Posts Tagged Republicans

Corporations No Longer Need Republicans To Do Their Bidding

The greedy, corporate, tax-evading pricks over at Apple Inc.said that they will not offer computers and other technological support to the Republican National Convention this coming July because of Trump’s comments about women, immigrants and minorities. The decision by one of the United States’ largest and most popular companies is the biggest corporate defection from the Republican convention, where the party will formally nominate Donald Trump.

News outlets and Clinton supporters are beside themselves with joy, seeing this as a significant win for progressive groups, which are pressuring major companies to boycott the convention over Trump.

And I am beside myself with outrage at how fucking naive and stupid people actually are.

The truth of the matter is that Apple will not endorse the RNC, not because of Trump’s stance on women and immigrants, whom they could not give a flying fuck about given their track record of running slave labor overseas and evading taxes here, but becasue Apple and all these corporations don’t need the Republicans anymore to do their bidding!!!

Hillary will be taking care of that from now on, just like she always has been.

And you know why? Because Hillary Fucking Clinton is a corporate shill and essentially a moderate Republican. She would have been a rising star in Ronald Reagan’s administration.

I really cannot believe how utterly deluded and naive people are. I cannot believe that they are buying this bullshit about corporations like Apple and all having finally turned a new leaf.

They have not.

And they are not doing this out of the goodness of their hearts, or because they care about immigrants, women, blacks or anyone. They are doing it becasue a Clinton presidency is not going to hurt their bottom line, and they know it.  They do not care what the party they support is called as long as it helps them.

I mean, even the Koch Brothers have endorsed Clinton. the KOCH BROTHERS, who are the poster child of sinister corporate greed.

People need to realize that all those Republicans distancing  themselves from Trump are not doing so becasue they necessarily disagree with Trump’s stances on women, immigrants, the poor, blacks and what have you. They do so because the crass way Trump says things makes them look back. It is much harder to get even stupid people on your side and to vote against their own self interest when you are blatantly homophobic, misogynistic and racist and thus bigoted.

Trump is not saying anything out loud that the Republicans have not been dog-whistling about to their constituents and “shareholders” and creating policies for, for decades now using polite language and euphemisms. They just don’t like him becasue Trump’s crassness is so off-putting to people.

And the goes for Apple.

It would look really bad for Apple Inc to endorse Trump. No one would buy the stupid, overpriced shit anymore and people would start boycotting them too.

I am really dismayed at the state of affairs lately. It is like everyone has fallen into this collective stupor that does not allow them to see things for what they are. It is like as a nation we are digging ourselves ever deeper into a mess of our own creation.

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Things To Regulate

Nothing gets a Conservative’s juices flowing harder than government regulation and a social safety net. The anti-Christ himself could not have been a worse nemesis than regulation. Not being able to subjugate, abuse, pollute, steal or else abuse people and the environment at will cuts into profits, so naturally greedy, church-going, amoral Conservatives cannot have that.

But a woman’s uterus? Yes, that needs to be regulated. Regulate it long, regulate it hard, regulate it deep. In fact, for Conservatives, the words “regulate” and “women” go together like a wink and a smile. Or maybe like an ultrasound and a vagina?

Do you have binders full of women that need regulating? Then you will be hard pressed to not find a Conservative who is more than willing to step in and regulate them for you. Conservatives will not vote for such things as, oh I don’t know,  free daycare offered by the government so that mothers can work and pull themselves up by their bootstraps, but they will vote for the government forcing women to have as many children as possible.

They will not vote for stricter regulation of air and water pollutants but they will make sure that a lot of children are born to parents who live in areas with some of the nation;’s worst air and water pollution.

See how being pro-life works?

Yeah, duplicity is a highly traded Conservative value with institutions couched in colorful myths and ardent sentiment to conceal bigotry, intolerance, greed and misogyny.

things t oregulate

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West Virginia Is For Toxic Waste Lovers

Are you against regulation? Do you hate the EPA? Do you think in case of a national disaster, such as chemical spills or hurricane Katrina, the first entities arriving at the scene are Mitt Romney, Bain Capital, General Electric and other Fortune 500 companies? Do you think the government and its regulatory agencies holding corporations that handle your food, air and water, accountable was some kind of a conspiracy by a socialist Kenyan to take away your god-given freedoms and a ploy to destroy your American way of life?

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That’s ok, because you have a lot in common with Freedom Industries and the citizens of West Virginia – a chronically Red state whose residents have been voting against their own self interest so much, they deserve the Darwin Awards if you ask me.

Last month, a storage tank leaked 10,000 gallons of a chemical used to wash coal into the Elk River, about a mile upstream from the intake for West Virginia American Water, the largest water utility in the state, leaving over 300,000 residents without access to safe drinking  water.  As a result of the spill, emergency rooms treated hundreds of patients for symptoms related to chemical exposure and numerous people were admitted with acute symptoms and who knows how many people have been exposed to levels that will show effects over time.

In a second spill later in February, more than 100,000 gallons of waste from a coal processing facility leaked into a tributary of West Virginia’s Kanawha River, blackening six miles of Fields Creek.

West Virginia is the prime example of what happens when you put corporations, who are paying off politicians, in charge while keeping regulators out and neuter the few remaining ones to a degree that they may as well not be there.

freedom 2Lack of regulation in a state where coal and chemical companies form the heart of the economy ultimately allowed for a chemical storage facility to sit on the river and close to a water treatment plant.

As Angela Rosser, the executive director of West Virginia Rivers Coalition points out, the site of the spill has not been subject to a state or federal inspection since 1991. That is because West Virginia law does not require inspections for chemical storage facilities — only for production facilities because as we all know, spills can only happen during the production phase of a chemical, and not during its storage.

Critics say the problems are widespread in West Virginia where coal and chemical industries, such as Freedom Industries which is responsible for the first spill in January,  are powerful forces in the state’s politics and which have long pushed back against tight federal health, safety and environmental controls.

This is not the first chemical accident to hit West Virginia’s Kanawha Valley.

After an explosion at a West Virginia chemical plant owned by Bayer CropScience killed two employees in 2008, a 2010 congressional investigation found that managers refused for several hours to tell emergency responders the nature of the blast or the toxic chemical it released. It also found that they later misused a law intended to keep information from terrorists to try to stop federal investigators from learning what had happened. The plant manufactured the same chemical that was being processed at the time of a gas release in 1984 that killed 10,000 in Bhopal, India.

In 2009, an investigation by The New York Times found that hundreds of workplaces in West Virginia had violated pollution laws without paying fines. In interviews at the time, current and former West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection employees said their enforcement efforts had been undermined by bureaucratic disorganization; a departmental preference to let polluters escape punishment if they promised to try harder; and a revolving door of regulators who left for higher-paying jobs at the companies they once policed.

West Virginia has a pattern of resisting federal oversight and what they consider EPA. interference, and that really puts workers and the population at risk,” said Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council and a lecturer in environmental health at George Washington University.

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The logo of freedom.

Naturally, no charges have been filed against the company that, ironically enough, goes by the name of Freedom Industries.

Oh yes, the irony here is biting.

Freedom Industries reminds one of Freedom Fries, the Statue of Liberty, apple pie and red-white-and-blue. I envision sunny picnics being held for employees on the AstroTurf overlaying the semi-leaking chemical landfill next to the toxic chemical plant, to rally them up against them evil, socialist Liberals who want the EPA to interfere with their time honored right to be exploited and poisoned and to take away their America and guns as they know it.

I bet it is named Freedom Industries because the owner of the plant, in some jingoism induced nostalgic delusion, wanted to show the world what we can achieve with the freedom of free enterprise bestowed upon us by Jaaysus, god and the Founding Fathers.

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This is what freedom looks like.

Looking back, in what appears to be a strange twist of fate, what they really meant with Freedom Industries, of course, – which is incidentally what all Republicans mean when they talk about freedom and America the wonderful blah blah blah –  is the freedom to be exploited and poisoned without any avenues of recourse and accountability, because accountability in the form of regulations is for socialists, Liberals, gays, the French and other similar suckers. We here don’t need them. We have our guns, our Bible and the god-given right to be exploited and poisoned by the hard working job creators and American Dream generators of big industry.

Wake up Call

Thing is, the residents of West Virginia are just now getting up to a rude awakening and realizing that they do need these pesky regulations they have been religiously voting against  for the past half a century. Now that the toxic shit has hit the fan, so to speak, many resident are just now seeing this as a “wakeup call” on the need for better regulations, according to new polling data released Monday.

The poll, conducted by Hart Research Associates and commissioned by the Sierra Club, found that 73 percent of residents polled agreed that the state “has paid too little attention to addressing threats to air and water,” and felt that the spill was a signal that “things must change.” Seventy percent of the people polled also said they thought other incidents like this would occur if efforts are not made to prevent them.

No shit! Imagine that, regulations actually being good for people. A truly radical idea in this country.

Yet, I must admit, have very little sympathy for the people of West Virginia who made their toxic waste and now will have the pleasure to bathe in it. I suggest trying to pray away the chemicals, dear residents. I hear West Virginia is a highly religious state so I am sure god keeps an eye out for you and can, with his magic wand of omnipotence, make it all go away.

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The Cruelty of Republican Policies

While at the national level Republicans have thus far been unable to repeal or defund the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – also known as Obamacare – despite some of the sleaziest, most unethical attempts –  Republicans at the state level have succeeded in sabotaging the policy by opting out of the “exchanges”, thus preventing people in their own states from obtaining much needed health coverage under the new law.

Data compiled by Theda Skocpol of Harvard University for the Scholars Strategy Network, a progressive group of academics, illustrates how states’ decisions to not create their own health care exchanges or expand Medicaid under the ACA have suppressed enrollment, effectively leaving people in dire need of access to affordable health care without such access.

According to Skocpol’s research, the 14 states that are expanding Medicaid and running their own exchanges have seen enrollment in Medicaid and exchanges at around 40 percent of projections. In contrast, in the 23 states that refused to expand Medicaid or cooperate when it comes to an exchange, enrollment percentages are in the single-digits as the graph illustrates.

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Many Republican governors decided not to expand Medicaid under the law, despite the fact that the federal government was going to pick up all of the cost for newly eligible enrollees in the first three years and no less than 90 percent after that.

Texas, which has the highest percentage of uninsured in the country and whose governor, Rick Perry opted not to expand Medicaid calling Obamacare a “criminal act,” saw only about 14,000 people sign up using the exchange through the end of November, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

In contrast, California, which has a higher number of uninsured residents than Texas but a lower proportion, saw 107,087 people sign up through the state’s exchange with 181,817 qualifying for the state’s Medicaid program through the end of November, according to federal data reported by the Los Angeles Times.

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The irony, of course, is that those red states are red states because the majority of their residents endorsed and voted for Republican leaders and thus against their own self interest.

The numbers regarding ACA enrollment not only demonstrate the extent of the callousness of Republican policies, but  – more importantly –  they illustrate what happens when people pander to Conservative politicians. Chances are that the very people who could have most benefited from the ACA also constitute the basis of the votes that ultimately catapulted Republicans into leadership positions in those states.

That said, I must admit that I do have a hard time sympathizing with those folks that are now left with nothing, because, after all, they voted for people like Perry. This is what they wanted and this is what they got.

Remember that these are the same people who, in early 2009, went to town hall meetings for health care reform with guns and rifles holding up posters calling the President “Hitler” and “Stalin”, while dismissing his attempts at health care reform as socialism.

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While it is true that not every person residing in a red state is unequivocally a supporter of the neo-con agenda and that there are certainly Democrats and progressives who live there and who are quite contemptuous of Republican policies, the fact remains that as far as legislation and leadership is concerned, the leaders in those states are neo-cons carrying out the agenda of the 1% because the majority of the residents in their states elected them into office, entrusting them to make decisions for them. And so they have; and so here we are.

I guess I could say that I hope that this will be a lesson for people who keep voting against their own self interest and that hopefully in the future we will see less of that, but I realize that this would be an entirely too optimistic stance.

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Obama, Romney, the One Percent. What’s the Difference Anyway?

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Do you think if I sent Obama an invitation to come over to my house for dinner he would? Like he did with Sarah Jessica Parker, George Clooney, Steven Spielberg and the countless other 1%ers?

Amidst all the discussions about what a terrible person Mitt Romney is (which he is) who is out of touch with how most human beings on this planet live their lives and the challenges they face and amidst all the talks about how Obama is not such a person  – since he clearly is the “man of the people” – a self made man and community organizer who did not grow up with a silver spoon in his mouth – I noted that while that may have been true about Obama a long time ago, that person no longer is.

The tragedy is that Obama and co are claiming to fight the good fight: “For hard working Americans” while Mitt Romney is seen as that greedy asshole who could not care less about such hard working people. Yet, in essence, Obama is not all that different from Mitt Romney when it comes to the  privileges they enjoy.

Michelle Obama in Vogue trying to inspire Americans since clearly this is exactly how most Americans look like at home

Michelle Obama in Vogue trying to inspire Americans since clearly this is exactly how most Americans look like at home

Having a spread in Vogue magazine depicting a lavish 1% er setting and stating how the Obamas inspire America – shortly after the sequester, no less, where millions of people – most of whom are poor and vulnerable – have seen the kind of cuts that make the difference between employed or not/roof over your head or not/food on your table or not/able to afford medication or not etc – also doesn’t help and make you a man of the people.

When Clooney threw a fundraising soiree for Obama last year, it cost $40,000 a plate to attend. In other words, these Hollywood high rollers at Clooney’s house were paying more for two hours with the president than they pay their nannies, housekeepers and gardeners in a year.  Just like Romney. And they call themselves the good guys. The ones working for you and I instead of the lifestyle of the rich and famous.

Let us backtrack.

Scott Prouty, the man who shot the infamous 47% video of Mitt Romney where he is seen talking, in horrid yet very detached detail, about the slave labor conditions in Chinese factories and trashing everyone in this country who isn’t a member of the social register, sat down for an interview with MSNBC’s Ed Schultz a couple of weeks ago to not only reveal his identity but to mainly talk about the video and what inspired his decision to release the footage.

I highly recommend watching the video (a transcript to follow later) as it – more than anything else – is a shining example of how a man, a seemingly ordinary citizen who remained invisible to Romney even as he was serving him his $50,000 plate of food,  made the courageous decision to record and release a video of a candidate running on the platform of patriotism and love for all of America, when in reality the only people he was going to represent were the kind of people he was having that $50,000 a plate dinner with.

Prouty explained that one should not pay $50,000 to hear what a candidate has to say – as if that kind of fundraising was confined to Romney and his kind only. The evidence above with respect to Obama and his late night soirees with Hollywood -listers shows that paying tens of thousands of dollars to hear a candidate speak is not something solely confined to Romney.

Income Gain Disparity 1966 to 2011

Syracuse University professor and Pulitzer Prize winner David Cay Johnston analyzed the disparity between the gains in incomes of the average taxpayers and those in the top 10 percent and the results are shocking but not surprising.

Incomes for the bottom 90 percent of Americans only grew by $59 on average between 1966 and 2011 (adjusted for inflation), according to Johnston’s analysis. During the same period, the average income for the top 10 percent of Americans rose by $116,071, Johnston found.

Income Growth, 1966 to 2011

Income Growth, 1966 to 2011

To put that into perspective: if you say the $59 boost is equivalent to one inch, then the incomes of the top 10 percent of Americans rose by 168 feet, Johnston explained to Alternet last week.

Incomes for the bottom fifth of Americans, for instance, grew about 20 percent between 1979 and 2007, according to a 2011 study from the Congressional Budget Office. During the same period, members of the top 1 percent saw their incomes grow by 275 percent.

Another way to illustrate the huge disparity: the six heirs to the Walmart fortune had a net worth equivalent to the bottom 41.5 percent of Americans combined in 2010, according to an analysis from Josh Bivens at the Economic Policy Institute.

While income inequality may be great for those reaping the big bucks at the top, it’s likely hurting Americans overall. Greater income equality is correlated with stronger economic growth, according to a 2011 IMF report and in fact one of the hallmarks of poor, developing nations is the income gap: the poorer and more economically unstable a nation is, the bigger the income gap – with a lot of poor people (one of the hallmarks of poor nations) and a few very wealthy people and no one in between.

The American Dream hard at work

We, sadly, live in a culture of get-rich-or-die-trying. Where average, middle class (I am not even talking about the poor) is considered a one way ticket to loser-town; a failure of some sort. As John Steinbeck once said “socialism never took root in America, because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”

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Everybody is being manipulated in one way or another to want be a millionaire. People watch the movies and TV shows, ads and magazine spreads depicting the high life and they want be part of it too. After all, why be a community organizer when you can take group pictures clenching money between your teeth.

Obama Just Another 1%er

Even our President is part of the one percent now. Make no mistake about it.

Hanging out at lavish dinner parties and soirees in the homes of celebs and fellow 1%ers, such as Sarah Jessica Parker, George Clooney and Will Smith.  Going to fundraisers at $40,000 a plate with other Hollywood hot shots.

In fact, last year Clooney himself held such a lavish soiree for Obama, inviting 150 of Hollywood’s richest for $40,000 a head to raise a meager $15 million dollars (compared to SuperPac monies, $15 million is drop in the bucket). This party was held in Los Angeles, a city plagued by chronic lack of funding where school libraries are being shut down, teachers laid off firehouses shut down. And VIPs were paying $40,000 for a Wolfgang Puck hors d’oeuvre and a silly photo with a president who only now has come to think it might be OK for gay people to have the same rights as straight people.

Democracy hard at work. As Steve Lopez wrote in the L.A. Times “Yeah, sure, Obama’s got to raise all he can to fend off Mitt Romney and hold on to his seat. But is that a race to the top or a race to the bottom? If money buys victory and access, what about the masses who can’t afford a $40 fundraiser, let alone a $40,000 party? When do they get the president’s ear?”

Do you think if I sent Obama an invitation to come over to my house for dinner he would? Like he did with SJP and George Clooney? The tragedy is that Obama and Co are claiming to fight the good fight: “For hard working Americans” while Mitt Romney is seen is that greedy asshole who could not care less about such hard working people. Yet these high rollers at Clooney’s house were paying more for two hours with the president than they pay their nannies, housekeepers and gardeners in a year. Just like Romney.

Scott Prouty. 47% videographer

Scott Prouty. 47% videographer

As Scott Prouty said in his interview with Ed Schulz about the Romney speech and fundraiser and thus his motive for taking the video “You shouldn’t have to be able to afford $50,000 to hear what the candidate actually thinks“, as if that was something solely confined to Mitt Romney and rich, greedy Republicans while Democrats and the wealthy liberals who support them would clearly not ever do such a thing.

The above evidence begs to differ.

$40,000 a Plate Fundraiser for Obama = $50,000 a Plate Fundraiser for Romney

I am sure people like Clooney and co are acting in good faith, hoping to do something so the worst man in the world in the form of Mitt Romney does not get to run this country.  But if they’re so desperate to celebrate their wonderful ways and important causes, why not a Hollywood fundraising party to save the libraries, schools, rec centers or parks? Why not start paying the people who clean your house and tend to the garden and take care of your privileged kids decent salary and health coverage?

I tell you why: because George Clooney, much like Obama, much like Steven Spielberg, much like Nancy Pelosi, much like Mitt Romney are part of the 1% and throwing soirees for the President is much more about the soirees and meeting the president than about giving a damn about the 99% and hard working Americans you claim to fight for.

Whether Obama earned it or not, he is up there now, living the good life. Sequester or not, he won’t have to worry about whether he can send his kids to college, if he will one day be without health care or lose his house and retirement and be destitute and all the other myriad of things 99% of the people in this country have to worry about. In fact, none of the policies coming from D.C. and our legislators will ever actually affect them personally. And that is a huge deal, namely that those making the laws are not affected by them. There is a reason half of Congress are millionaires.

And the thing with being part of the 1% ultimately is that more often than not it gives you amnesia. You forget. Obama had no problem letting the payroll tax-break expire, thus making almost everyone making $ 113,000 or less pay more each month, but he did increase the 3% tax increase income threshold from $250,000 to $400,000 because god knows people making 250k a year need consideration and a break. How so 99% of him.

No Soirees for the 99%

When was the last time any representative of the middle class had a candidate throw dinners and soirees for them? And not just a candidate but the President.

When was the last time the White House threw a dinner or a black and white ball for employees of NGOs, charities, volunteers and other public service jobs?

When was the last time the White House threw a dinner in honor of hard working folks, inviting them over for a night filled with Jimmy Kimmels and hanging out with the President and celebs? Sure, you can win a dinner with the President and first lady at Sarah Jessica Parker’s 10 million Borwnstone in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, if you donate money and are automatically entered into a pool, much like a lottery, with thousands of others. But when was the last time, or ever, anyone of these people have actually done something in that regard for us hard working middle or working class – heck even unemployed and poor – folks who aren’t members of the social register? Even the White House Correspondents’ Dinners that are supposed to be about journalists, have become just another 1%er event for celebrities transplanted from Hollywood to DC – but only A-listers mind you since most regular actors and SAG members are not part of the 1%  – which seems to be the only requirement to attend the Dinner.

So when I heard Prouty say that one should not have to be able to pay $50,000 a plate to hear what a candidate has to say it made me wonder if Obama is any better. Of course, Obama hanging out at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner and mingling with other rich people is not the same thing as Romney’s 47% speech where he is exposed as an insincere hypocrite and the fact that he thought he could and should talk like this behind closed curtains.

But there is a broader canvas here to consider because Romney or Obama – the common theme here is that those with big bucks are being invited to the discussion table and getting parties thrown for them while most people – i.e. those who make up the majority of the voter base and also carry the economic burden of the nation – since rich people clearly aren’t – never see any of that.

The fact that those with money and the power that comes with it run the world is nothing new. However, if you are a country (or claim to be a country) that was founded on principles diametrically opposed to such a paradigm, then that is a problem. Yes, we could be just like any other third-country oppressive shithole with an income gap the size of Mount Everest, but this is not what this country is about or should be about. Back in the day, only landowners were allowed to vote and thus have their voice heard. How is that different from today where the wealthy asset holders get invited to the table and private meetings with the President and this are made part of the debate, while you and I are lucky if the White House ever returns any of our letters on a pre-written template designed for concerned citizens?

How Can You Inspire People, Barry

As to the Obamas: How can you inspire people? You inspire people by being one of them. Not by living the kind of lifestyle you just criticized your opponents for five minutes ago and which almost none of the people you are addressing can ever afford.

Yes they worked hard but what use is all that hard work and social upward mobility and thus power that comes with wealth if you are just going to behave like any other wealthy, 1%er? You have to be the change you want to see and when you say you stand for the causes of the 99% while living the life of a 1%er, that makes you not only a hypocrite but also a large part of the problem.

I understand that he is the POTUS ans as such he has a standard of living. But I am not talking about his salary. That isn’t, after all, the source of his wealth. It’s his privilege that detaches him and just makes him part of the problem.

The gross inequalities described above with respect to stagnant income growth for most Americans go far deeper than people like Boehner, Romney or the robber barons of Wall Street. Half of Congress, i.e. our lawmakers, are millionaires and in fact D.C. is the one city where one is more likely to run into a millionaire than anywhere else.

And these are law makers and legislators. The people that run this country but who are clearly beholden to the interests of the 1% – mainly because they themselves are one of them – while trying to appeal to the 99% on the surface to get their votes. And who knows, with all the voter suppression efforts by Republicans soon they may be able to even skip that and just directly work for the 1%.

The Futility of Politely Asking the 1% To Come to the Aide of the 99% 

It is quite ironic and futile that we are looking to them – the 1% – to please change things in favor of the 99%. What incentive do any of these people have to change the status quo in our favor? Congress just got a pay raise – signed by our man of the people, Obama. It was no coincident that there was no student loan bailouts. Students don’t have lobbyists stationed in DC 24/7 – unlike Wall Street and thus the members of the one percent.

Yes President Obama, I appreciate your tough upbringing and that you can somehow vaguely apparently remember what it is like to “have a rough time”  as you once told a crowd of supporters.  The only difference between you and everyone else, however, is that you are a millionaire who wines and dines with celebrities and goes to $40,000 a plate soirees – money than can be used right here and then to help out someone rather than falling into this bottomless pit of your campaign fund that just sucks up money and produces little results for the people you claim to stand for; your children don’t have to worry about racking up student loan debt at high interest rates to get an education, because you have the money to pay for it.

In fact, you are part of the 1% and as such you are not only part of the problem, you are just another out-of-touch wealthy rich puke condescending and making casual life and death decisions (and yes, these are life and death decisions you are making, believe it or not) because they won’t affect your family. Your multi million dollar retirement is secure, your pension is fat, much like you assets.

As far as I am concerned you, Mr. President, are about only “better” than Romney in so far as Romney is truly nothing but a wolf in sheep’s clothing with a horrifying track record and agenda for America. But don’t come here insulting mine and the intelligence of your supporters struggling every day at the hands of your bipartisan, failed policies  – not the least of which is the gamble you took with the Sequester, purposely making it draconian, hoping that it would deter Republicans even though your gazillion years of experience working with them and common sense, if nothing at all, should have told you that these are not the kind of people who mind draconian cuts – by claiming that you are on our side and are fighting on our behalf. if you actually do come to my house for dinner one day, maybe I believe you. Until then, you are just another rich asshole fighting to make sure you and your kind remain where you at: at the top of the food chain. 

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The NRA Blames Everyone But Guns: Sandy Hook Press Conference

National Rifle Association Holds News Conference In Wake Of Newtown School Shooting

The NRA’s response to the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary – and any other mass shooting in the country for that matter – has been one of massive scapegoating: women, teachers, video games, the entertainment industry, hurricanes, terrorists, the doorman at the school, and the mentally ill. Everyone and everything but guns, gun owners and gun lobbyists who have spent years easing gun regulationsmor across the country making it possible to obtain guns easier than a car — were responsible.

More specifically, The National Rifle Association, which is the nation’s largest gun advocates lobby, attributed the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, to “school free zones,” arguing that “genuine monsters” (other than the proponents of gun ownership galore that is) are attracted to schools because its administrators and teachers are not armed.

The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” NRA low life and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said.  He urged Congress to “act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation.” La Pierre shoveled out blame far and wide, going after reporters for glorifying killers like Adam Lanza, violent movies, video games, and music videos. He tore into gun safety advocates for exploiting the tragedy for “political gain,” targeted President Obama for underfunding police initiatives in schools, and said that the media demonized “local gun owners” and spread “misinformation and dishonest thinking that only delay meaningful action and all but guarantee that the next violence is a new cycle away.” “Add another hurricane, terrorist attack, or some other natural of man-made disaster, and you’ve got a recipe for a national nightmare of violence and victimization,” he said.

Now it is the fault of law abiding citizens who don’t sleep with assault rifles under their pillows that this happened?  Clearly, according  to the NRA,  they asked for it since not owning a gun is an invitation to being gunned down and shot in places you ought to feel safe. This is the same garbage rhetoric used in rape culture where the victims become the  accused and are told that having behaved or dressed in certain ways provoked and justified,  or at the least made it “understandable”,  why they were assaulted and raped. That is a very disconcerting position to take as it is incredibly manipulative, twisting the victim/perpetrator position around, thus indirectly assign blame to victims for the atrocities committed against them rather than trying to find ways to minimize such atrocities and violence and thus really change anything about the status quo.

Scapegoat and Round up the Mentally Ill While We’re At It 

La Pierre also called for the nation to create an “active national database of the mentally ill”, a brilliant idea that not only will not violate any privacy laws (HIPAA), it will also most definitely not lead to further stigmatization and marginalization of  people with psychological disabilities  – whom he apparently lumps in together with violent criminals – and discourage care-seeking, diagnosis, and treatment.

I don’t even know where to begin. Twenty families are burying their children in this holiday season, children who will never experience life and all its wonders, not to mention the psychological trauma the parents and families of those children will experience for the rest of their lives because of the actions of a criminal with easy access to weapons of mass murder, and all the NRA can come up with is basically blaming the victims and their parents for the outcome? Citing hurricanes and  the media and Hollywood and the lack of tools of murder?

La Pierre and his supporters are nothing but disgusting, contemptible, frightened, small-minded fear mongers who are placing the alleged rights of a bunch of people to own tools of murder and mass murder above the life and safety of people.

There is just something indescribably vile about a proponent of unregulated access to guns. This was an opportunity for the NRA to grow, to advocate responsbile gun ownership and regulations like, for example, creating a national database of gun owners and requiring gun registration and other institutional controls similar to car ownership and operation. Instead, all they could come up with was shameless scapegoating, deflecting of responsibility and advocating the discrimination of vulnerable populations, such as the mentally ill, who are, frankly, more likely to be victimized by violence than to perpetrate it.

Mental Illness Does NOT Equal Violent Behavior

The final straw, of course, was calling for a national database of the mentally ill. Not a national database of gun owners, but of the mentally ill.

Ok Heinrich Himmler.

What will be next? Round them all up into so called sanctuary districts, for their own protection of course, or make them wear some kind of a plaque on their garments so they can be easily identified?

What is outrageous is that not only mental illness is being equated with violent, criminal behavior but that all people with mental illnesses – which covers a broad spectrum of disabilities, most of which are not violent – are being lumped together as this one entity society must be aware and scared of.  The reality is that there are millions of people suffering from mental illness who would never engage in such a vile, inhumane act of mass murdering children.

Someone who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, after, hmmm.., let’s say having been a victim of violence with guns, or a school shooting, is technically considered as suffering from a mental illness. Someone suffering from depression and anxiety taking medication is considered an individual suffering from a mental disability; a person suffering from severe anxiety is considered mentally ill. To lump these people together with violent criminals – who may or may not be mentally ill, – becasue remember, not all people with mental illness are dangerous, and not all killers are mentally ill, meeting standards of psychiatric diagnosis – is as low as it can get and the height of irresponsibility and inhumanity.

NRA poll

La Pierre played quite expertedly into the irrational fears and scapegoating mentality of the minuscule minded gun wielding,  Jesus and cross hugging citizens of this nation by making references to those evil “killers, robbers, rapists, gang members” who have  “spread like cancer in every community across our nation” and from whom we need to protect ourselves by owning an arsenal of assault weapons and other tools for mass murder.  

The truth, of course, is that the only cancer having spread through society is the policies the likes of La Pierre and his organization of unregulated gun ownership advocates and the mindless tools that follow them advocate, believing that the answer to the problems of crime – or any problem for that matter in society – is arming every man, woman and child with all sorts of weaponry and sending them off into the world, as if guns – instruments aimed to kill – make us safer.

Imagine the principal of Sandy Hook had been armed with an assault rifle and after the first shot was fired and people were running around in panic  she had jetted out of her office with an AR 15 shooting into a crowd of children running in panic. According to the NRA, that would have been the solution, which, of course, is another comforting lie.

Living in a society with ordinary citizens armed to the teeth like guerrilla fighters, taking justice into their own hands, like George Zimmerman, and shooting into a crowd with moving targets, does not make us safer. This Dirty Harry and John Wayne mentality is only good for when the zombie apocalypse or another end-of-world scenario – mostly to be found in science fiction – is upon us. It is not the route rational people in a civilized society held together by the rule of law and the Constitution they allegedly trust in,  ought to embark on. We do not want to send our kids to school with the likes of George Zimmerman prowling the halls.

NRA’s Response to the Carnage at Sandy Hook At a Glance: 

1) Create a police state – TSA style security at every corner. A George Zimmerman in every neighborhood. I mean, we are all totally grateful that he protected us from the evils of a 17 year old child holding candy and we clearly need more of that.

2) Arm every man, woman and child with assault rifles like they were Snake Plissken. The more guns and tools of mass murder lie around, the safer we all will be since human beings are totally not prone to irrationality and rage over something like someone cutting them off on the freeway or giving them the wrong look at the grocery store etc.

3) Scapegoat everyone and everything for this: Women, pacifists, the mentally ill, video games and movies, entertainment industry, the doorman at the school…everyone but gun owners and the gun – a tool solely designed to take lives, nothing else. Apparently the gun is a very misunderstood tool for murder.

Great America. Moving towards a plutocratic police state one gun wielding,  Jesus chest-thumping, fear mongering, bigoted patriot at a time.

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Stupid Things People Do: Eric and Ruth Brown Accept Daughter’s Birth Defect as God’s Will

Self determination and autonomy have rarely, if ever, been touched upon really in terms of actual policy formulation aimed at granting and protecting and enforcing those rights until the second half of the twentieth century when notions of human rights were formulated after World War II.

Even the Founding Fathers of this nation did not believe in human autonomy for all, which is why women got to vote some 150 years after the foundation of this nation and thus after the Declaration of Independence. When that document reads “all men are created equal“,  it really does mean all males. The Founding Fathers, in all their wisdom notwithstanding, did not recognize that women were part of mankind.

One of our – as human kind – most fundamental rights – which is a human right and something inalienable, irrespective of culture and country of origin – is the freedom to be autonomous and make decisions based on that autonomy. This is a very fundamental and important right that often does not get the important attention it deserves. Way too many people are comfortable with having that autonomy diminished or taken away from them.

Most, if not all, conflicts throughout human history leading up to today, in not only this very country but all around the world really, have been about controlling others by taking away their autonomy to choose for themselves how to live their lives, what to believe in and subsequently what choices to make.

Eric and Ruth Brown were not those people. They had a choice and the freedom to exercise that autonomy to make a choice.

Deformity and Suffering as the Creator’s Will

The couple from Nashville, Tennessee, believe that the genetic disorder that created a cleft in their daughter Pearl Joy’s upper lip and caused her brain’s development to stall in the first weeks in the womb, to be god’s will.

Things didn’t go wrong,” an apparently delusional Eric Brown said. “God has designed Pearl the way he wanted, for his glory and our good”.

This delusion has sustained the Browns ever since ultrasound revealed that the couple’s third child has alobar holoprosencephaly, a rare genetic condition that’s almost always fatal. The Browns never considered abortion. They believe that Pearl is “fearfully and wonderfully made,” as Psalm 139 puts it, and god alone should decide when she lives and when she dies.

Pearl’s  brain never divided into two hemispheres during her development in the womb, which means she is basically a crawling vegetable. “We don’t care about those things. She is here, and her brain is telling her how to live“, says Eric Brown.

The Browns are holding on to dear life, literally, as they delude themselves into believing that as long as their girl is basically still warm she should live and that her life is wonderful and a blessing, even though she has seizures on a daily basis, has a weakened immune system and has been back to the hospital at least five times in the past three months. A simple cold could kill her but “that day hasn’t come yet“, her mother says.  The Browns not only insist she is god’s gift, they also think Pearl is actually fighting.

Fighting for what is unclear. Is she fighting for a miracle? Is she  fighting for growing up being normal after all with this disease poofing out of existence much the same way this Earth poofed into existence according to the Bible?

Even skeptical neighbors, friends and acquaintance have bought into the delusion, applauding the Brown’s decision.

Kristina Guisler, a friend from the MOMS Club of East Nashville, met the Browns in 2009. When she first heard about Pearl’s condition, she said she wasn’t sure the Browns had made the right decision by continuing with the pregnancy. She wondered what kind of life Pearl would have.

But seeing the love that the Browns have for Pearl has changed her mind and strengthened her own faith.

It’s reaffirmed my faith in humanity and in the power of prayer,” she said.

The Browns aren’t the only ones suffering from serious delusions,  Nancy and David Guthrie of Nashville faced the ordeal twice: in 1998 and 2002 when their son and daughter both died in infancy from a fatal genetic condition called Zellweger syndrome. In Gabriel’s case, the Guthries learned he had Zellweger while he was still in the womb.

One of the things we learned is that great sorrow and great joy can coexist,” she said. “Because life in the image of God is so precious, there is great joy in having this one you love with you, even while there is great sorrow in knowing that this child might not grow old with you.”

I have read and seen religious people talk themselves into a whole lot of bullshit and delusions to make it through their lives, but this sure takes the height. What I find particularly disturbing is this:

“God has designed Pearl the way he wanted, for his glory and our good.”

So god, in all his wisdom and love, would afflict a child with disease, deformity and suffering? And being born with a horrible genetic disease that renders you nothing but an animated doll trapped in a painful and torturous existence at the verge of death is something god did for his glory? There is glory to be had from this? And said disease and deformity is for the good of the parents.

All the credit, but none of the blame, huh?  Hmmm maybe god is a Republican after all

But there is a broader canvas here. The above statement by the Browns is disturbing and akin to Indiana Tea Party Senate candidate Richard Mourdock’s comments that pregnancies stemming from rape, however horrible, are “something that God intended to happen” – as if rape wasn’t a crime and heinous act but just something in god’s secret and elaborate plan for all of us lemmings and for “his glory and the victim’s good.”

Does that mean rape itself is part of god’s plan? And genocide? And mass killing and child rape? Most religious people would say “no” (or maybe yes), which creates all sorts of contradictions because what they are saying is that the act of rape is not god’s will but the resulting child is. In other words, god would never orchestrate a rape, but would definitely exploit a rape to impregnate a woman.

That is amazing.  Where do I sign up to worship this excellent decision-maker?

It is great that believing that there is a higher purpose to their suffering has allowed the Brown’s to not only justify their choice but also live with it this long.

Remember people believe in all sorts of stories and even lies for self preservation and to make it through the day and their lives. That is why we have religion in the first place. It is called cognitive dissonance, which is the term used in modern psychology to describe the state of “holding two or more conflicting ideasbeliefsvalues and emotional reactions simultaneously. In a state of dissonance, people may sometimes feel surprise, dread, guilt, anger, or embarrassment. The theory of cognitive dissonance in social psychology proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by altering existing cognitions, adding new ones to create a consistent belief system, or alternatively by reducing the importance of any one of the dissonant elements.”

The Brown’s are engaging in precisely that. They are people of faith who believe that the deity they believe in does all things for a reason. Such a notion is an especially opportune world view when good things happen.  When something horrible, such as the birth defect of their child happens, on the other hand, said believers are suddenly left in shock, asking themselves where the good is in having their own child be afflicted with such a condition. Suddenly, painful reality and the tenets of their faith are at odds. If god is all loving and all caring, how can he let this happen? That is where “filling in the gaps” comes in becasue the Browns are human beings who can only take so much pain before losing it.

How do they cope with it? They cope with it by attempts to reconcile the reality of their situation with what they have been taught god to be. Thus, they tell a lie to themselves. But they do not know it is a lie. It cannot be. If it was, that would bring down their entirely worldview and the reality they have created for themselves. Their self delusion in that regard is quite sincere. The Browns have to believe that this is all part of a grander scheme. This, in turn enables them to go through life without feeling hopeless and without loosing their faith and feeling let down by their grand and loving creator.

Delusion is a wonderful thing and nothing deludes more than religion.

The truth, of course, is that this baby will be confronted with a myriad of painful medical procedures that she will have to endure but not understand the need for. There are limits to the amount of painkiller an infant can be given.  The question really is whether the child is having a quality of life that satisfies the child’s nature, or whether being kept alive on IVs, feeding  tubes, oxygen and other meds is the truly loving and wonderful alternative.

And can you say this is what the divine intended when the only thing keeping the child alive is medical technology, not god? The parents might enjoy the love and care they are giving, but what about the infant?

Ultimately, the Browns are doing this to make themselves feel better. They think they are doing this child a favor, but they aren’t, they are only doing themselves a favor and justify their decision by making appeals to the grand schemes of a higher power.

The only victim in this process is Pearl. Her family is holding on to delusions to prolong the life of a vegetable. For Pearl living or not living does not make a difference.  She doesn’t even know what and who and if she is. Her brain didn’t part into two hemispheres for cryin’ out loud.  She is nothing but an animated doll and for her there is no difference between living and dying, becasue there is no “her” there. She is just a breathing shell.

The idea that you have emergency oxygen standing by makes one wonder about whose will we are talking about, god’s or the ego’s.  Her family’s understandable efforts to cope with her condition by putting a pretty spin on it only trivializes her suffering. And theirs.

 Not Just Faith But Choice

The delusion of the Brown’s view on this aside, the bigger question here is that of choice. The beauty of freedom is that people, including the Browns, can choose to believe in any number of lies to make it through  the day and their lives. And their decision, whether I agree with it or not, is ok.

As long as the Browns do not say to someone else that this is why their child has been blessed with a deformity and death. they can believe in hob goblins as far as I – and reality – are concerned. Sure it is naive and ignorant to attribute any condition onto god, and I mean naive in the sense of immature, unknowing as it relates, but if that is what they need to make it through their lives, who am I, or anyone, to argue with that?

Only that the delusions of religious people are rarely confined to their own personal realm

And therein lies the fundamental problem with letting faith guide your decisions. Religious people place their emotions before their intelligence. The problem is that when people make important decisions based on a fantastical belief system rather than facing unpleasant realities that they’d rather pretend don’t exist, it can leave a lot of collateral damage that affects others. Just look at the recent assault on women’s reproductive rights callously championed by Republicans and conservatives based on their religious beliefs.

The Browns – for better or worse – had a choice with respect to keeping this child alive and caring for it. Ruth Brown could have gotten an abortion, but due to her personal beliefs she decided not to. She had a choice.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the kinds of policies Republicans push for and have partially succeeded in when  it comes to granting women autonomy and the freedom to choose what they believe to be the best decision for them. The Browns were lucky that they were able to make the decision to have their the child without threats and pressure to obtain an abortion.

At the same time, remember that simply becasue it worked for the Browns and was the best decision they could make based on their lives, it does not mean it is the only right and honorable answer. A couple choosing to get an abortion should be able to do so without facing obstacles and judgment and shame just as the Browns. In short, the Brown’s decision to keep the child is not more admirable than the decision of someone else in the same situation to abort it.

In the end, it is all about choice and giving people the freedom to make that choice. In this day and age, it’s a true luxury to have one’s autonomy respected and your choices be your own. I wish lawmakers everywhere would make note of this because nothing diminishes an individual more than stripping them off autonomy.

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