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This Week In Idiot Nation

Let’s ponder some facts about the events of the last several weeks.  If Philando Castile had not been carrying a gun when stopped by police in Minnesota he quite likely would be alive today.  If Alton Sterling had not been carrying a gun when confronted by police in Louisiana he quite likely would be alive today.  If Micah Johnson didn’t have a gun, those five Dallas police officers would be alive today.  If Gavin Eugene Long didn’t have a gun, those three Baton Rouge police officers would be alive today.

See a pattern here?  Citizens carrying guns is what instigated all four of these terrible incidents.  You take the guns out of the situation, and there are no deaths.  Seems so obvious, and yet no one in the media seems to have made the connection.  It’s all about “senseless violence” and how we must as a nation “come together” and how we must eliminate racism that is no doubt a huge contributor to this problem.

But here’s the deal — racism is a mental thing.  You can’t legislate it out of existence.  You can’t change the way people think by holding hands around the campfire and singing Kumbayah.  What you can do is pass laws that encourage equality for all people, which is exactly what this country has been doing for 250 years.  And if you look at the big picture, it’s worked pretty well.  Remember that 250 years ago, this great nation of ours committed genocide against one entire race of people, and enslaved another entire race.  Look at where we are today — still a long ways from totally eliminating racism, but at the same time we’ve come a very long way from where we started out.  Point is that changing the way people think is a very long, slow process.  We will, hopefully, eventually get there.

But in the meantime, what do we do about all these senseless killings?  And that brings us right back to the one common item in all these tragedies — guns.

Here’s something else you rarely see discussed in the media these days — try putting yourself in the shoes of today’s police.  We live in the most gun violent society in the entire civilized world — by a factor of 25X.  Hell, there’s more gun violence today than there was back in the wild wild west.  So if you are a policeman and you get in a confrontation with a civilian what’s the first thing that is on your mind?  It has to be that this person is very likely to be carrying a gun, and your life could well be at risk.  That’s just plain old common sense.  If you are a cop, you have to be thinking you better be ready to shoot first or else you are likely to be killed.  That’s not being trigger happy, that’s just using common sense.

So here’s a thought — what happens if you take guns out of the equation?  All of a sudden an American cop is like all the other cops in all the other civilized countries — no reason to fear for their lives just because they are in a confrontation.  Odds of the person carrying a gun are almost non-existent.  So now the cop can go about his business without worrying about having to use his firearm.

Sure we’re still stuck with the problem of racial profiling and unequal treatment of citizens during confrontations.  That’s the racism problem that isn’t going away anytime soon. But at least now no one — black, white, whatever — is getting killed by police.  Isn’t that a huge improvement over where we are now?

The solution here is so obvious — you get rid of the guns, period.  Make it illegal to possess a gun in the city limits.  I defy you to give me one reason why anyone needs to possess a gun in any city in the 21st century.  That’s ludicrous.

And yet no one is even discussing this obvious answer to the problem.  Idiot Nation is just too damned stupid to see the obvious.

Liberals and Big Business and The Very Rich

I’m not sure how much of this comment by Atrios about Hillary Clinton doing the bidding of big corporations is “snark”, but I have no problem whatsoever with politicians helping out big business like this. Conservatives love to paint liberals as being “anti-business”, but nothing could be further from the truth. We are all “Team USA”, and helping corporations to thrive benefits all of us. The difference here is in the phrase “all of us”. Liberals want to insure that everyone benefits from a society dominated by business, whereas conservatives are fine with those benefits going mainly to the big shot executives and owners while letting the rest of society fight over the scraps they leave behind. That’s a huge difference that seems to fly right over the head of a lot of Americans. Liberals are not “anti-capitalism”. All we want is a government that is strong enough to make sure that capitalism works for everyone, not just the wealthy.

The same can be said about the oft-heard conservative rant that liberals hate the rich and that they want their wealth to be equally shared by all and therefore they are all dirty Socialists. And again, nothing could be further from the truth. As far as I’m concerned as a liberal, the wealthy can accumulate as much money as their little hearts desire. They can have as many McMansions and yachts and summer homes and car elevators that they want. But only after we as a nation have provided for all our citizens, making sure that all Americans have a roof over their heads, enough to eat, and access to decent health care, that all American children get the best K-12 education in the world, and that all America’s youth can afford some type of college education if they so choose. Once we’ve provided for this, the “common good”, then I certainly don’t give a rat’s ass how many billions of dollars the likes of Donald Trump and the Koch brothers might have. And there’s certainly enough wealth in this country to do everything I’ve listed, and still have more than enough for the 1% to live their lives of luxury.

Idiot Supreme Court In Idiot Nation

I can’t think of anything that characterizes Idiot Nation and the Idiot Mainstream Media that caters to it more than this concept of “money is free speech”.  How can anyone with an IQ higher than that of a rutabaga make a statement like that?  Straight from the dictionary:

speech (noun): ability to express one’s thoughts and emotions by speech sounds and gestures

money (noun):  any circulating medium of exchange, including coins, paper money, and demand deposits

Other than them both being nouns, they have NOTHING IN COMMON!  When you get pulled over by a traffic cop, is giving him a speech trying to justify why you might have been driving a little too fast the same thing as handing him some money?  One might get you out of a ticket, while the other is likely to send you to jail for bribery!  Or say you are in a fancy restaurant and run up a huge tab, and when presented with the bill you just give the waiter a nice little speech about how much you enjoyed the meal and then walk out without actually paying the bill.  You really think those are one and the same?  No, once again you are going to end up in jail!

Saying “money is free speech” makes as much sense as just randomly pulling two nouns from the dictionary.  If you really believe this, you should have fun here — “antelope is learning”!  “step-daughter is sweater”! “aluminum is armadillo”!

“Money is free speech” is total idiocy.  So I guess it’s only fitting that Idiot Nation would have a Supreme Court that would make that statement.

Who Should Really Go To Jail Over the GM Recall Crisis

Michael Moore is understandably outraged over why GM execs are not facing criminal prosecution for their failure to recall cars with faulty parts that ultimately led to many fatalities and injuries.  But I’m not so sure criminal prosecution is justified here (or in any other similar cases), as this is just a symptom of the real problem, not the cause — which is quite nicely summed up by Moore himself:

The cause of this tragedy is an economic system that places profit above everything else, including — and especially — human life. GM has a legal and fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders to make the biggest profits that it can. And if their top people crunch the numbers and can show that they will save more money by NOT fixing or replacing the part, then that is what they are going to goddam well do. F*** you, f*** me, and f*** everybody they sent to their deaths. That pretty much sums up their “culture”.

That’s exactly what I’ve said in almost those exact same words over and over.  And I just don’t see how criminal punishment of people who are doing exactly what they are supposed to do in our corporate, capitalistic society solves anything.  Rather the answer is a government that is big enough and strong enough to oversee corporations and make sure things like this don’t happen.  In this case, it was the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which should have prevented this from happening.  But alas, the Bush administration overruled them, and that’s where the real blame lies.  If you want to send people to jail, it’s the Bush corporate lackeys you should be after.  They are the ones that failed to do their job here, not the GM execs.

And this is the way it is in pretty much every case of corporate malfeasance.  One of the main purposes of government is to make sure that corporate greed (which is the foundation of capitalism) doesn’t harm people.  Don’t blame corporations for doing exactly what they are supposed to do — blame the government officials that are not doing what they are supposed to be doing.  And in turn, blame all the citizens who continue to elect politicians who do not support strong government oversight of business.  If you vote for officials that “want to shrink government down to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub”, then YOU are the one that should be going to jail.

Give Me Your Rich, Your Privileged, Your Huddled Plutocrats

You gotta love the crap that’s coming out of the right-wing love fest known as CPAC.  So the way to eliminate poverty is to take benefits away from the poor and give the saved money to the rich via tax cuts.  That’ll teach ’em a lesson — get off your butt and get a (second or third) job and work 80+ hours a week and you too can end up being a Wall Street gazillionaire.  It’s that easy!  USA, USA, USA!

Never mind the fact that U6 unemployment is still well above 12% and thus for many people there just aren’t any jobs available.  Never mind the fact that with today’s minimum wage even if you are working 60 hours a week at multiple jobs, you still are living at below the poverty level.  Never mind the fact that our educational system has fallen so far behind that many of the poor don’t have the skills needed to land a decent job.  Never mind the fact that our health care system is so bad that many of the poor are not in good enough physical shape to get a regular job.  No, none of that matters at all to these right-wing idiots.

All of this reminds me of the real problem I have with today’s conservatives.  Why can’t they just stand up and say “Hey, I’m selfish, I’m materialistic, I’m greedy, and I really don’t care about anyone other than my family and my friends”?  Hell, those are just values, really no different than saying you prefer rock music to country or you like living in the city versus the suburbs.  There’s no right or wrong here — it’s just the way you as an individual prioritize things in your life and what your individual preferences are.  So why not just proclaim your greed and selfishness, and then proceed to endorse these right-wing ideas about taking from the poor and giving to the rich?  If these folks would be honest about all this, I would have no problem with their conservative philosophy — heck, I’d admire them for sticking up for what they believe in.

But of course the problem here is with our national heritage of Christianity, which alas teaches that those values are in fact “sins”.  And so Conservatives find themselves in a quandary — as so-called Christians they can’t up and confess to their greed and selfishness.  So instead they come up with these moronic ideas about how to deal with the poor and less fortunate.  “Oh, I’m a Christian so that’s proof enough that I care about others and don’t worship money.”  What bullshit.

Come on folks, Jesus Christ was a card-carrying Socialist.  That’s not up for debate.  So if you call yourself a Christian, your politics have to be way out there in liberal land.  Other wise you are nothing but a hypocrite.

Once Again, We’re In Bizarro World

Bizarro WorldThis whole Ukraine story reads like something right out of Bizarro World.  Although it’s been mostly overlooked by the mainstream media, the fact is that the President of Ukraine was democratically elected in what appears to have been a very fair election.  So when he gets ousted by a bunch of armed revolutionaries in the street, that’s an unconstitutional takeover, a textbook definition of coup d’etat, no?  So you would think that the good old USofA, the world’s grand defender of democracy, would be coming to his defense and trying to restore him to his rightful position, right?  But no — it’s Vladimir Putin of all people, archenemy of the free world and most wanted on the list of human rights violators, who steps in to defend democracy in the Ukraine!  WTF????

Then when Putin started sending in troops, the responses got even more weird.  First you had mostly liberal pols blasting Russia for intervening militarily.  Are you kidding me?  What Russia is doing is not kinda, sorta like what we did in Iraq and Afghanistan — it’s EXACTLY like what we did there.  Thanks to Cheney-Bush, America has totally lost the high ground when it comes to intervening in other countries.  Just STFU.  And then to make matters even more hilarious, you had the John McCain wing of the ding bat party jumping up and down wanting to go to war with Russia!  Wow, to think this guy was the Republican nominee for President just six years ago.  Scary stuff.

Finally as things got sorted out, though, it became apparent that this whole crisis was an economic one, that had nothing to do with democracy.  But then why is this not surprising?  In this day and age, everything everywhere pretty much comes down to money regardless of what your politics are.  Turns out that the Ukrainian president preferred economic ties to Russia, while the rebels preferred the European Union.  And that’s what the whole mess is about.  What I still can’t figure out is why the Ukraine can’t do business with both Russia and the West?  Lord knows every other major country in the world these days will do business with any other country regardless of what their politics are — like I said, it’s all about the money, period.

But what is really bizarre about this whole episode is watching all the right-wing nuts in the Republican Party and at Fox News singing the praises of Putin.  Sheez, folks, you do realize that Putin is the leader of one of the most oppressive states in the world today, no?  I thought you all were the “freedom lovers”?  And yet you idolize a guy like Vladimir Putin?  You folks really do live in Bizarro World.

Evil AND Stupid !!!

Following up on my “Evil Or Stupid” post, Fox’s Megyn Kelly reminds me that sometimes the answer to why conservatives do the things they do is because they are BOTH evil AND stupid!  For Kelly to claim that “Santa just is white” is as stupid as stupid gets.  Santa Claus is an imaginary character!  By definition, he looks however you want him to look.  And in getting in to a long, drawn out discussion of Santa’s “whiteness” is as racist as it gets.  Only on Fox News do you get the stupid and evil two-fer!


Big vs. Small Government Is Not The Issue

This article blaming Newt Gingrich for the Obamacare website problems is admittedly a bit over the top, but the point being made is still very valid. The Office of Technology Assessment was a very important part of the machinery of government in this day and age, and going without any kind of agency like this is incomprehensible in the 21st century.

But there’s a bigger issue here, one that rarely gets discussed. We continually hear the argument about big vs. small government, and there’s a lot to be said for both sides. Heck, in a perfect world I suspect that most liberals and progressives would prefer as small a government as possible. But clearly we live in a far from perfect world. We have megacorporations that don’t give a damn about anything but bottom line profits, and walk all over the rights of workers and consumers and citizens in order to make a buck. And then we have the wealthiest Americans engaged in a never-ending game of “he who dies with the most money wins” and who are totally devoid of compassion for the millions of less fortunate people who struggle to make ends meet. And so we must have government to insure that everyone doesn’t get trampled by the rich and powerful.  It’s the only thing that separates us from medieval feudalism.

The real issue here should be how to make government as efficient and effective as possible in order to insure justice and equality for all. That after all, is what a true democracy is all about. You want a government that is no bigger than it has to be in order to achieve that end. That’s what we all should be working towards.

But that’s not what we have in today’s America. A big chunk of the Republican Party wants to simply do away with as many government services as they can, and failing that, they try their best to make sure that government doesn’t work — I guess the theory being that helps make their case for no government at all. And so they attempt to do away with agencies like the OTA, the EPA, the NLRB, the Dept. of Education, the US Post Office, and on and on the list goes. It’s one thing to want “small government”, but it’s something totally different to want “bad government”. And that’s what today’s GOP seems intent on.

Evil Or Stupid?

The perennial question about today’s Republican Party is whether they are as stupid as they seem, or are they just basically evil people? On many issues it’s easy to argue either way. For example, economic issues generally require some basic understanding of Macro Economics 101, which typically is not on the resume of your average American. So, for example, failure to grasp the need for significant stimulus programs with today’s sluggish economy is somewhat understandable. And so millions of people suffer because of Republican obstructionism on economic issues. Whether they are just being evil or they are too stupid to understand how economics works, who really knows?

But then there’s the current kerfuffle over the Affordable Care Act. We’ve got millions of Americans and one in four children going without proper health care, and 40,000 Americans dying every year because they don’t have access to health care. Among developed countries, we rank at the bottom in both quality and cost of health care — we’ve got one of the worst systems in the world, AND one of the most expensive. Only in America. So clearly this is a problem of epic proportions, one that you can’t possibly be stupid enough not to comprehend. Now you may not like the ACA for whatever reasons, but it is at least a step in the right direction, it at least makes an attempt to solve the problem. But the Republicans oppose it, and at the same time offer up no alternatives at all. They are fine with the system as is. Fine with thousands and thousands of people dying and suffering. And that’s just plain evil. There’s no other explanation.

What’s Really Wrong With The Affordable Care Act

Hindsight being 20-20 and all that, it shouldn’t be all that surprising that the Affordable Care Act (ACA), at least so far, has been a total disaster in getting off the ground. It was, after all, the ultimate in Rube Goldberg devices, attempting to use free market mechanisms to fix what the free market itself has totally failed at.

Now if what we were seeing was a united effort by the White House, Congress, and the health insurance industry to get ACA up and running, then I would say that yes, the whole package probably needs to be re-thought and maybe even re-designed. But that is not what is happening at all. Our totally incompetent media can’t pull their collective heads out of their asses long enough to report that what is really going on has little to do with the failings of ACA, but is instead the direct result of Republicans in Congress along with the majority of the health insurance industry doing everything in their power to sabotage the ACA. So really how workable the solution is, who knows.

Of course, the real solution to the total disaster that our health care system is these days is a single-payer system. I guess you just can’t hammer home the point often enough that every other developed nation in the world has higher quality health care than we do, and they spend far, far less money on it than we do, and every single one of them has a single payer system. So-called “Medicare for everyone” is the best solution, period. You think Idiot Nation will ever figure that out? I’m not holding my breath.