Saturday, July 11, 2009

JMO - Relax Folks

I was reading and listening to the news about the apparent lack of failure of the Stimulus Plan and all the federal money spent passed by Congress and spent by the President and the Cabinet. All the news from the media and the polls suggest we're on the brink of failure. Well, relax folks, it's barely been six months after taking years, if not a decade or more, for the economy and financial market to get this bad.

We have to remember to give this the one thing it needs more than ever, time. I know patience isn't something many folks in financial straits or worse need, they need jobs, home mortage help, affordable healthcare, and so on down the list of basic needs in this country today. And unfortunately, it's always the working class who get hit the hardest, except this time with the corporations failing, it's now the middle class in the same boat. So we're all there now.

No one really knows if things will get and be better this year or maybe next year and in some places in the country, years beyond. But the key is to give things time, and let President Obama do his job. It can be argued Congress isn't doing their job, especially the contentuous Republicans acting indignent about the deficit and government spending, but that's leads to the second point.

We have to remember the problems go back to the Clinton years but more so in the Bush years when he and co-horts decided to let the market go where and do what it wanted unimpeded by regulation and oversight. They not only let it all happen, they fostered it with stacking oversight committee and agencies with pro-business people, some actually recruited from business into government service. It really was the proverbial fox guarded, or watching, the hen house, except they also had the keys to the bank.

And then when things went south, what did Bush, co-horts do? They told everyone in charge or with oversight responsbility everything was okl who in turn told us everything was ok. They told them to turn a blind eye to any problems they saw, even when the economist and other experts were raising questions and worse raising red flags. For the most part we can put the bulk of the blame squarely on Bush himself.

And then when things went over the cliff, what did they do? They got bailout money for the financial industry with no accountability, only to discover half of the $700 billion gone for things we don't know - because no one can find it, and most of the other half gone for the things prohibited in the bailout bill. Bush and company gave the money away, our money, and it's gone with very little to get back, and most of that at less than what we paid.

They gave financial corporations, who created the mess, the bailout to take the money and run, to cover their losses stiffing us with the longterm debt to repay. So, as much as you think President Obama is doing badly and things are going badly, think of the alternatives. What would McCain have done?

Do you think we would even have bailout plans, stimulus money, corporate oversight, and better oversight and responsbility by government agencies and committee? We wouldn't and things would be even worse. As much as the experts disagree about what's being done is right or wrong, they all agree the alternatives were worse and things would be worse under the Republicans of any flavor.

So, as much as you want to bitch and moan about things and your place in life right now, think if it were worse, like government didn't care and government wasn't helping. What's been done may not help right now, but it will, and without it, it would be a whole lot worse now and down the road. Standing at the bottom of a deep well is bad enough, but consider if it were filling up with water too.

So, relax and give Obama his due and give him time. Criticize as you want, but unless you can be constructive with good ideas, then don't act like politicians just making noise. We don't need noise right now, we have enough from both parties in Congress already. If you want to act, then support your representatives to act, or support change in 2010. That's your choice now. The rest is what happens.

Friday, July 10, 2009

JMO - Anti-abortionists

I read Amy Goodman column today about two standards of justice, and I can't find any argument against what she writes, and I'll even go one step farther in my own view. The anti-abortionists she writes about, those advocating violence against family planning centers and especially those killing employees and physicians at family planning centers, are terrorists. Pure and simple terrorists.

While the conservative and religious right calls Muslim terrorists Islamic extremists, the don't use the one description that also fits them, religious extremists. So why don't we call anti-abortionists Christian extremists? They advocate the same thing, the killing of innocent people and the suppression of the rights of others in the name of their faith and their values. It's the same thing, killing and discrimination.

Yet, in our country, Muslims are considered the enemy and Christians are our friend. So, it's not just discrimination and hipocrisy at it's worst, it's simply evil. No religion's God advocates the killing of innocent people. While we condemn Muslims who advocate or kill people for crimes against their faith, we reward and award those who kill in the name their Christian God. They kill to protect something they believe and say is key to their faith. And that is?

Life. Christian terrorists advocate the value of life, except it's not a human life they're talkinga about, but the life of a fetus, or even less, an embryo, like they're the same as a person. They'll advocate the suppression and oppression of women's rights to decide for themselves about their bodies, and even outlaw medical practices and proceedures available to help women. And they'll go farther, to advocate the killing of the life of the professionals helping women.

That's terrorism at its worst, pure and simple hate without understanding or compassion for the people and for women. Amy Goodman's column clearly shows the extremes we'll go to in distinguishing between their terrorism and our terrorism. But there's no difference, taking lives doesn't change the reality of death. You can't condemn one without the condemng the other. But they don't. They distinguish as their religion, as they interpret it, dictates.

Would Jesus advocate killing a physician who helps women? Would Jesus advocate killing everyone associated with care centers which provide help to women? Would Jesus advocate inciting violence and killing of innocent people helping women? Would Jesus advocate terrorism in all its expressions and behaviors?

If anything, the examples in Amy Goodman's column demonstrates the hipocrisy in the American legal system and any sense of justice. It's not blind and it's not free of religious bias. American, like the anti-abortion terrorists, have hijacked the system in the name of their faith and values, against those who disagree with them on women's rights and those who follow a different faith. And we're all allowing it.

No one is immune from the legal system, it's ours, and we're equally to blame for accepting the bias and discrimination in the name of faith and in the face of Christian terrorists. They're the enemy of justice and American values. And we're giving them their day in public and court while imprisoning innocent Muslims without access to family, legal counsel, and everything else we're all, especially them, entitled to under the law.

But because they're Muslim and considered a threat, which hasn't been proven, we'll deny them everything, and then give every rights to a man who openly killed a physician simply because he disagreed with the killer's values. It really is that simple, boiled to the basics of it. Muslims are presumed guilty by religion while a Christian hailed a hero. The Muslim hasn't done anything illegal and the Christian commited murder, openly and wantonly.

America and Americans need to look in the mirror and think about what we call justice. It's not religious or bias for or against any religion, it's in the Constitution. Yet we openly practice it. Maybe it's time to look deeper, into our mind to really see the darkness this prevades our soul. And then look at where fairness and equal rights under the law was lost and needs to be regained, for all Americans, not just the Christians and their terrorists.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

JMO - Wars

Photo USA Today
Interesting stuff in the news some days, pages apart, yet connected by events, meaning time and space then and now. In USA Today (7/9/09) there was a photo (above) of a military team with flags commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first two American soldiers to die in Vietnam. The first two names on the way of over 58,000 soldiers who died in a war we'll never really understand what or why.

Then in the editorial was a column about Robert McNamara, then Secretary of Defense, who many label as the architect of the Vietnam war, and who once promoted the war only to realize the reality of it as unwinnable, and then was chastized by President Johnson for opposing the buildup which lead to Johnson's failure to be re-elected. In 1995 McNamara wrote in his memoirs that he regretted the war and his decisions.

And here we are in wars in two faraway nations, this time the Middle East, one a war of anger and revenge for a terrorist act - not the first in the US, only the one with the highest number of casualties, and certainly not the worst in the world, just the most visible, and one in a war for oil. The former we're still there going on eight years and the latter trying to leave without disgracing ourselves.

No one can argue the war in Afghanistan is a wrong war. It's arguably it's a bad war, one we didn't learn from the history of the country and the last occupying force, the Soviet army, and one we won't win but find a truce with the enemies or simply borrow Snagglepuss' famous words, "Exit stage left" and leave as we came, like the Soviets did then. Or else we face a prolonged entrenchment like Korea. The key there is finding a government that works, regardless if it's a democratic one or not.

And history will show Iraq was just as dumb and stupid as Vietnam. But the question won't be about the war but will those, like Johnson and McNamara, apologize later in their life. This time I don't see it. Cheney isn't one to apologize, although he has admitted he lied to Congress and the American people about the facts for war. I don't see him having any great revelation in life to ask for mercy.

I don't see George Bush apologizing. He's, and this is only my opinion, too stupid to see and understand his failures and then apologize. All he's said is that mistakes were made. All the truth and reality in front of him won't change his mind. To recognize your own failures and mistakes requires sufficient intelligence to know what you see in the mirror. I don't see he has that.

As for the rest of the gang who plunged this country into the worst nightmare since Vietnam, they'll face their God who will reach out to them, put his hand on their shoulder and ask, "What the fuck were you thinking?" And then show them the door to hell, worn by the path of all other folks who lead their country into unnecessary wars. It's the most worn path in history, only less worn than the death of the many innocent people into heaven, the very people they sent to their graves for no reason except personal greed and power.

And only recently we learned Saddham Hussein lied to the world about WMD's because he wanted to scare Iran. We knew that. After all our government leaders met with him during the 1980's' after the 1979 revolution in Iran. We provided the weapons, technology and intelligence to Iraq. Hell, Donald Rumsfeldt even met with Hussein about a year before first Gulf war and sanctioned Hussein's invasion of Kuwait.

My point? Will we have to have a 50th anniversary commemoration of the first solders to die in Iraq to realize the stupidity of that and the intervening wars? Or do we as a country love war, it's out national voice? We don't know anything but war? It established the nation and held it together when threatened with disintegration. And now we love creating the factors for it and then love fighting it.

Not? Well consider we established the Shah of Iran and provided him with all the items necessary to rule the country ruthlessly. As we reaped what we sowed there, revolution. We did the same for Saddham Hussien and now we're reaping what we sowed, insurgency. We support dictators and then wonder why we're hated?

Like that takes a genius? Would you live under either the Shah or Saddham knowing anytime, anyplace, you can be arrested and disappear? And our history is replete with our support for military and political coups over democracy. As someone asked, name me one country we supported democracy of the people, by the people and for the people? Except our own of course.

We don't want to admit we were the insurgents once, and maybe even terrorists, and we hated the British, or at least more of us hated than loved them. And we continually repeat the history of the British elsewhere. And the political leaders, almost all of whom never experienced war, will gladly send our youth into war in the name of something they invent to sell us war. And then cherish the death of those soliders.

How stupid. Not the soldiers and the dead and injured. But the politicians. We've based our patriotism on false wars. No one argues the World Wars as purposeful and necessary. But the rest? Neither. And all we have leave are commemorations for the dead. What we want aren't leaders who propose and sell war, but leaders who argue for peace, real peace for us and the world, and argue for commemorations for those who died for peace.

Don't worry, I'm not holding my breath about that. I'm only hoping future presidents will not repeat our history of political stupidity about and over war, again. I don't want to see or read about more commemorations for soldiers lost in future wars invented by politicians. But then I know it's our history and we'll keep repeating it. That's our gift to the world, war.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

JMO - Freedom of Speech

We all know, or should know, it's taught in school, that we're guarranteed the freedom of speech in this country. At least as long as it doesn't violate the laws restricting it, such as to incite violence, to advocate the overthrow of the government, or threaten the President, and so on. We all have the common sense to know when words are dangerous. But these days with blogs, forums, newsgroups, etc., have we lost that over ownership?

Well, to me, yes and no. I make no bones about the fact that I have rules wiht this blog, and I've updated after some discussion about guns. I don't have a problem with the rules and restricting the tone and tune of the conversation. It's simple, if you want to argue and yell, get your own blog.

But what if someone opens a blogs, conducts research and writes a lot on something, including winning awards,invites guest columnists to add their voices, and then invites open and honest discussion to suddenly, and out of nowhere, decide to ban certain views because they personally find them contrary to their personal view? Is it being hypocritical or just the right of ownership? Editorial disagreement or censorship?

And my point or example? Like you can't readily find one almost everywhere anymore? But there's a difference about opinion with open and honest discussion with others and differing opinions, and about opinion with restrictive language to confine or restrict the discussion along the lines of their opinion. These people often follow the old adage, don't mistake opinion for fact.

And don't mistake your language as the standard, not allowing differing uses and meaning. You're not the OED, so never assume you own the definition or rights to words, especially ideas associated with the words. But then I'm not immune here, and have exercised it here. I know I did because I wasn't inviting discussion, just writing my opinion. I'm fully understanding of the range of views on some issues, I just didn't want opposing views here.

If I want to hear opposing views, I'll go to their blogs. An example is guns. I won't argue the right to ownership, I just think it's time this country grew up to have properly regulate and manage ownership and guns for the safety and security of everyone. It's not about individual rights but the rights of the all of us. It's not about just legal ownership, but any ownership. We don't need a country where fear drives everyone is allowed to carry a weapon.

My point is that this is my opinion. I'm opposed to unrestricted ownership and rights of guns. It's dumb and stupid in a modern society. We don't need the sheer number of crimes committed with guns. And despite what the guns-rights advocates argue, it's about all guns. You can't restrict your opinion where there are more violating the very thing you're claiming a given right. But then the NRA and others argue for this view.

That's their right and privilege in this country. So, it also allows me to express an opposing view. And there are other issues. That's who I am. I have some extreme views on issues, like wilderness (more with less or no people), environmental quality (protect our land, forests, air and water at any cost), death penalty (sorry, not against it), family planning (women's health and family planning, should be early, affordable and unrestricted), abortion ("Trust Women", it's their body and their choice), and so on.

Anyway, it's just my opinion, just one, as well all have and have the right to express, free of being restricted or denied the right and the voice. That's what's here, nothing more. Just mine, take it or leave, but it's also my right to limit what others want to say because it's what ownership is about. I'll hear other views, just not here.

And it's the right of others on and with their blogs and forums. But first establish the rules and don't violate them yourself in the censorhip of others. If you invite them, then allow them to express themselves or change the rules, but don't restrict others on a whim or personal dislike, especially without making it known beforehand so they know.

That's being open and honest, anything else isn't, just what you might criticize others for doing to you.

JMO - When Walmart talks

I wrote about when the AARP talks, you should watch your wallet and checkbook. They're after it. I was reading about that Walmart is now supporting mandated business-funded health insurance for employees. And I'll add the same warning, but with a caveat. When Walmart talks, they don't just want your money as a customer, they want the compettion's money too, as profit for themselves.

Really? Why would Walmart, which has opposed state-backed initiatives and laws mandating employer-funded health insurance, suddenly decided federally-mandated employer-fiunded health insurance is a "good" thing? For one they already meet any minimum standard that would be established, but not because they're pro-employee, quite the opposite, they only provide the barest minimu while employee pay the rest.

They discovered after years of fighting employer-funded health insurance, it's good business and good for the bottom line, their profit. When it comes to money and making money, Walmart has few equals, they're the least interested company in supporting employees and their employment rights and protections. If you read the details in the story about their change, you'll see they're supporting a version of their health insurance.

Like we expect anything different? What Walmart is looking for in the federal mandate is mandatory reduction in health and drug costs, to lower their costs, and maybe tax incentives to companies who do provide health insurance. And by the simple law of economy of scale, they're the biggest hammer in the toolbox to insurance companies to lower costs. They've done that to many small and medium sized business, getting prices below profitability and driving them into bankruptcy or forcing them to move production to China.

You see Walmart doesn't support Americans and American workers. Almost all the products they sell, outside of food, are made in China or other countries where labor is cheap and labor and enviromental laws are minimu at best and non-existent at worst. They're also the company with one of, if not with the, lowest wages and benefits for workers. They're simply profit-motivated, and everyone else, including America and Americans, be damned.

So, when you read Walmart supports some new federal legislation for anything, and especially workers, check your wallet and checkbook. It's your money they want for themselves, and not to share, not even back to the local, state or national economy and environment.