Saturday, January 7, 2012

Crazy is as crazy does!

Thanks to Atheist Cartoons.

Ron Paul and Libertarianism

This is a synopsis of an article titled, "When We Can Say We're All 
Austrians," by a writer who has so skillfully exposed those who would 
replace our democracy with a theocracy.  Her name is Rachel Tabachnick. 
In this article she shows how Ron Paul's "libertarianism"
is anything by copacetic.  It is very dangerous.
What follows comes from 
Recent press coverage has described Rep. Ron Paul's appeal to young voters
as based on the combination of his conservative economics with liberal
social views.  This might suffice as a simplistic explanation of the
libertarianism of some Americans, but it does not accurately represent
Paul's ideology. Paul's brand of libertarianism is shared with the
frequently overlapping John Birch Society, Constitution Party and
Conservative Caucus (both founded by Howard Phillips), and the American
branch of the Austrian School of Economics - the Ludwig von Mises
Institute.    Like Paul, these groups are located on the
ultra-conservative end of the political spectrum. Their distinguishing
feature is a brand of libertarianism in which the federal government is to
be dramatically reduced in favor of "states' rights" and, as described by
the Constitution Party, local application of "jurisprudence based on
biblical foundations."  This is theocratic libertarianism, the type
of libertarian "freedom" promoted by Christian Reconstructionist Rousas J.

Read Ms. Tabachnick's entire article here:

RSA Animate - Crises of Capitalism

In this RSA Animate, renowned academic David Harvey asks if it is time to look beyond capitalism towards a new social order that would allow us to live within a system that really could be responsible, just, and humane?

This is absolutely amazing.  It's a bit long but worth every second of your time!

h/t to my friend, Jose, in Portugal

Meditations on Willard (Mitt) Romney and a fair and just nation

Although the title is mine, the following essay was written by Gene Bockneck.  It is used with his permission and we thank him for his generosity.

Gene begins with a brief reflection on Willard Romney, also known as "Mittens," also known as "Mitt."

That is followed by some thoughts about how we treat our workers and students compared to other countries and why taxes are not something to be shunned or evaded but rather are a responsibility to be accepted in order that we may have a fully functioning society where all people are treated with dignity and respect.

 [I have made a few minor editorial changes.]

Mitt Romney may be revealing himself by exposing a quality not much written about in our media.  Over the course of time I've gone from a view of him as a moderate Republican to something less attractive.  I now see he represents a kind of amorality built on the feeling he can do no wrong.

This quality appears to be inherent in some people who have lived their lives in complete safety and security, leading them ultimately to a deeply felt belief that they are impervious to any truth but their own.  Certainly this was a dominant quality in George W. Bush as well:  a kind of unshakable self-confidence or self-concern, which allowed him to operate from the point of view that whatever he did was right (since he had done it).

Like G.W. Bush, Romney grew up with, and inherited, great wealth.  His father was the CEO of American Motors, producers of the Nash Rambler and other cars of its time.  It's no wonder he gained a sense of unfettered superiority, which was expressed so well in a famous (or infamous) quote by Richard Nixon:  "the president does not commit crimes."

Nixon's statement is not a statement about morality but its absence!  Some would say it is this kind of amorality that is reflected in Mitt Romney's own history:  Romney bought a company, made a great profit by laying off thousands of workers, then sold it and walked away.

The inner certainty of one's rectitude is a troublesome quality in a person who seeks to rule in a complex, ever-changing world.

[Here Mr. Bockneck changes gears and moves into another discussion.  I do not have the column to which he refers, but the value of what he has to say stands by itself.]

I've gotten more than the usual amount of feedback from my column on "entitlements."  It may be of interest to note how other nations view that status of American workers.

"German workers by law unlike their American counterparts are given 30 days paid vacation, paid sick leave, paid maternity leave and medical insurance and dental insurance that is so comprehensive that it is in fact by comparison commercially unavailable for purchase in the American market.  All of this is to say nothing of subsidized day care and subsidized elder care and university tuition that is so low, that American students actually spend more on textbooks than German students pay for tuition for an entire school year.  So when they graduate, they (and their parents) don't graduate into indentured student loan servitude for many years and sometimes in certain cases even decades.  This gives new meaning to the phrase only in America!"  -- Der Speigel (Germany's major news magazine)

Skeptics may have a point when they argue that it's much easier for governments of small nations to provide for so many human services.  And they might also argue that such nations (including France, Norway, Holland, Finland, and Denmark) have much higher individual tax rates.  But I wonder how many Americans would swap higher tax rates for those services.

Even more important is the challenge being raised by large, indigent countries such as China and India.  These nations are very quickly becoming strong competitors with the United States in terms of manufacturing technology.  Poor families are in no position to pay for higher education when they are barely surviving themselves.  How, then do these other nations do it - educate vast multitudes?

I would call it a process of collaboration:  not socialism, not dependency, not even dictatorship.  And could just plain good, plain, practical common sense play a role?  How can these other nations afford such "luxuries"?

I'm no economist but I think the answer to affordability comes in one word and one size:  taxes.  Contrary to the crap that most of us have heard for the last umpteen years, taxes are not -- ARE NOT -- a burden on individuals and families.  Taxes are the means by which a government can ensure that its national wealth is spent helping its citizens grow, prosper, and thus strengthen the nation.

Having healthy, well-trained, actively employed citizens actually saves money in the long run (just ask the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office) while fulfilling the promise of our founders for life, liberty and opportunity in a government of, by, and for its people.  Taxes invested in the the public arena return to reward the people who pay them.

But taxes that are evaded so as to benefit the few are contrary to America's best interests -- especially in this increasingly competitive world.  A nation in which the middle class is disappearing and the number of poor are growing is a nation going downhill.  As a progressive I think that's moving in the wrong direction.  As a human being I think it's a disgraceful way to manage the public trust.

Our national problems did not begin with Barack Obama.  Historically, they actually began with the me-first heroics of our most charming president, Ronald Reagan.  Although Reagan derided what he called the "burden" of big government, and took pride in union-busting, he didn't object at all when he received his government pensions from California and the United States, as well as the actor's union.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Science proves God does not exist

One of the finest books dealing with the existence of God is Victor J. Stenger's, God - The Failed Hypothesis.  Dr. Stenger is emeritus professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Hawaii and adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado.

Stenger writes as a scientist.  Scientists are forever and always concerned with evidence; with data that can be tested and checked.  Scientific data indicates God does not exist; that no gods exist.  There is no evidence whatsoever to indicate the presence of a god; and in particular the God of Christians and Jews. 

Here is a summary of Stenger's argument taken directly from the above-named book:

* "A God who is responsible for the complex structure of the world, especially living things, fails to agree with empirical fact that this structure can be understood to arise from simple natural processes and shows none of the expected signs of design.  Indeed, the universe looks as it should look in the absence of design."

* There is no evidence to indicate a god has given humans immortal souls.  "[ ] ...human memories and personalities are determined by physical processes ... no nonphysical or extraphysical powers of the mind can be found, and ... no evidence exists for an afterlife."

* There is no corroborating evidence that a god interacts with humans, or intervenes via miracles as reported in the Bible.  In fact, "physical evidence now convincingly demonstrates that some of the most important biblical narratives, such as the Exodus, never took place."

* Many religious people continue to believe that a god "miraculously and supernaturally created the universe."  But, says Stenger, this "fails to agree with the empirical fact that no violations of physical laws were required to produce the universe, its laws, or its existence rather than its nonexistence."  Furthermore, empirical facts "indicate the universe began with maximum energy and so bears no imprint of a creator.

* Deists are convinced that a god arranged things to make life possible on earth.  But, as Stenger points out, "the universe is not congenial to human life.  [...] Such a notion "also fails to agree with the fact that the universe is mostly composed of particles in random motion, with complex structures such as galaxies forming less than 4 percent of the mass and less than one particle out of a billion."

* I remember being taught that the God of Christians and Jews was a god of revelation.  We know of him because he has revealed himself to human beings down through history.  This belief, however, "fails to agree with the fact that no claimed revelation has ever been confirmed empirically, while many have been falsified.  No claimed revelation contains information that could not have already been in the head of the person making the claim."

* One can no longer claim that our morality and values come from God, "since the evidence shows that humans define morals and values for themselves.  This is not 'relative morality.'  Believers and nonbelievers alike agree on a common set of morals and values.  Even the most devout decide for themselves what is good and what is bad.  Nonbelievers behave no less morally than believers."

* Finally, the big one!  The argument against which all belief in god fails.  "The existence of evil, in particular, gratuitous suffering, is logically inconsistent with an omniscient, omnibenevolent, omnipotent God..."

Dr. Stenger shows clearly, not only is scientific evidence pointing to the existence of a god missing, but scientific evidence indicates there can be no such deity.  "Life on earth looks just as it should look if it were not designed, and indeed, the universe looks and operates just as it should if it appeared spontaneously from nothing."

As I'm writing this I have been made aware of additional attempts in various state legislatures to dismiss the teaching of evolution in public schools in favor of "intelligent design."  Such attempts are blatantly unconstitutional for intelligent design is nothing more than souped up "creationism" which is based, not on any science whatsoever, but upon biblical mythology!

One is thus able to see how stupidity and ignorance promotes further stupidity and ignorance.  Our state legislatures and our U.S. Congress are packed with people who know nothing about science and care nothing about truth.  They believe what they are taught in their churches by ignorant preachers and priests. When you hear someone talking about "intelligent design" you can be sure he or she has a huge gap in their education; or they were home-schooled.  Millions of fundamentalist Christians have opted out of public schools in order, not to educate their children, but to propagandize their children. How many home-schooled kids are taught the reality and the beauty of the evolutionary theory?

Education may well be the most important issue on our plate today.  And even though people in high places speak piously about the need to support our schools, they speak with forked tongue, for today schools are in desperate need of funds and decent teachers and to be left alone to do their work without interference by a bunch of politically and religiously motivated pious know-nothings in various legislatures around the country!

By the time I left education, the situation was already well on its way downhill!  We were told to teach the tests!  Don't worry about anything else.  Every principal was terrified of finding their school on the list of "failed" or "failing" schools.  The principal at the school where I taught suggested we get rid of all classes except for reading and math.  It was all about the "test."  Every subject had to incorporate reading and math in their lesson plans no matter what subject they taught!

And this, begun by a Republican governor in Florida, was the beginning of the dumbing down of education in the state.  It has only gotten worse since.  There's nothing wrong with teaching reading and math, of course.  But to emphasize those two subjects at the expense of every other subject is short-sighted and stupid!  It's no wonder people come out of our schools and head to political office without basic scientific knowledge, knowing nothing of history, art, literature, music, etc.

And these ignoramuses are the ones running our world!  They disbelieve evolution and climate change, in spite of all the evidence, and think that our problems would be solved if only we would pray, pray, pray.  Just ask Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Ricky Santorum, Willard Romney, New Gingrich...

So close (to seeing the truth)

Thanks to Atheist Cartoons.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Rick Santorum's going down!

I grew up in a fundamentalist Protestant home. Back in the days, there wasn't an evangelical in sight who would vote for a Roman Catholic. Roman Catholics were not Christians! Everyone knew that!

There wasn't an evangelical in the entire universe who would vote for a Mormon. My god, Mormonism was a cult of the worst kind. Mormons were strange people who believed in all kinds of strange things, who were out two by two sucking people into the deep crags of their perverse religion.

It wasn't just that Mormons were not Christians by any stretch of the imagination, they were dangerous.

How times change.

In Iowa, supposedly the mother lode of evangelicals, a Mormon wins the caucuses with a Roman Catholic close behind.

You can put money on the fact that the religious folks of my youth are turning over in their graves. Actually, they're probably knocking the lids from their coffins trying to get out and right the terrible wrongs that have been done.

Iowa, they are dead sure, spells disaster.

Not that these evangelicals of my youth would have preferred a Democrat or even a specific Democrat such as Barack Obama for president, but it would be a close call if their only choices were a Mormon and a Catholic!

In this essay, I'm going to rip into the Roman Catholic candidate, Rick Santorum. Santorum is not of this world. His is the world of the 16th century. Or maybe even the 4th century. Santorum would be burning heretics at the stake. Santorum would be heading up the Inquisition. Santorum, you see, really believes in Holy Mother Church and all the doctrinal crap that flows out of the Vatican into the rivers of ecclesiastical latrines (aka churches). He would, if he could, turn the United States into a Roman Catholic diocese because that's what God wants!!!!

He's just as crazy as Pat Robertson on the other end of the religious spectrum.

Igor Volsky, writing at Think Progress, has put together a list of 10 of the Santorum's most egregious statements. In case you were thinking I'm a little too hard on Ricky from Pennsylvania, read on!

* First of all, Ricky just hates same-sex marriage! God, you see, hates homosexuality. (Ricky can't quite understand how his god could actually create humans who are homosexual, so it's not God's problem, but the homos' problem 'cause they chose to be the way they are!)

So, Ricky says, as president, he will annul all same-sex marriages. (Being less than bright, he doesn't understand that a president does not have that power). He's going to annul these marriages because he thinks gay marriage is a terrible aberration, and a cause of our economic crisis. Yep!  Not only so, but religious folks like himself, have the "right to discriminate against gays." Ricky said, "We have a right the Constitution of religious liberty [sic] but now the courts have created a super-right that's above a right that's actually in the Constitution, and that's of sexual liberty. And I think that's a wrong that's a destructive element."

Huh? Do you get the impression that he has no idea as to what the hell he's talking about but simply trying to mouth Roman Catholic inanities and gets it all screwed up.

* Ricky likes income inequality! The rich folks, as we all know, have worked very hard their whole lives to accumulate masses of money and they did this without any help from anybody and therefore we should applaud them and help them protect their massive fortunes. Poor people, on the other hand, obviously don't work hard at all and therefore they are not ever going to be rich!  So screw 'em!

So much for the American dream. Thanks a lot, Ricky!

* Ricky, being an ultra-conservative Roman Catholic (who believes everything the Vatican tells him) must also believe that all non-Catholics are going to burn forever in hell. That, my evangelical Iowans, means you!

Ultra-conservative Roman Catholics (of which there is a dwindling supply, (thank the gods) tout the Papal line that sex is only for procreation and never for recreation and therefore ALL FORMS OF BIRTH CONTROL are illegitimate! That's another of Ricky's sacred beliefs. As Mr. Volsky has pointed out, "Santorum has pledged to repeal all federal funding for contraception and allow the states to outlaw birth control, insisting that 'it's a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.'"

Damn! Did we just return to the Dark Ages? Where did this clown come from? Something like 98% of all Roman Catholics use birth control 'cause they are aware those funny old guys in white collars and skirts don't know what the hell they're talking about!

* Ricky would also defend and return to the policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in the military because when he thinks of all those gay soldiers showering together...well, he gets all excited.  I mean, really,  gays dropping soap in the shower would disrupt the whole military enterprise! "[...] they're in close quarters they live with people, they obviously shower with people."

Oh my god! Let it go, Ricky. You'll feel better if you do.

* Needless to say, this paragon of virtuous claptrap opposes abortion for any reason. But, his dumbness really shines through at times. He was on a Christian TV program last January and mentioned that it surprised him President Obama didn't know when life began (at the moment of conception, for those of you who haven't gotten the latest word from the far-right). And the surprising thing is that Obama should know that because he is black. "I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say, 'now we are going to decide who are people and who are not people."  Wait a minute.  Obama's half white.  Maybe if his skin was a bit lighter, he would know who are and who aren't people.  Whatcha think, Ricky?

* If you're obese, Santorum does NOT have your back. You're kind of like a queer - you could be different if you wanted to but you don't want to, so you're fat and you don't deserve things like food stamps! Ricky, the lover of the Catholic god, plans, once he's "the man" to "significantly reduce federal funding for food stamps..."

* We mentioned that Rick will not support abortion for any reason; no exceptions for rape, incest, to protect the life of mothers, etc. No exceptions. None. God told him so. Let 'em die! Let 'em carry the child of a retarded, vicious killer to term and deal with it! What the hell, they're gonna burn in hell, anyway! Exceptions, says Ricky, are "phony"!

* Ricky hates Obamacare. Exactly why he hates Obamacare when it is built on Republican ideas, is hard to understand. But he does and he claims that his daughter who was born with a genetic defect "wouldn't survive in a country with 'socialized medicine.'" That's because he's afraid other children would be treated prior to and more effectively than his daughter.

Yes, he's quite crazy!

* Another of Ricky's crazy statements has to do with cell phones and health care. People who spend money on cable TV and cell phones should stop crabbing about the high cost of health care. Get rid of those luxuries so you can continue to pay outrageous sums to insurance companies and purveyors of drugs!

* And, finally, tied to the above, is Santorum's notion that insurance companies should have the right to discriminate against people who have pre-existing conditions. And if you're sick, you need to pay higher prices for your health care, 'cause you're costing the insurance companies more money.

Here's a few additional notes to add to your list as to why Santorum belongs in a sanitarium and not in the White House:

He disbelieves in the scientific theory that underlies all scientific study, evolution.

He disbelieves in climate change/global warming even though climate change is not a matter of "belief." Climate change is not up for debate. It's the reality we live with.

He thinks all undocumented immigrants are criminals and should be treated as such.

Iraq was a godly war.

The Crusades represented Christian and American values.

We are obliged to make the United States into a Christian (read Catholic) nation!

Well, there you have it: Rick Santorum in a nutshell, and I use the word NUTshell purposely. No doubt his life would have been much more fulfilling if he had lived in the 16th century rather than now. Now, he's bound by the Constitution and laws so he cannot enforce his Roman Catholic beliefs on the rest of us. It is doubtful, in my opinion, that he would ever get elected president, but he'd probably be a wonderful Republican candidate to run against Obama.

Get out there and nominate him, you Republicans!

You can read all of Igor Volsky's article here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Pat Robertson knows 'cause God told him! You betcha!

Pat Robertson says God has told him who the next president will be -- but it's a secret.

The televangelist revealed on Tuesday that he had spent the nearly a week in prayer, asking God to "show me something."

"I think He showed me the next president, but I’m not supposed to talk about that," Robertson explained. "So I’ll leave you in the dark -- probably just as well -- I think I’ll know who it will be.  God, who obviously isn't a Democratic voter, told Robertson that President Barack Obama had "a radical view of the future of this country."

"Your president holds a radical view of the direction of your country which is at odds with the majority, expect chaos and paralysis," God reportedly said.

"The future of the world is at stake because if America falls, there’s no longer a strong champion of freedom and a champion of the oppressed of the world. There must be an urgent call to prayer. The Lord said, a time of maximum stress and peril, greater than at any time since the CBN ministry began. This country will begin disintegrating."

Robertson recalled that since his CBN ministry began in 1960, there had been several wars and a presidential assassination.

"He is saying you will have worse stress than before. So I’m saying, 'God, let me give you some suggestions and you tell me if any of them is right, pick one,'" Robertson explained. "I said, 'Is it an EMP blast? No that isn’t it. Is it a cosmic or solar or radiation blast? No. Is it Mayan galaxy alignment? No. Is it Iranian or North Korean nuclear threat? No. Is it an earthquake or a volcano? No. Is it a massive power failure? No.'"

"What is it? It’s an economic collapse," the conservative leader finally disclosed. "And God said, 'This is not my judgment, they are bringing it upon themselves.'"

Thanks to David at Crooks & Liars for the above video and commentary!

I know this Robertson nonsense has been all over the Internet and the MSM, but I think there's more to be said and at least one question to be asked.

Why, after Robertson has made a complete ass of himself over and over again down through the years, does anyone bother to report the crap that spews out of his mouth?

I say this without trepidation or fear of contradiction:  Pat Robertson is certifiably insane!  And that's just on the face of things.  There is something really crazy about an adult male who believes (or who claims to believe) that an imaginary person "up" there somewhere talks to him and confides important information to him and to no one else - well, maybe a few others.  Bachmann must have got her wires crossed, 'cause she has now dropped out of the race which God wanted her to win.  And Rick Perry, the moronic Texan, who also claimed God had told him he should run for president, didn't do very well in Iowa.  He's gonna carry on, though, waste a few more million dollars, and convince even die-hard Republicans he's dumber than a hoof on one of his Texas Longhorns!

Robertson is nuts and parades the fact proudly in front of the whole world and people still tune him in and send him money and so desperately need to have someone tell them what to do they bow down and kiss his proverbial ass every time he opens his mouth!

There is no god up there telling Robertson anything. Where are the men in the white jackets when we need them? We really needed them in 2003 when George Bush got the word from God and invaded Iraq and destroyed hundreds of thousands of lives at a cost of over a trillion dollars for no good reason whatsoever. (He thought he had a good reason and it had nothing to do with WMD, it had to do with Iraqi oil which he wanted to secure for his friends in the oil bizness!)

Robertson is not really a threat anymore because a majority of Republicans are even crazier than he is!  They are the real threat!  When you have a 16th century Roman Catholic like Santorum going around talking about outlawing birth control, you know crazy when you hear it!  When Republicans in state legislatures around the country introduce laws which would replace the teaching of evolution with religious crapola from the Hebrew bible, the problems increase exponentially.  Evolution is the foundation of knowledge today; it is the greatest theory of the structure of life ever discovered.  But people who think that evolution teaches their ancestors were monkeys get all upset and then act in ways that indicate their ancestors weren't smart enough yet to become monkeys!  When you recognize that the Republican Party has turned into a version of Robertson's 700 Club, you realize that the danger of a theocracy becomes more real with every ounce of power the party is given. 

Robertson is still dangerous, though.  His law school is where Michele Bachmann got her degree and her notion that the law of God as she interprets it trumps the Constitution every time!

One final thought:  Robertson is a very rich man, which means he isn't going to get into heaven.  It's impossible, said Jesus, for a rich man to enter the Kingdom.  But he's still laughing all the way to the bank.  Fortunately, for us, money is not a critical issue, so...

Perhaps the best thing we can do is laugh at the nitwit.  Ignorance has obviously paid off for him (along with some diamond trading chicanery a few years ago) and he isn't going away until "the Lord takes him home."

Oh, Lord, we've waited so long.  Not that we wish him ill, but could you hurry the process a bit?

Don't let reason & evidence interfere with what you want to believe!

Thanks to Atheist Cartoons.

The GOP & Healthcare...A high point of hypocrisy!

If you've paid attention to what the Republican wingnuts running for public office have to say relative to what they disparagingly call "Obamacare," you would get the impression that the government's health care plan (saturated with gifts to Republicans) was just about the worst example of governmental interference in the lives of average Americans since George Bush stole the 2000 election with the help of his friends on the U.S. Supreme Court!

It is important, I think, for everyone to realize that by and large, Republicans lie as a matter of course.  Most of them claim to love Jesus which gives one pause until you realize that they have reinterpreted Jesus' words to mean the ends justify the means!  Because they actually believe that it has become part of their essence and to lie, then, is perfectly all right so long as it helps to bring down that socialist, Muslim, fascist, unAmerican, black guy in the White House.

(A very young, and very stupid acquaintance of mine, educated in an ultra-right-wing Christianist diploma mill never had a chance to get smart.  And although he is convinced that he loves Jesus with his whole heart and will definitely go to heaven and plans to give his life to Jesus by convincing Jews and other apostates of the need to convert to his brand of Christianity, he readily lies about the president of the United States.  He can do that because his small little brain, no doubt wired at random, believes Mr. Obama is a Muslim, a socialist, and is involved in a conspiracy to bring down the United States.  But he goes one further:  Obama, he says, is the epitome of evil.  He is the anti-Christ!)

The Republican candidates who finally wound up their sad little shows in Iowa, operate in the same way.  Truth seems not to concern them.  Mr. Romney claims that President Obama created no new jobs in his two years, when the reality is much different.  Mr. Romney claims that he created lots of new jobs while at Bain but the truth is the opposite!  We've noted previously that each of the Republican wannabees operates the same way - with no or little regard for the truth.

Each of these wannabees hates what Republicans often call "Obamacare."  The lies that have been told about Obamacare would fill a book.  Who can forget Palin's romance with "death panels."  Bachmann, since the bill was passed, has fought it tooth and nail.  Lots of Americans listen to these nogoodniks and determine if they say Obamacare is a socialist plot, it must be true.  Ignorance rules.

There's a wonderful article in the December 23 issue of "The Week."  Here are some items gleaned from this article:

1)  A conservative think tank, The Heritage Foundation, was first to propose making health insurance mandatory.  In the late 1980s.  The Heritage people weren't suggesting this out of the goodness of their heart, mind you, that would be too "unRepublicanlike."  They were concerned about how universal health insurance might cost the insurance companies too much.  If insurance companies could no longer reject people with pre-existing conditions, they would be financially stressed because young and healthy folks might put off buying health insurance until they became sick.  Voila!  The individual mandate where everyone is required to buy health insurance!

2)  In the early 90s, President Clinton pushed for companies to provide their employees with health insurance.  A number of Republicans immediately jumped up to offer the individual mandate as part of that plan.  Here's a quote from ol' Newt:

"I am for people, individuals--exactly like automobile insurance--having health insurance and being required to have health insurance."

I don't think that's what he is saying now.  In fact, I'd guess that would be second most terrible thing he did in his life other than sitting down with Nancy Pelosi to begin working on a solution to the problem of global warming.

But the whole business went down the tubes in 1994.

3)  Ten years later, though, the good ol' lying Mitt Romney, now the guv of Massachusetts, brought the notion of the individual mandate to the good folks of that state.  The state health-care plan required everyone to buy in or pay a penalty - "up to $1,212 in annual penalties."

When the law went into effect, Mitt told the world "It's [his health plan] is a Republican way of reforming the market.  [To have] people who show up [at a hospital] when they get sick, and expect someone else to pay, that's a Democratic approach."

Whee!  What a turnaround from the Mitt campaigning in Iowa!

4)  Although Obama initially rejected the Republican notion of an individual mandate, he eventually came to see it was the right thing to do.  He "allowed his 2010 Affordable Care Act to incorporate a provision that, by 2014, all Americans must have health coverage or face a tax penalty."

Do you remember the faux Republican outrage?  "Conservatives decried that directive as a gross infringement of individual liberty [remember this was a Republican plan from the get-go!], and their anger helped fuel the rise of the Tea Party."

But the party's not over yet.  "Twenty-six states and the National Federation of Independent Businesses are now challenging the mandate's constitutionality at the Supreme Court, which will make a final judgment in June."

Stay tuned!  The hypocrisy is running rampant over the golden plains and majestic mountains of our land!

[Specific information on healthcare reform was taken from "A mandate for controversy," p. 13, THE WEEK, December 23, 2011]

Amazing Pictures From a Year in the Life of Barack Obama

These wonderful photographs, which give a sense of the dignity, compassion, and intelligence of our President - Barack Obama - should be seen by everyone. Please click here.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

It's time to be proud ... of our President ...

I do not know the author of this piece, but would like to thank Irv DeWitt, Irv Cohen and Bob Poris for bringing it to my attention.  It is an important essay in light of the vicious attacks on our president by the Republican presidential candidates and their followers. 

Yesterday, for example, possible front-runner Mitt Romney said this:

"I think president Obama wants to make us a European style welfare state, where instead of being a merit society, we're an entitlement society, where government's role is to take from some and give to others.  What I know is if they do that, they'll substitute envy for ambition, and they'll poison the very spirit of America and keep us from being one nation under God.

"I want to see America united.  I watch a president who has become the great divider, the great complainer, the great excuse giver, the great blamer."

It is difficult to realize that this very stupid and cretinous person has any chance at all of becoming president.  Everything Romney said is false!  All lies!  Everything!  It is a deliberate attempt to turn people against our president and thus bring down our country in order to gain power and turn the United States into an oligarchy where the rich rule.  If there were a just god, surely she would strike down Mr. Romney in the corn fields of Iowa!

The truth is, in 2012, we have a president of which we can be proud, even when we disagree with him!  He isn't a perfect president.  There is no such thing.  But after the dark years of George Bush, he is a ray of light!  It is time for Americans to stand up to the Romneys, the Bachmanns, the Santorums, the Gingriches, the Pauls and denounce their message of lies.

It is time for all to be proud of someone in the White House...proud...a word we have been wanting:

Thank you, Mr. President, 

* for the 'room-lighting' smile

* for the mind that always thinks

* for preventing a second Great Depression

* for the humor

* for bringing the number of women on the Supreme Court to 3

* for making the White House the 'people's' house

* for 1.1 million jobs created in 2010 alone - more than were created during the entire 8 years of George Bush's tenure

* for the Penny Ice Creamery in Santa Cruz, California

* for the love of people

* for the love of family

* for America's first Lady

* for health care reform

* for leaving the past behind

* for helping the world to begin to respect America again

* for quietly and calmly dealing with crisis after crisis, after crisis, after crisis, even if not being responsible for any of them

* for being so 'cool'

* for being fierce - when needed

* for having the intellect to be curious

* for the capacity to know that you are, as we are, imperfect

* for  having the sense to not let it destroy you

* for the capacity to be compassionate

* for being an inspiration to so many

* for saving the auto industry and at least 1.4 million jobs

* for loving the troops

* for understanding the horrible price of war

* for bringing 100,000 men and women back from Iraq

* for facing the most difficult and loneliest job in the world with grace, dignity, honesty and guts in spite of so many 'Haters'

* for being, in spite of all the hate, pettiness, racism, corruption and immaturity around, the most progrressive and 'for the people' president in decades

* and simply for this - for being................Mr. President!

Monday, January 2, 2012

A pagan Christmas

Thanks to Atheist Cartoons.

Insights from Bill Moyers

Notice that he gives no examples of Obama's so-called "lies."  Mitt Romney, Republican, erstwhile wannabe president, says the real president - President Obama - lies like Kim Kardashian.  Romney wants your vote.  He thinks he has the qualifications to be president of the United States.  But instead of offering positive programs and possibilities, all he can do is attempt to make the current president look bad by comparing him to a moronic reality show participant who has nothing to offer but gobs of makeup and plastic breasts.

Romney is representative of the other Republican presidential wannabees.  Their campaigns consist primarily of trying to tear down Obama or each other.  Much of the time they come off looking like goofy comic strip characters.  Ms. Bachmann, for example, claims President Obama is placing anti-abortion aids on the "bubble-gum" aisle in stores where they are easily available to young children.

Bachmann lies.  They all lie.  They lie about their past, their beliefs, each other, the government, and Obama!

They also pretend they are "one of us."  They want us to believe that they are not wealthy elitists.  They hide the facts that they believe the government exists to enrich the wealthy; that they care nothing for the middle- or lower-classes.  They do that by lying about government programs which exist to help people in need.  Social Security, they say, is bankrupt.  That is a lie.  It is not even close to bankruptcy.  And a quick fix is available -- just bump up the taxes on the wealthy a tad.  But any additional taxes on the rich is devoutly disavowed for "no more taxes" serves as part of their religious creed!

It is tempting to look at these clowns and write them off as so impossibly stupid that they could not possibly be elected.  But that would be a mistake.  George Bush stole the election in 2000 and was actually re-elected (more or less) in 2004.

Especially sad is the fact these people represent the best the Republican Party can offer the country.  That should be laughable but it is actually quite tragic.  As Frank Schaeffer says, the Republican Party no longer exists.  It has been co-opted by far right-wing christianists and kooks.

One of this country's most astute political and social commentators is Bill Moyers.  Unfortunately, his is a voice too little heard amidst the rabble-rousing monstrosities like Rush Limbaugh and his ilk.  But we need to listen to what Moyers has to say, for he is a man uncorrupted by either wealth or greed or power.

The following is from his book, Moyers On America:

The "oldest story in America," he says, is "the struggle to determine whether 'we, the people' is a spiritual idea embedded in a political reality--one nation, indivisible--or merely a charade masquerading as piety and manipulated by the powerful and privileged to sustain their own way of life at the expense of others. ...

"[...] the difference between a society whose arrangements roughly serve all its citizens and one whose institutions have been converted into a stupendous fraud [...] ... is the difference between democracy and oligarchy."

Moyers wrote those words in 2003.  Not much has changed.  We remain, in my opinion, on the brink of oligarchy, aided and abetted by a Congress whose members are deeply indebted for their political lives to the oligarchs, and a Supreme Court, the majority of which are part and parcel of the oligarchical dream and live for the erection and expansion of an oligarchy.  Thus, the court has determined, in opposition to the foundational beliefs of this country, that corporations are "people" and are free to undermine the political process and democracy itself through massive infusions of corporate money to elect synchophants who will do the bidding of their corporate masters.

Moyers, after a brilliant discussion of how this country came to be, brings us up-to-date by laying much of the blame on "Democratic politicians and public thinkers" ... who did not live up to the legacy of FDR and thus failed "to respond to popular discontents--to the daily lives of workers, consumers, parents, and ordinary taxpayers..."

While perhaps a bit simplistic in his neglect of the Republican Congressional tragedies of the mid-90s (Newt Gringrich's war on compromise, for example), Moyers provides much food for thought.

The failure of our politicians and political structures, says Moyers, "allowed a resurgent conservatism to convert public concern and hostility into a crusade that masked the resurrection of social Darwinism as a moral philosophy, multi-national corporations as a governing class, and the theology of markets as a transcendental belief system.

"As a citizen," Moyers says, "I don't like the consequences of this crusade, but I respect the conservatives for their successful strategy in gaining control of the national agenda.  Their stated and open aim is to strip from government all its functions except those that reward their rich and privileged benefactors.  They are quite candid about it, even acknowledging proudly the mean spirit invoked to accomplish their ambitions. ... Grover Norquist, in commenting on the fiscal crisis in the states and its effect on schools and poor people said, 'I hope one of them' -- one of the states -- 'goes bankrupt."

Ladies and gentlemen:  Today's crop of Republican nominees for the presidential nomination are the end result of this morbid and desolate strategy.  And all they can promise is more of the same.  Much more of the same.  And they are just as candid and open about it.  They promise to destroy the American dream and tens of millions of Americans cheer them on.   

Other than reject these pretenders to the throne, what else can we, as responsible Americans, as Americans who love our country deeply, do?  I would recommend, first off, that everyone read Moyers' book.  But since that is highly unlikely to occur, I will put forth below what Mr. Moyers says is our "first order of business" which is "to understand the real interests and deep opinions of the American people."

These are:

*  That a Social Security card is not a private portfolio statement but a membership ticket in a society where we all contribute to a common treasury so that none need face the indignities of poverty in old age

*  That tax evasion is not a form of conserving investment capital but a brazen abandonment of responsibility to the country

*  That income inequality is not a sign of freedom of opportunity at work, because if it persists and grows, then unless you believe that some people are naturally born to ride and some to wear saddles, it's a sign that opportunity is less than equal

*  That self-interest is a great motivator for production and progress but is amoral unless contained within the framework of social justice

*  That the rich have the right to buy more cars than anyone else, more homes, vacations, gadgets, and gizmos, but they do not have the right to buy more democracy than anyone else

*  That public services, when privatized, serve only those who can afford them and weaken the sense that we all rise and fall together as 'one nation, indivisible'

*  That concentration in the production of goods may sometimes be useful and efficient, but monopoly over the dissemination of ideas is tyranny

*  That prosperity requires good wages and benefits for workers

*  That our nation can no more survive as half democracy and half oligarchy than it could survive half slave and half free, and that keeping it from becoming all oligarchy is steady work--our work

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Hey, Tim! The word of the Lord!

I do not know the name of the person who put this together but I give a hat tip to my friend, Bob Poris.

Fear is the foundation of religion

The following comes from Why I Am Not a Christian, by the great philospher, Bertrand Russell. What Mr. Russell had to say in 1957, unfortunately, still resonates today for religion--in particular the Christian religion--continues to dominate our culture, our country, our discourse and is, in my opinion, one of the true terrors that we face as a nation.

Consider that the entire troupe of Republican presidential wannabees are religious to a fault. Their political beliefs as well as their personal beliefs, are based, not on science or reason, but on religion -- and in every case, a particularly pernicious form of Christianity. Each of them disavows evolution, the greatest theory in all of human history, the theory upon which most everything we know in the world is based. They dismiss the science behind global warming as if that science was simply a matter of faith and not a morbid matter of fact that threatens the very existence of the human race!

In each case, although they profess allegiance in one form or another to the mythical Jesus, they boldly disregard his teachings across the board, whether it has to do with riches, prayer, charity or politics.

Perhaps it is beneficial to listen once again to some of the great scientific and philosophic minds out of which have flowed nuggets of truth forged in the cauldron, not of fear, but of scientific reality; the same reality by which we have been given the tools to understand the mightiest fact on earth: We are not controlled by gods and witches and the stars, but by nature.

We need no longer to cling desperately to the fear religion suggests as good in order to survive in this world. Science has negated such nonsense and at the same time suggested we are responsible for what becomes of our earth and our life together. In fact, we are the only hope we have!

So, listen once again, to Mr. Russell:  

Religion is based, I think, primarily and mainly upon fear. It is partly the terror of the unknown and partly, [...] the wish to feel that you have a kind of elder brother who will stand by you in all your troubles and disputes. 

Fear is the basis of the whole thing--fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand. It is because fear is at the basis of those two things. 

In this world we can now begin a little to understand things, and a little to master them by help of science, which has forced its way step by step against the Christian religion, against the churches, and against the opposition of all the old precepts. 

Science can help us to get over this craven fear in which mankind has lived for so many generations. Science can teach us, and I think our own hearts can teach us, no longer to look around for imaginary supports, no longer to invent allies in the sky, but rather to look to our own efforts here below to make this world a fit place to live in, instead of the sort of place that the churches in all these centuries have made it.