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planetc's Journal - Archives
Posted by planetc in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sat Aug 21st 2010, 01:46 PM
It was a pitiful donation, first of all, but as my income here in the glorious land of retirement is composed of 89% social security and 11% other, it was all I felt happy throwing in, because the car, although a glorious 23-year-old Volkswagen, will not actually last forever. Although it seems determined to try. Etc., etc.

I donated for two reasons: 1) I spend a lot of time here, browsing other people's work, looking for articles and opinion pieces I would spend hours looking for myself. McCamy Taylor posts here, and n2doc collects toons. The place deserves a contribution on those grounds alone. And 2) Skinner and Mrs. S. produce some of the most beautiful babies I've ever seen. We cannot let him fall into despair--it would be bad for the babies, both of whom are toddling by now.

Why I spend a lot of time lurking is the linguistic atmosphere of the place, and I suspect I'm not alone. I just can't take seriously a discussion board on which almost every other post is titled "Fuck (fill in the blank)." On which assholes and other basic vulgarities are relied upon so heavily. These terms are perfectly valid expressions of emotion, but they turn the air blue, and discourage quieter communication. If, and it is a big if, posters who rely on fucking them to extinction wonder what other expressions might serve the purpose, I would like to remind them that the English language is rich in dismissive terms and idioms. The English language is rich, period. Allow your prose styles to be blessed by the work of dead authors and live writers who rarely fuck their enemies, who instead impale them with logic, facts, and quiet disdain.

Lastly but not leastly, what are the chances of getting the Toons made into a topic forum? It would be easier to find them, and harder to miss a day's batch.
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Posted by planetc in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Thu Dec 03rd 2009, 07:43 PM

We were told that we had to invade Iraq because the countryís WMD made it an imminent danger to the United States (or its allies), or perhaps that it might present a real danger in the future. To the continental United States or our allies.

At any rate, enough members of the United States Congress could be persuaded that there was imminent danger to this country to pass the legislation. It seems never to have entered the heads of our congresspersons that someone might lie to them. Might actually prevaricate. Twelve-year-olds understand that sometimes people lie, but Congress isnít allowed to think that.

And we had to invade because it was harboring Al Qaeda, too, of course. We had to Ö get Al Qaeda because they were so evil and powerful that they had caused three World Trade Center Buildings to fall down in one day by crashing planes into two of them. Al Qaeda could strike at any time, any place, with any horrid weapon, and within this country, too, not just in foreign countries we had never been to, and no plans to go to.

It was never explained to us, of course, why the enormously expensive armed services and intelligence apparatus of the United States had failed so completely on that fateful day, 9/11/01. The CIA, and the NSA, and the FBI, and the other intelligent agencies had all failed to warn us, and once the attack was under way, the US Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and the Air Force failed to prevent damage to innocent buildings and their innocent occupants. This total failure was never explained. But it was clear that the solution to homeland insecurity was more spending on the armed services, the invasion of two foreign countries, and of course much better intelligence gathering on Americans who might, or might not, be calling conspirators overseas.

The first country we needed to invade was Afghanistan, because it was harboring Osama Bin Laden, and refused to turn him over.

Actually I read that the Taliban had not refused outright to turn Bin Laden over, but had said they would when we presented evidence that Bin Laden had committed the crimes he was accused of. And, of course, the FBI says it has no such evidence.

But no matter what the FBI says, everybody knew that Bin Laden was the culprit, without any further proof than the fact that the whole plot and 14 or 19 or so of the conspirators were described in the newspapers within a week of the attacks, with photos. (And nobody ever explained how we found out so much so quickly after the attacks.) So we invaded Afghanistan, and son-of-a-bitch, that evil bastard Bin Laden escaped to Pakistan the same year we invaded. We did not, of course, invade Pakistan, because theyíre our ally. Nor did we pressure them too hard diplomatically. We continue to be very nice to Pakistan to this day. So nothing much happened for eight years after we invaded Afghanistan, especially because we removed some troops from there to send to Iraq, because they were needed Iraq. Nothing much except the slow bleeding of our forces in Afghanistan, and some complaints from Afghanis about civilians being killed by drones and stray shots and other little inconveniences of war. And the construction of two permanent bases, including Bagram, which has the reputation of being worse than Abu Ghraib. But we were still being protected from Al Qaeda by our occupation of Afghanistan, because thatís why we had gone there in the first place. To get Bin Laden. You understand that, donít you?

Meanwhile, back in Iraq, there was a lot of sectarian violence which we had to try to stop, or watch carefully, or something. We could not leave the country, of course, because we had to try to put it back together again once we had broken it. The nine or so permanent military bases we established there have nothing to do with why we invaded in the first place.

It doesnít worry me so much that I donít know why we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, but it worries me a lot that the President of the country may not know either. We discuss the political ramifications of Iraq and Afghanistan all the time, but we donít know what weíre doing there.

The American public literally doesnít know why we are conducting, and paying for, two such enormous undertakings. Political personages and the press, of course, accuse individuals and groups of small immoralities all the time, like infidelity in the White House and driving dangerously in your own driveway. Some religious people accuse groups of what they believe to be serious sin, like homosexuality and abortion. (Other religious minded people would say that homosexuality isnít a sin at all, and that abortion may be a sound moral decision, and that in any case, itís none of our business.) But the political personages, the national press, and the loudest religious people have nothing to say about an endeavor that was created for the purpose of killing complete strangers, and that necessarily entails an unholy and tragic amount of collateral damage and casualties. This endeavor, war, would, if indulged in by individuals, be a collection of felonies. You would be arrested for committing these acts on the streets of Toledo or at Fort Hood. But if your country has determined that these wars are necessary, no discussion of their basic morality will happen. Not only are unexplained wars destroying our good name and our treasury, but theyíre making us think insanely too.

To paraphrase Lincoln, a mind divided against itself cannot stand at all.
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Posted by planetc in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Thu Dec 25th 2008, 03:02 PM
First of all, on the economic front, we Americans need to simultaneously spend all the money we have to restart the economy, and save all we possibly can to reduce the American public's indebtedness. Since money is pretty fluid thing anyway, this should be easy. We should buy stuff with real money and invent some to save. Buying with real money will keep the local grocer in business, because he has to spend real money to get hamburger to sell us. Trying to eat imaginary hamburger is probably not going to be as easy as investing money, which is a snap.

What I'll do to save money is just tell my investment banker that I want to deposit $1.3 million with him, and I expect him to make a tidy profit on it, in , say, six months. He then behaves as though he's got $1.3 million to invest, and goes out there and buys stocks and bonds and some pizza for the office staff. They're all highly leveraged purchases--this means that he tells the people he's buying from that he has at least 3% of the purchase price in cold hard cash, and that the seller should just trust him for the rest. The investment banker shows a profit of 2% at the end of six months, which translates into about $2.50 in cold hard cash at the leverage rate. The investment banker has kept his job, the office staff has had a few pizza lunches for free, and the stocks and bonds sellers have all kept their jobs, and made tidy profits in largely imaginary money. I think this is the way the financial world has been functioning for years anyway, so we won't have to do a lot of retraining.

Of course, solving the financial crisis, which is a crises of imagination, is easier than solving the mess of conflicting moral issues that the Republican party has inflicted on the national consciousness in order to keep themselves in power. Morality is a bit tougher than finances, but by no means impossible. First of all, we recognize that morality can't be voted on. We can vote to issue marriage licenses to two men or to two women, but that doesn't guarantee they'll conduct a moral marriage, just as issuing a license to straight people doesn't guarantee morality. Chances are all of the above people will be just as moral as they know how to be, in whatever circumstances they find themselves. Gross immorality comes from several sources: living in unlivable conditions and having been born without a soul. We can do nothing about the latter, but we can do something about the former. We just need to imagine a fair social and economic order, and make it happen. In the meantime, we should stop beating ourselves up about what to do about homosexual marriage: we should legalize it, wish each couple the best of luck, and get out of their way. I'd be in favor of issuing them all a bouquet of flowers and a wedding cake on their way out of the issuing office. And similarly, we should keep abortion legal and continue working to ensure every child is born wanted and loved. Above all, we should stop wasting our precious time on problems that collective citizen action (government) can do nothing about. We can't make homosexuality disappear, and there is no reason why we should want it to anyway. We are a long way from a society in which no one will ever want an abortion, but there are things government can do to help us work toward that society--see "imagine a fair..." above.

War: Ah! The Big One! No, not really.
War is actually simple, the simplest of the three. War is a racket. (See Gen. Smedley Butler.) It is an abomination. We should work toward a society in which everyone agrees that if you want to go to war, you're crazy, and need to be protected from yourself. Once we bring the entire population to a clear realization of exactly what all wars accomplish, which is destruction of people, things, health both mental and physical, and the wealth of nations, it should be a simple matter to disarm the Pentagon, defund the NSA, and set them all to doing useful work. The notion, by the way, that the Second World War was a good war needs to be carefully reexamined. The Soviet Union? Those people want to drink vodka, play chess, dance to the Beatles, create great art, and raise their children. Same as us, except we prefer beer.

"But we have to protect ourselves from our terrorist enemies!" you say. Bullfeathers! See: 9/11 truth movement. We have first to establish who the bloody heck our enemies are, and then disable them. If our enemies are... not to put too fine a point upon it, our own government, then we must disable them before they kill again. (See definition of war, above.) As we are a democracy, or at least a republic, this should be a simple matter. But if our enemies cheat real well, and have an entire class of people trained to lie for them, it will take the populace longer to see where the problem really lies. It lies in lies. We, the populace, are such chumps: we believe in sincerity, and integrity, in rational discourse, in obeying the laws except the speed limits, and it's taking us a heck of a long time to come to grips with just how effective a set of lies can be. But we are getting there.

And so here is my Christmas prayer: that we all see that WE are the country, that WE are its power and its glory and its hope for the future. That our elected leaders are our servants: we pay their salaries. If they have betrayed our trust and stolen our money, we must remove them, and start over with fresh servants, and keep starting over until our public servants do our bidding. They will kill a few of us. They have already killed thousands, millions of us. But what the heck else are we doing with our short lives? Let us be firm in the faith that we are better than our leaders, easily as smart as our leaders, and that the structure of our laws and constitution can restore order to the body politic. Not to mention getting rid of those automated attendants on the phones at every business. After we've straightened out the economy, ended wars, gotten out of people's personal lives, and restored the constitution, can we make automated attendants illegal?

Thank you for your attention, anyone who has gotten this far. Keep the faith, and drive gently over the holidays.
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Posted by planetc in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sat Aug 09th 2008, 03:25 PM
I am sixty-five years old. When I was born, Franklin Roosevelt was President. Dwight Eisenhower began his invasion of Europe when I was 1-1/2 years old. I was 20 when they shot John Kennedy. The first vote I cast was for Robert Kennedy for Senator of New York. Thereafter, I voted for a number of noble Democrats who always lost until I voted for Bill Clinton, who won.

Now, this is what I know of John Edwards: he was born to a poor family. He nevertheless made his way through college and law school. To do that, you need brains and a capacity for hard work. He then embarked on a career that made him a millionaire by working on behalf of people who had been the victims of malpractice or of large incidentally evil corporations. Then he got elected to the Senate. Then he ran for president. His personal life includes one marriage to Elizabeth Edwards. That marriage had been tested by two events that that many of us pray won't happen to us, the death of a son, and Elizabeth's cancer. The Edwardses had two more children, and John stayed married to, and proud of, Elizabeth. Then the marriage was tested again, when John made a mistake in 2006. Now, according to him and his wife, one of the first things he did after he made this mistake was confess to Elizabeth, and start atoning for his sin, his breaking of the bond of trust between them. Since I cannot see into anyone else's soul, I have no right to judge John Edwards, but apparently Elizabeth has forgiven him and they are standing firmly together in the family they created together. I repeat: it is none of my business--I should not even know about Mr. Edwards' mistake unless he were running on a platform criminalizing adultery.

I really don't care what people's personal sins, or vices, or weaknesses are when they are running for public office. What people do in the privacy of their own homes, and souls, and families, is none of my business unless their sins affect the way they do their jobs. If they smoke a joint, or drink to excess, that's fine with me as long as they don't try to drive a car anywhere until they're fit to drive. If the President is committing serial adultery with exciting women, and also helping to inspire America to a great leap forward in civil rights, and public service, and competitive space programs, I do not need to know about the adultery. Because we have never elected a robot, or an android, or a saint to the presidency.

What I want to know about any and all candidates are their positions on important areas of policy, how much and what kind of experience they have, and any aspect of their character that has been made visible by their public work and actions. They can play sex games with sock puppets while smoking nasturtiums for all I care, but if they will reduce the national debt to zero, and then proceed to a surplus, I want them in the White House.

Now, I don't know much about John Edwards' policies, but I heard him say recently, between the jokes on the Colbert show, that he wanted to eliminate poverty in 30 years. YES! YES! Mr. Edwards -- I want you or someone like you in the White House. I want somebody who thinks big, and appears to have the smarts and the determination and the will and the capacity for hard work to try to do that. I don't know whether Mr. Edwards is an impractical visionary, but his previous life history shows a capacity to take this world as he finds it, and do something about the most glaring injustices. YOU GO, John Edwards.

In 1983, I met a woman who was within 7 months of her death from cancer. She had already been fighting it for about 10 years, and she was losing, and she knew it. When I met her, she was trying to complete the raising of four teenagers while living on welfare. She had not always lived on welfare. The children's father was at that time living in a nearby state with his second wife and their infant. He had apparently not been able to find a way to deal with his first wife's illness. Margaret (not her name), was a superb human being, bright, strong, determined, and fighting several battles, the most important of which she knew she would lose. I cannot see into the soul of Margaret's first husband, but I could see the effect on her of trying to raise her family without the support of a partner.

John and Elizabeth Edwards are still together, still supporting each other, still raising their children. To tell you the truth, I find them an even more admirable couple today than I did before their private pain was exposed to the glare of publicity.
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Posted by planetc in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Mon Jun 30th 2008, 07:10 PM
So, this news is in: there could well be no ice at the north pole this summer, and the antarctic ice shelf is in danger of losing 20% of its area in the next 20 years. There are already climate refugees, and will be more. The reasons the climate is behaving this way are still under discussion, and we may never know the whole set of answers, because the climate is a large and complex system. But we do know that a lot of scientists are saying that the tonnage of internal combustion emissions in the atmosphere is a significant factor. Among the possible causes for this drastic change: maybe the sun, maybe emissions, maybe both and a few other things we don't know about yet.

But it's clear that the climate is changing even as we speak. I don't think enough of us understand what you need to get in a crop. A crop of anything. It takes some arable land, some seed, and a whole lot of luck with the weather. The crops we have been growing in various places may not be growable in those places in our lifetimes.

And on the price-of-gas front, the news is also not good, unless you hate the car culture, as I do. Gas in this country costs $4.29 at my local station, and is headed up. The population remains in ignorance of how central to our economy the use of petroleum is. But it is central.

There's also a consensus of opinion that we have reached peak oil. The price will not go down, it will go up, and our masters will continue to try to control the supply of oil by convincing us that our enemies are Muslims, who hate our freedoms, and follow a different religion, and just incidentally, sit on the major remaining sources of oil. And that these Muslims are intent on bombing us out of existence. Our masters will convince us of that, and then send a bunch of us off to war to fight for control of the diminishing supply of oil. And so far, we have believed them.

Now, what I have outlined above is a set of practical problems. If we're decent human beings, we will want to plan for the coming food shortages and refugees, as well as provide for our own food supply. If we understand that we are running out of oil, and that we will have to convert to a new kind of economy, based on a variety of energy sources, then we would start to plan how to make that conversion, and how to provide for the food shortages, right now. If it were not for the ideological warfare that has characterized our political discourse since the 1960s, we might have started to plan for the coming crises, and to master them, twenty or thirty years ago. But we didn't. We can start any time, and the power of government could be an enormous force for good in the planning and execution of the tasks we have to accomplish.

But what are we doing, as the world melts and the oil runs out and the price of salmonella-infected tomatoes rises? We are arguing whether Cindy McCain stole a recipe for brownies, and whether Barack Obama's patriotism is in question because he didn't wear a flag pin in his lapel. We are accepting a level of political discourse that says it is an insult to a man to accuse him of being a Muslim. We are accepting all this, and are participating in it vigorously.

We're crazy, in my humble opinion.

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Posted by planetc in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Thu May 15th 2008, 07:06 PM
He will save us. Obama will save us from McCain. No one but Obama can save us, and it doesn't matter if there are serious forces arrayed against Obama, because he has the (near) superhuman strength to save us from McCain.

This is undercurrent of assumptions that I hear in a lot of posts in this forum. No one here has said precisely these things, at least not to my knowledge, but these are the assumptions I hear:

Our enemy is John McCain.
Only Obama can beat John McCain.
Clinton must drop out now so that we can all concentrate on beating John McCain.
Because this battle, like all real battles, pits one man against another.
(It's just foolish to imagine we could win a battle with a woman as champion, just foolish.)

It is this set of assumptions that really unsettles me. That we are now engaged in a battle of one man against another man. And that our political souls depend on the victory of one man over another man.

If we have read much on this board over the last few years, we should understand that the forces arrayed against Obama, or any Democratic presidential candidate, are many, and powerful, and even if Obama is elected to the presidency, those forces are still powerful, and will continue to work to thwart any serious efforts to change the power structure in this country.

First, we have no reason to trust the safety and accuracy of the elections. No reason at all.

Second, we have every reason to distrust the information given us, and the opinions thrust upon us, by the MSM. We really have no way of knowing what happened in the 2000 election, or the 2002 or 2004 or 2006 elections. The votes are being counted in secret, after having been cast into a probably corrupt system that was bought and paid for with our tax dollars.

Third, we have in recent history, seen the murder of a Democratic, or populist, inspiring set of leaders: Their names are John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and possibly Mel Carnahan, Paul Wellstone, and John Lennon. Even more recently, we've seen the symbolic murder of another Democratic leader, William Clinton. He was never assassinated, but daily in the press he was ridiculed, falsely accused, and generally deprived of the authority presidents used to have in this country just because they'd been elected to the office. The forces that conducted all these real and symbolic assassinations are alive, well, and unwilling to give up their power.

It is the belief that electing one Democrat to the presidency will somehow save us that strikes me as dangerous in the extreme. We are living in a country where the press is so corrupt and many of our fellow citizens so ignorant that they can believe that Sen. Obama is Muslim, and that that's a bad thing. Both of those assertions are nonsense. Many people believe that Sen. Clinton used racism to advance her candidacy. That's nonsense too, but it is believed.

I think we have to confront our real enemies: they are often faceless, although most of the power structure of the Bush adminstration is certainly impeachable and prosecutable, and we know their names. The people behind this administration are the real enemy, and getting distracted by which of the Democratic candidates will be sent to the slaughterhouse next does nothing to defeat the real enemy. Forget John McCain--he's another volunteer puppet. Let's go after the people who really got us into this mess.
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Posted by planetc in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Mon May 05th 2008, 07:06 PM

And so we are declaring a general amnesty for any Obama supporters who want to return to the fold of civilized discourse, and greet the many hidden Clinton supporters and neutrals as sisters and brothers.

There are absolutely no conditions attached to this amnesty: You need not confess that you might have exceeded the norms of polite discussion in your zeal to promote Sen. Obama. We understand how enthused you have become, we are as passionate and as patriotic as you, and we understand. We require no self-abasement, no apology. No fines will be imposed. We'll just forget the whole thing ever happened.

All of us who have said we'd be satisfied with either candidate leading the ticket, or those of us who support Sen. Clinton, are still here. One poster has announced that we have disappeared, without offering any evidence. Without *any* evidence to support my conclusion, I announce that I suspect there are lots of Clinton supporters and neutrals hanging out in the bushes and behind the trees at DU, hoping to avoid getting plugged by the verbal barrage being fired at Clinton supporters, supposed Clinton supporters, those who think they might wind up supporting Clinton, those who rather like her pants suits, and those who have been reading McCamy Taylor.

I think we're all still here, just keeping our heads down until the war is over. Don't despair, Obama Supporters! We have not deserted you!!!

In the third place, we like Sen. Obama fine. He glistens with good will, intelligence, patience, and fortitude. Fine man. We just don't feel a need to destroy anyone in order to like Sen Obama. He really wouldn't want us to. Because if he becomes President, he'll have to work with all of us. We think that the United States Senate could harbor *two* promising presidential candidates *at the same time.* There may even be dozens of promising presidential hopefuls in the Senate, including John Kerry, but not including John McCain. (Could we concentrate for awhile on just how scary John McCain really is?)

In the second place, it is not a good rhetorical strategy to (verbally) destroy someone who might still be the nominee, and to destroy her *before* the primaries are over and the convention has convened. It might be a good idea to hold some enthusiasm in reserve, just in case we have to paste smiles on our faces and support Sen. Clinton for President. It might be a bit premature to announce the death of a candidate who isn't dead yet. We might, in fact, wish we hadn't announced the death until the candidate herself announces her withdrawal. I trust her to do that if she thinks it's best for the party and the country. I trust Sen. Obama to do what's best for the party and for the country. As in every general election in my lifetime, the Democratic Party suffers from an embarrassment of richly endowed presidential hopefuls.

And in the first place, we really, really have real problems. Seven people died in Arkansas over the weekend, and they are talking about a death toll of 10,000 in Myannmar. The entire universe does not hinge on what happens in the American presidential election this year. We are facing enormous problems around this globe, and we will need all our resources of wealth and good will and ingenuity and brains to solve those problems. I think Al Gore would agree with me.

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with us.

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Posted by planetc in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Fri Apr 25th 2008, 07:18 PM
In a normal year, and I realize that none of the elections I have voted in were in a normal year, but imagine for a moment that this is the year I *believed* it was in 1964, when I cast my first vote in this country, ... in a normal year, I would choose Clinton over Obama, on grounds of poetic justice. She and her husband withstood the worst that the right wing could throw at them for...let's see, 1992 to date...for 16 years, and she is still willing to subject herself to the barrage of hate, nonsense, propaganda, sexist snideness, and general stress a presidential campaign is, to serve this country. Sen. Clinton deserves to win because she is not a masochist, and is still running.

There's also not much the matter with Sen, Obama--except that he does show a tendency to think that leading this country is a matter of preaching well. A silver tongue is a wonderful gift, but it does not actually buy any tomatoes. A point Sen. Clinton has tried to make, and been vilified for. At the moment she's been vilified for everything she's said except the policy proposals--but if you've been reading your McCamy Taylor, you will understand that if Sen. Obama secures the nomination for President, it will be his turn next. Indeed it's been his turn already!

But for me, neither one of them.

I sat here in this room on January 20, 2005, and watched them *both* give silver-tongued speeches about how much we needed to look into our voting practices in this country BUT, of course, nothing they were saying should actually change the outcome of the 2004 election. And then they both voted to accept the electors from Ohio. And they should not have done that. The House and the Senate in 2000 voted to accept the electors from Florida and every other state, and I can forgive them for that, because in 2000, no one really realized what a gang of crooks in the White House could to to this country.

By 2004, an enormous number of citizens realized what could be accomplished by a gang of crooks in the White House, and many of them went out and did their jobs as citizens. They organized, worked their little tails off, sent money, and elected John Kerry to the White House.

And John Kerry was not sworn in. Every member of the House and Senate who voted to accept the Ohio electors betrayed the people of this country. Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton were among them.

We absolutely can't go on pretending that we can get by on business as usual, and both Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama are trying to do that. We know better. We must hold them both to their oaths to uphold the Constitution, because without the Constitution, there is no United States of America. We must hold both of them, and every other member of the House and Senate, to their oaths, and ask them why they have not impeached a large handful of the Bush administration.

Rev. Wright is a distraction, Bill Clinton's "racism" is a distraction, the ENTIRE primary campaign has been a series of increasingly silly distractions from the great question before us. Why, when the Constitutional remedy is before them, has there been no impeachment of the Bush administration?

I want my country back. I realize that what I believed that country to be for most of my adult life was a mixture of knowledge and delusion. But I still want it back. I want it back now, before the 2008 election.

I want the Democratic candidates to start talking to me as though I can read and have a conscience. As though I am decent, and hard working, and tax paying, and have been forced into the position of seeing my tax dollars spent to fund torturers, and illegal wars, and the total corruption of a once semi-free press.

I want my country back, and until someone starts talking to me, where I live in my heart and mind, no Democratic candidate gets my support.
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Posted by planetc in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Tue Apr 08th 2008, 07:00 PM
No, we all know what sexism is, and we can recognize it easily, and so we are sure that if any sexist posts turn up, they will be instantly reported to the moderators, and the posts will be suitably punished and sent away.

Because sexism exists, we all know that, and we realize that women, and men, and children are suffering from it all over the world. But there is no sexism here. I am not a sexist. Other people may be, but someone will weed them out, and then we can return to the calm, orderly discussion we were having before this unpleasant topic turned up.

It's not that I wouldn't support a woman for president. I'd cheerfully do that. I just wouldn't support the one who's actually running now. It's the particular woman who's running, not all women, or anything like that, that I object to. I'd be perfectly comfortable with a woman in charge of the country, just not the one who has been running. I would want to be offered another woman as a candidate, and then I could offer my full support. Barbara Boxer for instance, or Nancy Pelossi, just not Hillary Clinton. I could name you a dozen women I'd vote for, just not this one.

After all, Clinton has been lying, and is a terrible egotist, and is fighting like heck for the nomination, and her character is just nowhere near the one we need for the presidency. She's so shoddy and duplicitous and is only running because everybody knows her name already. There's nothing there that I would vote for, but it's not because she's a woman, it's because she's the wrong woman.

And, of course, all those who support her are blinded by her lies, and that explains their pathological refusal to see her pathological lying as the chief characteristic of her character. If she'd just tell the truth, I could think about supporting her.

You see that, don't you?
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Posted by planetc in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Mon Apr 07th 2008, 06:55 PM
In an attempt to shed some light on a few aspects of the controversy that is now generating more heat than light, I'd like to describe the state-of-play in the Democratic primaries as I see it. And before any discussion of discrimination, I feel we should take at least a quick glance at the odds of *any* Democratic candidate being reported on accurately by the MSM: the odds are nil to zilch.

First, both of the standing candidates, Clinton and Obama, are victims of the MSM's insistence on 1) glorifying the trivial, 2) reducing the complex to the simple-minded, and 3) wallowing in its own arrogant belief that it understands either issues or character or voters in this country.

The controversy over Pastor Wright's sermon(s) is an example of all three of these forms of malfeasant reporting. Pastor Wright seems to be a fine man, a fiery preacher, and I haven't seen him quoted on any statement that isn't well within the bounds of clear political/theological thought. That is, Sen. Obama should have been complimented on having such a pastor, not expected to apologize for him. But Rev. Wright trespassed one of the imaginary rules that the MSM are convinced ordinary voters follow, which is that they don't want anyone who is "out of the mainstream," whatever that means. Rev. Wright sounded all fired up on the occasion he uttered the words "God damn America", and in the context he was speaking in, those words were fully justified. Howard Dean sounded impassioned on one occasion also at the end of his presidential candidacy, and was instantly dubbed crazy (insanity being automatically outside the mainstream) by MSM, and dismissed as finished. Mr. Dean isn't, nor has he ever been, crazy, only capable of expressing his passion. But the MSM will continue to mis-define a few moments in a long political or religious life whenever it's convenient. And the enormous authority the MSM still carry, both with the general population and with members of this board, will convince many people that Howard Dean sounded crazy and Rev. Wright needed to be apologized for.

Now let us turn to the coverage of Sen. Clinton's campaign, which has been heavily colored with both sexism and anti-Clintonism.

I feel strongly that we should consider anti-Clintonism as a separate and equal pretext for the MSM to say awful things about both Bill and Hillary Clinton, as well as to invent such terms as "Clinton fatigue", and to allude to years of character assassination as "baggage". I personally observed anti-Clintonism in all its sordid glory for the full eight years of Bill Clinton's presidency. It was assuredly driven by members of the vast right wing conspiracy who were perfectly sincere in their irrational hatred of both of the Clintons. But all major newspapers subscribed enthusiastically to the belief that there was something *wrong* with both the Clintons, and went on about it almost every time an excuse for a column or an editorial came up. The NYTimes colored many a "news" story with Clinton hatred too. Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd were two of the most dedicated Clinton bashers. If I survive to retirement, I'd like to write a small book on their poisonous prose attacks on the Clintons. As McCamy Taylor, I think, has pointed out, it became an obsession to prove that Hillary Clinton lied, and Bill Clinton lied, and neither one made a legislative or policy move without consulting as many polls as they could find.

As for the charge of sexist attacks against Sen. Clinton, well, if you believe there is such a thing as sexism, and that it is alive and well in the USA at this moment (and I hold both tenets), then undeniably there have been sexist attacks on Sen. Clinton. All references to the "grating" quality of her voice, or the opinion that she had "in a weird way, pimped out" her daughter Chelsea, and other worse comments documented elsewhere on this board make it impossible to deny that sexism has reared its ugly head.

And since the MSM and Karl Rove have made serious inroads into our processes of thought, I want to point out that the claim that victims of discrimination are using their victimhood to solicit sympathy, and for other purposes, is assuredly a right wing talking point. The Rovian school of political thought holds that minorities and other protected classes are actually harmed by attempts to level the field they're playing on--that treating them as victims saps thier self reliance and turns them into parasites. Barbara Bush certainly thinks so. We don't need to.

I think discrimination against Sen. Clinton is coming from two sources: general sexism and specific anti-Clintonism. Charges from these two sources are being fed into the MSM's machine for getting practically everything thoroughly wrong. What worries me is why so many people here are buying into the lynching party. Among other things, it's a colossal waste of energy.

If we insist on wasting our time, can't we think of a less destructive way to do it?

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Posted by planetc in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Thu Apr 03rd 2008, 07:13 PM

If you wanted to create a world that Karl Rove would love, if you wanted to pick up the ball he tossed you and run with it, you've succeeded! Beyond his wildest dreams. TOUCHDOWN! You're as talented a bunch of warriors as I have ever seen. Of course you're fighting yourselves, and ignoring your real enemies, but what does that matter, as long as you're fighting tooth and nail?

The fight's the thing. It's the goal, the prize, the exquisitely satisfying HIGH, in which you discover the enemy, in this case Hillary Clinton, and Fight!

Senator Clinton is not, of course, your enemy. Nor is she your savior. Sen. Obama isn't your savior either, but it's so satisfying to fight for him by destroying his enemy, Sen. Clinton. Bill Clinton isn't your enemy, but he needs to be fought, too. Rip him to shreds along with his wife. They're inextricably connected. Well, they're married, at least.

So, fight on, DU! Fight Hillary's LIES! and her SPIN! and expose her to each other without giving her a moment to catch her breath. Kill! Hurl vulgar terms with increasing abandon! The harder you fight, the sooner she'll fall, and the sooner you can glory in your nominee Sen. Obama, who will be sworn in to the presidency, unless they steal the election again. If he is sworn in, and actually tries to change anything important, like the system of legalized bribery that runs the country, he'll be dead. One way or another, really or symbolically, the way they killed Bill Clinton.

I don't think either of the Democratic candidates can do what needs to be done in this country and in the world. At least they can't do it simply be getting elected to the presidency. We can't trust the elections, we can't trust the reporting of the election outcomes, and we have a system of government that is corrupt to the core, and has been eating good men and women and spitting them out for the last thirty years. (That's an arbitrary figure, and open to discussion.)

What about calling a truce between the Democratic candidates, and asking yourselves the question: Who is really my enemy?

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Posted by planetc in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Fri Mar 14th 2008, 12:03 PM
It has struck me that many posters, and opinionators for the culture at large, are arguing the questions of whether prostitution is a victimless crime, and whether men have needs, and generally evading the question of whether Eliot Spitzer broke the law. He did. Some are wondering whether prostitution should be a crime. It is a crime. It is also legendarily the "oldest profession in the world." And a crime. For the moment, let's leave aside the question of why prostitution is a crime, and consider women's need to be hugged.

You remember, I trust, the survey done a few years ago that discovered that a significant majority of married woman would rather be hugged than enjoy connubial bliss. This cultural earthquake was almost entirely ignored by the MSM and everyone else. But we don't have to ignore it. Would you stop and think for just one moment: All Women Want Is To Be Hugged!! (That's not all they want, of course, but a lot of them would be THRILLED with a hug.) Including me. May I just point out that there is no danger of STDs from hugging, no AIDS transmission, no danger of pregnancy, no need to rent a hotel room or borrow other accommodation. It's, like, just about the simplest thing in the world. Women want it. No one's making any money from it.

Why, I ask you, has no one set up a profession whose business it is to hug women? Has anyone even considered the possibility that women might PAY for one? Maybe not as much as $4K per hug, but maybe they'd pay a decent hour's wage for one. For many women, this would range between $6.50 and $18.00, but what the heck! You are a man, and you've lost your job in the aerospace industry, and your 500 resumes are in the mail, and you have a few hours on your hands. Have you never wondered whether you could distribute a few hugs for a few bucks? WHERE is your sense of entrepreneurship? Your courage? Your daring?

So to return briefly to the question of why prostitution is a crime, clearly, it's because men have a deep psychological need to make sure they make a percentage of any profitable activity that's been discovered. But this does not explain why a profession whose practice is so essential to male life on this planet is also always a crime, except in a few enlightened places like Amsterdam and Nevada.

So I recommend two initiatives for all red blooded, patriotic men: 1) try to get prostitution legalized, so women can be protected from pimps and other low-lifes, get protection from the police (rather than arrested by them), and keep more of their income, and pay their fair share of taxes for police protection. And 2) Think about starting your own "Buck-a-Hug" business. The lower the rates, the more attractive it will be to the hug-hungry classes, and you could easily hug 60 women per hour. Let us know how you do!
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Posted by planetc in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Sun Mar 02nd 2008, 07:51 PM
We are now in the throes of the campaign as horse race. Millions of dollars are being spent to forward the candidacies of two Democrats and one Republican. From the mass media, we get irrelevant commentary, and pointless analysis, and endless polls, and we have wasted another year on this nonsense. The amounts of money being spent are obscene, and what the average taxpayer will get for his or her money grows fuzzier by the day.

The questions we ought to ask both Democratic candidates before we authorize one more credit card transaction, sign one more check, pick up one more phone to call our neighbors, are as follows:

Why didn't you challenge the Ohio electors after the 2004 election? Why did you make stirring speeches about the voting reforms we need, and decline to challenge the Ohio electors in 2004? Have you read Rep. John Conyers' "What Went Wrong in Ohio", which was available on his website before you declined to challenge the Ohio electors?

Are you comfortable with your tax dollars being used to pay torturers? Do you feel the pain of Americans who are morally nauseated by their tax dollars being used to pay torturers?

Greenland is melting, the Antarctic ice sheet is melting, and weather is getting more violent every day. If you accept that carbon emissions have something to do with this, and that oil is peaking, or will soon, and that the American thirst for oil has produced an insane foreign policy, what are your plans for reducing our thirst for oil, and saving our foreign policy, if not the planet?

What exactly is your position on whether Pres. Bush, Vice Pres. Cheney, and numerous other members of the Bush administration are impeachable? If you find them to be impeachable, why have you not done so?

The American Air Force failed utterly to protect this country from the attacks of 9/11/01. Do you have the slightest curiosity as to why they failed so completely? Do you have the slightest curiosity as to why the 9/11 Commission conducted such a surgically limited inquiry into that and many other crucial questions? Do you believe that anyone who is curious to know the answers to those questions is a tinfoil hat wearing nut?

Do you know who Don Siegelman is? If Mr. Siegelman is a political prisoner in this country, do you feel any personal responsibility at all for that fact, since if the Bush administration had been removed from power at an early date, Mr. Siegelman might be a free man today?

Do you feel any personal responsibility for the prisoners now being held at Guantanamo Bay? If not, why not? You are surely funding that prison along with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the contracts being executed by Halliburton and other probable war profiteers. You are using taxpayer money to fund all these follies. Do you have a sense of how hard the average tax payer in this country works to be able to pay taxes, and how horrified they would be to know how those dollars are being spent?

If you have been derelict in you duties as Senators, why should I vote for you for president?

These are some, but not all of the questions I would like to ask both candidates. Perhaps you have some of your own?

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Posted by planetc in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Tue Feb 19th 2008, 08:44 PM
A few mornings ago, an NPR commentator butchered a brief discussion of the delightful aphorism "It is what it is." He managed to prove that different people can understand a new term differently, or misunderstand it. We already knew this. He then went on to laugh at his own lame play on words.

I think the phrase is one of the most helpful of recent linguistic innovations, since we are living in a world which is steadily debasing the language we use to reach each other, to convey meaning and emotion sincerely. We have, for instance, both a Supreme Court Justice and an Attorney General who are not sure whether waterboarding is torture.

Gentlemen: It is torture. We are not in a courtroom, so no cunning arguments or fine distinctions will pay off in any way. Waterboarding is torture. It IS what it IS.

If we allow our enemies to define, redefine, defile and redefile the language we use, we will find ourselves in chaos, and we are pretty close to chaos right now.

I think this brief, bald sentence is wonderfully flexible: it can be a bucket of cold water over the heads of ardent zealots:

"I respect your religious beliefs, Mrs. Frobisher, but you may not bring a shrine to the Virgin Mary into Sally's classroom. Constitutional law here. It is what it is."

It can help to steady the most anguished of sports fans: "The New England Patriots are a wonderful team, and they have gone unbeaten for an entire season, including the playoffs. And the Giants have won the Superbowl. It is what it is."

The phrase can deliver bad or problematic news in such a way as to leave the recipient of the news with a shred of dignity.

"Mr. Wallbanger, you have a cancer. It is a very treatable one, but it is what it is. I will need your full cooperation on a course of treatment starting right now."

"Ms Threadneedle, the car is totaled. Putting it back together would cost more than the book value of the car, and send my oldest child through college. It is what it is."

"Mrs. Isinglass, I know we both thought that you had started menopause last year, but you are now four months pregnant. It is what it is. Congratulations."

In this age when we have a terrible tendency to think that everything happens on television, and that if we don't see it on television, it isn't happening, this phrase can help to save us from our own delusions.

We thought it was a republic, or maybe a democracy. It is an empire. It is what it is.

Throughout the 1990's, the major media in this country attempted to convince us that the most serious problems we faced as a country were Bill Clinton's character and Big Tobacco. I would suggest that the biggest problems we faced (in the 1990's) were the fact that the earth was starting to melt, and the degree to which public opinion can be manipulated by Big Media. But it is what it is. The earth is still melting, Big Tobacco is still legal (and probably ought to be), and our opinions are still being manipulated by Big Media.

What it is is a mess, but if we insist that words mean what they mean, it will help tremendously in finding our way out of the mess. America is an empire. Waterboarding is torture. They are using our tax dollars to pay the salaries of the torturers. It is what it is.

And by the way, we need to hear from both Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton on what America is: is it a republic, or an empire? Do we torture, or don't we? We need to hear from them on their understanding of those words. We have heard from Mr. Scalia and Mr. Mukasey, and we need to hear from our side. Hope is fine, but what is it exactly we are hoping for? How about a little clear communication on the great moral and political questions of our time: is it torture? Is it an empire? Yea or nay?

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Posted by planetc in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Thu Oct 04th 2007, 09:17 AM
First, in the general field of political smears of a personal nature, "Swiftboating" has a specific meaning, which is that the smear is composed of lies, unproven innuendos, and general misrepresentation of the facts. (Bill Clinton was smeared with the irrelevant truth when they accused him of a fling with Ms Lewinsky.)

Second, "There is no separating Bill from Hillary" is debatable. Sensible adults have always been able to distinguish between these two people since we first heard of them. Probably you mean that what we laughingly call the Press, or the Media, will hold either one responsible for the imagined or real sins of the other.

Third, Ms Lewinsky has doubtless turned down offers of lots of money on numerous occasions from 1998 to date. She appears to want no part of cashing in on her moment of notoriety. Why would she change her mind now? Are you alleging that she just hasn't been offered enough money yet? If so, you are smearing her character, and if you want to do that, what evidence do you have for your innuendo?

Fourth, if you think Ms Lewinsky has a case for a charge of sexual harassment, you are unfamiliar with the full background on the charges brought by Paula Jones against the president. To understand that background, I recommend you read The Hunting of the President, Conason and Lyons, 2001 or so. Ms Jones had no case for harassment, and the presiding judge dismissed the suit before trial on those grounds. So are you saying, again, that Ms Lewinsky would lie about her treatment by the president for money and fame? If so, what evidence do you have that she would do that?

And last, the press hasn't learned much from its own sins since 1991, but it would prefer a fresh sex scandal if it can get it.

So, if you are actually hoping that Sen. Clinton gets Swiftboated by Ms Lewinsky, you're contributing to the abysmal level of political discourse in this country. I had hoped that people on this board might be in favor of raising the level of discourse.

If you had to make a case against Sen. Clinton's qualifications or candidacy, without reference to her husband's ancient sins, what would that case be?

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