It’s My Constitutional Right?

18 Jan

“Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. …. the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.”

Who was the lefty who wrote this?

Justice Antonin Scalia writing the opinion for the majority in the DC v. Heller case, the strongest affirmation ever of the Second Amendment. The most conservative Justice appointed to the court in at least 70 years affirms the congress’s ability under the Constitution to ban arms it considers ‘dangerous’ or ‘unusual’, regulate ammunition, keep guns away from schools, airports and the like.

I heard two am radio personalities last night on being interviewed by Piers Morgan say the Second Amendment gave them the right to own a tank if they want. “The Constitution doesn’t exclude it, so it’s my right. There are no bullet points in the Constituion.” opined one of the women.

Clearly, these are people who don’t understand the Constitution, the law, or the rule thereby. We don’t get to decide our rights under the Constitution, the Supreme Court does, as it examines the laws passed by Congress to determine if they pass muster…in the eyes of the Court.

We’re entitled to our opinions, but do not be confused like these two ladies last night, that’s all we have. Our rights are determined by the Court, and we live under the law.

That is the meaning of “a nation of laws, not of men”. You have the right to disagree with Justice Scalia, but realize that if you do so, if you think God gave you a right to own any firearm you choose, you are not only mistaken, but you are way, way out on the fringes of society.

Talk all you want, take action on extremism, and you will suffer the consequences.

I Got Your Tyranny Right Here!

15 Jan

My first wife’s grandmother was a lovely octogenarian widow who lived on her own. As I worked nights, I would sometimes drive her to the market to shop, and we’d go back to her apartment and she’d make me lunch and she would tell me stories.

She had grown up in Prague, Czechoslovakia and by the mid 1930’s was a young married woman. Her husband was a violinist. He was a wise man who saw the war coming and insisted they leave Europe, so they moved to Ecuador.

Most of her family disagreed with him, they felt things would work out and stayed. After Czechoslovakia was annexed by Germany she continued for some time to receive letters from her relatives. Things were very bad. She could tell that from their letters, what they said, and what you could read between the lines.

People were disappearing. Spies were everywhere and if you said or did something against the government, men came in the night and took you and your family away. Your neighbors were afraid, and if they heard the commotion, they would pull their shades and turn off their lights, lest they come for them.

By the time the war ended, she was unable to find any of her family alive. Not a soul.

So when I see and hear people today in America talk about our government being a totalitarian regime, talk about the need to take up arms against the government, talk about being oppressed, talking nullification of Federal law and secession, some words come to mind.

Words like fool. If you think you are oppressed living in the world’s greatest representative democracy, maybe you don’t belong here. If you don’t agree with the choices made by the voting citizens of the United States you are free to voice your concerns, even to call for a change of government.

The “Founding Fathers”, almost immediately after passing the Bill of Rights, passed the Sedition laws. Back in Jefferson’s day, had you spoke out about taking up arms against the new republic, you were put in jail! In fact, both Jefferson and John Adams jailed newspaper editors who wrote editorials criticizing their leadership.

Now if Barack Obama jails Rupert Murdoch I’ll join you, but until then, you need to grow up.

Hundreds of millions of us vote, and if you are so bothered by the direction the voters have taken the nation in, you are still free people. You have freedon of speech and freedom of assembly and freedom of the press.

But if you really, honestly can tell me you fear the government, why don’t you just leave? Learn the lesson from my mother-in-law and flee! I hear the Czech Republic is nice. Or for a true libertarian existence, perhaps Somalia would be good for you. No oppresive central government (no local govt. either for that matter), no gun restrictions, in fact, no restrictions on anything!

The great freedom that everyone forgets. Open borders. Love it or leave it.

Things You Don’t Even Notice

21 Dec

In the blizzard of white noise that makes up the media, the 24 hour news cycle is tucked into its corner, furiously spinning away, filling airtime with all the news that fits.

It’s always been the aim of those concerned with public policy interests to bury things in the  news at times when they will get less notice. Something goes wrong, hold it close till Friday afternoon. Wait until something big goes down, and report the same day. Things you don’t want dwelt on can literally disappear.

Like the day the Supreme Court ruled on Obamacare. At the same time, nearly to the hour, Rupert Murdoch announced Newscorp was splitting off it’s entertainment division, Fox, with it’s other media activities, it’s newspaper business and Fox News.

In the UK, Newscorp is in big trouble. The heads of many of their media divisions are under indictment for invasion of privacy and bribery of police and public officials. Rebekah Brooks, who reportedly isnlike a daughter to Murdoch, is facing felony charges that carry up to thirty years in prison!

This causes Newscorp two problems. One is that many of the persons indicted in Britain also ran news divisions in the United States at some point, which given what they are alleged to have done in England has prompted curiousity from the US Justice Dept.

The other is that even if no similar illegal activity has ocurred on this side of the pond, which seems highly unlikely, since Newscorp is an American corporation, they could be prosecuted under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which can be used to prosecute American companies for illegal acts committed abroad.

It is no wonder then that Roger Ailes, former Nixon man and chairman of the Fox News Division of Newscorp, travelled to Afghanistan in 2010 to meet with General David Petraeus, to urge him to run against President Obama as the Tea Party/Fox/Republican candidate. The general, as we now know, had a different fire in the belly, he was throwing his hat in a different ring, dipping his toe in another pool…in other words, the rock star general had been schtupping one of his groupies, and even if he was too arrogant to realize he could not stand the scrutiny that comes with running for President, he somehow fended off Ailes advances.

But there it is. A supposed news organization trying to set up the Presidential field.

This comes as no shock, it’s not to say things have in some way anything has changed in the news business. We’ve always had two different kinds of news organizations. It’s always been the reformers and the reactionaries. Josef Pulitzer, who bequeathed Columbia School of Journalism or William Randolf Hearst, who used his chain of newspapers to gin up a war and deliver Cuba to American business interests.

And now Newscorp is in trouble. The ship is slowly sinking. Even though they are a public company, Newscorp is run by the Murdoch family as a family business, and the shareholders may be getting tired of paying for it. They needed their own man in the White House. A Republican Attorney General was something they counted on. It’s also why Sheldon Adelson spent all those tens of millions on failed candidates, and why he and all the other Republicans interest groups who wasted hundreds of millions of dollars in the last cycle will do so again in 2014.

They’ve been bad. They’ve been very bad, and they are desperate. There is trouble in the board rooms at FNC. There is disarray in the conservative movement. The Republican caucus in the House is splintering. Their coalition of the greedy and the truly ignorant is collapsing. The politics of fear is not working and they know that as the inexorable wheels of justice turn, there will arrive one day a summons and the jig will be up.

Ask anybody on the run from the Feds. You can run. For a long time. But you can’t escape. They never quit, they never forget. Once they get the scent, once the wheels start to turn, it’s just a matter of time. There’s really only one question;

 Is it too early to break out my dancing shoes?

Right to Work?

11 Dec

How about “No soup for you!”? Or rather, less soup for everybody.

Michigan legislature just passed “Right to Work”. Having live in Florida for almost thirty years, I can tell you from experience, you’ve just been tapped and screwed.

If you are already employed, your future wages just shrunk. If you are a building contractor, a dentist, an insurance agency or a local retailer, the future profitability of your business is less.

When lower wages are being paid in your state, there is less money in the local economy. All the benefits of lower overall wages go to the top ten percent of earners. Most likely, few if any of these people live in your state.

Since 2007 middle income Americans have lost 38% of their wealth, while at the same time the top ten percent of earners have seen wealth rise by 18%.

What’s happening in Michigan would not be possible without the approval of those members of the working class who are swayed by the cultural crack cocaine doled out by the right wing media machine. If they get more, I get less. Humans have a natural fear of scarcity, but just as a percentage of the population will always believe the end is near, there is a segment that will always believe that somebody else is getting more than they are.

For the right wing media machine, this is like shooting fish in a barrel. They must be confronted head on! We have to fight back!

This is the time! At the dawn of the 21st Century, the issues of the labor movement move to the forefront as they did one hundred years ago.

You can’t hsve change without first changing yourself. The most realistic way for the average person to be that change is to start by just speaking up! There is no time to waste. History will not wait on us to screw up our courage and fight for what we know is right.

Your family and your friends know what you stand for, be loud and be proud when it comes to supporting workers, teachers, public servants and union workers. Time to stand up.

Must Be Air Popped

27 Nov

This morning three Republican senators on the intelligience committee (profoundly ironic) came out of a meeting requested by Amb. Susan Rice, whose innacurate early accounts of the Benghazi attack on tv news shows were compared by one of them, Lindsay Graham, to the Iran-Contra affair, to give statements to the press (big surprise).

But it isn’t Graham’s ridiculous statement, where he compares relaying incorrect information, after first cautioning that it was early in the investigative process and that information might change, with a series of felony crimes committed at the highest levels of government, or Senator McCain’s desprerate attempt to create a select committee with him at the head, so as to maintain his power in the Senate after January 1st, when term limits on his chairmanship will render him irrelevant.

What I found interesting was the demeanor of the third and most junior Senator, Kelly Ayotte.  She was scared. Either that or she really had to pee. Normally, she is poised in front of the cameras, but she seemed nervous and cornered.

Is she fearful this is a mistake politically, to try to run the standard “borking” of a potential cabinet appointee at a time when Americans want Congress to deal with fiscal issues?

Ayotte, who is young and theoretically has a political future, is following some old farts down a bad road. She is participating in yet another attack on an Obama appointee that is a person of color. Although the President invited Senators McCain and Graham to “come after me” they lack the guts, or for that matter, anything to actually go after him about. What the Republicans have done is go after every Obama appointee that is black. Starting with Van Jones, then Shirley Shirrod, AG Eric Holder and now Susan Rice.

So they run this tired old game on Ambassador Rice. Once again in 2012, the republicans seem to think it’s 1992. Rally the old white men!

Ayotte fears attacking another black Obama appointee, and a woman, continues to marginalize her party. With Lindsay Graham blowing the racial dog whistle, questioning openly the intelligience of Ambassador Rice, a Rhodes scholar, compared to Graham himself, a lawyer with an undergrad degree in Psych from South Carolina.

Indeed Senator Ayotte is nervous. She’s following the same playbook that saw her party boot chances to gain the Senate in the last two cycles. She may be having a hard time holding the line, something Republicans always do, when she sees oblivion on the horizon. 

Senator McCain is old, will always be a war hero, and he’s proven to be most adept at shifting positions. And after he finally loses a primary challenge from the right, Senator Graham can retire and then gracefully come out of the closet and write his memoir.

But Ayotte is young, she’s only been in the Senate since 2010.

She could simply disappear, as demographics indicate her current party eventually will.

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“How can a brown Cow eat green grass and give white milk?” 

This was the question posed to me by my father when I was a child. It has troubled me these many years.

And finally I found the answer, from the only place it could come, my childhood.

Saturday morning I tivo’ed Rawhide in order to hear the theme song. For some reason, I felt like hearing it again, and there in the verses I found the answer to the question “How can a brown cow eat green grass and give white milk?”

Movin’, movin’, movin’, though they’re disapprovin’, keep those dogies movin’, Rawhide!

Don’t try to understand ‘em, just ride ‘em, rope and brand ‘em….

And there it is, there’s the answer to the age old question….just get the milk, fool!

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Several predominately white Southern states have shown an interest in secession. A quick use of the Google shows these states, as are most red states, are takers.

They depend on taking more money from the federal government than they pay in.

I say, let these welfare states like Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina and Georgia go! Not only can we use the money we spend supporting these unproductive states to close the debt, but we can tax goods going in to them and get some of the money that taxpayers in states like Massachusetts and California have sent them. Just so they could produce substandard educational systems and provide inadequate healthcare to their citizens.

Money sent to red states finds its way into the pockets of fat cats.

I say let them go.

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Said to the press by Sen. Lindsay Graham this morning;  “Sometimes you’re pressured into giving an answer, but if you don’t know, you just shouldn’t answer the question.”

While he appeared to be talking about Ambassador Rice and Meet the Press, I thought I heard someone in the background yell out…”Senator, are you gay?”

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If America as a whole ranks 17th in educational acheivement, where does Mississippi rank against countries like Cuba and Viet Nam?

More Unpopped Kernels

21 Nov

Just finished watching a rerun of the Daily Show from Nov. 7th. Say what you want about politics, the presence of the truly bat shit crazy on the national stage, while it may endanger the very future of mankind’s survival on this planet,  may be worth it just for the jokes.

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A few days after the election I saw a blurb about an industry study that said America would be the world’s largest exporter of energy by 2020. I’m skeptical about the energy boom. Beyond the need to get off fossil fuels for the sake of the planet, it just seems like a hustle. Suddenly we have all these new energy sources. Well yeah, as long as you’re willing to pay these kind of prices, we can make money getting this stuff out of the ground.

It’s all predicated on being willing to pay the ever rising cost of a fossil fuel economy.

This fracking stuff seems sketchy, as well. Fracking replaces the oil and gas in the ground with fresh water, and some chemicals.

Well, if you think about it, we’re already paying more for designer bottled water than gasoline. As water becomes more and more scarce, something you can see happening, we’ll be trying to force it out of the ground using gas and oil.

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Some things are going to change. Newscorp, owner of Fox News, is in trouble in Britain and thanks to Jimmy Carter,  they likely will be here eventually. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, passed under the Carter Administration, opens Newscorp up to all kinds of Justice Dept. investigation, as the crimes they commited in the UK, phone hacking, bribery, murder, ok, not murder but bad stuff, make there way accross the pond. And they will, they will, mwah, hah, hah, hah.

I like the Brits. Scooter Libby got his sentence commuted for outing a covert agent. In the UK, Rebekah Brooks is accused of approving the tapping of Posh Beckham’s phone, and is facing thirth years in jail!

Now that is how you run a goddam empire!

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Heard a good one.

Is Mitt Romney the current Republican party’s Hubert Humphrey?

The retread guy that was kind of inevitable but that the party base just wasn’t really too excited about? A guy identified with the same old establishment type party apparatchiks.

Tired old blood?

It leads to an interesting question.

Will the Republicans follow up their Hubert Humphrey in the next cycle by nominating their version of George McGovern?

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More trouble in the Mideast. Why do Palestinian militants fire rockets into Israel from Gaza? Is it as simple as the inevitable Israeli response will cause collateral damage, ensuring future generations will carry on the feud.

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People are seriously running up the price of Twinkies on Ebay? How humans survived evolutionary forces is a mystery to me. It never fails that if you can imagine something incredibly stupid, someone will have already have posted the video on youtube.

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I have a lot of friends that are passionate about protecting their Second Amendment rights. Personally, I think they are trending toward paranoia bordering on the ridiculous with an infusion of bat shit to give the finish a nice acidity, but I appreciate what they are doing. Slippery slope, ever vigilant and all that.

So thanks, appreciate it.

I’ll go ahead and try to keep a lid on all the currently elected American politicians who have said repeatedly that their aim and purpose is to bring an end to Social Security and Medicare, and you can protect me from a UN based one world governmental heirarchy bent on disarming us.

Thanks.

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I think it was Republican senator Lindsay Graham that first suggested the President send Bill Clinton to the Mideast to negotiate a peace deal. Now I see libs taking the bait.

Bubba spent most of the last year of his presidency trying to get a Mideast peace deal. I don’t think he’s going to swoop in and save the day here. And neither does Graham. They see this going badly and they want the administration tarred with anything bad that goes down vis a vis Egypt and it’s new Prime Minister.

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Senator John McCain seems determined to find his way into the news cycle if he has to destroy the almost non existent credibility he still had. Think about it, this guy can not refrain from giving the President a daily lecture, veins popping from his head to cool a brain that is ready to boil over with……..sternness. He has such certitude, even though a quick recap of very recent history demonstrates he is always proven wrong. He’s increasingly just a complete gasbag that failed to recognize his time on the stage had long passed.

The National Debt and the Holographic Principle II.

21 Nov

It’s just out there, like a boogeyman, just out of your peripheral line of sight. It’s the National Debt. The amount we owe, collectively as a nation, to our creditors. It’s like a massive Visa bill you somehow ran up over the last seventy five years and now you can’t even wrap your mind around how you can ever pay it down.

And like boogeymen, all that fear is unwarranted. Because the national debt is just that; a boogeyman. There’s only one time when you hear about the debt. When Democrats have the White House. It’s a boogey man, brought out to scare the bejesus out of the credulous, drive some cattle into the pens, you know, bidness as usual.

Ok, you’re probably thinking wait a minute, we really did borrow that money and we really do have to pay it back.

Yes. We do. But when, and more importantly, how?

Firstly, we aren’t going to pay it off with taxes. You’ve seen those debt clock things.Think about it, when you look at the amount owed by each and every American family and how it grows, it doesn’t take a genius to see that if you hit individuals or businesses with high enough taxes to pay it down at an accelerated rate, the economy would grind to a halt. You can’t tax your way out of it. And if you try to do it by cutting spending, you quickly realize that the sizeable cuts to the budget required would negatively effect the economy, shifting massive costs onto state governments that are in no way up to the task.

So how do you pay it off? With growth. In times of economic expansion you devote a greater part of the yearly budget toward paying off the debt.  You must resist the pressure to cut taxes or otherwise line the pockets of special interests with excess funds, but it isn’t rocket science. It’s accounting. It’s a year to year thing, and what counts is not the point you are at, but the aiming point of where you are headed, and the confidence folks have in your marksmanship.

And so, naturally, it stands to reason that there is a time to borrow, and the time to run up the debt is when there is a; a need and b; favorable market conditions.

The need to run up the debt would be a time of low demand for goods and services. Lagging growth in the private sector slowing the economy. A recession. Hmm….sound familiar?  And favorable market conditions occur when there is a strong demand for US Treasuries. That makes for low interest for the borrower.

Low and behold we are living through a Perfect Storm for running up the debt. Oh, but wait, there’s politics involved in the process of allocating collective resources.  Get the boogeyman out boys, there’s fear to monger!

So you’re still scared by the debt, even though I promise to you that if you just use Google, you will discover at light speed that in the last thirty plus years, Republican presidents always preside over increases in the national debt, regardless of economic conditions? That alone should tell a person this is all just a load of crap. Just as sure as they’ll try to stop a colored person from voting, a Republican administration regards deficit spending of such small consequence that they treat it like a private honeypot.

OK, if that isn’t enough to convince you of the relatively benign nature of the debt, let’s try something easier. Theoretical Physics.

There is a theory called The Holographic Principle.  It has to do with black holes, what a singularity actually is and whether or not gravity could make matter dissapear and Shatner’s in there somewhere and some stuff about light years….you get the picture.

Anyway, after some braniac moments it leads to a very interesting question:  If you’re looking at a full moon, and you turn your back to it…is the moon still there when you can no longer see it?

Obviously, there is evidence that it is, like your shadow, but is it really still there? More and more, scientists are beginning to suspect that it isn’t. It has to do with how the littlest of particles that comprise the universe only behave in the predictable manner that produces the universe we know when we observe them.

But when we’re not looking, they do all kinds of crazy shit. 

So it only stands to reason that when you’re no longer looking at the moon, it is doing some crazy shit too, and then reassembles itself as soon as you look at it. It’s almost as if the Man in the Moon is laughing at us behind our backs.

Insane, right. But true. So true that the guys who put men on the moon are now looking for the fundamental membrane that this three dimensional holograph we call “real life” is projected on. And if you think that’s just nonsense consider…billions are being invested in this science.

Quick refresher course; What talks? Good. And what walks. Right again, nice work.

You can’t really expain this to someone in real terms unless you both have outrageous math skills. But it’s true. If you will choose to believe the guys that put men on the moon over your neighbor with the rebel flag mailbox.

Only a theoretical physicist can work the the math and experimentation behind all this. All you or I can do is offer up analogies, and then ask people to use a combination of careful fact based consideration and their natural bullshit meter to realize you’re telling them the truth. Kind of like you need them to do with climate change.

And the same is true about the National Debt. You really need an analogy. I’ve read a little about economics. Not any actual economics per se, that’s over my head and pretty dry stuff, but about economics. Theoretical stuff. I sort of grasp the difference between John Maynard Keynes and Milton Friedman. I have a friend who’s an economist. So what the hell, I’ll take a stab at it.

Here’s the situation; You’re in tough shape. Work is slack, pay is low, and you’re carrying beaucoup debt. You’re working, your job is steady, you know it will pick up. The boss likes you, so you know that if you just keep showing up and working hard, your problems aren’t solved, but you can hold it together while you try to work it out. Except you can see a problem that is going to mess you up. Your wheels. You need your car desperately to earn a living, and you know it’s on it’s last legs. You’ve got blue smoke coming out the tailpipe and it sounds like something is starting to knock. So besides your four bald tires and the high price of gas, which your ’85 K Car guzzles, you lack anything like the cash it would take to keep this peice of junk running. And you have no downstroke and no way can you afford car payments, but, what the hell, you do have good credit, why not just fall by the dealer and see what up.

So you hit the lot and the salesman says, “You don’t have good credit, you have great credit! The best!  You can get the car you want no money down.”

Yeah, but you just can’t afford the payments, how can you afford the payments?

And that’s when the credit manager comes out, and shows you that the rates on car loans are so low, that you can borrow at at rate that, over the years, will result in you paying less for the car than today’s sticker price! It’s a deal to good to be true, only for the first time in your life, it is true!

So what do you do?

Duh!?!   You buy the freaking car! You’ll save money immediately on gas and repairs that you can apply to your monthly payment, the rest you can figure out, a second job maybe, but the bottom line is, you’ll be working because you have a dependable car!

You are being given an opportunity to work your way out of your current problems via credit.

And it’s the same with the national debt. We can’t afford not to run up the debt right now! Market conditions have never been so favorable, and clearly there is need. Dire need.

All of our greatest landmarks, from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Empire State Building, and many of those jewels of smaller stature that are treasured by us, our great civil engineering projects, were done during the Great Depression. Just like Lincoln, who chose during the Civil War to build a transcontinental railway, times of travail demand large, heroic decisions made by men and women with steel in their gizzards.

The investors of the world are begging, please, to invest in the future of the United States. We are the economic bedrock of the world.

But we will only take action, we will only commit ourselves to rebuilding the infrastructure of the nation, the power grid, high speed rail, solar and wind power generation, the r and d, if we understand that the national debt is like the moon.

It’s real, it’s there, but it’s just not exactly what we think it is. Unless we look at it. Unless we add it up and look at the bottom line. Turn away, who know’s what it is.

Other than something we don’t need to fear.

Credit is something to be put to work. They talk about running government like a business. Now’s the time.

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