It’s remarkable, you know. I see patterns other people don’t and there are people who know me and think I’m too full of hyperbole to pay attention. Even when I’m right. Continue reading “Aftermath (Part 10): Are we really so blind we can’t see?”
There is an oft-paraphrased poem that circulates around the Internet. It goes something like this:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
I didn’t want to go there, but I sure had a sneaking suspicion, and I’ve just been proven right.
According to Gawker Magazine, the shooter was a regular at Pulse. This was no random attack. It was cold blooded, premeditated murder. Daesh had nothing to do with it.
When I wrote this post back in 2012, just before the 2012 election, I was doing everything in my power to get the word out that we couldn’t elect Mitt Romney because he was backed by American Fascists.
Last night I had an extended conversation on Facebook (which I do quite often, because these posts don’t tend to happen anywhere near as much as they should).
The conversation started with this article:
I led with the phrase “Because guns fix everything, and there are no consequences, right?”
It didn’t take long to get the usual response.
“I wish they would focus on that, this was not a sane person. If it’s a mental hospital, or prison, she goes forever.”
In the following responses we saw laid bare the actual problem with this statement, and with
the NRA’s [oops! I mean] Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn’s newly proposed gun control bill.
It’s quite simple, really: If you have to be insane to shoot someone, then why are the prisons filled with insane people?
Mental illness isn’t a crime, is it? Well, yes, it is, apparently, or the prisons would be empty and there would be mental institutions everywhere.
There aren’t, are there? Why is that?
Well, the answer’s kinda complicated, see. It starts with the shutdown in the 1980s of mental facilities and President Reagan’s dismantling of a lot of the structure supporting those facilities.
But that’s not a complete answer, is it? No, because people fire guns for a whole bunch of reasons, including (but not limited to) in no particular order:
- racial profiling
You get the idea.
If you look at the prison system today, violent offenders make up only a portion of the population. And a majority of folks who are responsible for gun-related deaths aren’t remotely mentally ill. So where does the NRA come off with claiming this will fix the problem? It’s not a cure. It’s a Band-Aid, designed to draw attention away from the actual problem and place the blame on a population that is far more likely to do nothing at all, or to self-inflict.
Statistically speaking (if you can even call it that), the vast number of certifiably mentally ill shooters who see trial are white. Why is that? Because if it isn’t a murder/suicide, they are far more likely to survive encounters with police if they are white than if they’re not. No, race isn’t a guarantee of protection, but do you suppose the case in Aurora would have seen trial if Holmes had been black? I rather think not, especially in light of Ferguson, Cleveland, Baltimore and the rest.
We have a gun problem in this country and the NRA is pointing at a portion of the population who are under-served, blaming THEM because then we won’t actually address the problem. CDC Mental Healt FastStats show some of the picture, but not all of it.
Prisons are not remotely designed to handle the mentally ill. Rather, imprisonment is a contributing factor to mental illness.
So what’s the deal, NRA? And what makes you think you can just pass the buck?
Just remember, when you pay your dues to the NRA, what you’re supporting. And when you vote for an NRA-backed member of congress, don’t have any mental illness in your background, or you may find you’re on that list.
The law of unintended consequences works all the time.
On Monday, the US Supreme Court, by a 5-4 margin (which divided itself by conservative and religious lines), declared that employers who object to contraception as a violation of their deeply held religious beliefs do NOT have to cover their employees, one of the most important points of the Affordable Care Act. Continue reading “Second class citizens…”
ol·i·gar·chy (noun ˈä-lə-ˌgär-kē, ˈō-; plural: ol·i·gar·chies)Full Definition of OLIGARCHY:1 : government by the few2 : a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes; also: a group exercising such control [emphasis mine]
On April 9, 2014, this report was released on Princeton University’s website, and it’s shaken up news reports all over the world. It might come as no surprise to you, dear reader, that I’m not shocked at all by the finding. In fact, I’ve been using the term for at least the last several years, to describe in various threads just exactly what our country has become. If you think we’ve somehow escaped notice, think again:
All of a sudden, this is news. Only it’s not news.
New York Times: Oligarchy, American Style (11/3/2011)
Mother Jones: How the Oligarchs Took America (12/2/2010)
Robert Reich’s film, Inequality For All, does a spectacular job of tying all the loose ends together to explain what happened to the U.S.A. over the last 30 years. I’ve written a lot about the symptoms in the last year and a half, but nothing connects them half as well as this simple, elegant movie.
Too many people spend their time repeating the talking points without understand the source of the platform. They trust the office without paying attention to the officer. They don’t know how to read between the lines because their education fails to explain that the subtext is just as important as the message. We got where we are today because the Republicans beat the Libertarians in 1980, and the Libertarians took a different path.
You can (and should) go back in this blog and read the articles I’ve posted on the Koch brothers, you can listen to the things Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have to say (because comedy is the best source of truth these days), or you can analyze the political rhetoric that’s starting to hit for each of the Senate and House races this year, but the bottom line is, we have maybe two years to get our act together and do something about the GO(T)P.
They’ve got a lock on two of the four (yes, four) branches of government: The Supreme Court and the House. Without cooperation across the aisles, the Senate is barely holding on. Today, the Senate leans Democratic, but that’s not a given based on the 2014 election analysis.
If the Senate flips back to the GO(T)P, and we put another Republican in the office of President, we can write off our country. The poor will become modern-day serfs and the middle class will join them because that class is a modern myth. The combined branches will finally get to do what they always wanted – rewrite the Constitution with impunity.
The Presidency depends on having enough votes in key states – most of which are undergoing the same sort of voter crap that Florida’s done. We tip one or the other (senate or presidency) in the direction of the GOP, and what little remains of our safety nets will disappear completely. Want some practice at reading between the lines? Try these articles out for size:
Purge the rolls of Democrats, lean a little in the direction most conservatives think they need to go, or split the vote a little more with the splinter parties (Green or Socialist) and the GOP will have what they want: Total control of the US government. Once that happens, they can rewrite our constitution, revise the rules for who gets to vote. Can’t happen? We have three Supreme Court Justices who are on the edge of retirement, and the guessing game for who will retire first, and who will replace them, is heating up. Have a good look at the Tea Party line and platform and you’ll see the fundamentals of the Neo-Fascists who are presently armed to the teeth, thanks to the NRA.
We can still stop the madness, but it’s getting harder, not easier. I’d hoped the GOP was the party of the Old White Male, but that ignores the younger population who are moving in through the Tea Party. I recognize that the Democrats have issues, but the things they want to support – the Social Safety Net, universal health care, public education – will ALL go away if they lose. So like I said: We’ve got maybe two years to turn this around. We can’t wait until 2020. This election is important. The next one is critical.
Only this one’s different. This one involves a pregnant woman, and the rules have changed. Because this is Texas, where, thanks to George W. Bush, fetuses trump everything, and the only sacred thing is birth. But this isn’t just about Bush and it’s not just about Texas, either.
Did you know that roughly one third of the United States have enacted similar laws? Where do you live? Have you checked the rules? Is there the remotest chance you could become pregnant, then incapacitated, and then be forced into the role of incubator at the pleasure of the State?
This article, from the Vermont Law Review, dates back to 2005, and was published shortly after Bush signed the bill into law in Texas.
But the article isn’t about Texas. It’s about New Hampshire. Which other states have such laws on their books? I can’t tell you. There is no quick summary to tell me which states ignore Advanced Directives in favor of pregnancy. And I’m not in a position right now to devote the time it will take to review the laws in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the US territories.
I strongly suggest that if you have even the remotest chance of becoming pregnant and you think you have a Living Will or Five Wishes document in place, you check your state laws and make sure your family won’t be trapped in Erick Muñoz’s living hell.
We don’t understand nearly enough about the dying process that I would even consider the possibility of remaining on life support to continue carrying my unborn fetus, unless that fetus was near term. A couple of days? Yeah, I could see that, but Marlise Muñoz was barely out of the first trimester when she collapsed. Based on nutrition alone, that’s going to have a massive effect on the health of the baby. Then there’s the oxygen deprivation, circulatory regulation, and more.
And then, there’s the enormous load of ethical questions of cost for care and who should bear them. Texas is absolved of the responsibility. If the hospital shunts its responsibility back to the already grieving father who is taking legal action against the hospital, how is this even remotely right or responsible?
The question is so charged with ethical questions, in fact, that the first judge set to hear the case has recused herself. Don’t skip this article. It has links to a bunch of other related articles I won’t reproduce the links here, and to understand what’s happening in Texas, and could happen in your state as well, you need to read through all of them.
In fact, there are so very many questions, starting with the right to choose coming from the family, I can’t even begin to list all the reasons why this is so tremendously awful. It’s Quinlan and Schiavo all over again.
I recognize that I’m an atheist at best, but there’s doing what’s right and then there’s this. Religion and morality get in the way of doing the right thing and that’s the sole reason for the separation of church and state.
I find it profoundly disturbing that there is no simple summary of the states that would force a family to maintain a pregnant woman on life support as an incubator for her fetus. In fact, the laws are so variable I strongly suggest that if you have such a document in place, you investigate for yourself what your family will face if they have to make the decision for you.
Pregnancy is such a loaded event. It’s hard enough to imagine the responsibilities of caring for a person from birth through to adulthood. We invest so much in child bearing and so little in child rearing, and focus so much attention on abortion and choice, that we forget sometimes the state will trump our right to choose. If you think about it, you shouldn’t be at all surprised to discover that the next logical step is jail for miscarriage, but that’s the case in some of our states.
Government so small it fits into a woman’s uterus.
Think about it. Fight against it, because we’re just one thin line away from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
[Addendum 1: After publishing this post, I found the following link, to the Center for Women Policy Studies’ article entitled Pregnancy Exclusions in State Living Will and Medical Proxy Statutes. I strongly recommend this article if you or your child(ren) are of an age where pregnancy is an issue. Whether you live in one of the five states that allow advanced directives for pregnant women (Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Vermont) or not, pay very close attention to your state laws.]
[Addendum 2: MSNBC is reporting that John Peter Smith Hospital has been ordered by a Texas judge to remove Mrs. Muñoz from life support, no later than 5 p.m. CST on Monday, and that her death on November 28th places her outside the legal requirement for maintaining the acknowledged non-viable pregnancy. It is unclear whether the hospital’s administration will follow the judge’s ruling at this time.]
This is a tale of two cities. And two bodies of water.
On the one hand, there’s Fort Lee, New Jersey, located just across the Hudson River from New York via the Cross Bronx Expressway and the New Jersey Turnpike.
On the other hand, there’s Elk River, a tributary of the Kanawha River, which runs through the heart of Charleston, WV.
Both places are in the news this week. And both of these are related, whether you know it or not, because the people who live there are suffering the effects of a political system that’s spinning entirely out of control, thanks to deregulation and corruption.
On the one hand, over the course of five days (from September 9-13, 2013), a percentage of people encountered major delays crossing the George Washington Bridge (including 91-year-old Florence Genova, who suffered cardiac arrest and would likely have died anyway, even if the EMS had been able to arrive on time, according to her daughter), for which one bureaucrat has been fired and another resigned. To be sure, we’re talking about a major artery between two states, and some seriously screwed up vindictive actions coming from the Christie administration (which, as Jon Stewart pointed out, likely goes much farther than the Governor would have us believe).
On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine the cumulative repercussions or how the people of Charleston and, in fact, everyone downriver of the Elk River chemical spill, are going to handle the poisoned water supply when the people themselves asked for deregulation by electing officials who serve corporate interests.
The poison, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, is a solvent used in processing coal. What does it do and how does it affect life? Well, that’s an interesting question. In fact, there are a lot of questions about how this is going to affect people over time, and a lot fewer answers than there should be, thanks to a growing movement against regulations and EPA protection.
The chemical spill has already prompted 18 legal suits and there will undoubtedly be others. We’re talking about poison in the largest inland waterway in West Virginia, a tributary of the Ohio River which eventually flows into the Mississippi.
How did it happen? That’s under investigation, but it calls into question how we handle our water in other places as well. For example, here’s what PBS’s Frontline: Poisoned Waters had to say on the subject in 2009, using the Potomac River as an example. You can watch the whole Frontline episode online. What will flushing do, except kick the can down the road to more areas, spreading an unknown poison in unknown ways. Rather than consider containment, it’s easier to dilute and spread.
If Erin Brockovich’s sudden involvement makes you go “Hmmm” the way I did when I heard her on Morning Edition, think about this: With corporations increasingly in control of our government, we should be very VERY concerned about any movement away from protecting our environment, especially when it’s clear we don’t know all the ramifications.
So where’s the partisan politics come in here? That’s a great question. I can’t answer you, though, because there’s so little on the subject of regulation in general and the few things I could dig up on Charleston’s mayor, Danny Jones (R) had to do with his unhappiness over gun regulations, not chemical storage.
Demographics (Charleston, WV vs Fort Lee, NJ) shows Charleston is actually far larger (by almost 50%). And yet, there’s a difference in the reporting of this catastrophe. Nobody really wants to say what’s really at stake here.
On the one hand, we’re talking about one GOP governor’s aspirations for the Presidency in 2016. On the other hand? Hundreds of thousands of people were without drinking water. Consider Brocovich’s warning that even though the ban is being lifted in some places, people should reconsider drinking. What will it take for us to hold corporations accountable and recognize the cost of their freedom to operate however they wish?
Are you downstream of Charleston? What’s in your glass?
On Facebook a few days ago, Matthew Rose posted this public status that’s making the rounds on my list of friends:
Oct 2008: “You’ll never get elected and pass healthcare.”
Nov 2008: “We’ll never let you pass healthcare.”
Jan 2009: “We are going to shout you down every time you try to pass healthcare.”
July 2009: “We will fight to the death every attempt you make to pass healthcare.”
Dec 2009: “We will destroy you if you even consider passing healthcare.”
March 2010: “We can’t believe you just passed healthcare.”
April 2010: “We are going to overturn healthcare.”
Sept 2010: “We are going to repeal healthcare.”
Jan 2011: “We are going to destroy healthcare.”
Feb 2012: “We are going to elect a candidate who will immediately revoke healthcare.”
June 2012: “We will go to the Supreme Court, and they will overturn healthcare.”
Aug 2012: “The American people will never re-elect you, because they don’t want healthcare.”
Oct 2012: “We can’t wait to win the election and explode healthcare.”
Nov 2012: “We can’t believe you just got re-elected and that we can’t repeal healthcare.”
Feb 2013: “We’re still going to vote to obliterate healthcare.”
June 2013: “We can’t believe the Supreme Court just upheld healthcare.”
July 2013: “We’re going to vote like 35 more times to erase healthcare.”
Sept 2013: “We are going to leverage a government shutdown into defunding, destroying, obliterating, overturning, repealing, dismantling, erasing and ripping apart healthcare.”
Oct 2013: “WHY AREN’T YOU NEGOTIATING???”
I woke up this morning, obsessed with a single thought:
If the GOP don’t think there’s anything bad about the letting the Debt Ceiling collapse, then why do they think holding it hostage will get them anything?
I’ve been chewing on this all night and I think I know.
I took the name Cassandra for a reason. It’s not my given name, never been called that in my life, but I begin to think I must be one of her descendants because I’m seeing where this is headed and I’m afraid the President is going to weaken his resolve before the 17th. This MUST NOT HAPPEN.
God Bless Bernie Sanders, because he’s preaching what I’m preaching.
I have been saying for well over a year now what some news organizations are only now reporting on their main pages. On October 5th, The New York Times said that there is no issue so important that it could possibly pull the House Tea Party from their brinkmanship because this is a carefully planned process and it’s proceeding according to their hopes.
If for any reason you have failed to grasp what’s happening 10 days from now, worry no more. It’s going to happen. I’ve already sold one of my stocks and both the mutual funds (what’s left in my meager IRA), riding this one out with cash and stock in Yahoo and one Solar Energy company because I think they’ll survive this. That’s all. Everything else is cash because I simply can’t afford to lose what’s left of the teeny gains I’ve made in the last year.
Despite all the craziness on the Hill, Wall Street’s been reacting slowly. Why?
Here’s just one example, from an unlikely source, The Motley Fool:
Here’s another, from Slate.com:
I never once watched an episode of the X-files, but I can quote their tag line: “The truth is out there.” Just go look at the main sites for business: Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, pick one. This is where we should have been looking while the Obamacare smokescreen was in action. We haven’t paid attention. We’ve been too busy. And that’s just what the Tea Party wanted.
They’re serious. They don’t care who they railroad. And I’ll tell you why. Because they won’t lose their money if the US economy tanks over the Debt Ceiling. Let me repeat, because this is the single most important thing to understand about the Tea Party mentality:
They don’t care.
Three words, but they mean everything and you should be terrified.
I posted this before on Facebook, but I’m repeating it here because it needs to be said and you need to share it with everyone you know.
The Tea Party’s whole goal is the destruction of the U.S. government. They are happy to toss the country over the Debt Ceiling cliff and this time the Democrats aren’t going to stop them.
Stick with me, because I’m about to go off the rails, but if you are going to fight the enemy, you have to think like them, and that is precisely what we have to do. If you do, you’ll see the whole picture.
We are looking down the barrel of a semi-automatic weapon-driven Second Civil War and if we aren’t careful, that’s exactly where we will be by the end of this month.
Don’t think for one single second that the Second Amendment is about your personal rights. Or that Obamacare is about socialism or job loss. These are threats that keep the workers in their place, going to church and praying instead of noticing what’s going on in their world. How did Lenin and Stalin rise to power? By taking out the aristocracy in a bloodbath that immediately followed World War II. In their strange, twisted world, the Tea Party (the New Confederacy) paints President Obama as the charismatic leader on an equal basis with Hitler. I’m not making this up. It’s not Godwin’s law. They’ve said it themselves, so it must be true!
The Tea Party doesn’t live in our world.
They have sold their base on the idea that We the People refers only to certain people, and is not representative of their world view. It must therefor be thrown out as a useless document.
They will toss this country over the Debt Ceiling cliff because they want to see the government change and they know they can’t do it any other way. If the US defaults, they have someone to blame because he wasn’t willing to negotiate, and that isn’t John Boehner, though he richly deserves the honor. No, they believe the Gingrich model from 1996 will work this time with President Obama, too. They don’t have a Monica Lewinsky to use as leverage this time, because Barack loves Michelle too much to mess around with someone else, so they need another something to pin on him. And the Debt Ceiling is it.
Mark my words: The motion to impeach President Obama will come on either the 17th or 18th, when he is forced by law to do something about the Debt Ceiling, and they will sing to Fox News that they’ve FINALLY got him where they want him. I hope he’s ready for that next step, because it’s a mess.
This disaster in the making is larger than the two-party system. It’s larger than Us against Them. We’re talking about more than a four-year gap in the budget process, failure to hold the banks responsible for despicable acts against our people because they set up the rules and then changed the game. We’re talking about failing to preserve our social structure in the face of domestic terrorism that strikes me as so very similar to the Weimar Republic that we should all be very, very frightened.
Ask yourself: If Godwin’s law is so very bad for conversation, why does it happen so often that people pull the subject into the discussion? We narrowly avoided electing our own charismatic leader because he lacked the charisma of the German leader I refuse to name here.
I buried these comments on a Canadian friend’s Facebook wall, under comments related to this article from The Guardian:
The second individual in the comment stream suggested I didn’t know much about American politics (apparently he assumed — incorrectly — that I was Canadian, too). As flattering as that was, I resisted the urge to thank him for the compliment and wrote this instead:
The fact is that the situation here closely parallels the development of the Nazi party in more ways than we ought to be comfortable with in this country. And the parallels are no accident, either. Wanna see something really scary?
Note that the comparison is NOT disputed, but that those who suggest the ties are called Communists, lumped together with Democrats.
Have a little more education on the rise of the Koch brothers and their deep connections to the John Birch Society and the leap they took to control the Tea Party at the top level. (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer)
Fascism is not correct, however. You’re looking for the term Neo-fascist: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo-fascist
Last year I did a fairly extensive exploration of Machiavelli’s The Prince and the relationship between mid-17th Century European history and the German rise and fall in the 1940s. The Koch brothers, no doubt, have paid close attention to the way the Nazis rose to power and it shows in this current stand-off.
The American government has been more or less powerless in the last 20 years. The Kochs have exerted increasing pressure on American politics since just after Reagan was elected, which explains the Bush family’s rise to power and the Romney/Ryan ticket. They don’t want leaders. They want puppets they can control. And if they can’t control the puppets, they’ll do everything in their power to neutralize the work [we] do.
We can only hope that the electorate will remember this enormous game of Chicken come November, 2014, but I wouldn’t count on a recall election for any of these so-called representatives, and I wouldn’t imagine many of them will lose their jobs. It’s the moderate GOP who stand to lose the most when 2014 comes, and they know it.
I can hope that in another year, more voters will come to realize just how much their leaders lied to them, and do something about it in the polls.
The Kochs are making up for 150 years of failure to win the Civil War. If you can’t win one way, and replace the government the way you wanted then, there are other ways, up to and including the Tea Party, our New Confederacy. That’s precisely what the Patriot Act, Citizens United and ALEC are all about. They set the foundation for a takeover of catastrophic proportions.
And when it happens, they can finally put uppity black man back in his place, the poor can serve the RICH without educations to know they can do better, become Christian or starve to death. We don’t need government. It just takes money away from the rich who’ll take care of their own (as long as they’re rich and white).
And when Jesus comes to collect them, because the calculations were just wrong but they’ll be right soon because the Bible tells them so, the rest of the Earth won’t matter because they’re going where it’s much, much better.
And if that doesn’t happen in the near term, it’s okay because there’s always the Cayman Islands, or other off-shore locations that will welcome these guys, because they’ve got enough money invested there that they can do whatever they want, no matter what happens to the US in the process.
And if all this does come to pass, I will have to become an expat and move to Canada, because I won’t be able to live here in the US anymore.
Howl all you want about the weather, education, the environment, science, the poor, and other earthly delights like life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
You are talking about people who Just. Don’t. Care. They have no reason to care. They have a better place to go.
And screw the rest of us.