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Fantasy versus Reality
I think I may have somehow stumbled into a partial understanding of the current Teabagger phenomena, and why the Republican Party has become so intransigent. They simply hate us. But why, you might ask.
Republicans, and Teabaggers in particular, live in a fantasy world. And we threaten to destroy that fantasy world every time we try to rip their blinders off and show them what is really going on.
Hereís the Republican world. It is mostly fantasy gleaned from jingoistic old history books, Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best, John Wayne ilk movies, right wing propaganda, and complete nonsense.
In the Republican world, the founding fathers like Washington (slave owner until his dying day) fought tirelessly to end slavery. They were perfect Christians, founding a perfect Christian nation (albeit with slavery) led by men like Thomas Jefferson, himself a perfect heroic Christian.
In the Republican world, intrepid explorers conquered a wild savage (meaning inhabited by First Americans) land, bringing the benefits of Christianity and (white) civilized ways to the wilderness. We fought a civil war, not over slavery, but, much like our founders, to ensure the rights of the states to protect individualís rights (like owning property e.g. slaves). Confederate leaders like Thomas (ďkill them allĒ) Stonewall Jackson were Christian warriors defending the nation, not traitors of the worst kind. Jefferson Davis is George Washington with slaves in Mississippi instead of Virginia, not a vindictive little man who wanted a guerilla war we might still be fighting.
In the Republican world, big business and American genius teamed up to build the railroads, ignoring the thousands of mistreated Chinese workers who were virtual slaves, finally dumped homeless and jobless when the railroad was done. Business built an industrial base second to none in the world, until Socialist/Communist Unions started to tear it down with strikes and demands for ridiculously high wages. Henry Fordís ideas about workers being able to afford the products they build are conveniently ignored of forgotten.
In Republican world, the cavalry comes racing over the hill to save us time after time, and John Wayne leads his Green Berets in charge after charge against the evil, Godless Communists (that may be one word, Iím not sure). The military and those who are their able contracted assistants can do no wrong, so we donít dare look too closely.
Our President is a robust White Man, with wavy hair and helpfully a slight down home accent. He isnít and never could be black. He is always a Good Christian of excellent moral character, even when he isnít, and attends church regularly, even when he doesnít.
Black people can vote (except when they canít) and have the same schools and opportunities as everyone else (except when the donít) and conveniently slip back over the tracks to that other neighborhood we never go to, after theyíve cleaned up our houses and shoveled our sidewalks. Their children are not in our schools, although we understand theirs are just as good.
And the Mexicans are quaint people who were funny hats and are always happy, especially when weíre down there at a warm beach. Sometimes they come up north and pick our peaches and lettuce, singing away into the night while picking. Then the conveniently disappear back down south, and donít want to use our hospitals or out schools. Weíre all quite sure they are paid very well (in Mexican terms) for their labors.
The world is perfect just like God made it 6,000 years ago, and so the climate cannot be changing and those who claim so must have some Godless agenda.
In short, we evil vicious liberals try to rip the blinders off. We show them the scarred backs of the slaves instead of the White general on the White stallion. We show them Massa in the wood house with his favorite bent over the woodpile instead of Scarlet in her ball gown.
We try to unmask and make them stare at the true horrors of the wars they lust after, the dead and bloated bodies and the burned children.
We show them the shanty towns, and the impoverished, uneducated farm workers, and Bull Conner with his chaw and fire hoses, and the homeless living under the bridge.
We unveil the greed and thievery of business, the sweat shops and shoddy body armor for our soldiers and tainted food and the unquenchable greed feeding crooked politicians.
We unmask the plight of the people we help enslave around the world in our endless quest to maintain their fantasy world.
We show them the melting glaciers and the drowned polar bears and the inundated islands and villages and burning prairies.
And we force them to open their eyes and think. And this is unforgivable.
In short, we get them down on all fours and show them where they shit on the living room rug while sleepwalking, and they hate the smell. And they hate us for showing it to them.
Their entire world is based on a fantasy, and if we dare to try to expose it, we are evil, atheistic, socialistic communists who must be eliminated, and you canít possibly cooperate or bargain with such evil people as us liberals.
If only we would just shut up and go away, the world would be perfect again, just like it was before.
Except it never was.
It's a beautiful September day, everywhere except Dallas, where it's still 109 for the Umpteenth day in a row, the Sunday before Labor day (soon to be re-named Free Market Day!). The first whiff of fall may be in the air. Maybe you're up at the lake, catching a few and dreading the return to traffic and work. You open up DU and the big headline is: "Iranian Nuke Plant Destroyed" and the proverbial shit is hitting the proverbial fan. September is such a lovely month to start a war. Think of Stukas over Warsaw.
The Russians have been telling anybody who will listen that the Israelis are going to hit the Iranians sometime soon, and rumor has it that the Israeli pilots have been here training. So how would they do it, and why now?
There are two ways, I think. First, they (and we) may have finally perfected those super bunker-busters, and these may be employed. Or they might slip a small, but very dirty nuke into the facility and blow it up. This has the added elegence of having plausible deniability. When the Iranians start screaming that the Jews and Americans did it (and they will- who they gonna blame, the Canadians?) the Israelis can throw up their hands and claim the Iranians were trying to build nukes, kicked one over and it went off. Kind of like a sooped-up Mrs. O'Leary's cow. A bonus is a nuke would wipe out the entire corp of Iranian nuclear scientists and making the place unusable for a couple of hundred years. Up to now the Israelis have satisfied themselves with hacking the place, and shooting the occasional scientist on the streets of Tehran.
Why now? The geopolitical climate couldn't be better. Think of the last couple of real wars fought over there. Who were the prime threats to Israel? They were Egypt, Iraq, and Syria. Now all three are basically incapable of responding. Egypt is hardly likely to send it's tanks screaming across the Sinai when they are needed in Tahrir Square. The Syrians have their hands full killing their own people, and Assad is not going to send his Army and his only way to survive up against Israeli tanks. The Iraqis? We took care of them nicely for Israel. How are they going to respond with 50,000 US troops in their midst. They're not. Iran is completely isolated right now. Most of the rest of the Arabic world, read Sunnis, hate their guts and won't lift a finger. That leaves Hamas in Lebanon as the only ally of Iran able to lift a finger, and Israel can probably handle that. Iran also has 150,000 U.S. troops on its flanks at the moment.
The only way Iran could respond is to shoot a couple of missles toward Tel Aviv, which would open the door for basically anything the Israelis wanted to do, like drop a couple of 2K pounders on Qum and give the mullahs something to ponder. Israel would be given license to destroy the Iranian Air Force and what passes for their Navy.
And us? We'd get dragged in because the furious Iranians would shoot at anything in the gulf with stars and stripes, and we'd have to shoot back.
I have this sneaking suspicion that this matter is one of the reasons that Netanyahu's meetings with Obama last May went so badly. Old Ben dropped this load in Obama's lap, and our Pres was not a happy camper after that. I mean, what can he do to stop it? Nada. Maybe that's why Obama is simultaneously trying so hard to get political and financial stability at home, while not pulling troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan too fast. So one of two things might happen here. Either we have yet another limited war, and the main casualty is the American middle class when oil goes to $250 a barrel, or we have a full fledged declared war, something the Christian zealots at home have been salivating for, so as to hasten the End Times. This will of course have the special added feature of stimulating the economy in Republican acceptable ways.
Yes, it all makes for quite an Autumn scene. Of course this is just my humble 3:00am musings. Note to Agent Mike, if you're still listening. No, I'm not Julian Assange's best friend, and not a member of Wikeleaks (I can barely Google) and have not stolen any secret State Department cables. Just a semi-old man's early morning ramble. I've been wrong before, and likely will be again.
I sincerely believe that Chris Wallace's question to Michelle Bachmann, "Are you a flake" was a total setup. She got to be "outraged" and now the talking heads and pundits are of course saying that now we all cannot question her credibility, and have to look at her in a new light.
Does anyone really believe this was a mistake or an accident on Wallace's part? On Fox News? Come on people. I have an underwater bridge in Minot I'd like to sell you.
This was cold and calculated, I'd bet the ranch on it. I have no proof, but I know a setup when I see one.
Let me preface by saying that Iím neither an economist nor a banker, nor a Wall Street professional. In the eyes of many, especially economists and bankers and Wall Street professionals, that disqualifies me from even commenting. Tough shit.
I have, however, spent over twenty years looking at various sizes, shapes and flavors of financial fraud schemes. Maybe thatís the lens Iím looking through, you decide.
What I used to rely on when I investigated things (and when I invested my own money) was a multiple layered system which mostly guaranteed for me that what I was seeing was what was really there, and that the playing field was reasonably level. If you were half-assed intelligent and did a bit of research you could make reasonably good, reasonably safe, investments. Maybe not the best, but descent.
The structure was something like this. First, there were agreed up accounting standards and practices. So if a company said they made X amount of profit, you cold be sure that whoever did the books was following the same rules Iíd learned, and you would reach the same conclusions. Second, there was a strong enforcement arm standing behind the bookkeepers in the form of the SEC, FDIC, and various other regulatory bodies, both governmental and professional. So if somebody decided to cook the books, and someone always did, there was someone there to klonk them on the head pretty hard.
And standing behind the regulators was a third layer, the Justice Department and the FBI and the IRS, all with spiked baseball bats in their meaty hands, waiting for someone who either was so egregious or who slipped on past the regulators. And the results were not pretty for those who strayed into the arms of this third layer. Jail and bankruptcy and ruin for the most part. Did anybody ever get away with one? Sure, but they were really few and far between, and you genuinely could have confidence in the system.
Now letís fast forward to todayís financial system. The accounting standards and practices are now made of opaque flexible gel. You can bend them and twist them, but you canít see through them. I have no idea in looking at a company or bankís financials which, if any, rules were followed. Or not followed. Or changed for the companyís benefit. Did they really make that profit? Did they really have that loss? Are those assets really AAA and worth what they claim? I have no idea, and perhaps neither do they.
Standing behind the bookkeepers today is well, no one. The SEC is a joke. State regulators have all but disappeared. (They took care of Spitzer nicely, didnítí they). When, not if, a company cheats on its books, or in its prospectus, does anyone notice or care? In the name of deregulation and at the behest of those doing the thievery, the SEC has reduced itís once mighty regulatory framework to a few watered down suggestions. Its enforcement of what is left is virtually nonexistent.
And finally, standing behind the regulators, is, well, no one. Absent the baseball bats with spikes is a Justice Department with a flaccid noodle in its collective hand. The FBI has refocused on terrorism big and little, with nary an agent to spend on white collar crime. No one is watching the cash register.
As a result, our current financial system is in a state of anything goes. And anything does, mostly your money. How anyone can knowingly invest in any of this is beyond the scope of my understanding. Yet everyone seems to have agreed to go on as if nothing has changed, as if it is still 1969, and you can make financial decisions based on sound and trustworthy information.
I tried and tried to come up with an analogy. This is the best I can do. Letís say the AMA and the American Cancer Society decided that too many people were dieing of cancer. So they all agreed that in order to solve this serious problem, they would no longer declare anyone to have died of cancer. It was a tremendous success. Cancer death rates plummeted, and they all congratulated each other. And everyone else was happy, too. When people dropped dead, no one noticed. In fact, they picked them up, propped them in chairs, and took the corpses out to lunch, congratulating them on how good they looked, now that their cancer was cured.
However, sooner or later, the bodies start bloating, and start to stink, and pieces start dropping off, and their hosts are headed for a rude wake up call. This is where our financial system is going.
I just got my first pension statement for the year. Thanks a lot Congress. Guess I just lost a skirmish in the Class War. It's a good thing there's no inflation!
Well, at least I have a pension, it's a relic of a time gone by.
Here's my picks for the craziest state legislatures. Who did I miss?
1) South Dakota
Currently trying to legalize the murder of abortion providers
2) South Carolina
Move is on to create their own currency. Wacko bucks, anyone?
Trying to make it so nobody needs a Driverís License.
Working hard to make the state more like 1939 Bavaria. Papers please.
Bill to allow proselytizing in schools. Virginia is for proselytizing?
Honoring the founder of the KKK
Making Norman safe from Sharia law
Trying to require paternity tests on all newborns. DNA tests for pizza guys?
Want to end public employee pensions. Goodbye middle class.
Destroying public education one bill at a time
Let me preface by saying that I spent most of my 28 year Federal career as a law enforcement officer. As such I was required year after year to file exhaustive financial disclosure reports. Exactly the same reports that Clarence Thomas filled out for each of the last twenty years. On the bottom, right where you sign, was a notice that filing a false statement was a crime, punishable by fines and/or imprisonment. Now, I wasnít a lawyer (although I had to work with them), but it was a pretty straight forward issue. You tell the truth, your form is reviewed at Headquarters, and you keep on working.
I knew, and we all knew, despite not being lawyers, that if you lied, you could kiss your ass goodbye. Hereís what would have happened if I had lied on any of those forms. First, I would have been immediately called in and questioned by the Inspector Generalís office (I know, because I investigated a few of these cases). I would probably have been suspended without pay. Then I would have been fired. Probably within a week or two. Now, I might have some appeal or other but I wouldnít have had a snowballís chance in Hell.
Next, the Inspector General would have made a criminal referral to the Justice Department, and pushed, hard, to get the case prosecuted. Since itís a fairly simple statute, with no wiggle room, and I clearly had the knowledge to understand the questions, even though I wasnít a lawyer, and because U.S. Attorneys generally like simple, straight forward easy convictions (it allows them to lose a hard one now and again), I would have been dead meat. Indicted, convicted, and praying for a minimum security joint with a tennis court. You think a jury would have any sympathy for a Federal cop who lied?
Now, letís see the contrast with Mr. Thomas. He lied about twenty times. Consistently. About something he obviously knew. Over a declaration that it was a crime. And he is a lawyer. Not just any lawyer, but a Supreme Court Justice. No higher power there. And what happens?
I havenít even heard a media report outside of DU. Admittedly, I donít watch as much news as I used to, especially since Keith left, and this whole Egypt thing has kind of eaten up news time, but still.
Is there a Justice Department inquiry? And Inspector General investigation? Does anybody give a shit?
So hereís my question. Are we a nation of laws? Is there really equal justice for all? Or is that all just bullshit and weíre just making believe.
If Clarence Thomas isnít investigated, prosecuted and sent packing to prison, then our whole system of laws is a complete fraud, and thereís really no reason for any of the rest of us to respect or obey the law.
Itís up to you, Mr. Holder.
Democratic Party 1933-2010 RIP
The Obama Administration today announced the death of the Democratic Party, the AP is reporting. The Party was 77 years old.
Although many believed the party to be much older, it was born March 4, 1933 at the inauguration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Party led a vigorous youth, passing in its early days a number of socially conscious programs, including Social Security, banking reform legislation, and many jobs programs. The Party was able to lead the nation through World War II, and remained strong and confident it its beliefs.
Most Party watchers believe the first signs of illness began shortly following the end of the Truman administration. Although outwardly the Party seemed healthy, the early sixties showed the beginnings of a slow atrophy in its otherwise strong union arms.
The Party rallied briefly in the mid 1960ís, passing the Civil Rights Act and Medicare, as well as environmental legislation, and to most it appeared to regain its youthful vigor. However, most experts believed that exposure in the jungles of Viet Nam caused the final illness leading to death. Following the Partyís return home from that conflict, a long decline ensued, and the Party was by the turn of the century a mere shell of itself.
Although on life support, the Party rallied again briefly in 2008 with the election of the first black President, but the appearance of health was an illusion.
With the apparent willingness to dismantle the most basic Democratic programs, including Social Security, Medicare, and Unemployment, and its inability to maintain any semblance of fight against the Republicans, the Party was today pronounced dead.
The Party died virtually alone. A few old cousins remain in unions in Michigan, and several retired environmental cousins reside on either coast.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to Find A Cure for Triangulation (FACT) at PO Box 1992, Clintonville, AR, or the Chamberlain-Obama Association for Appeasement, Harry Reid, Chairman, PO Box 2008, Sunshine, NV.
I was thinking last night of how little peace this country has actually seen in its history. That got me trying to identify the longest period of "peace" in our history. I use "peace" in quotes, because often we were not in a full blown war, but engaged in small actions in various places. So here goes:
1789-1812: 21 Years. Not bad, we needed a chance to get started. Of course, I overlooked that whole Barbary Pirate thingy.
1814-1846: 32 Years. Actually, I think this is it. Unless you were an Indian or Black, that is.
1848-1861: 13 Years. Too busy arguing amongst ourselves.
1865-1898: 33 Years. I just can't count this one. How many tribes did we wipe out in this period. Too many to count.
1904-1917: 13 Years. I had to start in 1904 because of the brutal "anti-insurgent" war in the Phillipines. About as many dead as Iraq.
1918-1941: 23 Years. Probably the only period when it was patriotic to not want war.
1945-1950: 5 Years. A little blip. Then Korea
1953-1965: 12 Years. You could argue Viet Nam started in 1967. Or 1959. Or 1968. Take your pick, it still isn't much of a peace.
1973-1990: 17 Years. You have to ignore little things like Panama, Lebanon, etc.
1991-2003: 12 Years. Georgie couldn't let it rest.
Compare our track record with Sweeden, 1814-2010 or 196 years of Peace. Also go to http://www2.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories... where we are ranked 96th of 121 countries on the Global Peace Index. Just behind Yemen, but we are just ahead of Iran. Good on us.
I'm sure all this makes the RW'ers very happy.
But I have to ask, is Empire really worth it?
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What the hell - let's have a post for North Carolina!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, DU 2!
Any fellow Texans still here?
Getting kinda lonely in these here parts.....
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