Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘politics’

If there is one thing that today’s U.S. government excels at, it is obfuscation. Take, for example the current fiasco known as sequestration. The ordinary citizen might be forgiven if he thought that this was something like castration. Actually, he would be pretty close. However, for the United States, it might be even worse. 

I suppose its a tip off when politicians hide behind words derived from Latin that have migrated into old English law. By the time the word gets to America by way of the Roman and British empires, the U.S. politicians can make the word mean anything they want it to mean. It’s sort of like the words in Alice in Wonderland

The Latin word sequester, which is the root for sequestration, simply means a depositary, i.e. a person with whom you store something of value. So, you might surmise that when the government sequesters something, they are putting it aside for safekeeping. However, in today’s U.S. government-speak it means taking away money from lots of necessary or vital programs in order to cause so much suffering to the people, that the weakest part of the government will cry, “UNCLE!!” and give up, and the other part of the government will have its way. Clever, isn’t it?

One might have thought that President Obama, good guy that he is, would have acted as Superman and said, “Not only no, but HELL NO!” But he didn’t. Instead, he grinned like the Chesire cat and signed the Sequestration Legislation into law, thus setting in motion a series of gut wrenching, job killing , government spending cuts that helps no one. Then he gaily went about fiddling while Republican Senators and Representatives heads should have exploded (figuratively), like what happened to the invading Martians in the classic movie, Mars Attacks. (Still one of my favorite movies, and I have no idea why. But I do like the song.)

Unfortunately, the heads of the Republicans did not actually explode because their brains are protected by being in thrall to the “Tea Party” fanatics (no relation whatsoever to the heroes of the real Boston Tea Party) who seem to make up the core of today’s Republican Party – at least the intellectual wing of the Party. Clearly, the entire Republican Party has drunk the Kool-Aid, and it is that which apparently prevents their heads from exploding.

Even so, it seems that President Obama has failed to notice this lack of exploding heads amongst the Republican brotherhood who are meanwhile doing their very best Alfred E. Neuman “What me worry?” impression, i.e. they are doing nothing. 

While America burns.

OK. I know. I get it. They’re not really that stupid, are they? No, of course not. What’s really happening is that they are all playing a giant game of chicken, you know, like when two teenagers get in their cars and drive towards each other at 100 miles per hour and then we get to see who is chicken when one of them turns away in order to avoid a horrific, head-exploding, collision. The thing that I worry about is that I’m not sure that either Obama or the Republicans have the brains, or the maturity, of a hormone-saturated teenage boy, or for that matter even the brains of a hormone-saturated teenage bull.

This, of course, could be very bad news for the country. But who cares? After all, the members of Congress are mostly millionaires and you can be sure the U.S. Lobbyist Core in Washington will see to it that they are well taken care of, no matter what. And Obama? What does he care if massive layoffs go into effect and the nation goes into an economic death spiral and people start fleeing the country for the good jobs in Mexico? After all, won’t that solve the illegal immigration problem? As they say, “it’s an ill wind that blows nobody good.”

So maybe Nero had the right idea, when Rome burns, go with the flow. Don’t worry be happy. See! That’s why Obama actually signed the law ordering the massive budget cuts! It’s the Roman way: first you sequester, then you burn the city down, then you fiddle while Rome burns. 

Except for one little thing. Sequester doesn’t mean “cut”. It doesn’t mean slash the budget. It means to set something aside in a safe place until a dispute is settled.

Wait a minute, maybe I’m just taking this thing way too seriously? Maybe we should all be more like the President and the Republicans.

Maybe we should just do like Nero did after he finished fiddling: go to bed and take a nice sequester. Then, we’ll all feel better in the morning…

Read Full Post »

The recent murders of school children and teachers at Sandy Hook have once again caused the American people to examine their “right to bear arms”. More specifically, the question has arisen is this, “Why do ordinary citizens need assault weapons”? The answer that is usually given is that the right to bear arms is guaranteed by the second amendment to the Constitution. The text of the amendment is brief, simply stating that: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”. If one were to live somewhere far from the U.S., like perhaps on Mars, one might be forgiven having the understanding that the U.S. has a militia, i.e. volunteer soldiers who are normally just farmers and so forth, but who are ready to go to war at a moment’s notice. You might call such a group Minutemen and you would be right, although you would be off by a couple of centuries. Indeed, the United States was once protected by citizen soldiers who were called Minutemen and who were expected to be ready with a minute’s notice. For this reason every citizen had to have his own firearm handy in case he had to rush off to war against the British, or the French, or the Spanish, or even those pesky Native Americans who kept thinking they owned the land that the Europeans called America.

However, times change, and the reason for the second amendment has long passed into the dustbin of history. Which is why the supporters of “gun rights” always talk about the second clause of the second amendment and not the first clause. Nevertheless, one might argue that some sort of precedent exists, given that people have owned guns for over 200 years in the U.S. and that militia groups still exist, as in Texas; however, I don’t think that anyone could seriously contend that the militia groups of today are a serious defense against other nations who have nuclear bombs, ICBMs, and armies that number in the hundreds of thousands, if not the millions. The defense against those potential threats is relegated to the standing Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine forces of the U.S. The militias, such as they are, are of little to no value against modern threats from advanced countries. Even so, there are a lot of Americans who want their own guns, and not just guns, they want assault-style weapons. Why? One might ask. Surely you don’t need an assault weapon to defend yourself from a burglar who might break into your house in the middle of the night. Isn’t a pistol under your pillow much more convenient? Sure it is, and it was the typical solution for that problem for many Americans for many, many years.

An assault-style weapon can fire many, many bullets in a short period of time, perhaps 50-100 bullets in a minute. In comparison, a military assault rifle can fire close to 1,000 bullets per minute. So, the question must arise, why does the average American homeowner need an assault-style weapon? Surely, he’s not expecting to have a shootout with a burglar which requires the capability to fire 50-100 bullets in a minute, is he? Under what circumstances would the average American citizen need this firepower, let alone the firepower of a true assault rifle. Could it for hunting deer or maybe ducks? Imagine shooting a deer with 50 – 100 bullets, or maybe hitting a duck with all that lead. Does that make any sense? Could it be that the typical American gun owner is such a bad shot that he needs 50-100 rounds per minute just to hit a deer or a duck? I don’t think so.

The reason Americans want assault weapons – even multiple assault weapons – in their homes is this: they think they need them. Need them? For what? you say. The answer is found in the name of the weapon itself. They are used for conducting an assault – or for defending against an assault. Let us assume that most Americans are not planning an assault (with the exception of the numerous crazies out there who are clearly planning assaults with assault-style weapons). The typical American who wants assault-style weapons can only feel he has the need for one of these weapons if he is indeed fearing an imminent assault from someone else. From who? You say. Fidel Castro? No, of course not. It’s simple: it’s from THEM…. THEM…. Get it?

In case you are not familiar with THEM, THEM is the “others”, a group of people that is different from us, a group who wants our stuff, a group who, one day, will rise up and try to seize the property of TRUE Americans. That’s why Americans not only need assault weapons, it also why they need underground bunkers, a year’s worth of food and fuel, booby trapped properties, secret stashes of money, and so forth. It is a belief amongst the “haves” that the “havenots” are about to rise up in rebellion and take their stuff. Its a fear of class warfare. Its like a religious belief. It actually is a religious belief for some of these people. The end times are coming. The good and the bad will do battle – so the good need their assault weapons. It’s a combination of these ingredients and more that drive Americans to crave assault weapons.

So there you go… and you probably thought these people were just crazy or something.

Read Full Post »

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?

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: