Friday, January 29, 2010

Winding Down the Coup-Coup Clock

There will never, ever be any positive changes to anything that matters to individual citizens until corporations are reined in and brought under strict government control. Despite the recent Supreme Court Ruling that gives corporations (including foreign corporations) the right to spend virtually unlimited amounts of money to influence elections and legislation under the guise of freedom of speech, under no circumstances must corporations be allowed to wield unrestrained and unlimited purchasing power to engineer a takeover of the government.

To say that ours is a nation in crisis only addresses the visible tip of the iceberg; it’s much more accurate to say that ours is a nation in crises. That’s right, many crises. An overpopulation crisis. An environmental crisis. A climate change crisis. A food-and-water resource crisis. An energy crisis. A crumbling national infrastructure crisis. A healthcare crisis. An education crisis. An economic crisis. If you must crowd all of these crises under the same umbrella, call it a sustainability crisis. Nothing about our current state of affairs is sustainable.

Everywhere you look, things are going wrong, and it’s incredibly naïve to think that corporations will do anything to alleviate these crises, or to act in ways that will help avert future crises. A corporation’s only goal is to make profits; it cares not a whit about common interests or about the commonwealth. Giving corporations unfettered control over the government will only guarantee more of what we’ve already got, and from there things just get worse.

For more than 120 years corporations have aspired (and probably conspired) to effect a coup by which to seize control of the government. Last week, the SCOTUS made every corporation’s fondest dream come true. Now it’s time to push back, to thwart this coup, to stop this nonsense, to put an end to the insanity that threatens to overwhelm us all. It’s time to change the national mindset, to collectively agree to make the changes that must be made if humans are to evolve, to thrive, and to endure as a species.

And, yes, time is of the essence.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Future America (Without the Sugar Coating)

If you haven’t seen this video yet, you owe it to yourself to watch it at least once.

Olbermann’s comments are true but, at best, they paint only an incomplete picture. What might Future America look like after a generation of absolute corporate rule? We have only to look at Thailand to get a glimpse of Future America and the grinding poverty that results when Big Business runs the show.

In Thailand, prostitution is a means to escape poverty for some, but in Thailand, prostitutes get to keep 100% of the money they earn. Somehow, I don’t think that the corporations that will rule over Future America are that magnanimous.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010


Today, the Supreme Court of the United States did a stupid thing; it gave away the people’s democracy, made a gift of it to corporations. The United States of America have officially become the Corporate States of America.

Sign Public Citizen’s petition to Congress!

Are you as outraged as I am? You should be.

This cannot—must not—be allowed to stand.

Reject the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

In Favor of Oregon Ballot Measures 66 and 67

A news report, by Kohr Harlan, a few nights ago on Local 6 News featured a couple of Portland pizza restaurant owners, one who supports ballot Measures 66 and 67 and one who adamantly opposes them. Obviously, one of them comes out on the right side of the issues and the other one doesn’t. But how do we decide which is which?

Pat Desievri, owner of New York New York Italian restaurant in Southwest Portland, feels that the State of Oregon’s spending is out of control and that the State needs to tighten its belt during this recession, just as everyone else must do. While this may appear to be logical on the face of it, the reality goes much deeper—as we shall soon see.

Phil Gessner, owner of Escape From New York Pizza in Northwest Portland, may or may not like the idea of new taxes, but he embraces them because he’s smart enough to know that short-term strategies do not fix long-term problems, and that any society that disenfranchises education will itself eventually become disenfranchised.

How do two business people who essentially operate the same type of business come to be at odds over the issue of new taxes? Individual viewpoints arising out of personal circumstances, past experiences, and education and indoctrination no doubt have a lot to do with it. Mostly, though, I think it’s a failure of one of the parties to fully understand and appreciate the role government plays in maintaining an orderly society and to comprehend the reasons why government’s hunger for ever-increasing amounts of money is never satiated.

It’s easy to shake an angry fist at politicians who call for more taxes, much easier than, say, doing a little research to determine why higher taxes (or new taxes) may be necessary. Believe it or not, it’s not always corruption, greed, or incompetence that causes various government officials to beg for more tax revenue. Sometimes it’s because the various government agencies tasked with providing services to people are expected to provide for more people while spending less money in the process of doing it. The problem is too many people, not a shortage of resources. That, and corporations hoarding what resources do exist.

Sure, you can starve the government or drown it in a bathtub, but at what cost? Are we really ready to lay the groundwork for widespread social upheaval? And if downsizing the government is such a good thing, wouldn’t it be better to eliminate it entirely?

Only if you want to return to the chaos and brutality of the Wild, Wild West.

Annie, get your gun.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Terror Aboard Flight 39

The following is a reproduction of the text written on a comment card and handed to a flight attendant by Joe Johnson, a passenger (and alleged terrorist) aboard Hawaiian Air Flight 39:

“I thought I was going to die, we were so high up, I thought to myself: I hope we don't crash and burn or worse yet, landing in the ocean, living through it, only to be eaten by sharks, or worse yet end up on someplace like Gilligan's Island, stranded, or worse yet, be eaten by a tribe of headhunters, speaking of headhunters, why do they just eat outsiders and not the family members? strange... and what if the plane ripped apart in mid-flight and we plumited [sic] to earth, landed on Gilligan's Island and then lived through it and the only woman there was Mrs. Thurston Howell III? No Mary anne (my favorite) no ginger, just lovey! If it were just her, I think I'd opt for the sharks, maybe the headhunters.”

Damnit, try as I might I just don’t see a threat there, neither expressed nor implied. What I see is the amateurish ramblings of a frustrated storyteller, of an inept, ineffectual short-story writer who hasn’t yet mastered the craft. What Joe needs more than censure and punishment is mentoring and tutoring (well, okay, he needs a lot less stupid and more good sense, too). But, hey, those are just my opinions.

Another of my opinions is that the pilot’s response to Joe’s note was a knee-jerk reaction that did more to endanger the plane’s safety than ol’ Joe, in a lifetime of dreaming, ever dreamed of doing. Once the military escort arrived, passengers’ safety declined exponentially. If those fighter jockeys are as trigger-happy as Portland-area cops . . .. Let’s just say I’m glad I wasn’t aboard Flight 39, or anywhere along its flight path.

Could the flight crew have handled matters differently, more rationally? Sure, they could’ve, and the flight could have continued uninterrupted and landed safely in Hawaii. As a member of the flight crew, you first have to ask yourself how much of a threat Joe actually poses to the aircraft and its passengers. He’s not displaying signs of violence or otherwise behaving in a threatening manner; short of having an explosive device, a battering ram or a key to unlock the door, there’s no way he can gain access to the flight deck. Of course, you know that Joe has none of these things on or about his person; both Joe and his luggage have been screened, scanned, x-rayed, inspected, sniffed, poked, prodded, felt up and patted down multiple times, as has every other passenger aboard. Passengers are more likely to die of a heart attack while waiting for the plane to take off than they are to become a victim of a terrorist’s bomb mid-flight.

Maybe a better way to defuse this situation would have been for the flight attendant to read Joe’s note, carefully, then return it to him with a note of her own attached:

Thank you for your submission to In-flight Entertainment Magazine.

Your story has an interesting plot and it shows much promise, but in its current form is too short to suit our needs. Please expand the story to 3500 words, avoid run-on sentences, correct spelling and capitalization errors; format double-spaced w/2-inch margins, then resubmit.

Pays $1.00 per word on acceptance.

Problem solved.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Game Changers

From the novel, Grotesque, by Natsuo Kirino:

“In the farming villages of China there are over two hundred and seventy million people, more than the arable land can feed. The farms produce only enough to support a hundred million, fewer than half. Of the remaining hundred and seventy million people, about ninety million work in local factories. The other eighty million have no choice but to head to the cities to look for work. At the time this influx of surplus labor was referred to in China as the Blind Flow. Now of course it’s known as the Pool of the People’s Workforce. But blind flow better captures the reality of a desperate people groping about in darkness, struggling to follow the beacon of light glittering off the money available in the city.”

To one degree or another, this same scenario plays out in every nation on Earth. It’s the reality of an increasing global population and too little of everything to go around. Consider these sobering facts:

According to the Earth Clock, in the first 10 days of 2010 (ending at 12:00 midnight on Sunday), the global population increased—at a rate of about two people per second—by over 2 million, pushing the total global population above 6.8 billion people. During this same time period, CO2 emissions continued to spew into the atmosphere at roughly 1,000 tons per second, for a ten-day total over 750 million tons.

In the first 10 days of 2010, more than 700 species went extinct, roughly 350,000 hectares of forest were cleared, and global desertification increased by more than 160,000 hectares.

The oil depletion timer (shown in the Earth Clock’s stats column) tells us that known oil reserves, declining at a rate somewhat faster than 1,000 barrels per second, will run out in slightly less than 40.8 years. What it doesn’t tell us is that, for all practical purposes, oil (read transportation fuel) will become unaffordable for most people in less than half that time. What this means is that most people who now drive will soon be walking, riding a bike, or taking public transportation; it also means that most people who now fly commercial air will soon be making other transportation arrangements. Any way you want to look at it, oil depletion is a game changer.

Another game changer is global climate change, which will bring about food and water crises as it makes its presence felt in all areas of the world. Water is the lifeblood of our planet, and everything depends on its availability. Sudden—or even gradual—changes to local weather patterns will have devastating effects on agriculture and many other economic activities, and cause mass migrations (or die-offs) of most species living in the affected areas. Future wars won’t be fought for access to oil; they’ll be fought for access to water. And food. The coming food fights will make anything you did in your high school cafeteria look well mannered and positively civilized.

These, then, are the game changers that all of us must learn to live with—or die with, as the case may be.

Welcome to the future.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Fear of Flying

“The Portland Air National Guard confirms that two F-15 fighter jets "scrambled" the Hawaiian Airlines flight in mid-flight. This means that they met it and escorted it back to PDX. The contact took place at about 1 pm.” —from a report filed by Joel Iwanaga, KOIN-TV Local 6 News

Okay, I can almost understand why the captain of Hawaiian Air Flight 39 reversed course and headed back to Portland. What I don’t understand is why (aside from Oregon Air National Guard pilots needing seat time) it was necessary for the Air National Guard to intercept Flight 39 and escort it back to Portland. Was Flight 39’s pilot lost? Was he too fuckin’ stupid to find his way back to Portland? And what, exactly, were the fighter pilots going to do if Flight 39 didn’t comply, shoot it down?

Seems to me that the people tasked with keeping the rest of us safe from the boogey man and other scary things have got their panties in a twist over nothing—again.

Be afraid, people. Be very afraid. The powers that be love it when you’re so paralyzed by fear that you can’t even think straight. It gives them cover to carry out their real agenda.

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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Random Ramblings and Miscellaneous Musings

On Tuesday, December 29th, I posted a couple of videos under the heading Jane Hamsher is Right. Badtux the Snarky Penguin posted a comment about it on Wednesday, and thus began a running healthcare debate with ‘Tux that concluded on his blog on New Year’s Day.

While I don’t always agree with ‘Tux in regards to the causes of or solutions to the health care dilemma, I nevertheless have great respect for his opinions because his thinking often forces me to re-evaluate my own. Anything that prompts me to look at difficult problems from different angles and in a new light is not a bad thing. More on health care (or is that moron healthcare?) to follow in future posts.

On to other things:

My sincere apologies go out to novelist Bill Cameron for not getting reviews of his superb novels, Lost Dog and Chasing Smoke written and posted online before Christmas. I’m working on ’em, Bill; they’ll be ready, soon.

And others, still:

What kind of government do we have? Democracy (the mythical), kleptocracy (the obvious), pantisocracy (the ideal—and no, it’s not what you’re thinking), corporatocracy (the actual), psychopathocracy (the probable)? Lately, I’ve been leaning toward a combination of these—with the total exclusion of democracy and pantisocracy. Our government is a democracy in name only, and pantisocracy is a naïve Utopian dream. That leaves us with a kleptocratic, corporacratic psychopathocracy, which, to my way of thinking, is a dead-on accurate way of describing the government we have. No one can argue that a bunch of crazy fuckers aren’t running (ruining?) things.

A common lament of mechanics goes like this: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Well, folks, the whole damned country is broken—morally, ethically, fiscally, physically, structurally, politically and socially—and it needs many conscientious, right-thinking “mechanics” to fix it. And, no, business as usual is not going to fix our damaged, dying nation, it will only hasten its demise. We need radical new paradigms and outside-the-buns thinking to get this baby up and running, again; anything less than an all-out effort to engineer a total makeover will only set us up for another epic fail.

Shall we begin?

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Friday, January 1, 2010

Better Tomorrows

Today is more than the beginning of a new year. It’s the beginning of a new decade—the second decade of the 21st century—and a time for making new resolutions (or renewing old ones) and for renewing hope and optimism for better prospects with which to shape better tomorrows.

28 years ago to the day, I resolved to quit smoking (tobacco). I fell off that wagon a couple of days later, then climbed back aboard it on January 10, 1982, and shook the tobacco monkey off my back for good.

27 years ago to the day, following an all-night New Years party, I watched daybreak through drooping eyelids and bleary eyes and the beginning of my last hangover, and resolved to kick my alcohol dependency for good. That resolution stuck on the first try.

If there’s a moral here, it’s that whenever you resolve to do something, do it with as much seriousness as you can muster. Be intelligent about your resolution; be realistic, as well. Apply passion and commitment liberally, and above all, don’t forget to congratulate yourself and give yourself a pat on the back every day that you successfully adhere to your resolution. These are tactics that have always worked for me, and there’s a good chance they’ll work for you, too.

So, what other thoughts do I have on this New Years day? Questions? Many. Answers? Few. Predictions for the country? Dire. Reminds me of a conversation between the Harper brothers:

Alan: Should I change?

Charlie: You should . . . but you probably won’t.

Best wishes for many better tomorrows, everyone. Happy New Year!

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