Billionaire Club

Does anybody remember when Ted Turner gave away $1 billion of his vast earnings to the U.N.?

How much is a billion dollars?

If you’re like me, all those zeroes start to blur. I have a real problem grasping wealth of such scale.

Maybe this will put it in perspective . . .

If you were to spend $10,000 a day, it would take 274 years to go through a billion dollars.

To spend the Koch brothers incomprehensible fortune at $10,000 per day, it would take almost 28,000 years __ it would be 29,394 C.E. when you finished your shopping spree.

Spending one million dollars a day, it would take 214 years to go through the monumental wealth of Gates, and he ended up asking you to borrow a few bucks for bus fare.

There are 2,325 billionaires in America.

There are more than 43 million people living below the poverty line in America today __ which, by the way, shockingly translates to nearly 1 out of every 5 children.

There are 400 unfathomably wealthy people in America who have more money and property than the 150,000,000 individuals in the bottom half of our population.

The .000133% vs. 50%!

Wealth inequality as a scandal and appalling affront to what America is supposed to stand for, lately appears to be taking a backseat in the national conversation, quickly replaced by catastrophes du jour in the ever-evolving parade of misery and chaos.

But since it undermines the entire premise of our democracy, and shreds the basic fabric of a society based on fairness and equal opportunity, we must keep it in the forefront of public debate, particularly with the all-important 2016 presidential election coming up fast.

It doesn’t look promising. We have flat-Earth Ted Cruz talking like a Rip Van Winkle who just awoke from a nap he started in the 2nd Century. Everyone’s concerned about Hillary’s emails when they should be worried about her warmongering and blind allegiance to the agenda of multinational corporations. Of course, none of us can sleep nights until we find out where Jeb Bush gets his news, if it’s not the New York Times.

Elizabeth Warren talks the talk but refuses to run for president. Bernie Sanders is out in front of the wealth inequality debate but he’s been marginalized, being a socialist and all.

But I remain optimistic. Miracles are possible. Americans are more frustrated than ever. They still remember the most famous meme in recent history __ the 1% vs. the 99%.

With wealth inequality accelerating, nothing less than the survival of the nation is at stake, demanding that we address this crisis before America turns into a medieval fiefdom or a 3rd World banana republic.

It’s certainly my hope that I won’t be writing about this again in five years.

But if I do, it’ll be titled . . . Trillionaire Club.

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From the – to the +

Bitch! Bitch! Bitch!

Whine! Whine! Whine!

What’s the point?

I agree. If all we do is bitch and whine and stop there, there isn’t much of a point. It’s just more pain and frustration piled on devilry and dysfunction.

But . . .

It doesn’t have to and shouldn’t stop there.

From my perspective out here in Expat Land, the biggest obstacle there in America is that people don’t understand the problems. Often they are so overwhelmed, they just bury their heads in the sand. Americans are misinformed, disinformed, and in the throes of massive collective denial.

Understandably, everyone just wants to go on with their lives, do their job __ if they have one __ take care of their kids, mow the lawn, watch some TV, and try to eke some fun and comfort out of their often miserable and tense lives.

And if things in America were on track, this certainly wouldn’t be too much to ask.

But things are not on track. In fact, the country is heading 180º in the wrong direction.

People sense this. Every day there’s some new crisis. Prospect of another war. Scary stuff everywhere. New terrorist threats. ISIS. Russia. China. Iran. Contagious diseases. Ebola. Killer Avian Flu V. 3.0. Violence by the police. Counter-violence by angry mobs. More arrests and police killings. Ranting and raving in Congress. More gridlock. Shutdown of the federal government.  Ranting and raving on TV.  Muslims, beheadings.  Immigrants. Same-sex marriage, abortion. Climate change. No climate change. More guns. Fewer guns. Stand your ground. Arm teachers. Arm bus drivers. Bring a gun to church. Bomb Syria. Arm Ukraine. Bomb Iran. Sanction Venezuela. Bomb North Korea. On and on . . .

Beyond the anxiety and outright fear caused by this ongoing tsunami of chaos and trauma, there is a growing sense that all this calamity is not just a string of bad luck __ that there is something fundamentally wrong!

The problem is that with all of the yelling, finger-pointing, and verbal mayhem, no one can keep any of it straight, and anything resembling a constructive conversation is impossible. The lunatics have taken over the asylum.

We no longer have time for this. There are three challenges which if not faced squarely and honestly pose an existential threat to our nation. They ultimately could destroy us.

The three existential threats?

  • Collapse of the economy
  • Destruction by war
  • Climate change

Insiders know where we’re heading and what’s coming if some things don’t change very dramatically, very soon. Vast stores of ammunition have been set aside in anticipation of internal unrest. We increasingly see the police being militarized, being authoritarian and unaccountable.  Some observers suggest we are already on the threshold of being a police state. Those responsible for maintaining the status quo __ i.e. the standing configuration of power __ know where the incipient chaos and dysfunction is taking the country, and understandably are preparing for the worst.

But they are not heading off the potential catastrophes. In fact, they are largely to blame! They are the reason we’re in the mess we’re in and plunging toward even worse times.

This bleak future is not inevitable. We can turn this around.

We!

Not our current crop of myopic leaders. You and I. But it will take some doing.

And doing starts by getting people to pay attention.

Maybe that’s where the bitching and whining comes in.

But it can’t stop there. Out of the negativity of recognizing how bad off things are now, there can and must emerge a positive vision of what should follow. That means each and every one of us deciding what’s important. We start by asking ourselves what makes our country great . . .

Is it having the biggest military?

Is it having the most billionaires?

Is it having the largest economy?

Is it winning the most gold and silver medals at the Olympics?

Is it the freedom to buy all sorts of stuff __ a seemingly infinite selection __ because television ads tell us that will make us happy?

Is it our entertainment industry __ envy of the entire world, cranking out movies, TV shows, video games, music __ into which we can escape and live rich fantasy lives?

Is it how easy things are __ meals we can pick up at drive-thru windows, credit cards we can swipe when we’re broke but want something really bad, social sites where we can find out what our friends are doing every waking moment of our lives?

Is it all of the instant gratification __ drugs, fast food, smart phones, Instagram, Twitter, free porn, online shopping?

Is it the seemingly endless variety of spectator sports __ football, baseball, boxing, cage fighting, basketball, hockey, pro wrestling, the amazing spectacle of the Super Bowl?

Is it the American Dream __ though the vast majority of us don’t get to live it?

We also must decide how we are going to go about shaping our society and country, how our democracy will function, how decisions will be made, how much of the responsibility to ourselves and future generations we’re going to entrust and delegate to our leadership elite, the elected or de facto pillars of society . . .

Can we just depend on “experts” __ corporate CEOs and our political leaders __ to make the right choices for our communities, our schools, every aspect of our lives?

Can we let corporations decide everything for us __ what to buy, what is safe, what is healthy, what products and services are constructive and sustainable, what makes for a better society and positive future for our children and our children’s children?

Can we let expensive campaign ads during election cycles substitute for meaningful debate and serious discussion of critical issues that effect us, our safety, the quality of our lives?

Can we in good conscience permit the privatizing of everything __ schools, roads, water, sewage, electricity, libraries, the internet __ because some corporate-owned demagogues say government is bad bad bad and private ownership is good good good?

Should we allow our leaders to worship at the altar of “free trade” __ NAFTA, TPP, TTIP __ if it means surrendering national sovereignty and handing over the design and control of our entire future to multinational corporations?

Can we continue letting our schools, towns, roads, bridges fall apart and become worthless because we have wasted so much money on unnecessary wars and military bases, that now we supposedly don’t have any funding left for education and crucial infrastructure?

Should we allow capitalism and pure unfettered pursuit of profit trump individual and community needs and values?

Can debt-based currency creation __ the privatization of the right to “coin money” by ceding that power to private banks __ over the long haul serve the greater good of the country and provide equitable distribution of our national wealth?

Can the monopolization of production and services by large multinational corporations fulfill the long term goals and aspirations of our country?

After our humiliating record of defeat on the battlefield __ Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq __ can we trust that our leaders, locked into a feckless ‘war-and-more-war’ approach to foreign policy, will do the right thing on the international stage going forward?

After being lied into the war in Iraq, after having the economy completely mucked up, after seeing our factories and jobs shipped overseas, after being conned into bailing out the big banks and watching the wholesale looting the Treasury and Federal Reserve to stuff the wallets of Wall Street fat cats and corporate CEOs, can we trust our current politicos with respect to anything at all?

In theory, nothing in our democracy is written in stone. We __ you and I __ can change the priorities. If our country is headed in the wrong direction, we can turn it around.

At least . . . in theory.

I’m currently writing a political tome, a concise but powerful, practical manual for change, which I believe can make a difference. It is my attempt to help put ‘We the people’ back in the political equation, giving the majority of American citizens say in shaping the future of the country. It’s about taking power back from those who driven by greed and hubris have bankrupted the country and made us the most feared and hated nation in the world, then assigning that power to its rightful owners __ you and I.  It is not about tossing power capriciously into the filthy hands of an unruly mob, but a plan for thoughtfully and respectfully placing it in the guiding hands of a sane and sensible majority.

I hope to have it out late May or early June.

Working title . . .

Candidate Contracts: A Manifesto (A New Front and Perhaps Last Stand in the Battle for True Representative Democracy in America).

Do you see now? At the end of the day __ and it has been a long day for sure __ I don’t mean to merely be negative.

I actually intend to be quite positive.

Posted in Corporatism, Democracy, Political Analysis, Political Rant, Social Commentary, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

America Is Losing The Base Race!

With Russia’s new military bases in Manitoba, Ontario, and Bermuda, it is clear that the U.S. is losing the critical base race. Compare the maps to see how vulnerable America has become to Russian aggression. By my count, Russia has leaped ahead, and we can expect nuclear missiles to rain down on us any day, or worse, our school children being forced to drink vodka at lunch so their innocent minds can be ravaged by Tchaikovsky and Tolstoy.

OMG!!!

Where is Pussy Riot when we need them?!!

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Obama’s Neocons and Other Hawkish Lunatics

People often don’t see the obvious.

I constantly get criticized for maintaining that Obama is a warmonger. The president’s actions are proof positive:  His escalating of the war in Afghanistan, his engineering the destruction of Libya, his manufacturing the crisis in Ukraine, his demonizing Putin and resurrecting the Cold War with Russia, his infamous kill lists and callous use of drones in countries like Pakistan and Yemen.

Most recently, there was his request for unlimited war powers, a new AUMF, a shrewdly and deceptively worded legislative authorization which allows him to attack any country, anywhere on the earth, targeting individuals, groups and nations which he alone decides are deserving of some tough love __ aka annihilation by military force.

If this weren’t incriminating enough, just look at the people he is surrounded by.

First, the hard-core psychopaths . . .

Ashton Carter is Obama’s new Secretary of Defense. He wants confrontation with Russia; advocates a “preventive war” on North Korea, i.e. blow them to kingdom come now rather than later; and thinks we need to mount an aggressive campaign to fight ISIS. I guess he finds it easy to overlook the fact that our other aggressive campaigns created ISIS, that they are using the armaments we introduced into the region for their aggressive campaign, that every aggressive campaign we have mounted in the Middle East has recruited more fanatics and terrorists, a fact which has been verified by our own security agencies. Carter is an unapologetic proponent of projecting America’s military across the globe, without respect for the national interests of any other sovereign powers and without patience for the niceties of diplomacy.

James Clapper is Director of National Intelligence, and is by any measure Spy-Master-In-Chief.  He recently distinguished himself by lying under oath to the U.S. Congress, evidence that he believes that as head of a major law enforcement agency, he himself is above the law. Like other neocon exceptionalists, he believes the U.S. itself is above the law, thus entitled to ignore treaties, international legal precedents, and anything America finds bothersome. He recently threw his flaming hat into the ring of international politics by advocating sending lethal weapons to Ukraine, violating the terms of the Minsk II agreement which is offering some hope for the end of the bloody conflict, and more destructively, antagonizing Russia, which has over the past year worked relentlessly to broker peace there. But why would Clapper want peace? That might end up reducing his bloated share of the federal budget.

Victoria Nuland is Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and married to Robert Kagan, one of the founders of the neocon Project for the New American Century. She was instrumental in turning the Maidan demonstrations into a full-blown coup, an illegal, violent overthrow of the admittedly corrupt but still democratically elected government. She continues to sabotage any hope for a negotiated solution to the crisis she helped to orchestrate and create. She is virulently anti-Russian and militantly in favor of dismembering the country to expedite the control and plundering of Russia’s abundant natural resources, as well as those of the Ukraine, for the benefit of American-backed banks and corporations.

General Philip M. Breedlove, is the current Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) of NATO Allied Command Operations. He has had a remarkable career indeed, but his recent detachment from reality and delusions of grandeur have made him the major proponent for war on Russia in the E.U. theater of command. His constant spewing of venomous anti-Russian rhetoric and wild claims have made him both a laughingstock and a thorn in the side of the saner members of the European community, who for some reason don’t want Europe to become an incinerated pile of rubble in service to the American dream of world hegemony. If Russian troops and equipment had invaded Ukraine as many times as General Breedlove has claimed __ against all evidence to the contrary __ half of the Russian military would be set up in vast emplacements visible from the moon with a cheap pair of binoculars. But you know those cagey Russians! They made everything invisible! They’re there! Really. Just ask Breedlove.

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt is a California guy with a very shallow, checkered career in the diplomatic services, which makes him the perfect tool to go about the business of spreading propaganda, sidling up to chocolate king Petro Poroshenko __ current President of Ukraine __ for photo ops and general glad-handing, and promoting the depraved neocon agenda, unburdened by a comprehension of the complexities of international relations, indifferent to the human suffering being inflicted on citizens in the East of the country, and cavalier about the potential for nuclear war the machinations of the U.S. is creating. Snatching war and death from the jaws of peace and harmony? All in a days work!

Then, there are those without official neocon credentials but who embrace undisguised bullying and unrestrained militarism.

Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, seemed over the course of much of her career to have her heart in the right place. She cared so much about victims of genocide, she even wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning book about it, A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. She has stood strong for religious freedom, human rights, women’s and LGBT rights, and campaigned against human trafficking and for protection of refugees and religious minorities.

Unfortunately, lately she’s become very confused. She wants to accomplish these noble things by bombing everyone into submission. She was instrumental in the destruction of Libya, and now her weepy voice can be heard spreading propaganda and subjecting the world to her acrimonious diatribes promoting chaos and violence at the United Nations. Power issues shrill catcalls demonizing Putin, rails against Russia, then without blinking prevaricates about the actual role the U.S. has played in the Ukraine. What happens to these people? Is there some mutant strain of warmongering meningitis going around?

Vice-President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry put a unique spin on an old tactic. Instead of doing the familiar GOOD COP/BAD COP routine, these veteran clowns do BAD COP/WORSE COP __ each of them vying to be more obnoxious, deceptive, and counter-productive than the other.

Joe Biden has always been a straight-talker, unafraid to lay   it on the line, paint stark images in bold strokes. He shoots from the hip and often ends up with his foot in his mouth. The problem now is not his candor. It’s his rancor. That and his willingness to ignore facts and be a complete stooge for policies which at best are misguided, or at worst will plunge America and Europe into another major war. He and Kerry have already alienated Russia, undone years of diplomacy, unraveled the trust that had slowly built over decades, and launched Cold War 2.0, a frightening confrontation which has the potential to bankrupt the country, if not trigger the nuclear holocaust of World War III. Joe just can’t shut the fuck up. Maybe the gaffs were funny before, but it’s hard to get a giggle going when we’re facing human extinction.

Unlike Biden who is a full-out puncher, the more guileful John Kerry is a master of the feint and duck. He’ll often use the Rope-A-Dope to keep everyone off-balance, as if this vindicates the havoc he will in the end remorselessly inflict. His pronouncements combined with Obama’s has turned a peaceful and generally promising detente with Russia into a hostile and dangerous game of chicken. Along the way, Kerry has managed to alienate many of America’s most trusted allies, and create panic and hysteria among many former nations of the Soviet bloc. When not hiding behind his adorable impersonation of Pepe Le Pew, he’s threatening, intimidating, bullying, and overall a bombastic buffoon.

If these lunatics are allowed to continue, they will not rest until they destroy the world.

These folks are so blind, so arrogant, so incapable of perspective and moral sensibility, so drunk on power and possessed by delusions of imperial grandeur and world conquest, so out of touch and incapable of common sense and common decency, so lacking empathy and basic kindness, they are happy risking nuclear annihilation to see their misguided priorities and psychopathic visions prevail.

Obama’s foreign policy is a box of chocolates. Except you always know what you’re going to get __ more war, more bombing, more drone assassinations, more innocent civilian deaths, more illegal regime change, more chaos and destruction.

Then again, what else can we expect? It’s the company he keeps. Obama is surrounded by bloodthirsty, arguably mad, imperialist warmongers, megalomaniacs who see themselves as saviors of the Universe, chosen by destiny and blessed with infallibility. Were any of them to undergo sound and objective psychological testing, they would immediately be committed to maximum-security institutions for the criminally insane.

However, America treats them differently.

It elevates them to the highest positions of power.

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Isn’t it about time to stop this ugly business?

Isn’t it about time to stop this ugly business of meddling in other countries and overthrowing governments?

Here’s the short list of U.S.-backed coups over just the past seven-plus decades . . .

Syria 1949.

Guatemala 1954.

Tibet 1955-1970s.

Indonesia 1958.

Cuba 1959.

Iraq 1960-1963.

Democratic Republic of the Congo 1960-1965.

Dominican Republic 1962.

Iran 1963.

Guatemala 1963.

South Vietnam 1963.

Brazil 1964.

Ghana 1966.

Chile 1970-1973.

Argentina 1976.

Afghanistan 1979-1989.

Turkey 1980.

Poland 1980-1989.

Ecuador 1981.

Panama 1981.

Nicaragua 1981-1990.

Grenada 1983.

Haiti 1991.

Iraq 1992-1996.

Venezuela 2002.

Haiti 2004.

Iran 2005-present.

Honduras 2009.

Libya 2011.

Syria 2012-present.

Ukraine 2014.

Moreover, it’s no secret that we’re at it again right now with Venezuela, and a poorly-kept secret that Russia, Ecuador, Uruguay, Bolivia, probably another shot at Cuba, and (you heard it here first) Kyrgyzstan, are also in the queue.

Despite this deplorable, well-documented record of heavy-handedness and America’s widely-acknowledged reputation for notorious, anti-democratic assaults on the governing institutions of other sovereign nations, we must endure Jen Psaki, the spokesperson for the current idiotic crop of meddling imperialists, spewing this sort of laughable propaganda . . .

Cincopa WordPress plugin

Even if Americans are unaware of or unwilling to acknowledge this immoral, highly illegal and now extremely dangerous “game of thrones” America has been engaged in, the rest of the world is catching on. It’s going to come to an end, sooner or later, one way or another.

When other nations see NGOs like NED (National Endowment for Democracy) or USAID (United States Agency for International Development) come knocking on the door saying, “We’re just here to help!”, they understandably either run the other way in complete panic, or more frighteningly __ as in the case of Russia __ put their entire nuclear arsenal and ground troops on hair-trigger high alert.

Thus I predict, with 100% confidence, that the days of U.S. meddling, both overt and covert bullying, especially the one-size-fits-all destructive military deployments, are numbered __ except for maybe just one more very epic, history-making coup.

That will be . . .

Regime change in Washington DC itself.

At the rate things are going, we might not have to wait that long.

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The Case For Female Circumcision

There is no case for female circumcision.

But we live in a very sick world.

We’ve come to expect the worst.

So here you are . . . reading this.

I’m not being judgmental. I would have clicked on the link too.

Curious . . . confused . . . offended . . . appalled . . . outraged . . . sickened!

I would absolutely have to see what some psychopathic individual had to say about such an inhumane, degrading and completely offensive practice, what twisted justification some misguided misanthrope was proposing for perhaps the ultimate assault on the dignity of females __ the mutilation of their genitals.

But isn’t that the way things work these days?

There’s always some outrageous headline, some teaser being dangled, some grotesque manipulation of our reality using loaded phrases and press-your-hot-buttons language.
It’s not just the sensational stuff either. It’s often fluff, feel good blather which plays on sympathies or compassion, fantasy or nostalgia, offering hearts-and-flowers stories or syrupy melodrama, maybe patriotic anthems and tales of alleged bravery and heroism    __ which dramatically slant and obscure the truth.

Anyway . . . here we are: “The case for female circumcision.”

Yup . . . that’s how it reads.  Sucked you right in!  I do understand . . .

You wanted to see some demented asshole try to stick up for grotesque and degrading mutilation. What would he look like? Maybe you wanted to both disdain and savor his depravity?

Why?

So you could gag? Hate someone for being so pathologically and sadistically ignorant?

Then share it on Facebook? Send out indignant Tweets?

Really show that bastard!

Yes, letting people know how we feel gets the job done, and more importantly, establishes that we’re morally superior . . . because you and I could never support something so foul and inhumane and repulsive, right?

How about these photos? You and I paid taxes and that money went toward this . . .

I rest my case.

We all live in a glass houses. I’m not going to pretend I’m any different.

But that’s not the end of the matter, is it?

I am confident that most of you __ like me __ would like to do better.

We’d each like to turn things around and become the person we always believed we could and would be.

But to do that, we must first answer this question . . .

How did we become so numb?

Posted in Deconstruction, Nihilism, Political Rant, Social Commentary, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What is more evil than pure evil?

My Japanese wife in her quest to understand Western culture regularly runs by me some very interesting, sometimes entirely bizarre web sites. Recently she directed me to one strangely called vegetariansareevil.com, from which I borrowed the image you see posted here. The site is now shut down, I guess because they couldn’t pay their bill or maybe there are still some sane people in the world who had the good taste to delete it.

I have to say that while I am pretty jaded about what pops up on the internet, this one truly pushed the envelope of absurdity.

Offering a twisted taint-by-association logic __ which even makes the outlandish satire of The Onion seem tame by comparison __ the web site seemed to be promoting more meat consumption, based on the intrinsic evil of being a vegetarian. Right! Just what we need. More heart attacks, colon cancer, strokes, hypertension, clogged arteries. More stinking blood-drenched meat farms and global warming resulting from even more massive herds of steroid-plumped beef cattle farting continent-engulfing eddies of methane gas. More tectonic escarpments of slimy pig shit and tidal waves of cattle piss to foul the waterways and aquifers of our fragile ecosystems.

It can safely be assumed that whoever is behind this __ if it is not a complete put-on, in which case my hat goes off to them for their entirely brilliant if bizarre bit of mockery __ suffers from severe blockage of the arteries that supplies blood to their brains. But that’s a whole other can of beans. Or spam. Or something. Maybe a Double Down from KFC?

The reasoning is as direct as it is specious . . .

Hitler was evil incarnate. Hitler was a vegetarian. So vegetarianism is evil incarnate.

I am reluctant to point this out __ since I don’t want to trivialize the extent to which such thinking can impede any constructive exchange of ideas __ but I have it on good authority that Hitler also breathed. So we all should stop breathing? Because clearly such imitative behavior is evil incarnate? Inhaling an endorsement and praise of the Holocaust? Exhaling like clicking our heels together and yelling ‘Sieg Heil!’

Maybe more interesting, or at least sensible, is to ask: Exactly why was Hitler a vegetarian? The answer is brilliant on many levels and the perfect cause for disbelief and indignation.

First we have this quote from Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda, asserting the extent of Hitler’s devotion to the idea . . .

“The Führer is a convinced vegetarian, on principle. His arguments cannot be refuted on any serious basis.  They are totally unanswerable . . .  He believes more than ever that meat-eating is harmful to humanity. Of course he knows that during the war we cannot completely upset our food system. After the war, however, he intends to tackle this problem also.”

Then we have the words of Hitler himself . . .

“One may regret living at a period when it’s impossible to form an idea of the shape the world of the future will assume. But there’s one thing I can predict to eaters of meat: the world of the future will be vegetarian.”

It appears that Hitler based his vegetarianism on an opposition to causing suffering to animals __ isn’t that ironic? __ and rooted in the writings of Richard Wagner . . .

“When first it dawned on human wisdom that the same thing breathed in animals as in mankind, it appeared too late to avert the curse which, ranging ourselves with the beasts of prey, we seemed to have called down upon us through the taste of animal food: disease and misery of every kind, to which we did not see mere vegetable-eating men exposed.”

So here is a man whose demented policies resulted in cruel human experimentation, the cold-blooded torture and murder of millions of people, a man responsible for collecting gold fillings from freshly killed victims and turning people into lampshades, the man who stacked human corpses like they were cobs of corn during the autumn harvest . . . the same man who found the killing of animals for consumption as food, indelicate, cruel, unsavory.

Whew!

Let’s try to get a handle on Der Führer, some perspective on him and his times.

Remember that the German people in the 1930s and 40s looked at Hitler as a great man. He was revered and regarded by millions of Germans, both in Germany and in enclaves of Germans in bordering countries, as a demigod. Most, of course, subsequently denied any knowledge of his savage treatment of the Jews, gypsies, Poles, and others he regarded as ‘subhuman’.

I personally believe that many, if not a majority, had a strong inkling of what was going on. It’s hard to be downwind of the human barbecues taking place at Auschwitz-Birkenau and conclude the stench coming from the ovens was yet another splendid meal of sausage or beef steak for the residents, who for some reason looked extremely anorexic.

But citizens somehow looked the other way. They gave Herr Hitler a pass. Anything which might cast doubt on his noble work on behalf of the German people was swept aside in the torrents of praise. Why question this remarkable man? After all, he was telling them what they desperately wanted to hear, that Germans were a great people, an exceptional people  __ destined to lead the rest of the world into an era where Germany would oversee a grand new world order. He told them to stand tall, be proud and patriotic, serve their country, to support the wars, and let him and the Third Reich create an empire which would raise them to their rightful place as the leaders of the world.

(By the way, does this sound at all familiar?)

Yes, Hitler turned the faltering German economy around. Hitler restored the faith of the German people in themselves and their country. Hitler loved dogs. Hitler loved children. Children loved Hitler! Hitler made his people proud. Germans worshiped their Führer. He loved his people! By golly, he was so gently and caring he was even a vegetarian. What a great guy! So they proffered one of the most savage men in history the blind eye of absolution, a total pardon for his less than humane activities, the not-so-pleasant collateral damage, necessary evils __ the pogroms, the slave and concentration camps, the terrifying and indiscriminate civilian massacres of the Blitzkrieg, all of the unpleasant but requisite slaughter necessary to achieve the greater glory of Germany.

As one of my favorite contemporary philosophers says . . .

“Rationalization is the evil step-brother of rationality.”

Now with the hindsight of history and the clarity of victory, we know Hitler was pure evil. Worse than pure evil! Evil evil evil! How convenient, because our bully pulpit blowhards have the perfect tool at hand to demonize anyone they don’t like. How often we now hear the hysterical screaming . . .

“[Fill in name of latest evil bogeyman here] is another Hitler! He must be destroyed!”

Now I’m not about to make any such comparison between Adolph and any living politician or national leader. I’ll leave that to the purveyors of panic, a congested field of hysterical pundits and desperate politicos who lie and spit their hatred in pursuit of their insatiable appetites for plunder, death and destruction.

What I want to point out here is that there is an important lesson to be learned.

At the time of Hitler’s reign, the German people saw him as a savior, a hero, a man who would restore dignity and worth and greatness to the German nation. They looked very selectively at all of the positive things about the man, ignoring the blatant signs that they were in the throes of a love affair with a madman, whose unprecedented cruelties knew no bounds, whose egomania and visions of hell drove his destructive delusions. Obviously, we now benefit from a more complete understanding. All of the niceties and personal charm, the propaganda and spin which mesmerized the German nation and infused them with a pathological reverence for their leader is horribly irrelevant against the massively cruel, psychopathic crimes their Führer inflicted on humankind.

And that is the lesson we must learn from this.

I’m not going to name names here. All of you out there are big people and can determine on your own who this might apply to. These idols who substitute charisma and charm for character and honor are scattered far and wide across the political landscapes of the world. We have them here where I live in Japan, though I’d like you to focus on America and its European allies, since the West is the center of power in the world __ at least for now __ and represents the greatest existential threat to humankind.

Having said that . . .

When our contemporary leaders give their inspiring speeches, when they appeal to our pride, declare America the greatest nation in the world, declare Americans to be superior and exceptional, appealing to our already bloated pride. When they calculatingly take popular stands on “hotbutton” issues sure to bring them easy support because these are intensely emotional and appealing matters, for example, when they support gay marriage and minorities and other human rights, when they voice their concerns for the vulnerable, the sick and the less fortunate members of our society, even come out in favor of legalizing marijuana, then maybe give a little boost to the budget to help the unemployed or shove a nice plate of food in front of a hungry kid at school. There’s no question, these are on their own terms good things. These show common decency and compassion and common sense. These are fine, genuinely heartening gestures for sure. They feel good and give us the warm and comfortable feeling that we’re in good hands.

By golly . . . they’re just like loving children and dogs and being vegetarian.

Hmm.

The point is, when these same people then slaughter tens of thousands of innocent citizens around the world, start unnecessary wars over oil or other resources, promote aggression to enrich the corporate stockholders of our vast defense industries, sponsor extrajudicial torture and killing __ drone and special ops assassinations __ refuse to sign or approve treaties like banning land mines and cluster munitions, when these same leaders support ruthless murderous regimes around the world, and through all of the horror of these and other crimes against humanity, we look the other way, are we any better than the German citizens were before and during WWII?

Aren’t we just giving these putatively wonderful men and women a pass on the things that are the true measure of their moral leadership, the things which will blot our history for generations to come with the blood stains of our savage disregard for human life?

Of course, none of our splendid current leaders will ever reach the level of depravity and notoriety in history books as the man who was more evil than pure evil . . . Herr Hitler.

Our leaders can be forgiven for their sins.

They still eat hamburgers.

Just like us.

Posted in Corporatism, Deconstruction, Nihilism, Political Analysis, Political Rant, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I really like them!

The other day I watched two historic segments from the Stephen Colbert show.

One featured President Obama and the other Hillary Clinton.

Both were great! I mean phenomenal! Entertainment at its best!

Obama taking Colbert’s place and ridiculing himself in the third person was hysterical. Hillary’s going toe-to-toe with Colbert in a namedropping contest was brilliantly funny.

Whoa! I’ve still got major giggles, folks. I’m burping up so many LOLs, I’m having trouble even writing this!

But it goes deeper. Beyond being incredibly entertained, the astonishing thing for me personally was how much I really really liked them. Yes . . . I am being sincere!

I’ve certainly pulled no punches on either the President or Ms. Clinton in previous blogs. Anyone who has read my stuff knows I’m no fan of either. (What an understatement, eh?)

But on a ‘like’ scale of 1 to 10?

No doubt about it . . . they are both solid 10s!

Which brings me to the point of this piece.

What has likeability got to do with competence or leadership?

In this age where the science of crafting image and shaping perception has reached levels of sophistication no one could have anticipated even ten years ago, it hardly comes as a surprise that public figures look good, always say the right things, know how to pour on the charm, excel at doing everything needed to have people follow them around like they’re warm-toasted S’mores Bars at a fat farm for insatiable sugar-addicts.

Unfortunately, like a lot of things these days that are finger-lickin’ good and a belly full of lip-smackin’ fun, that doesn’t mean they’re good for you.

As with way too much in our advertising-heavy, product-saturated consumer world, we must carefully read the label and do some serious research to see what’s going on behind all the affable hype and feel-good packaging.

As I have argued before, conflating beauty contests and entertainment with politics is a dangerous game. Making the election of political leaders like choosing the prom king and queen doesn’t just trivialize democracy. It destroys it.

Sure, feeling warm and cuddly about our government officials is a pleasant thought, and maybe desirable on some superficial level. Both Obama and Ms. Clinton exude charm, are amiable and very videogenic. Judging from their acclaimed guest appearances on Comedy Central, both have all the right qualities to host their own television shows, either serious and thoughtful, or comedic and fun. That’s well and good.

But the true measure of constructive, visionary leadership is not how effectively they deliver one-liners, what nice people they appear to be, how down-to-earth they are, or even how picture-perfect they are with their families.

The true measure is on the larger national and international stages what set of values they represent, what ideas they offer, what plans they embrace and promote, what promise of peace and prosperity they achieve, what path they lay out for shaping the future of America, both for us and generations to come.

I say we keep things in perspective.

Both of these American icons are very talented people. Isn’t there some Biblical injunction about proper use of talents? I sincerely believe we should put their real talents to work.

Sarah Palin __ god help us __ has her own subscriber television channel. Much admired and forward-looking patriot that she is, dear Sarah has laid the groundwork. Let’s take the baton and run with it!

We’ve seen what these two are capable of on TV.

How about a Barack Obama Channel.

A Hillary Clinton Channel.

Why not?

This is what America is all about. It’s what make our nation great!

Television!

On the other hand, as to our Nobel Peace Prize President and the lady who engineered the destruction of Libya as a nation . . . let’s be clear about our political future.

We’ve endured Obama’s stealthy alliance with the neocons, corporatists, the imperialists and oligarchs. We’ve found every excuse in the book for his putting the needs of banks and corporations before the needs of the people. We’ve averted our gazes as he started more wars and killed innocent civilians with drones. Not much we can do about that now.

But we still have a choice with Ms. Clinton. Forget the pretty picture on the outside of the package, folks. Start reading the fine print on the label before it’s too late. Let’s nudge this self-serving sociopath out of politics and into show business where she belongs.

The Hillary Channel: Name-Dropping, Self-Promoting Hillary, All Day Everyday 24-7!

I like it!

Enough said. To end this on a positive note, I will now throw a bone to the diehard Obama apologists and lets-elect-a-pair-of-ovaries-for-president Hillary supporters out there, who may have accidentally stumbled on my blog site, showing what a doggone open-minded guy I am, proving along the way that I am without question, a truly gracious blog host.

Appearing below are the two Stephen Colbert show segments that had me belly-laughing, happy-slapping-my-knee, and rolling on the floor with delight. Together they provide the perfect laugh track for the final self-indulgent excesses of an empire in decline.

Enjoy!

 

Posted in Corporatism, Democracy, Political Analysis, Political Rant, Social Commentary, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Along Came Joe

I used to be enamored with Joe Biden.

But what a tool he has turned into.

What a dancing puppet for the oligarchy.

Is it something in the water? Or is it like Stephen Marks says in his eye-opening book Confessions of a Political Hitman, when you get to that position of power, they take you in the back room and give you “the talk”. They explain how things actually work, how things are done, and who is actually running the show. They give you the choice: gold or lead.

Kennedy made the wrong choice.

Clinton went for the gold and has been richly rewarded.

I’ll admit, this sounds like a bad movie to me, so I can’t say I entirely buy it.

At the same time, I don’t entirely dismiss it.

Something gets to these guys. Something burrows into their brains like those amoeba that make a pinhole in your skull, climb inside and eat your brains.

Some criticize Vice-President Biden for his gaffs. Frankly, his gaffs are trivial compared to the actual stands he has taken the past several years on a wide variety of issues.

Just a few revealing examples: He is implicated in the ongoing attempts by the U.S. to overthrow the democratically-elected leaders of Venezuela, the late Hugo Chavez and the current president, Nicholas Marduro. Similarly, he has been an outspoken supporter of the chocolate king Petro Poroshenko, current president of Ukraine, installed by violent coupe in a U.S.-sponsored subversion of democracy in that fragile and volatile part of the world. Mr. Biden has been a huge advocate for the unnecessary and provocative sanctions against Russia, just a few days ago ridiculing the EU countries who won’t go along with America’s imperial madness. We also find out that Biden’s support for the takeover of Ukraine goes beyond America’s alleged geopolitical agenda there. In fact, his son Hunter Biden, has been appointed to the Board of Directors of Burisma Holdings, a private oil and gas company in Ukraine, which stands to profit handsomely from the privatization and plunder of the country’s natural resources.

That Vice-President Biden has been a prominent voice for America’s propaganda and saber-rattling against Russia goes without saying.

I admit that my first impressions of Mr. Biden were just that __ impressions __ so all of my positive feelings were very superficial.  I saw him speak at campaign rallies and other public events, as well as appear in several debates. I loved the guy’s punchy directness, his ability to dissemble convoluted arguments and spurious propositions with a just few well chosen, often funny phrases. I found his wide, confident grin engaging. Overall, he created in me the impression he was his own man, an independent thinker, more concerned with the truth and cutting through the bullshit than worried about winning popularity contests. I’ve so had it with oratorical grandstanding and highly crafted, high-sounding but usually empty political bombast, a little in-your-face straight-talk went a long way.

Biden always said the right things. More jobs. Better life for the average American.

Obviously, by now I should know better than to take any of these politicos at their word. How many times does a dog have to get beaten to realize his owner is an irredeemably cruel son-of-a-bitch? And Biden is partnered with the man who, despite his wonderful rhetoric about practically everything decent human beings would like to see happening in our troubled country and world, has proven fixated on doing the opposite.

But I’m such a soft touch, even now after decades of being bludgeoned with the hypocrisy stick. I had heard about Biden’s loss of his first wife and their new 18-month old daughter, how he courageously bore his grief, bounced back, continued his selfless service to public life __ all the usual milk toast mythology that’s surrounds public officials.

So I am just as vulnerable to the effects of finely-wrought PR spin as the next guy.

I have learned __ as I hope you have __ from gagging on too much bullshit for too many years, at least to try to be more discerning, less willing to buy the popular song-and-dance about these guys, less inclined take at face value what is spewed by the main stream media and, of course, the constant stream of self-serving blather by the politicos themselves.

But it’s difficult. It is just plain hard work to have to analyze and take literally everything apart, look at things from every possible angle, view with incredulity and suspicion the vast bulk of what we are told to believe, by what are reputed to be sound and objective sources.

It’s getting easier, though.

Eventually it will be a snap.

Because when everything becomes a lie?

No problem.

We’ll know not to believe anything they tell us.

Unfortunately, I fear we are further down that road than we realize.

Posted in Deconstruction, Democracy, Political Analysis, Political Rant, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

United?

“The United States of America!”

Doesn’t saying it just make your heart leap for joy?

I start hearing the national anthem play in my head, see the rockets red glare bursting in air, the American flag waving majestically over the capital skyline.

But I started wondering the other day:  What exactly does the ‘united’ stand for?  What exactly during these contentious, deeply divisive, tragically troubled times does it mean?

‘United’ would seem to imply Unity. Agreement. Fellowship. Consensus. Harmony.

Does that sound like contemporary America to you?

Here are some big questions . . .

Are we united by a sense of national purpose?

Are we united by a belief in our destiny and place in history?

Are we united by confidence in our superiority?

Are we united in our belief in American exceptionalism?

Are we united in our desire for empire?

Are we united by a love for our fellow Americans?

Are we united by our patriotism and sense of duty?

Or . . . are we united by our indifference?

Are we united by our faith in the American Dream?

Or . . . are we united by our pessimism?

Our cynicism?

How about some systemic issues . . .

Are we united in our faith in capitalism?

Are we united in the trust of our government?

Are we united in our belief in American democracy?

Are we united by a trust in God?

A system of shared values?

An ethos?

Are we united by our sense of self-determination?

Or . . . are we united by our sense of helplessness?

Our vulnerability and fatalism?

Our surrender?

How about some very specific issues . . .

Are we united in our love of guns?

Are we united by our freedom of speech?

Are we united by our disdain for socialism?

Are we united by the War on Terror?

Are we united by our hatred of Muslims?

Then there’s the psychological component . . .

Are we united by love?

Or . . . are we united by hate?

Are we united by courage?

Bravado?

Self-respect?

Or . . . are we united by fear?

Are we united by our optimism?

Or . . . are we united by our despair?

Our desperation?

Our doubt?

Here I believe is a really important question: Where does the rugged individualism which we see as the hallmark of a true American fit in?

How can we be united if we each have our own priorities and agenda?

Maybe we’re not united at all.

Maybe it’s all an illusion.

Maybe the United States of America is more like United Airlines, or United Van Lines. Catchy name but it doesn’t really allude to any real or even imagined unity.

And speaking of huge corporations, maybe we are united as customers, shareholders and employees of the vast corporations which seem to run everything these days. We are the biologic modules of a sprawling corporate Gaia, united in our service to interlocking clusters of entrepreneurial entities.

Less abstract and more the stuff of day-to-day living . . .

Are we united by the automobile?

Are we united by television?

Are we united by smart phones?

Are we united by the internet?

Holiday sales?

Shopping?

Football?

Which makes me wonder . . .

Maybe we’re just a bunch of lonely people who need to feel like we belong to something.

Or maybe not.

Posted in Corporatism, Democracy, Philosophy, Political Analysis, Social Commentary, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments