Monday, March 23, 2020

Two Pandemics — Coronavirus and Lies

We’re in the Midst of Two Pandemics:
Coronavirus… and Lies!

They feed off each other.  One makes the other worse. The lies have hampered our response to the Coronavirus.  They’ve deceived us about the seriousness of it, and our response to it.  They’ve bolstered the glorious misconception that we’ll all pull through this.  America's great! Not to worry!  American ingenuity will come to the rescue!  This is a feeble hope masquerading as the truth.  Amplified by the pandemic of Lies.

The Pandemic of Lies started long before the Coronavirus even existed.  The growth has been exponential.  It started with one big toxic liar, and has rapidly spread.  Now there are infections everywhere.  Washington, DC, has been the hardest hit.  There are now liars in every department of government.  Liars in the press.  Liars on TV.  The virulence has increased as well.  Now there are lies about the lies.  Denials of previous lies — to be replaced by newer, more toxic lies.  It’s spread rapidly to the Senate and House, infected the Judiciary, government departments, agencies, boards.  It’s spread to bankers and corporations as well.

How can we fight two pandemics at once?

Coronavirus is not as toxic, and the spread can be mitigated.  By self-quarantine, social distancing, hand washing, common sense.  Unfortunately, the death toll will be high.  There won’t be enough masks, ventilators, or hospital beds, in spite of what the liars say.  Since there’s no leadership from the liars, local leaders have risen to the challenge.  Governors, mayors, non-profits.  School superintendents are saving our butts.  Their prompt actions have limited the spread in our communities.

There may be a vaccine for Coronavirus, but not soon.  Perhaps we can all pull together and make some headway against both pandemics.  But they’ll both go on for a while.  Some folks will die.  Some will be voted out of office.  Maybe things will get better.  But I’m an optimist.  Both may rage on.

Coronavirus — 18 months.  Lies — no cure, but we might make some progress.  Maybe.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

School Superintendents are saving our butts

School Superintendents are saving our butts.  They’re closing schools around the country to help contain the spread of COVID-19.  Kudos!  Also local governments, state governments, recreation districts, theaters, etc.  National — HUGE FAIL!  The Sidekick — Pence — who had a HUGE FAIL with the HIV epidemic in Indiana — perfect guy for the job!  Great failureship skills.  Being groomed as the scapegoat.  By our HUGE FAIL at the top — the Captain of the Ship of State — Orangy Porngy.  (What a guy!)

If we want real leadership during this crisis, we should put a School Superintendent in charge.  Pick any one at random.  They’ll have attention to detail, actually listen to advice, and have the best interests of the community at large.

On Friday the 13th, schools closed here in Denver.  A couple closed before Friday (when a couple of parents tested positive).  Then they said: "Kids, have a great Spring break.  We’re giving you an extra two weeks off!  Yipee!"  It was subtle, but that’s a three-week closure.  Stay tuned, folks, it could be longer.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Those 47 Joe Senators

No Joe Citizen gets to choose what laws to obey. This is a country founded on laws.  We're all obliged to obey them, even if we disagree with them.  Imagine yourself in traffic court — going 50 in a 30 — and you tell the judge: "Well, I didn't think 30 mph was a reasonable speed limit."  Or, "I didn't see the sign."  Guess what?  You still get the fine.

These 47 Senators plainly violated the Logan Act.  Yes, it was passed in 1799, but that's not an excuse.  It's still the law.  And I don't think any of them can claim ignorance ("I didn't see the sign"), since it was discussed in the media after Boehner invited Netanyahu to speak to the Congress without consulting or informing the Executive Branch — the Legislature clearly meddling in foreign policy.  Exactly why the Logan Act was passed.

Was it treason?  Strong word — and not in the statute — but it's clearly a felony.  Fine or imprisonment for up to three years, or both.  They should clearly be prosecuted — no one is above the law, including our Senators — and I'd clearly like to hear what excuses or prevarications they come up with.  I might like to use one the next time I'm in traffic court.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Occupy Wall St. - Most Significant Social Movement Since the anti-Vietnam War Protests of the 60s

Occupy Wall Street is the most significant social movement in this country since the anti-Vietnam war protests of the 60s. And the authorities must feel threatened since they're overreacting in the same ways: head bashings, arbitrary arrests, tear gas — the only difference is the storm trooper outfits.

Oh, the outfits! There's a certain unity in having matching outfits. And when you dress all the cops like storm troopers, they'll start acting like storm troopers. I think it's only a matter of time before someone gets killed. Yes, we've armed them with so-called "non-lethal" weapons — tasers, clubs, pepper spray — but this just makes the police less reluctant to use violence against the demonstrators.

Why do the powers-that-be feel so threatened by Occupy Wall Street? Because the occupiers are pressing for significant social change. They want bankers jailed (i.e., held accountable) for the near-meltdown of the economy. And they want redistribution of wealth. They see the obvious — and are pointing it out to the rest of the country — that the 1% control a disproportionate share of the wealth of this country, while the rest of us are suffering reduced wages , unemployment, and shrinking opportunity.

But the 1% naturally want to protect the status quo. For them — low tax rates, low wages, and the ability to outsource production to even lower-wage countries is a God-send. For Wall-Streeters, the ability to continue to gamble with other people's money (i.e., your money, if your retirement fund owns stocks, if you have a mortgage, or even if you just have an account in a major bank) without supervision or regulation is a gambler's paradise! Large bets on derivatives, hedges, or tranches of securitized mortgages. And if you get in trouble, the government bails you out! You never go to jail!

During the economic expansion between 2002 and 2007, the income of the top 1% grew 10 times faster than the income of the bottom 90%. In this period 66% of total income gains went to the 1%, who in 2007 had a larger share of total income than at any time since 1928.

And if protesters show up on your doorstep, your allies — the politicians you've bought and paid for — call out the troops. And they bash some heads.

Change in this country comes slowly — or not at all. Especially change from below that threatens the wealthy and the powerful. And some folks just hunker down, afraid of change, and afraid of not-change. Afraid of the disruption that change might bring, and afraid of the consequences of not-change as well.

But there's trouble, right here in River City — everyone senses it. Some react by trying to change the system (OWS, environmentalists, etc.). Others react by siding with their wealthy oppressors (Tea Baggers, climate change deniers, etc.). And the 1% are willing to spend huge sums to push back change. Witness the sums being spend in this election cycle. The anti-change forces will spend more than ever before.

And more than ever before, we need change. People sense it. The young especially. This is what OWS is about — change — and that's why it seems so threatening, and hopeful. And a little ambiguous, as well, since it's hard to agree on all the changes that need to be made. But there are lots.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Some Kids Must Die

So when will the Occupy Wall Street protests reach critical mass? When will they produce real change? I'm afraid some kids must die first. There are now Occupy Wall Street protests in just about every major city in the U.S., and in other cities around the globe as well. How much attention are they getting? From the politicians? From the media? (I was going to say, from the mainstream media, but I'm not sure we have mainstream media any more. We get our information mostly from the right — most large media corporations seem tilted to the right — or online. And everything seems slanted one way or another. Or is that just me?)

I can't help but think back to the Vietnam War protests — the last time the public outcry was loud enough, and sustained enough, to produce real change. There were large protests — be ins — sit ins — on just about every major campus and in every major city. Mostly ignored by the then mainstream media. It took the deaths of four students at Kent State by the Ohio National Guard (May 4, 1970) for the peace movement to really get ramped up. It took the deaths of four young people for the politicians, and the majority of middle class Americans, to really sit up and take notice. And realize that something had to be done.

A week later, 100,000 protesters converged on Washington, D.C., to protest the shootings of the students in Ohio, and Nixon's escalation of the war. And more than 450 university, college, and high school campuses across the country were shut down by over 4 million students, the only nationwide student strike in U.S. history. Still, it wasn't until 1973 that the Paris Peace Accords were signed (1/27/1973). And in spite of that, it wasn't until August, 1973, that American involvement finally ended (Case-Church Amendment) in Vietnam. It took significant and sustained protest, over many years, to finally end the war.

Do the Occupy Wall Street protests have that kind of sustaining power? What will it take to galvanize the rest of America into action? To fix our dysfunctional system which rewards the already rich at the expense of the rest of us (the 99%)? I'm afraid some kids must die. We have to see our police shooting our sons and daughters for all of America to get angry enough to really demand change.

Justin Bridges, after being beaten by the Oakland Police. iChat Image(400792128) from elareafae's photostream
And it may happen. Our police, when they put on their storm trooper outfits, seem to adopt that mentality. There have already been serious injuries. Scott Olsen, who served two tours of duty in Iraq as a Marine, was critically injured by a tear gas canister in Oakland, and suffered a fractured skull. Justin Bridges, an American Sign Language translator for Occupy Portland, was beaten by the Police and may have lost some of the use of his right arm.

So what will be the outcome of the Occupy Wall Street protests? Will the bankers be called to account? Will there be more regulations on banks and brokerages? Will there be more jobs? Will the ultra rich end up paying a fair portion of taxes? But maybe the bigger question is:  Will there be more equity? How do we move back toward a more egalitarian society? Where there's less of a gap between rich and poor? Between the haves and the have-nots? Between the privileged and the rest of us? Can this happen? Or are the forces of big corporations, bigmedia, and big bucks too powerful to allow any substantial change. Will there be minor concessions, then back to business as usual? Or will the demonstrations grow, and involve a larger cross-section of the American public demanding change?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

We Need a New Enemy - - Quick!

Osama's gone. What if the American people turn their attention to our own home-grown enemies? The bankers, brokers, and ultra-greedy brought our country closer to ruin than any terrorist organization, with millions of people thrown out of work, thrown out of their jobs, and and their savings wiped out. We Americans have always needed an external enemy to distract us from corporate raids on the Treasury, from corporate welfare, from tax breaks for the rich, and bail-outs for the big.

Now, of course, our corporate politicians tell us tell us that we have to pay for all this with "belt-tightening." Which means "less services, more fees (don't call 'em taxes), later retirement, poorer schools, and rising costs for food and gas." Oh -- don't forget union-busting. Wouldn't want the folks who still have jobs to demand better wages -- it might cut in to corporate profits. Then they'd have less to spend on lobbying, bonuses, perks, and pacs. (Real wages haven't risen for 30 years, while corporate profits have soared -- what a system!) And now corporations can spend unlimited funds to buy our votes and buy off our politicians.

Nope. Wouldn't want Americans to think about any of these things, The ruling class had better find us a new enemy. Quick!