”

“There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee...that says, fool me once, shame on...shame on you. Fool me...you can't get fooled again.”


“I was raised in the West. The West of texas. It's pretty close to California. In more ways than Washington, D.C., is close to California.”

“The only things that I can tell you is that every case I have reviewed I have been comfortable with the innocence or guilt of the person that I've looked at. I do not believe we've put a guilty... I mean innocent person to death in the state of Texas.”

Wednesday, January 13

worse living through polymer chemistry

Okay, let me preface the first link with: Why the hell were these baby bottle companies still selling bottles with BPA in them?  Are they criminally ignorant, or just cheap bastards?  Or both?
 
Finally, baby bottles will be free of BPA.  And yes, these are US companies which were holdouts on the issue.  My personal reaction, if I had an infant or small children, would be to stage a boycott of products from these companies.  They do not give a rat's ass about public health. 
 
And a preface for the second link: I'd love to see the brain trust at the American Chemistry Council consume isolated BPA, in addition to the trace amounts of it in canned foods and liquids stored in plastic, and tell us with a straight face that the stuff is perfectly harmless and could actually class as its own food group.
 
Yes, we now have proof that BPA is implicated in cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and liver disease.  That's in addition to the cancer connection.  And the plastic industry is having a hard time spinning this to neuter it.

The Collective IQ of the Right Drops Another 10 Points

Yes, it's official.

Sarah "Go Ahead and Rape My Daughter, She Still ain't Getting an Abortion" Palin, the diehard conservative former Republican Governor of Alaska (who doesn't cut and run unless she's at least halfway through the job, then she'll drop it like a hot brick) has accepted a post as an analyst and commentator with ...

Fox News.

This comes as no surprise. A woman who subtracts from the sum of human intelligence every time she opens her gaping piehole will surely find a willing audience for her bile and half-baked 'ideas' on that network.

And I know people who listen to this tripe regularly, and will no doubt insist on watching her every time Roger Ailes decides that Karl Rove has been getting too much air time. I will be on the lookout for absorbent terrycloth ear bibs on people, to catch the leaking brain matter.

Saturday, January 9

Hindsight is Truly 20/20

This made me chuckle in a grim way, as it proves the old adage that you should be careful what you wish for - you just might get it.

Case in point:

Way back in 1963, the shrinking British Empire had only one remaining outpost on the Arabian Peninsula. The port of Aden and its surrounding hinterland had been a British port since 1837, and now two separate nationalist groups decided they wanted the British out.

What followed was the Aden Emergency, which dragged on until 1967 and ended when the British pulled their forces out of Aden. The transition was not a smooth one, with one faction seizing power and proclaiming an independent South Yemen. Later it merged with North Yemen ... and the rest, as they say, is history.

Which is what brought this article to my attention, and raised the grim chuckle I mentioned earlier.

It seems that some of the former nationalist, Marxist rebels are now regretting driving the British out, because the merger with the North has not exactly conferred much in the way of benefits. The population gets disaffected and leaves the young prey to alienation, leaving the field open to extremist views and recruitment by terrorist groups. We must remember that the USS Cole was bombed in the port of Aden, back in the 90s.

And now the aging rebels are regretting their actions.

Thursday, January 7

Voice from the Grave

When I started reading blogs (I read before I started writing, of course), I came across The News Blog, written by a very committed and erudite liberal named Steve Gilliard. He wrote a post that was recently reprinted by the Great Driftglass, and if you've never read it, I'd like to share it with you:

I'm a fighting liberal

You know, I've studied history, I've read about America and you know something, if it weren't for liberals, we'd be living in a dark, evil country, far worse than anything Bush could conjure up. A world where children were told to piss on the side of the road because they weren't fit to pee in a white outhouse, where women had to get back alley abortions and where rape was a joke, unless the alleged criminal was black, whereupon he was hung from a tree and castrated.

What has conservatism given America? A stable social order? A peaceful home life? Respect for law and order? No. Hell, no. It hasn't given us anything we didn't have and it wants to take away our freedoms.

The Founding Fathers, as flawed as they were, slave owners and pornographers, smugglers and terrorists, understood one thing, a man's path to God needed no help from the state. Is the religion of these conservatives so fragile that they need the state to prop it up, to tell us how to pray and think? Is that what they stand for? Is that their America?

Conservatism plays on fear and thrives on lies and dishonesty. I grew up with honest, decent conservatives and those people have been replaced by the party of greed. It is one thing to want less government interference and smaller, fiscally responsible government. It is another thing entirely to be a corporate whore, selling out to the highest bidder because the CEO fattens your campaign chest. They are building an America which cannot be sustained. One based on the benefit of the few at the cost of the many. The indifferent boss who hires too few people and works them to death or until they break down sick. Cheap labor capitalism has replaced common sense. "Globalism" which is really guise for exploitation, replaced fair trade, which is nothing like fair for the trapped semi-slaves of the maquliadoras. In the Texas border towns, hundreds of these women have been used as sex slaves and then apparently killed, the FBI powerless to do anything as the criminals sit in Mexico untouched by law.

For the better part of a decade, the conservatives made liberal a dirty word. Well, it isn't. It represents the best and most noble nature of what America stands for: equitable government services, old age pensions, health care, education, fair trials and humane imprisonment. It is the heart and soul of what made American different and better than other countries. Not only an escape from oppression, but the opportunity to thrive in land free of tradition and the repression that can bring. We offered a democracy which didn't enshrine the rich and made them feel they had an obligation to their workers.

Bush and the people around him disdain that. They think, by accident of birth and circumstance, they were meant to rule the world and those who did not agree would suffer.

Liberal does not and has not meant weak until the conservatives said it did. Was Martin Luther King weak? Bobby Kennedy? Gene McCarthy? It was the liberals who remade this country and ended legal segregation and legal sexism. Not the conservatives, who wanted to hold on to the old ways.

It's time to regain the sprit of FDR and Truman and the people around them. People who believed in the public good over private gain. It is time to stop apologizing for being a liberal and be proud to fight for your beliefs. No more shying away or being defined by other people. Liberals believe in a strong defense and punishment for crime. But not preemption and pointless jail sentences. We believe no American should be turned away from a hospital because they are too poor or lack a proper legal defense. We believe that people should make enough from one job to live on, to spend time on raising their family. We believe that individuals and not the state should dictate who gets married and why. The best way to defend marriage is to expand, not restrict it.

It was the liberals who opposed the Nazis while the conservatives were plotting to get their brown shirts or fund Hitler. It was the liberals who warned about Spain and fought there, who joined the RAF to fight the Germans, who brought democracy to Germany and Japan. Let us not forget it was the conservatives who opposed defending America until the Germans sank our ships. They would have done nothing as Britain came under Nazi control. It was they who supported Joe McCarthy and his baseless, drink fueled claims.

Without liberals, there would be no modern America, just a Nazi satellite state. Liberals weak on defense? Liberals created America's defense. The conservatives only need vets at election time.

It is time to stop looking for an accommodation with the right. They want none for us. They want to win, at any price. So, you have a choice: be a fighting liberal or sit quietly. I know what I am, what are you?

****

Steve's no longer with us, having passed away a few years ago. He'd be pleased and proud, I think, at some of the progress made but still angry and still fighting.

And fighting needs to be done. The Year of the Rat has never ended, despite what the Chinese zodiac may say.

Wednesday, January 6

Doesn't all the disinformation get to you?

First of all, I was one of those people who never believed for one second that Obama was liberal when I voted against Sarah Palin and John McCain. I have been greatly dismayed that he is following in bush's shoes when it comes to war, foreign policy and having drones drop bombs on countries we're not at war with. I'm not thrilled with his back pedaling on campaign promises but not all that surprised because he is a corporatist when it comes down to it. I am thrilled though that Palin is not the Veep.

What is really confusing me however are all the people I know who were against Obama and are now saying that he didn't deliver what he promised in his campaign regarding health care insurance (the same promises that they were appalled at, so technically they should be thrilled with him)... but then again, they are probably just repeating talking points they heard on Faux News or hate radio.

Over the holidays some people whom I thought were pretty intelligent mentioned to me that they didn't want the Canadian model of health care in our country. I asked how exactly the Congressional or Senate proposals were like Canada's national health care. Of course, no one could answer that... because, duh, no one was proposing Canadian type health care, no one really knows very much about it except that there are waiting lists for operations in Canada.

And these death panel accusations... Sheesh. At this moment in time, Medicare and Medicaid are awesome for old people.... hell, even if you're dying of something else, Medicare will pay for your triple bypass, hip replacements and the like. But if you're on private insurance, the insurance companies would scoff at the idea and most automatically reject any claims you may have. I'll give you death panels- private insurance companies. My friends who work in government have great health care insurance. It's enviable. How could seemingly intelligent people suddenly be afraid of "government run health insurance"? Sure, it's wasteful, but at least you can get medical care.

I've been paying for my son's private health insurance until he finds a job with bennies. It appeared to be a fine plan and was very expensive for a 24 year old. $500/month. He was admitted to the hospital last summer and was kept for 2 nights. I called the insurance company after he was admitted to report it (just in case.) Months later we were informed that the insurance company deemed that he didn't need to be in the hospital for 2 nights and would only pay for one night (as if my son had any say in the decision to stay an extra night for observation.) Luckily in NY State, we can appeal these decision and we're in the process of that right now.... but sheeeet, man.... way to wreck a kid's credit rating. (I have counseled him to move to a nice European country and then send for my old ass.)

I'm just pretty pissed off that there is so much disinformation being peddled by so called "news" organizations who don't fact check what politicians say before they report it.

Well that's enough ranting for the day.

What's bugging you?

It's Safe To Visit NYC

I just read that the murder rate in NYC is at an all time low. Actually it's the lowest since they started keeping track of murders. The crime rate in Gomorrah dropped 11% last year (although felonious assaults are up 2%, so watch your backs.) Not for nothing, but NY is a police state and the most unhappy state in the US. Even the criminals are too depressed to go on a rampage. According to this chart, NYC ranks below the national crime rate.

To be fair, crime rates across the country fell 10% in the first half of 2009 across the country.

How could this be?

Friday, January 1

Opening 2010

Address to a Joint Session of Cyberland, the Blogosphere and the Voices in My Head, held Somewhere Out There on the First Day of January in the two thousand tenth year of the Common Era.

Your Royal Lizness , Ladies, Gentlemen and Kinnars:

Happy New Year.

Much as we’d all like to forget the steaming pile of compost that was the past ten years, we are forced to be mindful of it. In much the same way that the survivors of the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 are mindful of a possible recurrence of the disaster that befell them, we too should be aware of the causes and effects of the past decade and how they will affect us in the following years. Past is prologue, so forgive me if I recapitulate.

I wish to congratulate the American People for managing to become both the main winners and losers of 2009. Winners, in that they managed to shrug off twelve years of right-wing fainéant dominance in both legislative houses and eight years of stupefying incompetence in the Executive Branch to elect a President and representatives who more closely represent the majority of the population. Losers, in that the self-same elected representatives have managed to act as if they are still a disregarded minority.

Political Boss Mark Hanna, back in the late 1800s, is reputed to have opined that William McKinley had “the backbone of a chocolate éclair.” To apply such an epithet to the current majority leadership in the United States Senate would be an insult - to chocolate éclairs.

To be fair, however, it would be wrong to deride the previous twelve years of conservative dominance as ‘fainéant.’ Urged on as they were by such stellar intellects as Karl Rove, Grover Norquist and others, they stripped the country’s regulatory machinery down to nearly nothing, lowered taxes on the wealthiest of the nation while increasing the burden on those who had less, and turned their backs on corporations in the belief that the ‘free market’ would look after itself and automatically prevent excesses.

Freed from such restraint the ‘free market’ succumbed to the unbridled greed that is as much a part of human nature as is altruism, with the inevitable result that we are now mired in a deep recession. The government that conservatives despise saved the economy from complete collapse, although it was a very close-run thing. Fortunately, there are indications that we have reached the bottom of the pit; now it remains for us to dig our way out, and it shall be a long and painful process.

We can expect no help in this matter from the former conservatives, who are even now forced to either embrace the more radical fringes of their Party or abandon all hope of reaching political office again. This radical fringe, composed of (I am sure) well-meaning Americans of the middle and lower-income classes, has apparently adopted cognitive dissonance as a normative behavior, actually spending a good part of last summer protesting the imposition of higher taxes on the rich. A small minority have even abandoned the standard rhetorical slogans of “My Country, Right or Wrong” and “America, Love It or Leave It” in favor of seceding from the Union, with hardly a thought to the repercussions of such an action or aware that the last time secession was attempted it ended very badly for the seceding states.

Greater restraint and regulation of greedy and needlessly extravagant corporations must be imposed, but again we are faced with a concerted lack of will in the legislature. Depending on how the Supreme Court may rule, there is a possibility that the next Congress will be even more beholden to these same corporations who have driven us into recession than they are to the people they supposedly represent.

I can see it now – “This session of the U.S. Senate is brought to you by the makers of Brown 25, building block of the future, another fine product from Uranus.

It doesn’t have to be this way, of course; we have it in our power to make things better. The first step, of course, is letting our elected representatives – our employees – know that they are obligated to do something rather than sit and moan about any loss of comity in the chamber. I will tolerate a certain lack of comity so long as things get done. The party out of power has decided to opt itself out of the process despite all attempts at a bipartisan outreach. Very well, then; we should frankly disregard them. If they want no seat at the table, we should not keep holding it out for them. The executive branch of the government needs to be more actively engaged as well.

For much of the past decade we suffered a President and Administration who openly lied to us and thought nothing of ignoring the Constitution and common human decency. Thanks to them we are embroiled in two wars that are sapping our armed forces, killing our troops and dragging our economy down. Paying for these conflicts with borrowed money helped deflect the attention of the taxpayers away from any sacrifices, and the media blackout on Dover Air Force Base helped close peoples’ eyes against the human cost of the conflict.

Another casualty of the previous Administration’s actions was a degradation of our moral standing in the global community. No one trusts us any longer to do the right thing.

The current Administration, faced with the choice of the dagger or the bowl in Afghanistan, opted to escalate our presence in hopes that saturating the affected parts of the country will finally suppress the Taliban. However, several provinces have Taliban ‘shadow governments,’ people are paid to fight against us on a seasonal basis, and the flow of drug money to the Taliban in their safe havens in Pakistan continues unabated. The “as long as it takes” argument will not work – the Soviet Union tried for ten years, with many more troops than we have available and more force than we are willing to bring to bear, and failed.

The world is less safe, thanks to the efforts of the previous Administration, and the current Administration is constrained by the actions and choices made by its predecessor. The withdrawal from Iraq is proceeding, albeit very slowly, and we must be painfully aware that we are ceding the stage to Iran, the largest player in the region. We were not invited there, and had no cause to go, but the previous Administration lied and their media sycophants blustered, and we went to war against a country that had never harmed us and had no intention of doing so.

I mentioned earlier in the previous year, that the true heirs of Edward Murrow and Walter Cronkite are not to be found on any of the so-called mainstream information media outlets. Subsumed within the budgets of vast business conglomerates, these once important organs of the Fourth Estate have been politicized and trivialized to the extent that they are now considered entertainment rather than news-gathering organizations. Rest assured, though, that the heirs of Murrow and crusading journalists, the new Muckrakers, are among us even now. They have learned to eschew the sycophantic mainstream and will, eventually, supplant it.

Now we stand at the threshold of a new year. What awaits us in the next twelve months, nay, in the next decade?

We can expect the prison at Guantanamo Bay, that suppurating pustule upon our morality, will be eventually closed despite the fear-filled rhetoric of the radical fringe. We can expect more attempts to destroy aircraft and buildings, and even assassination attempts against our elected leaders. Despite the heated rhetoric that greeted it, the Homeland Security report of 2008-9 was correct – disaffected military veterans returning from the wars will be targeted by various extremist groups and the number of domestic terrorist groups will far outnumber the foreigners who seek to destroy us. Fed on hateful rhetoric, these domestic groups are a source of constant danger yet are frequently overlooked, often deliberately so, in favor of an enemy that is far easier to demonize.

We can expect further progress in the slow and painful process of finally facing up to the fact that the political center of gravity is inexorably shifting east and south. The previous Administration mortgaged this country to the People’s Republic of China in order to finance their military adventures, and we no longer have the moral primacy to dare face the Chinese on human rights. The consequences of China calling in our debt to it are monstrous to contemplate.

Unless there is a political shift leading up to the election in 2010, we can expect a radical right-wing surge against a disaffected and disappointed incumbent base, with the possibility of the current Party in power losing at least one of its two legislative majorities. While I do not foresee the loss of the House of Representatives, the loss of the Senate would spell disaster. It was hoped that something – anything – could get done with working majorities in both chambers, but an obstructionist Senate would cripple the current Administration for the remainder of its term.

I personally do not foresee the loss of the White House in 2012, so long as the following conditions obtain: The economy improves to the extent that unemployment decreases, Guantanamo is closed, we are fully withdrawn from Iraq and several other domestic priorities are satisfied (to include the repeal of ‘Don’t ask, Don’t Tell’). That includes health care reform, which for all its faults and weaknesses still represents the high-water mark in attempts to rein in the unbridled rapacity of insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

Turning to foreign policy, I see us drawing closer to the rest of the world. Unilateral action has not served us well; we must reach out, particularly to regional powers like Iran. Issues such as terrorism, energy policy, global climate change and other problems demand a concerted, multilateral approach to problem-solving. Getting other nations to respect us again is another matter for respect, once lost, is hard to regain.

We must turn away from the concept that we can maintain our place in the world without educating our children. Education accounts for a slim, almost penurious segment of our gross domestic product, and teachers are poorly paid and heavily overworked. Education is the only thing that will enable us to raise and train new generations of inventors, researchers, innovators and scientists. Information is the currency of this era; we must never devalue it in favor of superstition, pseudoscience or cant.

I said earlier that we were giants once, and in truth we have been. We said we would go to the Moon, and did. We conquered the atom. We have it in us to be giants again, and lead the world in science, technological innovation and energy. As John F. Kennedy said, “We choose to go to the Moon and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” But it is easier to sit back and let others lead. It is easier still to crawl back into the comforting, dark womb of superstition and rely on magic to somehow produce a deus ex machina that will solve all of our problems. Yes, it is easy, but that is not America.

What awaits us in the next ten years? The future is never clear, but we know that we must work. We must work to ensure a better future for our descendants; we must work to correct the mistakes of the past and to guarantee that those mistakes do not happen again; we must learn from the past, in order to build the future.

Like the card player in Gorky’s Lower Depths, we cry out for “something better.”

“Something better.”

“Something better.”

I thank you all for your attention. I yield back the balance of my bandwidth and reserve the comment box to revise and extend my remarks.

Thank you, Happy New Year, and Goddess bless America.