Aftermath (Part 9): Won’t be long now…

Aftermath (Part 9): Won’t be long now…

Through the genius of the Wayback machine that is the Internet, let me refresh your memory.

http://www.thecassietimes.com/2013/10/05/spineless-i-dont-think-so/

http://www.thecassietimes.com/2013/10/08/it-all-comes-down-to-this/

Continue reading “Aftermath (Part 9): Won’t be long now…”

My take on Machiavelli’s <em>The Prince</em>, and a little history…

My take on Machiavelli’s The Prince, and a little history…

Okay, so way back in the end of 2012, I found out I qualified for a college scholarship. I got my first degree in 1985, which managed to be enough until we got to human resources databases that reject people if they don’t have the “right” degree.

After being stuck in a dead-end part-time job for the better part of three years, I figured that there was only one way to move forward again, and that was by going back to college for a degree that proved I knew what I was doing with web design and art. Unfortunately, the requirements for the AA degree (in Interactive Media, if you must know) included taking a basic art class on which everything else hinged, and without that class, I was dead in the water.

So, okay. Take the one class, start full time in the fall. I can get behind that, especially since I’m only part time at work anyway. But in order to get the scholarship money (or a fraction thereof), I need to be at least part time at college, and that meant taking a second class in something. Anything.

When I launched this blog back in 2012, I was already compiling a bunch of historical data (dates, names, events) for arguments on Facebook and Live Journal, and that was a darn sight better than I did the last time I took a history course (American history, and I got an incomplete, so there was a reason to worry).

I looked at the catalog and found World History to Modern Times. The actual range of dates (which I wasn’t expecting when I walked in that first day) was 962-1949. Daunting? You bet. Until the professor allowed me to use my laptop for taking notes. That, friends, changed everything. And it’s a good thing, too, because I still have the spreadsheet I used for tracking my timeline.

See, the professor threw dates, names, events and phrases around with wild abandon. He offered a set of study guides that were essentially in timeline form, and he insisted that we read a book (that he never actually referred to more than twice in the entire semester, or I’d have included the title here). There were questions from the timeline study guides, and questions from the stuff he threw out in his lectures. And if I hadn’t captured ALL of it and then checked for sources and more data using the campus internet connection, I’d have bombed this class, too.

Instead, I built a fairly solid picture of where we were and how we got there, from the Holy Roman Empire to Nazi Germany.

You can check out the spreadsheet to see what I mean. Lots of notes, some of which are designed as simple date reminders for regurgitation on the tests. I’ve only just added an eighth column, to hold the relevant Wikipedia link, which I should have done way back then but didn’t bother to do because I could always look it up when I wanted to. Since I’m making my work available to you, I figure anything to make the source easier to locate is a good thing.

Now, before you go all “Yeah, Wikipedia. Like THAT’s trustworthy!” on me, bear in mind that some pages, like the one on Hitler, contain so many outside references, there’s no limit to the number of additional reading sources for you to consider. And I encourage you to do just that. Go check the sources. Get lost in the data. And then come back to the spreadsheet for further source material. Eleven centuries of history (give or take a year) is a lot to digest in one sitting, or even one class. And this is World History, not just American History, so context is everything.

Anyway, with the class, there was a required paper. It’s a history class, and I think I got off easy with just one paper and an extra credit question, aside from the weekly quizzes and midterm exam. The paper is reproduced below. It’s long, so you’ll have to go under the cut to find it. If you haven’t read The Prince yet, the link to Gutenberg is below. There’s really no excuse.

I’ll leave the rest as an exercise for the reader.

How did we get here?

One step at a time.

Oh, and the class? Got an A. (On the paper, too.)

A Reflection Paper: The Prince, by Niccolò Machiavelli

April 26, 2013

Continue reading “My take on Machiavelli’s The Prince, and a little history…”

And another thing…

And another thing…

I’m going to riff off the post I made earlier on FB, because it summarizes the problem we’re facing today. If you already read my post, feel free to share it. I’m following on from my last post, Connecting the Dots, Part 4, where you’ll find the current stats for the 2016 Primaries and Caucuses.


What did the GOP establishment think was going to happen when they kept comparing President Obama to Hitler, told their constituents they ALL had to have guns to protect themselves, that the country is in crisis and only the GOP will save them, and then put up a field of candidates who couldn’t actually deliver?

When the real deal–a pure fascist demagogue–comes along with actual authoritarian values, charismatic appeal to the basest senses of fear and loathing, and stirs up the spoon-fed population of fully armed racists, bigots, misogynists and zealots and tells them he’ll do everything their narrow-minded hearts desire, who are they going to follow?

Make no mistake here: The GOP establishment and their crony capitalist billionaire thugs built this, and they’ve intentionally rigged the system with deceptive voting machines, voter ID laws and outright fraudulent counting practices just to ensure their candidates can’t lose. When Trump sweeps in come November, it will be because of everything WE let them do in the last eight years in service to the government they’ve sworn to destroy.

What they’ve all failed to remember–every last one of them–is what Germany looked like for DECADES. The Berlin Wall came down in 1989 and the final reunification took place in 1992, almost 50 years AFTER the end of World War II in 1945.

Think about that for a while, as you chew on all the rhetoric that says it can’t happen here, that Trump isn’t electable, that somehow Bernie Sanders or Hillary Rodham Clinton will win and we’ll all be okay.

The Right doesn’t recognize fascism because they think it’s a 54 year-old black man from Kenya.

Think about it.


Addendum 1:

This just crossed my feed. It doesn’t name names or call the question of where ALEC derived, but everything I’ve been saying since 2012 is here. What we’re seeing is the natural progression of decades of hate and manipulation, coalescing around Trump and Cruz (recently compared elsewhere in my feed to Mussolini and Hitler).

They built this.

Vote Libertarian and you suck votes away from the GOP. Vote Green or Socialist and you suck votes away from the Dems. And if, as I suspect, Cruz moves forward and takes the nomination away from Trump, there will rise a third party, that will split the GOP straight down the middle. IF Cruz gets enough support.
Regardless, that is the ONLY WAY this election won’t produce a Republican for the White House. Your choice: Authoritarian Fascist or Christian Theocrat. Which is worse: Concentration camps or the Spanish Inquisition?
Take your pick.
What’s at stake…

What’s at stake…

Presidential elections are different from all the other elections we have in this country. If you aren’t familiar with the process, you’d better get familiar, and fast.

After Monday’s Iowa caucus, we have nothing but caucuses and primaries between now and summer, when the political parties get together for a week and then settle the question of which candidate(s) will represent their interests best. We’re done with pure speculation, though the media in general might think otherwise. Folks are finally exercising their right to vote. That is, as long as those rights haven’t been infringed.

While I could trot out all the ways in which campaigns smear candidates in service to proving their worth, I am only going to post two links and then I’m going to ask a lot of the questions I’m getting from Millennials on one hand and conservatives on the other.

With the demonizing of Muslims, backlash against African Americans and Central American refugees recast as “migrants,” Afghanistan, Iraq and (if the GOP get their way) Iran and Syria, we are in our own Wiemar Republic-style Liberal/Conservative war, bringing us to the Election of Exhaustion.

First, from Mother Jones: Here Come the Crazy Clinton Conspiracies of the 1990s

Second, from Amazon.com: The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton

Now that I have those things out of the way, let me make my own position clear: I support Bernie Sanders in the Primaries, including my own in Maryland, where I am a registered Democrat. And I support the winner of the nomination when the Democrats select their candidate in late July this summer. It will be hot as hell in Philadelphia, and oh, so appropriate for the election this time.

So, before New Hampshire’s primary next week, let’s have that conversation.

How does the President win an election?

Every state does it differently when it comes to primaries. Some states, like Iowa, hold caucuses, others have elections. Some of these are open–meaning a voter can cross party lines–but most are closed. No matter how the candidate is selected, at the party convention, where the candidate gets the official nod, we discover the running mates (Vice Presidential candidates) and from then on, the campaigns are all about which candidates will win. But here’s the thing. If you think you’re voting for your candidate, you’re not. You’re voting to select the members of the Electoral College, who will THEN vote for your candidate, assuming they do the job they were sworn to do.

This artifact of the original founding fathers and the first Constitutional Convention in 1787 is destined for retirement eventually. Until that happens, you’d better understand what your vote actually does, or you’re likely to regret your choice, come November.

If I don’t like a candidate I can just write in my own choice, can’t I?

Well, no. It’s not that simple. Sorry. If your write-in candidate isn’t registered in the state that way, your vote goes into the trash. Nice try, but that’s not how it works.

What else am I voting for in November?

Members of the US Senate serve six-year terms and are elected in thirds. One third of the Senate is up for election each two year cycle. In 2016, from (http://www.periodicalpress.senate.gov/reelection-2016/) these senate seats are up for grabs:

DEMOCRATS   

Michael Bennet (Colorado)
Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut)
Barbara Boxer (California) retiring in 2016
Patrick Leahy (Vermont)
Barbara Mikulski (Maryland) retiring in 2016
Patty Murray (Washington)
Harry Reid (Nevada) retiring in 2016  (may go Red)
Brian Schatz (Hawaii)
Charles Schumer (New York)
Ron Wyden (Oregon)

REPUBLICANS

Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire)  (may go Blue)
Roy Blunt (Missouri)
John Boozman (Arkansas)
Richard Burr (North Carolina)
Dan Coats (Indiana) retiring in 2016  (may go Blue)
Mike Crapo (Idaho)
Chuck Grassley (Iowa)
John Hoeven (North Dakota)
Johnny Isakson (Georgia)
Ron Johnson (Wisconsin)  (may go Blue)
Mark Kirk (Illinois)  (may go Blue)
James Lankford (Oklahoma)
Mike Lee (Utah)
John McCain (Arizona)
Jerry Moran (Kansas)
Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)
Rand Paul (Kentucky)
Rob Portman (Ohio)
Marco Rubio (Florida)
Tim Scott (South Carolina)
Richard Shelby (Alabama)
John Thune (South Dakota)
Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania)  (may go Blue)
David Vitter (Louisiana) retiring in 2016

To take back the majority, Democrats need to win five seats (four will only tie the GOP). A further ten seats are required to give Democrats a filibuster-proof majority. (We haven’t seen that in the Senate since 1976.)

The House of Representatives is selected during every even year election. If you wanted to, you could replace every one of your House representatives every two years. Democrats need 218 seats to gain a majority again, and that’s a total of 30 additional seats to take control back from the GOP. (Democrats presently hold only 188 seats.) http://www.270towin.com/2016-house-election/

The following seats are at risk (according to 270towin.com):

AK-AL  Don Young
1973 22th

AZ-01  Ann Kirkpatrick
2013 2nd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

AZ-02  Martha McSally
2015 1st

CA-07  Ami Bera
2013 2nd

CA-10  Jeff Denham
2011 3rd

CA-21  David Valadao
2013 2nd

CA-24  Lois Capps
1998 10th
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

CA-25  Steve Knight
2015 1st

CA-49  Darrell Issa
2001 8th

CO-03  Scott Tipton
2011 3rd

CO-06  Mike Coffman
2009 4th

FL-07  John Mica
1993 12th

FL-13  David Jolly
2014 2nd

FL-18  Patrick Murphy
2013 2nd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

FL-26  Carlos Curbelo
2015 1st

IA-01  Rod Blum
2015 1st

IA-03  David Young
2015 1st

IL-10  Robert Dold
2015 1st

IL-12  Mike Bost
2015 1st

IN-02  Jackie Walorski
2013 2nd

IN-09  Todd Young
2011 3rd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

KS-03  Kevin Yoder
2011 3rd

ME-02  Bruce Poliquin
2015 1st

MI-01  Dan Benishek
2011 3rd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

MI-07  Tim Walberg
2011 3rd

MI-08  Mike Bishop
2015 1st

MN-02  John Kline
2003 7th
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

MN-03  Erik Paulsen
2009 4th

MN-08  Rick Nolan
2013 2nd

MT-AL Ryan Zinke
2015 1st

NE-02 Brad Ashford
2015 1st

NH-01 Frank Guinta
2015 1st

NJ-05  Scott Garrett
2003 7th

NV-03  Joe Heck
2011 3rd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

NV-04  Cresent Hardy
2015 1st

NY-01  Lee Zeldin
2015 1st

NY-03  Steve Israel
2001 8th
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

NY-19 Chris Gibson
2011 3rd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

NY-21 Elise Stefanik
2015 1st

NY-22 Richard Hanna
2011 3rd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

NY-23 Tom Reed
2010 4th

NY-24 John Katko
2015 1st

PA-08 Mike Fitzpatrick
2011 3rd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

PA-16 Joseph Pitts
1997 10th
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

TX-23 Will Hurd
2015 1st

UT-04 Mia Love
2015 1st

VA-05 Robert Hurt
2011 3rd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

VA-10
Barbara Comstock
2015 1st

WI-08
Reid Ribble
2011 3rd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

Note: Court-ordered redistricting has led to many Florida and Virginia congressional districts being redrawn for the 2016 election. The map and Representative data on this page reflect the current district boundaries, which will remain in effect until the new Congress is seated in January, 2017. However, the election ratings in the table reflect the new boundaries, as these determine where people will vote in November.

Why should I care?

The Presidency is only one branch of government and the President doesn’t write law. He can ask for law to be enacted or, with strict limits, make executive decisions regarding legal interpretation, but it’s the House that writes the budget and only in cooperation with the Senate. If the House and Senate agree with the President and he sides with corporate interests (Oligarchy, Plutocracy), the people lose their rights to Democracy.

Theoretically, both the House and Senate should be providing laws that enhance or clarify the Constitution. In reality, there’s a wide margin of interpretation regarding what is and isn’t Constitutional, and a majority of law is now written to protect the wealthy and screw the poor and lower middle classes. And there is presently nothing to stop them from adding whatever riders (commonly known as “pork”) they want to bills that must pass, like the NDAA, which also pays our service members’ salaries.

So what? What does that mean to our current government?

Well, if the House and Senate disagree about what the President thinks will help the people of our country, they can stop legislation from reaching the President or, through a series of tacked on amendments, push through their own agenda by adding riders to bills that force the President to do things that aren’t in the best interests of the people. Without a majority on the side of the President, nothing gets done.

Some people are fine with that, but they’re generally not the ones who need help the most.

Well, if it’s not Constitutional, who fixes the problem?

Theoretically that’s where the third branch comes in. That’s the court system, led by the Supreme Court. And here’s the biggest problem we face today, in February, just as the 2016 election year gets underway.

Why is that a big deal?

The Supreme Court consists of nine lifetime appointments. It’s the Justice’s decision to retire if he or she doesn’t die in office first. While there is an impeachment process outlined, no Supreme Court justice has ever been impeached.

At present, the following justices are over the age of 67 (legal retirement age):

  • Clarence Thomas (age 67)
  • Stephen Breyer (age 77)
  • Anthony Kennedy (age 79)
  • Antonin Scalia (age 79)
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg (age 82)

Five Four of the nine eight are old enough to retire from ordinary service. Three of these are on the liberal side of the courts. And there is virtually no chance whatsoever that the next President won’t be required to appoint at least one new member. The general age range of new court justices appointed is 50-55. They tend to serve at least 20 years on the bench, but Scalia is was just 8 months shy of his 30th anniversary.*

While the President can appoint a justice, the Senate has to agree on the appointment. So chew on this: If the Senate retains their GOP majorities, but the President is a Democrat, approval will be difficult at best. If the GOP wins the presidency, and the Senate retains its majority, there is no chance whatsoever that the court will see another liberal appointment. Possibly ever.*

[Now that one of these is gone, how will it work in practice instead of theory? I can’t predict the future, but this might be the year the Senate suspends the summer recess.]

What else is going on?

Well, now that you mention it, there’s that little matter of a Constitutional Convention. Remember when I mentioned it a few paragraphs ago? Did you know we are somewhere between two and five states away from having enough states to call one? True. It only takes 34, and Texas’ declaration is the most recent. Imagine the Constitution without any of the amendments beyond the Bill of Rights. That’s 17 additional amendments some conservatives would dearly love to see abolished.

So what does all this mean?

It means that if you choose to throw your vote behind any candidate except the one that wins the Democratic nomination, you are voting for the GOP. And if that happens, and they get control of all three branches of government, this could be the last time you get to vote on anything. Imagine what this country would be like under President McCain or President Romney. Now imagine President Cruz. It’s not terribly far-fetched.

Considering what the court system has done to eliminate voting rights protection, women’s rights to health and work, fair wages and so much more, what are you prepared to risk, to support your passion?

[* Edited to fix inaccuracies regarding the approval process (2/15/2016), and to correct grammar (2/29/2016).]

 

Ignoring the man behind the curtain…

Ignoring the man behind the curtain…

Three years ago I wrote this post about Trickle Down theory. Since then, we’ve seen more of what I view as the most disastrous public policy in my lifetime.

That saying about reaping what we sow only applies when we have a direct hand in causing the problem. Did you vote for Reagan? Then much of what’s wrong with this country today is your fault. I hope you’ve repented.

I got into an argument recently with a millennial who was perfectly happy to pin our disastrous economic situation on all the Boomers who made our economy what it is today. Sadly, there were a bunch of us, right at the tail end of the generation, who weren’t old enough to vote. As I’ve said before, I’d happily have voted for anyone but Reagan, given half a chance, but I wasn’t old enough to do that when he was elected to his first term.

But there was a valid point: We should have known better. The rich don’t stay that way if they give their money away in taxes. The assumption that the “Job Creators” would actually operate in the interests of anyone other than themselves is, in large part, fallacious. If you still think you live in a democracy, you’re sadly mistaken. This is a plutocracy. An oligarchy. We are living in the new Gilded Age. And we got there because people actually believed the lies, thought that if we made it easier for the rich to amass fortunes, we would see any benefits from their greed.

What on earth were they thinking?

Three articles will tell you just how wrong those theories were back then.

TheGuardian.com: Trickle-down economics is the greatest broken promise of our lifetime

CNN.com: The ‘trickle down theory’ is dead wrong

NewYorkTimes.com: In the Real World of Work and Wages, Trickle-Down Theories Don’t Hold Up

Meanwhile, the GOP candidates are talking about war in Syria as if that will fix anything. The only thing that matters to them is protection of their own stash, and to hell with the rest of the country.

If you vote for any of these thieves, you get what you deserve, but don’t take the rest of the country with you. They don’t give a rat’s fuzzy behind about you, and they will happily drive the rest of us to the poorhouse given half the chance. Unless you’re a millionaire, you’ve got no business supporting them.

Just say no.

As the race begins…

As the race begins…

Well, folks, here we go.

It’s been a while in coming, but now that we’re finally loading the starting gate, it’s time to start paying attention to the horses in this race.

Trust me: This one’s going to be winner-take- all, unless something really bad happens in the next year and a half. This is a prediction and it’s not going to come as any sort of surprise if you’ve paid any attention at all to the things I’ve posted since I launched this blog.

There are two sites (and their articles) that I think you need to read and bookmark. First up:

PolitiFact.com from the Tampa Bay Times (http://www.politifact.com/).

If you think a statement is too good to be true (or too likely), check it here. This non-partisan site will debunk the statement to the best of its ability. Start here before visiting Snopes.com for anything that’s on the political spectrum, and that includes what the press has to say on the subject.

And second:

This specific article, from Daily Kos: What Happens if the Tea Party Patriots ever Do “Take Their Country Back”?. This study is as complete a damning of every GOP candidate as you’ll find.

Don’t know what the John Birch Society is? Here: Wikipedia: John Birch Society

Can’t stand Daily Kos? Here: The New John Birch Society

You can do the research yourself, by following the links in the Wikipedia article. There’s a ton of footnotes and links to external sites from the main Wikipedia page. You need to understand about reading between the lines.

Understand: If you support the Tea Party, you are supporting the next US Civil War, because that is what the GOP wants. And if they don’t get their way in 2016 because we elected Hillary Clinton, they’ll try again in 2020. And in 2024.

Mark my words: If the GOP takes the White House in 2016, there will be no returning to Democracy. None. Not in your lifetime or your children’s. Every bleak concept introduced in The Handmaid’s Tale, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, in The Prince for that matter, that will be our reality.

If you think for one moment that we can’t have a world like we had during World War II, if you think it can’t happen here, you’re wrong. A Second American Civil War isn’t just science fiction fantasy.

Start your reading now. You have roughly nine months.

Je suis Charlie…

Je suis Charlie…

Hi. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Yes, yes, I know. Busy, distracted. My, how time flies.

Truth is that I’ve been tied up in knots between a new job I started in August and keeping my head above water with classes in the fall. And, truthfully, it was feeling just a bit like I was shouting into the wilderness in here. So? I withdrew to FB and kept most of my ranting there.

Since then, we’ve had a sweep of the House and Senate, and now the GOP is unleashing every bit of stored up agenda against the American People for the sake of American Business and I’m counting the days until the Presidential Election to see if they take the third branch as well, or if we finally wake up in this country and do something about our so-called leaders.

It’s funny, though. Here I sit, cozy in a house full of books and movies, connected at whim to the Internet where I can write whatever I like, so long as I’m not telling lies, and nobody will come to my place and shoot me for writing these things.

Right?

Isn’t that what every journalist believes? Isn’t that the truth we all understand – that we are entitled to say what we want and to speak the truth, so long as we aren’t hurting anyone else?

Yeah.

Tell that to the ten journalists and two cops who died in Paris yesterday. Or to the journalists in the past year who’ve been beheaded. Or to those who were shot in South America. Or, in fact, anywhere else in the world, just for speaking out. Ever.

There are no links to other sources in this post. There’s no reason to link elsewhere. You want facts? You can Google them yourself and find what Google wants you to find, and present it as truth. Wikipedia? Ditto. I know. I do it all the time. And (truthfully) I’m righteously sanctimonious when I do it, too. Because I’m right and you’re wrong. Or I’m right and you’re merely uninformed.

I think it’s completely ironic that in the Islamic State’s desire to silence its critics, it has chosen the one industry that will say what it pleases, dig in its heels and cry out for more truth, even in the face of guns, bombs or knives.

In taking on journalism, they have created a hydra all their own. We ARE all Charlie.

Every Blogger. Every Twitter user. Every FB and LJ and WordPress and Pinterest user. Every last one of us who puts a finger to a keyboard – we are all capable of crying out TRUTH. In a radical version of a religion that supposedly values martyrdom, what on earth were they thinking when they took on journalism and free speech? Did they somehow think they would silence the voices simply by killing the cartoonists?

I haven’t been posting because life overwhelmed me for a bit. I may not post again for a while because next week classes start all over again, and I’ll be busy. But that hasn’t stopped me from thinking and observing, even as I have to turn the input devices off so I can concentrate on my work.

Tune in and pay attention. That’s all I’ve ever asked. Look around at what they’re saying to you.

Is it truth? How do you know?

And when you figure it out, say something about it. BE Charlie.

Keeping it to yourself doesn’t help anyone else.

See you soon.

Second class citizens…

Second class citizens…

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…”

Theme: Elation by Kaira.