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Remember Barack Obama’s inauguration? An enormous number of people turned out to see the new President who had promised to save the nation. It was like the second coming of Abraham Lincoln, and after the devastation that had been wrought upon the country by George Bush’s inability to understand economics and the government’s  complete lack of oversight of the financial industry, people were breathing a sigh of relief that this new, stunning speech-maker had the vision, boldness, and determination to do whatever was needed to save the sinking ship. Unfortunately, we found out that the man who had been put upon a pedestal had feet of clay after all, and his greatest gift was sadly, speech-making. Remember the promise to close Guantanamo? We don’t hear much about that anymore, do we? Well, what about the economy? He fixed that didn’t he? I suppose, at least he stopped the car from going over the cliff – something George Bush could not do. But he ignored the advice of Nobel Prize winning economist, Paul Krugman and instead listened to Timothy  Geithner and Larry Summers, both of whom were part of the problem, because it was the policies of these people, and others, that directly led to the economic catastrophe. The result has been a tepid “recovery”, if you can call it that. 

And then there are the new rules about the government now having the power to arrest and detain indefinitely any U.S. citizen who it suspects might be a threat to the country. And – it is the military who will detain you indefinitely, without trial or any other rights guaranteed to all citizens under the Constitution. And Congress looks the other way. And the Supreme Court looks the other way. And everyone else goes back to watching football or baseball, soon forgetting all about these new, un-Constitutional rules. But the U.S. government hasn’t forgotten, and Barack Obama hasn’t forgotten.

Sure ,Obama has created a sort of National Health Care system – nothing that could compare with those of Canada or Europe or Asia, but he got what he wanted: the elimination of the possibility of being rejected for health insurance because of a pre-existing condition. I guess it was because his Obama’s mother had such difficulties with that issue that he wanted to make sure that U.S. insurance companies couldn’t do that to someone else’s mother or child. 

OK. So, Barack, is that it? Are you done? You seem to think the economy is OK. I don’t hear much more about health care reform. You nailed Osama bin Laden, you left Iraq, and you are about to leave Afghanistan. So….any other ideas? I was just wondering, how are you going to get unemployment down to a number like 6%? Is there a plan or do we just punt? By the way, how are things at Guantanamo? Oh, and can Americans who are picked by the Army be imprisoned there now? Or do they go to some secret military prison, never to be heard from again? I think it’s time for another speech.

And then there’s Romney. The father of Obamacare, he now vigorously denies being the parent of this odious thing that is the object of Republican loathing and retching. But he is. And he thought it was a good thing too. So, what is Romney’s plan – other than, “let’s not tax the job creators”. That would be him and his cronies, I suppose. Here’s the thing I don’t get: if Bain Capital takes over a company and makes it prosperous by outsourcing its jobs to China or India, how many U.S. jobs are they creating? Or, when he says he’s creating jobs, is he including all those jobs in China and India too? Here’s another thing I’m not too sure of: do the “job creators” really use their personal income to create jobs for other people? I mean, let’s say you work at Bank of America – that would be a good job, right? So, did you get that job because the President and CEO of Bank of America opened up his wallet and paid you a salary? That would be really generous, wouldn’t it? But, I thought they used the money from investors to create the jobs – you know like when you buy BoA stock, then they take your money (thank you very much) and they hire people. And if the Bank doesn’t do well their stock goes down and you lose your money. But the job-creating President and CEO still gets his mega-million dollar salary, doesn’t he? And my man Mitt wants the President and CEO to pay almost no taxes because he “created” your job. Awww…isn’t that special? I guess that how our Capitalist system works, right?

Actually, it doesn’t work quite the way Mitty would like you to believe. Basically, he just wants the rich folk, who already own the Congress and the Supreme Court to also own the Presidency. The really interesting thing is that about half the American people seem to want that too. Not sure why…wouldn’t it just be easier to have a king and get rid of the sham democracy? And Barack, well he just wants to be President – not too sure why, he doesn’t seem to have any ideas about what to do. He hasn’t mentioned a new scientific leap forward like the space program that John Kennedy started.  He hasn’t mentioned anything of the magnitude like the Interstate Highway System like Eisenhower started.  He hasn’t mentioned anything like the Great Society and Civil Rights for all that Johnson started – oops, sorry, that one really bothered the Southern half of the country, didn’t it? Remember Johnson saying that he thought he had just turned the solidly Democratic South to becoming a Republican voting block? Well, ol’ Lyndon was right about that, wasn’t he? Being a Texan, he would know, too.

Anyway, Obama seems plumb out of ideas, now that his single idea of “no pre-existing conditions” has been enacted. I guess he’s just exhausted. And Romney, the opportunist, venture capitalist? Ahh, no ideas there either! At least he’s not talking about any…. Of course not, those venture guys aren’t going to share their secret plans with you or me – at least not the real plans.

So where are we? Obama did a lot of things we never expected and didn’t do a lot of things we expected. We can probably expect the same from Romney – so, it really doesn’t matter which is elected because they will wind up just doing whatever they want anyway – which will have little to no relation to their campaign promises.

So, wouldn’t it be simpler to just have a king?

Today, South Carolina voters will decide who they think should be the Republican nominee for President of the United States. Recent polls indicate that he is currently in the lead – and South Carolina has a history of picking the eventual Republican Presidential candidate! Let’s suppose Newt not only wins the primary but also becomes the Republican Party candidate and eventually becomes President. Should we care? Would he really be all that different from Barack Obama, a man who is perhaps the greatest disappointment to liberals in recent history? After all, didn’t Obama appoint Geithner and Summers as his principal financial people, and weren’t they part of the team that caused the financial catastrophe under Bush? Didn’t Obama just sign legislation that says American citizens can be imprisoned by the Army without trial indefinitely because someone suspects they might be guilty of a crime? Hasn’t Obama pretty much followed the Republican agenda of George Bush? So – what difference would it make if a Republican named Gingrich became President? Wouldn’t it just be more of the same – no real change no matter who we vote for?

No. This time it would be different. Gingrich would lead us down a path to Hell with no return. I’m not talking about his lack of morality because he is now on wife #3. Sure, he lacks the morality of most American citizens with regard to sexuality and loyalty to one another. But maybe his wife switching wasn’t just due to an over active libido. Maybe he just has a habit of making really bad decisions – like if you buy a car that was made in France, for example. OK. I admit it. Being on wife #3 and probably on the lookout for wife #4 is a bad sign. It’s a sign that says he has an issue with loyalty, or maybe he has an insatiable sex drive, or maybe he doesn’t choose the right person for the job most of the time. Something like that, maybe. True, these are all disturbing thoughts and should be taken into consideration.

However, there is something even more disturbing about this Newt (what an amazingly appropriate name – sorry, I just have to say it…).  It is the things he says that makes me wonder if he has ever studied history, and if so, was if the Cliff’s Notes version in college? It seems as if he has missed entire segments of the past and the lessons learned from a vast amount of human suffering. Even worse, he is blind to his own ignorance, spouting off in puffed up grandiosity, holding forth like he is Pythagoras or Socrates himself as he talks about abolishing the child labor laws. Either Newt doesn’t know why we have these laws, or he thinks that the American population is as ignorant as he seems to be. The simple fact is this: the laws were a necessity to protect children, as young as 7 or 8 years old, or even younger, from working endless hours in mills full of dangerous dust and grime. Children worked with the large knitting and other machines because their small fingers could fit into parts of the machines that adults could not reach. Children worked in these mills – similar to the ‘dark Satanic mills” of England, famously referred to by William Blake in his poem, Jerusalem – until about a century ago when people with far more intelligence that Newt Gingrich outlawed this abuse of defenseless children in both England and the United States.

Now, this extraordinarily ignorant and selfish man wants to be President of the United States. And the people of South Carolina seem likely to vote for him. Are the people of South Carolina as incredibly dumb as Newt thinks they are? We shall soon find out. And if he is right, we may well next learn something about the intelligence of the average American. After all, they voted for George Bush, probably the stupidest man to ever be President (so far) – a man who nearly destroyed the country with his insane financial policies. Could Newt be more dangerous than W? Yes, because he truly believes in the exploitation of innocent children and cares nothing for their welfare or safety.

He is a real and present danger to the next generation of Americans: the small and innocent children of the land. And there is nothing more dangerous to America than that.

 

Perhaps it was inevitable. After all, even the greatest of empires such as the Roman Empire or the British Empire – upon whose lands the sun never set – eventually collapsed. Their laws, values, and customs disintegrated as the people of the empire no longer cared enough to fight for them – as their ancestors had. Now the United States of America, an unacknowledged empire, but one nonetheless, is beginning to crumble, bit by bit. The barbarians are at the gates, held back only by a mostly mercenary army, lured into military service by steady wages, health and education benefits, college education benefits, and the promise of a secure, paid retirement. Meanwhile, the common people lead their lives as consumers of industrial agriculture, imported energy, and the goods of foreign lands. It is not the America envisioned by its founders; indeed, it is far from it. Gone are the citizen soldiers, the Minutemen. Gone are the self-sufficient family farms. Gone is the town meeting form of government where the citizens of a town met and agreed upon the town’s budget (except for a few anachronisms in New England). Now, an insidious erosion of American justice is underway, and as in the corruption of our economic system, the transformation of our military into a paid professional force, and export of American jobs to overseas sources of cheap labor and materials, the American people once again simply turn over on their sofas and click their remotes to see what is on the other channels.

However, this time it is different. This time, changes are happening that can undermine the very foundation of America and its ideals. The nation is threatened, not from external enemies, but from within. It didn’t begin today or yesterday. It started in earnest perhaps with the administration of George W Bush, although its roots go back at least to Ronald Reagan and the insidious replacement of pension plans with 401k accounts. It was the attacks on 9/11 that opened the doors of opportunity for Bush and Cheney, certainly the most despicable people to ever lead our government. Using the excuse of the necessities of war Bush and Cheney obliterated the rights of citizens to have private conversations without the government eavesdropping on their every word without a court order. Using the excuse that the country was in dire danger – more so that the threats that had come in a previous era  from Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan – Bush and Cheney developed a consistent policy of torturing prisoners, and in doing so became neo-Nazis themselves. These two individuals, entirely bereft of America’s sacred ideals, established a policy of indefinite confinement without trial for suspected terrorists, i.e. people who the U.S. government thought might be guilty – but for whom they had no proof of guilt. It was not a reasonable or sane policy. It is a senseless, literally insane policy, worthy only of a scene from Alice in Wonderland, “Sentence first – verdict afterwards!”

When President Obama campaigned for the Presidency of the United States he promised to end the indefinite detection of suspected terrorists in Cuba and have civilian trails for these people in the United States. They would be found guilty or innocent based upon American justice. However, it seems that it became apparent that virtually none of these people would be found guilty in an American court because their was insufficient evidence to prove their guilt. Under the rules of American justice they would have to be set free. So, like George Bush, Obama agreed to indefinite imprisonment and military trials for these people in Cuba. So much for the promises of Barack Obama.

Now, President Obama has signed into law a new act of a seditious Congress that will eliminate more rights of American citizens. This law will allow the detention, by the military, of American citizens who are suspected of being terrorists. No proof required. No rights of the citizen to a fair trial by his peers. No resort to the system of American justice. Instead, we citizens of the United States of America can be imprisoned without trial indefinitely by our own military. It will happen simply by having some official say, “I think he’s a terrorist.” We are witnessing the fall of the American Empire, we are seeing the rotting from within – a cancer on the Presidency, a corruption of the Congress, and a Supreme Court that has become nothing more than the begging servant of industry. And what do we do? We turn aside, grab a can of beer, and see what else is on TV.

We are no different from the empires of Rome and Greece and Egypt and Great Britain and so many more. These all had one thing in common. The people stopped believing in their ideals, the empires collapsed from within, and the barbarians tore down the gates of the cities while a complacent people drank wine and watched the circus.

It is a sad day for America.

I never supported the Iraq war. I believe the entire affair was no more than a vendetta instigated by George Bush against Saddam  Hussein. Perhaps it was due to Saddam’s failed assassination attempt against George Bush Senior. Who knows? It certainly wasn’t about weapons of mass destruction. Nor was it about the “War on Terror”. Whatever the reason that Bush/Cheney had for it, they waged a war that caused the loss of many American soldier’s lives. Similarly, the war in Afghanistan is also questionable. After all, nearly all of the Al Qaeda terrorists who commandeered the aircraft on September 11th were from Saudi Arabia. One might think it would have made more sense to retaliate against Saudi Arabia – Osama bin Laden’s homeland. However, in the odd workings of the Bush/Cheney mind – the mind that condoned torture of prisoners, illegal wiretaps on American citizens, and the use of trials by military tribunals for people suspected of supporting terrorists, instead of using the U.S. justice system – America freely attacked two countries without cause. (It doesn’t make sense to say that America attacked Afghanistan because they had trained Osama bin Laden because it was America that had taught the Afghans these same tactics. In essence it was almost as if America had trained Osama bin Laden.

Once the wars began, George Bush/Cheney was anxious to hide the cost of war – American war dead from the American people. Thus the war dead were brought to Dover Air Force base in secret with no news coverage. The American people were not to know the human cost of the war – George Bush had learned that lesson from the Vietnam war. He knew that by managing the news the American people could be kept under control. He didn’t need any demonstrations in the streets.

There was, however, another problem for George Bush/Cheney.  What should be done with unidentified body parts of dead soldiers? For example, suppose a young Army volunteer soldier steps on a land mine and get blown into dozens of pieces? Or what about the soldiers who are flying to a battle and their helicopter crashes and they are burned beyond recognition? Or what should Bush/Cheney do about the soldier who takes a direct hit from a mortar shell and is split into three or four pieces? Should the military hold funerals for these people? It seems that Bush/Cheney decided that wasn’t necessary because by virtue of being dismembered these young men were no longer people – they were “medical waste”. Bush/Cheney apparently decided that the best thing to do with the remaining pieces of the young volunteer soldiers was to just throw them into the dump in Virginia.

So they did. The remains – i.e. arms, legs, fingers – whatever – were simply incinerated and literally dumped into a landfill, along with the garbage. That, apparently, is what hospitals do with “medical waste”, and it seems that is what America’s volunteer soldiers had become – medical waste. A sort of road kill – that’s all. And the government didn’t bother to tell the families of the soldiers what they had done. The complete lack of honor accorded to these soldiers by the U.S. government is horrific. The treating of war dead as garbage is reminiscent of the utter lack of humanity in the Nazi concentration camps. It smacks of the depravity of Pol Pot in Cambodia. It sends a clear message of a government that has lost its soul and humanity – it has simply become a heartless killing machine caring nothing for those on whom it drops its bombs and caring just as little for American soldiers who get shredded into pieces while fighting for…for…I wonder – just what are they fighting for?

So where is the outrage from President Obama? Where are the voices of Congress? Where is the American Legion? It was a news story for a day. OK, everyone. Let’s move on to the next thing. And so it goes in today’s America. No one is accountable. The desecration of the war dead is of little to no interest to the public. Life goes on. I wonder what’s at the movies this weekend…

Bring on the bread and circuses! Ave imperator! Moritori te salutant!

Unfortunately, Capitalism is the de facto religion of America. I say this is our religion because one is pretty much considered to be un-American if you don’t believe in this economic system. It is equated with freedom itself – even though it is not freedom. To be opposed to Capitalism is to be considered a Communist in America. To be a patriotic American, one must BELIEVE.

The problem is: it doesn’t work. It’s that simple. The current collapse of the U.S. and world economy is not a one time thing – it is a recurring phenomenon in our history. Everyone knows about the Great Depression that began in 1929. But couldn’t that just be a weird coincidence? Two events don’t exactly prove that Capitalism doesn’t work, does it? No, it doesn’t. How about the Bank Panic of 1907? Would that help? That’s the one where J.P. Morgan had to use his private resources to save the entire country from financial disaster. Not enough? OK, how about the bank panic of 1893? Still not enough? How about the bank panic of 1873?  Let’s not even start with the recessions that come in between the depressions.

Even Alan Greenspan had to admit that his free market ideas were wrong and that they led to the collapse of the stock market. Yet, about half the country still worships the concept of a free market capitalist economy, refusing to see what is plain to see: American-style Capitalism is seriously flawed. As the Occupy Movement people point out, it is deliriously wonderful for about 1% of the population who own about 25% of the national wealth. It is the other 99% who suffer. The question we should be asking is this: why doesn’t Capitalism work for everyone? The answer is simple: it is literally out of control. The bankers of Wall Street control U.S. monetary policy. It almost seems that it has become a requirement these days that in order to be Secretary of the Treasury you first have to have a top position at Goldman Sachs – just so the government can be sure that you know how everything is supposed to work.

We have, in this country, a true oligarchy that cares only for the few wealthiest people in America. The one thing in America that the government feels compelled to protect is the wealth of the wealthiest. Consider the last collapse (not the one we are feeling right now – I mean the one George Bush created). What did the government save? The banks. Consider the situation in Europe now. The Euro zone is on the verge of collapse. Some countries, like Ireland, have already experienced a collapse of their economy. What was and is being saved in Europe? The banks. Why? Are these particular banks so crucial to the survival of mankind? Of course not. However, it is the extraordinarily wealthy people who own these banks who also own the governments of the major Capitalist countries.

The problem with Capitalism is that none of the wealthy Capitalists will acknowledge that it is not perfect and that it must be controlled. They hate the very idea of controls. (Good thing they’re not airline pilots.) You see, it cuts into their ability to make billions of dollars at the expense of the common man.  So…. we don’t have controls. And our economy periodically collapses. And the government saves the wealthy while letting the average citizens fend for themselves. After all, what do you expect from an oligarchy?

The time has finally come for the entire world to wake up and realize that uncontrolled Capitalism is horribly imperfect. It needs to be controlled. The wealthy people also need to be controlled. They must be prevented from grabbing control our government through bribery via lobbyists.  The governments of our “democracy” must be more democratically elected. Why is it that essentially every Senator and Congressman in our government is a millionaire? It’s because no ordinary person can afford to run for office.  We have a political system that perpetuates an oligarchy.

Capitalist greed has infected our banking system and our government to the extent that the people at the very top of government have lost touch with the people.  They only use the power of government to perpetuate their own wealth and – above all – preserve the banks. Preserve the banks at all costs, that is their mantra. That is literally their religion.

It doesn’t have to be this way. It shouldn’t be this way. The first step in fixing the problem is to nationalize all of the banks. Cut the head off of the snake. Banks should be operated only as a utility for the benefit of all citizens – so that all citizens can enjoy the fruits of Capitalism. The greedy moneylenders of America should be told to get a real job and stop being bloodsucking parasites on the 99%.

Gargantuan banks are not necessary for Capitalism to succeed. Indeed, they have been shown, time and again throughout our history, to be the cause of the failure of Capitalism. Monster banks, out of control, are an imminent danger to democracy and a free economy. History has demonstrated this time and again. So why doesn’t our government fix the problem? Because our monster banks own our government.

And that is why American Capitalism has had a history of recurring, catastrophic failures for well over 100 years.

Yet, we still believe.

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