Connecting the Dots, Part 3

Connecting the Dots, Part 3

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.

The law we’ve all been waiting for…but wait! There’s more!!!

The law we’ve all been waiting for…but wait! There’s more!!!

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:

Raw Story: Vermont woman uses high-powered rifle to kill social services worker after losing custody of her daughter

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.

Salon: Ronald Reagan’s shameful legacy: Violence, the homeless, mental illness

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:

  • suicide
  • anger
  • revenge
  • racial profiling
  • accident
  • crime
  • fear
  • greed

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?

Yeah, money.

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.

It’s all right there, if you want to see…

It’s all right there, if you want to see…

ol·i·gar·chy (noun ˈä-lə-ˌgär-kē, ˈō-; plural: ol·i·gar·chies)
Full Definition of OLIGARCHY:
1 :  government by the few
2 :  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:

The Telegraph: The US is an oligarchy, study concludes

Defence Pakistan: US is an oligarchy not a democracy, says scientific study

UPI: The US is not a democracy but an oligarchy, study concludes

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:

Huffington Post: Florida’s 13th District Bellwether Report: Why Obamacare’s Least Of Democrats’ Worries

Christian Science Monitor: Court rules Florida voter purge illegal, but will it stop GOP voting tweaks?

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.

No vast right-wing conspiracies here. Nope.

No vast right-wing conspiracies here. Nope.

And here we are, at the end of the first full week in January. That didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would.

Koch-backed political coalition, designed to shield donors,
raised $400 million in 2012

“The political network spearheaded by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch has expanded into a far-reaching operation of unrivaled complexity, built around a maze of groups that cloaks its donors, according to an analysis of new tax returns and other documents.”

It’s almost as if…as if…

But wait. That can’t be right. Can it?

Well, yeah, it can. And folks are finally starting to notice. It’s about time, after 30 years of Conservative howling about deregulation. 2014 promises to be a nasty, nasty year, if we can’t figure out how to force Corporate America to let our people go.

So here’s a preview. Watch what this year looks like, because with the mid-term elections, we’re still three years away from the real deal. The big question I have right now: How do we get rid of Citizens United so this nonsense stops for good? That’s an excellent question. Here’s what the Huffington Post has to say on the subject:

Well here. Let’s see how the Dark Money likes it when we get all uppity and try to make things better for ourselves. Wait. You mean we can’t? Whut?

Right. Because while corporations are people, my friend, people AREN’T corporations. And that, dear friends, is the sum total of what’s wrong with America right now. You heard it here…well…now, really. I’m just spreading the Word. It’s what I do.

Spineless? I don’t think so…

Spineless? I don’t think so…

How Democrats Got a Spine: The Republican Party taught them how to be uncompromising

Why do they stick with Majority Leader Harry Reid—why, when three of them could cast “safe” no votes and Reid could still beat the House bills? Democratic aides say that the red-staters are “scared straight” by the House GOP. They’re not getting the calls from home to defund Obamacare. Their home-state papers aren’t dogging them, either. They’re in no fear of losing an “optics” battle to John Boehner and company.

And this, friends, is why after all this time, I’m proud to say I’m a Democrat. It took a while to get here, but now, here we are. We should have done this with the Fiscal Cliff, but we pulled back, gave concessions, which gave us nothing.

No more playing games with the government. The GOP has to own its own mess, or we’re never going to get past the crap. The people need to understand how we got here and who’s responsible.

While I’m on the topic, before any of my Friends posts this myth to their feeds, best check out non-partisan PolitiFact on the ACA. Have you seen this image in your feed yet? It’s only a matter of time before you do.

Our ruling

The Facebook post tells the story of a man who says he opted out of Obamacare soon after the marketplace was launched on Oct. 1, 2013, and was informed that he owed a fine of more than $4,000.

The post includes many elements that make no sense or are flat-out wrong — and can be easily debunked by reading the law or reliable summaries of it. We rate it Pants on Fire.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2013/oct/04/facebook-posts/closer-look-facebook-post-mans-struggle-obamacare-/

Trouble is, the post is a series of lies, designed to frighten people away from checking out the new program, because the ACA stands to help millions of Americans who are poor and facing life-threatening illness every day and the GOP are scared to death that it’s going to cost them their cushy jobs.

And why? WHY is this happening at all? Because people bought the load of feces that the “Job Creators” have to be left alone to generate jobs, went to the polls repeatedly over the last 30 years and elected these “public servants” to put the Rich before everyone else in the US.

Anyone with a middle school education knows about the concept of Supply and Demand. Jobs come when people can afford to buy goods. The more goods they want and can buy, the greater the need to supply those goods. Without the need, the supply dwindles. So what do we do? Subsidize the suppliers instead of looking at ways to make the supply lines work again.

But wait. That’s not what actually happens. Why? Because once the rich have your money, they can do whatever they want with it. Up to and including finding cozy tax shelters off US soil. This is what Free Enterprise actually does for our country:

And in the meantime, with all those subsidies, the rich grow richer, stash their cash offshore and retire fat and happy somewhere safe where the poor can’t touch them.

If you study history, the aristocracy gets taken out every time the rest of the workers figure out who’s reaping the benefits of their work. The American Aristocracy (or Plutocracy) knows this. They’re doing their level best to make you believe that their particular brand of crap is chocolate, and that you need to eat Chocolate to survive. And if you don’t do it their way, it’s your fault for not liking the taste.

Guess what? The emperor has no clothes! The chocolate isn’t chocolate. They are LYING to you! And they’re joking about it while they do, or they’re showing themselves for the greedy asshats they truly are.

And while they’re keeping you busy fending off the repo man, the auctioneer, or simple bankruptcy because your medical bills have gone through the roof, they’re walking away with YOUR American Dream.

You should be mad as hell at the GOP. I just hope you didn’t elect them, because if you did, you, my friend, are part of the problem.

Yeah, I’m a Democrat. Proud of it.

I just hope that I can enjoy what’s left of my life, in health, and in a society that actually does care for its citizens. After all, we’re supposed to protect the life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for everyone, not just the rich.

I think the GOP just forgot who everyone really is.

Peter Finch as Howard Beale,
“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
Two days to armage…Government Shutdown…Again…

Two days to armage…Government Shutdown…Again…

Ya know, in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t going to matter one bit, once the rest of the polar ice melts and all the fresh water gets mixed up with ocean water, but in the short-term, I’ve had about enough of the Tea Party’s brinkmanship and Ted Cruz’s 21-hour hot air festival. The Grand Obstructionist Party wants the Affordable Care Act to fall and they think what they do now to shut the government down will matter. The miscalculation (and it’s huge), is that President Obama already signed the act into law, and no matter how many times they vote to repeal it (42 at last count, including the current Budget fiasco in process this weekend), it’s still the law and they don’t have enough votes in either the House or Senate to override it.

Their fantasy land will cost the country big time in the next few weeks, but if the ACA has the effect I suspect it will, come 2014 (just a little over a year from now), we’re going to see a sea change in the House, because the little people who put these Tea Party bullies in office are going to begin to understand the real ramifications of the fight to keep the American People from the benefits of the law.

Frankly, nothing would please me more than to see a clean sweep of the House and Senate, though we have a solid four years before we can really clean house, thanks to the Class of 2010, but there’s a bunch of folks rooting for the government shut-down to happen so the GOP can finally get their comeuppance, and I’m right there with them.

And you know why I’m certain this is going to happen? Because President Obama has nothing to lose.

Nothing.

He’s already gone through the second term election. No matter what, he’s good till he steps down in 2016. And by then? That’s three years of education, along with more time spent bolstering the economy. (You have noticed how it’s improved, right? I mean, I had to take money out of my IRA, which will serve to affect my tax situation almost not at all, thanks to my current miserable financial situation, and lo, it’s back at the same level it was before I pulled the cash out.

So when you get right down to it, there’s a lot the government shut-down will do, but I’m okay with it, if the long-term benefits are that we can finally eject the insanity and start doing something about our current crazy situation.

What do I want?

I want an end to both Citizens United and the Patriot Act.

I want the Voting Rights Act restored or at least fixed so that it addresses our current reality, because otherwise a whole bunch of brown people and poor people and old people and young people are going to find it difficult to vote in the Tea Party states come next year.

I want women’s rights respected.

I want Marriage Equality throughout the country, in all 50 states, so my friends who want to be married don’t have to worry about which state they’re in.

I want the poor to have their protections restored and the safety nets fixed so that people can stop worrying about how to feed their kids and they can concentrate on getting jobs.

I want the jobs to come back from China and India, and all the loopholes closed so that we stop bleeding our good jobs overseas and rewarding companies for reducing their overhead at the cost of our own people.

I want sane gun-responsible legislation in place, so we can finally start addressing the gun owners and stop blaming the objects for misuse, before another toddler shoots her cousin or another undiagnosed psychiatric thug goes off randomly and takes more innocent lives at random.

I want the War on Drugs to become a Discussion on Responsibility and I want the prison system to become a public responsibility again. No more work-camps.

I want sensible and practical Immigration laws that protect our workers and give them opportunities.

I want people to receive the pay that they need so they aren’t relying on public assistance because they don’t need it.

I want free and easy access to birth control and better education about, well, just about everything, including real world life skills (pregnancy, relationships, marriage, money, lifestyle and practical skills, not just math and reading). Without context the education is meaningless.

And more than anything else, I want the rich to stop being greedy assholes who are just as happy to count their money in their comfy second homes offshore as they are living apart from the squalor of everyday existence for the rest of us.

We need the Tea Party and their neo-fascist leadership (read: ALEC) out of power. We’ve got three years to do it, by my calculations. Here’s hoping this is the start to the end.

Government Closure?

Bring it.

 

They never had it so good. Wait. What?

They never had it so good. Wait. What?

CPAC Participant Defends Slavery At Minority Outreach Panel: It Gave ‘Food And Shelter’ To Blacks

Say what?

Really?

Okay, all you Tea Party members. Listen up, because this is important.

This guy, 30-year-old Scott Terry, is a prime representative example of the sort of people who vote with you.

I’m sure he’d love me to death: Outspoken independent woman from a religiously questionable background. The only thing this guy lacks is an armband or a hood. Though, honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to discover he simply left them at home, along with his guns.

The 40th Annual Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) meeting is taking place right now up in Baltimore, a heavily African-American city, and it’s clear from the news coming out of there just how very out of touch with reality these people are, and why they simply could not fathom a Mitt Romney loss last November.

We are still fighting the Civil War, 150 years later. And these (I will remind you) are the jerks fighting the absolute hardest to keep their weapons.

All the earmarks are there. The rise of American Fascism, the ruling class (see Michigan if you don’t believe me that this is happening), and the movement to take away the Democratic process.

It’s by sheer dumb luck that the guy serving the drinks had a camera he could use to capture our aspiring leader-to-be on video, saying to HIS supporters what he couldn’t say to the rest of the American public. His partner, Paul Ryan, said this on camera, just a few days ago:

According to Merriam-Webster.com, the word “Fascism” is currently in the top 1% of lookups and is the 38th most popular word. This means something. It ought to be terrifyingly familiar to you, too. And all because of this guy, Arthur de Gobineau, and his writing way back in 1855:

An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races

The CPAC conference is happening in the moral equivalent of my backyard this weekend. Not 150 years ago. Not 75 years ago. Now.

Just how far are we from repeating the mistakes of early 20th Century Germany? I’d say one election away, maybe two.

The Tea Party is mad as hell that we’re not there now, and they’re not going to go away just because we don’t like what they have to say.

This isn’t going to just age out.

The guy in question is 20 years younger than I am. That’s a full generation younger than me.

Someone taught him to think this way.

How did that happen?

Ask yourself.

How?

And what are you going to do about it?

One month to go…

One month to go…

The end of November is often too busy to step back and look at where we are. Between prep for Thanksgiving (which came disturbingly early this year) and all the Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday-Tuesday… and so forth, it’s hard to imagine anyone actually accomplishing anything before the Advent calendars start opening on the 1st.

In my life, today is a chance to step back and remember. Two years ago, I lost a true best friend to long-term health problems that might have been diagnosed differently if the ACA were already in place and functioning, and if medical insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industries cared more about the people they serve than they do about their own pockets.

It’s a time for me to reflect on changes in the last year, but most importantly, to review a week or so’s worth of news that could escape attention in all the craziness that leads up to the “Holiday Season” in general.

I’ve been paying attention, mostly on Facebook, so here are some of the highlights (if you can call them that) of November’s last gasp.

A Minimum Tax for the Wealthy by Warren E. Buffett

New York Times: SUPPOSE that an investor you admire and trust comes to you with an investment idea. “This is a good one,” he says enthusiastically. “I’m in it, and I think you should be, too.”

Would your reply possibly be this? “Well, it all depends on what my tax rate will be on the gain you’re saying we’re going to make. If the taxes are too high, I would rather leave the money in my savings account, earning a quarter of 1 percent.” Only in Grover Norquist’s imagination does such a response exist.

Former Florida GOP leaders say voter suppression was reason they pushed new election law

Palm Beach Post: Former GOP chair, governor – both on outs with party – say voter fraud wasn’t a concern, but reducing Democratic votes was.

Judge orders tobacco companies to admit deception

Reuters: Major tobacco companies that spent decades denying they lied to the U.S. public about the dangers of cigarettes must spend their own money on a public advertising campaign saying they did lie, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.

Senators Make Bid To End Indefinite Detention In NDAA

Huffington Post: A bipartisan group of senators made a bid Wednesday to end the indefinite military detention of Americans in the United States.

Declaring that a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 put the country on a path to repeat the shame of World War II’s internment camps, they argued the offending language should be stricken in this year’s defense bill.

Michigan Public School System being destroyed. RIGHT NOW.(UPDATE x11)

Daily KOS: If you or anyone you know and care about live in Michigan, or if you care whatsoever about the public school system in this country–or, for that matter, education of our children in general–I urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to read up on Michigan State House Bills 6004 & 5923, and State Senate Bills 1358 & 620.

Robertson tells Christians: Radiocarbon dating proves no dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark

Raw Story: Televangelist Pat Robertson says that radiocarbon dating proves that the Earth is older than 6,000 years — and he’s telling Christians not to “cover it up.”

On Tuesday’s 700 Club, a viewer wrote Robertson that her “biggest fear is to not have my children and husband next to me in God’s Kingdom” because they question why the Bible could not explain the existence of dinosaurs.

And finally (because I can’t resist one last dig):

Romney’s final share of the vote? You guessed it: 47 percent.

Washington Post: Call it irony or call it coincidence: Mitt Romney’s share of the popular vote in the 2012 presidential race is very likely to be 47 percent.


Mitt Romney addresses the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) annual convention in Houston on July 11, 2012. (NICHOLAS KAMM – AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Romney’s campaign, of course, was doomed in large part by comments made on a hidden camera in which he suggested that 47 percent of the country was so reliant on government services that those people would never vote for him.

In the final analysis…

In the final analysis…

Today is a day for quiet celebration and for concern.

Yesterday was my 49th birthday. Today is the 40th anniversary of Richard M. Nixon’s landslide victory against George McGovern; 40 years of watching and waiting through the rhetoric, the endless punditry, the concession speeches and victory cheers. It’s been 30 years since my first voting year.

In the end, despite heaps of cynicism and skepticism, my electoral college guesses proved right. I recorded my bets when states hit about 60% of precincts reporting in clear majorities, 75% or higher in closer races. I spent most of last night, into the wee hours of the morning, watching Huffington Post’s Election Results. This morning I checked back in and saw no overnight surprise upsets.

Interestingly, only a few of those listed in the Washington Post’s Pundit accountability summary got the numbers close to right. Three assumed Florida would go to Governor Romney, two to President Obama (the more likely outcome in the light of day), with the votes for third-party candidates appearing to affect Governor Romney (Gary Johnson) somewhat more than President Obama (Jill Stein), though neither one did enough damage to change the final numbers:

With Florida:

Josh Putnam, Davidson College: Obama 332, Romney 206. ”Everything above is based on a graduated weighted average of polls in each state conducted in 2012,” Putnam wrote in explaining his methodology. “The weighting is based on how old a poll is. The older the poll is the more it is discounted. The most recent poll is given full weight.”

Markos Moulitsas: Obama 332, Romney 206. “Currently, national polling assumes a big dropoff from registered voters to likely voters. I don’t believe that’ll be the case, and we’re certainly not seeing it in the early vote—Democratic turnout is up. And the RV models have been more accurate historically.”

Without Florida:

Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight: Obama 303, Romney 235. ”The model estimates that Mr. Romney would need to win the national popular vote by about one percentage point to avert a tossup, or a loss, in the Electoral College,” Silver writes.

Sam Wang, Princeton Election Consortium: Obama 303, Romney 235. “In terms of EV or the Meta-margin, [Obama has] made up just about half the ground he ceded to Romney after Debate #1.”*

Jamelle Bouie, The American Prospect: Obama 303, Romney 235. “[I]f Obama wins on Tuesday, the political science on debates will have won out; they can shift the short-term situation, but they don’t fundamentally change the direction of an election.”

*NOTE: Since I first published this post, the Washington Post has revised Silver’s estimate to include Florida’s numbers, putting him up with the 332/206 numbers.

Here in Maryland, as in Maine, Minnesota, and Washington (as well as Iowa, where a judge’s status was in question because of his support for Marriage Equality), we have affirmed that Marriage Equality is right. In Maryland in particular, we have upheld the right for same-sex couples to marry by a majority of 52%.

Maryland also affirmed the Dream Act, and will now be able to hold our politicians involved in corrupt or criminal activity accountable, suspending them without pay. While I’m not thrilled to see gambling expansion in my state, the barn door’s already open, and there’s no turning back now, I guess. In Colorado, for the first time, a state (Colorado) has made recreational marijuana use legal, which will likely push the question to the Supreme Court. With luck, the Court will also address jailing for marijuana use and start to cut our prison population as well.

In general, I’m happy to have a quiet house today, and the sense that things will be calmer, at least for a while. Friends will find a way to mend relationships torn by political grief and misunderstanding.

Though the fiscal cliff still looms large, congress will hold its lame duck session shortly and (with luck) will see a way to steer clear of the threat to our programs. If not, I hope President Obama and the confirmed Democratically controlled Senate will find a way to smooth out the mess the Tea Party-controlled House has made of our politics in the last four years.

Meanwhile, I’m turning my attention to unfinished projects over what remains of November. I have a novel that needs  serious revision, assorted tasks for work that are near completion, and the rest of 2012 to survive, assuming the world doesn’t end on December 21st. There are bills to pay, tax forms to file, chores that always need doing.

Life goes on, even as we fit the new changes into our lives and hope for the best.

Theme: Elation by Kaira.