Let the world change you... and you can change the world

Newtown and Boston

Chris Hayes makes some of the same points that I did:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Idiot Nation, Meet Sick Nation

Just as I predicted, nothing is going to change at all with respect to gun control after the Newton school shooting.  Even as we are right in the middle of yet another national outrage over the Boston Marathon terrorist bombing — a terrible, horrific event, one that has every American angry and upset, and rightfully and understandably so.  Yet here’s the reality — more people die from gun violence EVERY FUCKING HOUR than died in the Boston bomb attack.  Think about that.  As outraged as we are as a country over what just happened in Boston, that same outrage should be happening every hour of every day over guns.  And yet we do nothing, absolutely nothing about it.

And here’s what makes this even more disturbing.  As terrible as the Boston bombing was, the reality is that there’s not much we can do to prevent highly random attacks like this by deranged individuals.  Bruce Schneier does a great job of explaining that reality here.  But on the other hand, there is lots we can do to minimize gun violence.  Heck, every other civilized democracy in the world today has figured it out and has managed to pretty much eliminate all gun violence.  So there’s a very clear, easy  solution — only we refuse to do a damned thing about it.

God are we one very sick society.

Ten Years After

Why the war in Iraq was fought for Big Oil

Oh, please, do tell me……. That was pretty obvious ten years ago, at least to most people with an ounce of common sense who actually stopped to think about it.  I’ve tried to watch a couple of the Iraq War anniversary news specials, and can’t make it through more than the first 15 minutes or so.  You’d think after ten years there would be some new insights, some new revelations, but sadly no — everything that is now being documented was painfully clear ten years ago when it was unfolding in real time.  Bush/Cheney came in to office with invading Iraq as their number one priority.  All they needed was the flimsiest of excuses, and 9/11 gave them that.  From then on it was one lie after another, until they had their way.  And ten years later, absolutely nothing positive has come from that disastrous war.  Over 4,000 American soldiers are dead, another 32,000 wounded, to say nothing of 100,000+ Iraqi civilian deaths and 15 million of them driven from their homes.  All for nothing.

You would think at some point someone would be held accountable.  But again sadly no.  No one is doing life without parole for these heinous crimes.  But what’s even more mind boggling is how these same people that brought us the Iraq war and it’s $3 trillion price tag are the same ones who are now so concerned about the national debt.  Their little unpaid for war is the number one reason why the debt is as big as it is, and yet that fact isn’t even discussed.

Here’s an idea.  How about making those responsible for the Iraq War pay for it?  We take the list of donors to George Bush’s campaign in 2000 and assess them $3 trillion, due and payable immediately.  They can split it up however they like — maybe even get their good buddies in the executive suites of all the Big Oil companies to chip in.  If no one is going to prison for all the needless deaths, then let’s at least get some financial justice done here.

Where Are The Kick-Ass Democrats?

Great clip on the evening news last night of Joe Kennedy defending himself thanking Hugo Chavez for helping provide heating oil to many New Englanders who could not otherwise afford it.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

This is typical right-wing bullshit.  American corporations ripping off consumers, causing widespread suffering, but that’s OK because it’s all capitalism and free markets and America We’re No. 1!  But then compassionate people step in to help and it’s oh no, that’s big bad socialism and Joe Kennedy hates America.  Sheez.

But what this clip reminded me of is how we really need more politicians like Joe Kennedy who are willing to step up and call out conservatives as being the evil bastards that they really are.  Too many middle-class Americans are silently sitting by while the Republican Party slowly but methodically destroys their economic lives, not even realizing what is going on.  I was hoping that a second-term Obama would be more kick-ass in his dealings with these slimeballs, but now that the so-called Sequester has been instituted with only whimpers coming out of the White House, I’m starting to have my doubts.

Right now I just don’t see how anything good can happen to the economy over the next two years at least, not with the Republican War on the Middle Class going full throttle, and Obama and the Democrats still trying to play nice guy with these assholes.  Maybe something will happen in the Congressional elections in 2014?  Will the vast middle class finally wake up and realize what the Republican Party is doing to them?

The only light I can see at the end of the tunnel is Hillary Clinton.  Which is what the Kennedy clip above reminded me of.  I’m convinced Hillary would be a kick-ass-and-take-no-prisoners leader, exactly what we are going to need in four years.  That’s assuming that there’s still a glimmer of democracy left, and we haven’t reverted to full out corporate feudalism by then.

Where’s The Outrage Over Scalia’s Racism?

When I first heard about Justice Antonin Scalia’s comment that the Voting Rights Act is a “perpetuation of racial entitlement” I thought surely this is coming from The Onion, and as such I thought it was nicely done satire.  Not only an extremely racist statement coming from none other than a Supreme Court justice, but also a statement that is so stupid that it typifies the thinking of Idiot America, where the sky is not blue and water is not wet.  But alas, I soon discovered that Scalia actually did say this!  Poor Onion, I don’t know how you can satirize the right wing in this country anymore.

But what really startled me is just how little backlash his comment has received in the main stream.  It’s one thing for the likes of Rush Limbaugh to be spouting racial slurs like this, but a Supreme Court Justice?  I keep hearing that since Obama got elected we are in a “post-racial” world — but it seems to me that what we are really in is a “retro-racial” world.  Conservatives for many years kept a close watch on their racism, being careful to say the politically correct thing in public, but in private they continued to keep up the best traditions of the KKK.  And the Republican Party bent over backwards to appeal to these racists, although denying it in public.  But these days as the country becomes more and more divided, it appears that Republicans and conservatives are starting to double-down on their racism and bigotry, not only letting comments like Scalia’s go unremarked on, but actually cheering them on.

And even after you get beyond the blatant racism of the remark, what the sam hill was he really trying to say?  Was this just a case of him wanting to say something like “I hate people of color and wish they would all just go away”, and knowing that would be a little too inflammatory he just blurted out what he did?  Or does he really think that for non-whites, voting is an “entitlement” and not a basic right of democracy?  That only whites have a true right to vote?  I don’t know how you intrepret what he said in any other way.  And if that’s the case, again, where is the outrage?  And of course the answer is that in this “retro-racial” age pretty much everyone seems to take it for granted that the Republican Party is the party of racism and bigotry, and there’s nothing surprising when conservatives make comments like this.

I keep reading that the country is changing demographically and that eventually this type of overt bigotry will disappear from our politics, if not from our culture all together.  I guess I can see that happening if democracy can survive the current assault of the conservative movement — but sometimes I wonder just how big an “if” that is.  This whole idea of getting rid of the Voting Rights Act does not bode at all well for democracy.  And certainly having a scumbag the likes of Scalia on the Supreme Court doesn’t help either.

Oops, Joe Scarborough Is In Fact An Idiot After All

Well, I tried to defend Joe Scarborough by arguing that he wasn’t really an idiot, but rather just doesn’t have much common sense.  But alas, Scarborough just can’t keep his mouth shut when it comes to economics, and so yesterday he went on another diatribe, and clearly proved to the world that he is indeed an idiot.  Facts are facts, Joe, and in this age of The Google Machine, to get so many facts so totally wrong is a feat that can be accomplished only by a true idiot.

Joe Scarborough, yet another proud member of Idiot Nation.

Whatever Happened To Good Old Common Sense?

As I often chronicle here, we indeed do live in Idiot Nation, which can be quite depressing when you think about it.  But then you watch a discussion between Paul Krugman and Joe Scarborough and you see an even more depressing side of Idiot Nation.  Scarborough is certainly no idiot, but then he certainly is clueless when it comes to macro economics.  Now there’s nothing wrong with that — advanced economics can be a bit complicated, and unless you take the time to study it, you will be ignorant of how the economy works at the national and global levels.  And that’s OK — simply acknowledge that you are clueless and let people like Krugman who do understand economics explain things to you.  Just nod your head and agree — there’s nothing wrong with that.  Hell, I’ll bet whenever Scarborough goes to his doctor, he hears a lot of explanations and recommendations that he doesn’t really understand, and yet he has no problem abiding by what his doctor tells him.  So why is it that he can’t do the same thing with macro economics?  It’s another form of idiocy that’s in many ways worse than the intellectually challenged.  People like Scarborough are smart enough to know what they don’t know, and yet they don’t.

And then last night while watching The Daily Show, I was reminded of yet another form of idiocy that seems to dominate our culture — and this time it comes from none other than Jon Stewart, a fire-breathing liberal if there ever was one.  Al Gore is the guest, and Stewart is criticizing his recent sale of his Current TV network to Al Jazeera.  Granted, at first glance, the sale might seem somewhat hypocritical in a “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” way, but then once you think about it, not only was it not hypocritical even in the slightest way, but a very good business move.  Good for Al Gore, good for the climate movement, good for American journalism — a win-win all around.  I won’t repeat Gore’s arguments here — watch the video for yourself.  But incredibly, a man as smart as Stewart, somehow can’t see facts and reality.  Somehow the notion that Al Jazeera is located in a country that happens to be the home of some big, bad oil companies short-circuits Stewart’s brain and he just stops using common sense.

If living in Idiot Nation weren’t bad enough, we also have way too many people who are in fact smart and knowledgeable, but who end up behaving like idiots nonetheless.  The Singularity can’t get here fast enough!

But They Are Hard In Idiot Nation

Sometimes Atrios sounds like a broken record:

“Just the occasional reminder that we spend most our time creating and occasionally solving fake problems instead of dealing with real ones. People need jobs. People need decent health care. There’s been an increase in catastrophic weather events. We’re a country of immense wealth. These things shouldn’t be hard.”

But it’s so true. The number one short-term problem we face as a country is job creation. The number one medium-term problem is health care. And the number one long-term problem is climate change. And yet nothing, absolutely nothing, is being done to fix any of these problems. And it’s hard to fault the Obama administration for this — since they are having to spend pretty much all their time and energy preventing the right-wing crazies from destroying the country.

The Drift To Idiot Nation

Just finished Drift by Rachel Maddow (highly recommended, BTW), and one of the things that struck me is just how far in to bozo land the Republican Party has “drifted” (that’s not the “drift” Maddow is referring to, but it fits just the same) over the last 30+ years.  Today we look back on the Reagan years and think of them as being pretty benign, with Reagan being an all-things-considered not such a bad President.  But reading Maddow’s account of those years, I’m reminded that no — that’s not the way things were back then.  Reagan was a mean-spirited man, a war-monger, someone with no morals nor ethics at all, with no respect for the law.  The only reason we look back at him as being an “OK” president is because of the total disaster that the Bush II administration was.  It’s only relative to the monsters that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al were that we see Reagan as being somewhat “acceptable”.  And now incredibly, you don’t hear much bad being said of Bush and company, because relative to the current crop of imbeciles that control the House of Representatives, much of what they did pales in comparison.  In a just world, Reagan would have certainly been impeached, and many of the top people in the Bush administration would be doing significant time in prison.  But by the standards of today’s Republican Party, all of them somehow seem less horrific than they actually were.   And as bad as the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations were, that’s saying a hell of a lot.

Silly Solutions To Silly Problems

This whole discussion of minting a trillion dollar coin would be very funny, if it were not for the fact that the problem it would solve is very serious.  On the one hand, it’s obviously a “silly” solution to the debt-ceiling problem, one that would never be considered by a rational country.  But then again, right now with Idiot Nation still controlling half of Congress, we are hardly a rational country.  Trying to make the debt ceiling an issue about government spending is ridiculous.  It’s about the U.S. paying it’s bills, bills that have already been accrued.  Refusing to raise the limit would be akin to a household refusing to pay their electricity bill, while at the same time expecting the electric company to keep providing them with electricity.  But that’s where we are today with the Republican Party — they can’t understand the most basic of financial concepts.  You can’t negotiate with total idiots, you have to come up with ways to run the country that totally sidesteps them.  And so the platinum coin actually does make sense when you have to run a country rampant with idiots.