Saturday, November 28, 2009

Less Equals More

In a recent email exchange the person I was conversing with began to express a fear of government takeover of health care. Spouting the same disinformation be promulgated by the insurance industry he continually made the point that he didn't want the government making health care decisions. He seemed befuddled at my suggestion that he must not mind corporations running his life.

In health care, and for that matter, all matters where people state that they want the government to stay out of things, they are advocating that corporations be given free rein instead. The government is really the only check on large US and even larger transnational corporations. Corporations, guided only by an allegiance to profits and the bottom line, are at best neutral while at their worst malevolent entities intent on increasing revenues at any cost. Government can run as a non-profit and have employment as a purpose. Corporations view workers only as resources to be used and used up.

There is a dynamic tension that must necessarily exist between government and corporations. Unless governments can control the necessarily amoral actions of corporations the masses of people will be exploited as a matter of course. Corporations gaining control and directing the government is nothing but fascist corporatism. This is the direction the health insurance cartel of United Healthcare, Cigna, Aetna, Wellpoint and Blue Cross are attempting to take us.

Do not think this stops at health care. Corporatism is a growing threat to our society and planet as large transnationals manipulate the governments of the world in the interests of profits. Just as surely as the United Fruit Company overthrew governments in Latin America, those in the corporate world continue to exert their influence.

After being bailed out by the government of "We the People," Wall Street awarded itself bonuses with our dollars. Somehow it seems, Hank Paulson and Tim Geitner looked out for their cronies rather than the people. Blackwater, now re-branded Xe, and Halliburton continue to work as contractors for the government despite being waist deep in corruption and malfeasance.

The rallying cry for the gangster bankers - the banksters- and the health insurance industry is that regulation is bad. The free market will take care of everything they assure us. Less regulation equals more money - for them.

Less does equal more. Less government means more corporate control. In a government of "We the People," we probably get what we deserve. In a corporate world, we are all just fodder for the cannons aimed by the invisible hand of the market.

Inane & Insane

I just heard a rumor that Sarah Palin had said that she thought Glenn Beck would make a great Vice-Presidential running mate. The Palin-Beck ticket: Bringing back the Know Nothing Party for the 21st century.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fight Consumerism: Buy Nothing Today

Since 1992, there has been a movement to fight the consumerist nature of our culture by selecting one day a year to buy absolutely nothing. That day has become the day after Thanksgiving, known as "Black Friday" by retailers as it is supposedly the day that they begin to make all their holiday money. Picking Black Friday, the day when the balance sheets goes from red to black highlights the event.

Conceived by Ted Dave of Vancouver, this informal boycott of consumerism, capitalism and corporatism likely has little effect on the overall economy. However, it does draw attention to the nonsensical rabidness by which individuals are manipulated by advertising to buy heavily on this one day.

One would think by all the crowds the thought of being sheep would occur to at least someone.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The George W. Bush Presidential Library

I recently heard a news story about the George W. Bush Presidential Library. It made me wonder if this was the first time a library has been named after someone who has never been in one.

I wonder what books will adorn the shelves? I hope we don't limit it to books that George himself has read. We'd need only one shelf. There's that book he read in college ("Pulled an all-nighter, had some of the nose candy," he was later quoted as saying), there's My Pet Goat, the only book we know he read for sure (because who can believe a coked-up frat boy), which we painfully watched him stare at it as he froze on 9/11 and maybe the book his dog allegedly wrote (Laura probably read him to sleep with that one).

Ah, the George W. Bush Presidential Library. Texas size - except for the books.

Afghanistan: Time to Go

After eight years of muddling about, it has become apparent that it is time to leave Afghanistan. History (previously reviewed in "Graveyard of Empires" post) of the country suggests we should have never gone to begin with, but that point aside, it is now time to go.

Matthew Hoh, a state department official, recently resigned from his post in Afghanistan and made a point of noting in his resignation letter that it was due to the utter disaster that the occupation has become. Later, in an interview with Judy Woodruff on PBS, he discussed the corruption of the Karzai government and noted that our actions in the country are actually fueling the fighting rather than preventing it.

U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, has expressed similar sentiment in objecting to plans to send more troops to the country. Eikenbery, it should be noted, is a retired general and former commander of the forces in Afghanistan. He also has called the Karzai government corrupt and ineffective.

Afghanistan has become a pointless morass with no semblance of a goal. At this point it seems unclear if we can even tell if we are winning or losing. Time to go.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Goldman Sachs: Greedy Men Suck

Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, stated a couple of days ago that he was doing "God's work." Yeah, the god of money, Mammon.

Accepting bailout money just last year, the costs of which will ultimately fall on the backs of the poor and their children, Goldman Sachs recently gave out billions of dollars in bonuses to it's top people. After driving the world to the brink of financial collapse, these self-entitled money manipulators now think they needed to be rewarded for their efforts in stealing from the masses.

Is it "God's work," to engage in activities that directly and indirectly lead to the deaths of countless people? Like it or not that's what capitalism does, and I'm not just talking about the 45,00 or so Americans that will die because they don't have health insurance. I'm talking about the whole rigged system that pays people like Blankfein billions of dollars while preventing most people from making a living wage. It is worth noting that every increase in the minimum wage is fought as somehow anti-competitive, but giving wealthy people even more to overfill their already overfull glasses is somehow the only course of action.

The arrogance displayed by Blankfein should serve as a warning to us all. The banker-thieves of the world have no shame. They are so ensconced in their own delusions that they actually believe they are doing "God's work." As I've said time and time again, show me a man with God on his side and I'll show you a man who is dangerous as hell.

Exhibit A: Lloyd Blankfein

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Voter's Referendums for Rights: That's Just Wrong

Yesterday, November 4th, 2009, Maine became the 31st state to defeat or repeal a measure that supported same-sex unions. In several of the states, legislatures or courts had implemented the extension of marriage rights to same-sex couples. Voters rejected these laws due to popular sentiment.

Human rights, however, are not a matter of public sentiment. Rights are just that - rights. The idea that a human right can be taken away because it is unpopular flies completely against the grain of the whole notion of rights. It is exactly this attitude that we profess to abhor in other countries. When women are denied basic human rights in the Islamic world, Americans are quick to condemn the intrusion of popular sentiment.

The Civil Rights Act in the United States also addressed this popular condemnation of rights. When the act passed it was extremely unpopular in the South. In fact, it is abundantly clear that if it were a matter of popular sentiment that segregation would still be legal in parts of the country. Laws against slavery might even be repealed if it were a matter of popular opinion.

The reasons listed above are exactly why we can NOT allow rights to be a matter of popular vote. A human right is a right even if no one is in favor of it. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, ..."

How can a right be taken away by votes? That is just wrong.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

See Dick Lie

Former Vice-President Dick Cheney never ceases to amaze me. While vice-president he often appeared to have more power and influence than the actual president. His former firm, Halliburton, received no-bid government contracts without raising even the slightest concern of influence peddling. He accuses the current administration of "dithering" even after his administration spent eight years doing nothing.

He has managed to top all of the above. During questioning about the leak in the Valerie Plame debacle in which an active CIA operative was outed in the press, Cheney responded 72 times that he "Did not recall," or "Could not remember," in response to Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Cheney's right hand man, Scooter Libby, was convicted of perjury for his failure to disclose information. Cheney, on the other hand, got away without even a slap on the wrist.

Some of the information Cheney couldn't recall was whether anyone had ever mentioned to him that the wife of administration critic Joe Wilson was a CIA operative. He also could not recall how he found out that information. Interestingly though, he was able to describe in great detail his lunch with Nancy Reagan. This does not pass the stink test. He couldn't remember details of a major embarrassment to himself but he could remember what was for lunch.

Cheney has long been known for his great memory for details. When it is to his advantage he seems able to recall every detail of a decision making process. He revels in pointing out when others seem unclear on information.

In response to another politician claiming that he did "not recall," details of a scandal, Cheney famously blasted him for his poor memory. He pointed out that it was hard to believe anyone who conveniently forgot information that would convict them in a court of law. On that occasion he told the truth.

When it comes to his own lapses of memory, suddenly Cheney doesn't buy his own rhetoric. See Dick forget. See Dick lie. See Dick subvert the Constitution. See Dick commit treason.

British Petroleum Gulf Oil Spill Costs

  • 11 workers killed in initial blast
  • Damage to Ocean Ecosystem
  • 35,000 to 60.000 Barrels of Oil Per Day. That's somewhere between 1,500,000 to 2,500,000 gallons a day or 150 to 300 million gallons already spilled into the ocean as of July 27th by that estimate.
  • Gulf Fisheries Industry
  • Gulf Tourism (ongoing costs)
  • Long Term Health Effects to Humans and Wildlife (to be determined)

Worst Oil Spills

  • Kuwait 1991 - 520 million gallons: Gulf War I
  • Gulf of Mexico 2010 - 206 million gallons: BP Oil
  • Mexico, Bay of Campiche 1979 - 140 million gallons: Pemex Oil
  • Trinidad & Tobago 1979 - 90 million gallons: Greek Oil Tanker Atlantic Empress
  • Russia 1983 - 84 million gallons: Leaky Pipeline collapsed into Kolva River
  • Iran 1983 - 80 million gallons: Tanker collided with Oil Platform
  • South Africa 1983 -79 million gallons:Tanker Castillo de Bellver sank
  • France 1978 - 69 million Gallons: Amoco Cadiz ran aground and broke in half.
  • Angola Coastal Waters (700 miles at sea) 1991 - 51-81 million gallons: ABT Summer exploded at sea.
  • Italy 1991 - 45 million gallons: M/T Haven Oil Tanker exploded.
  • Source: Mother Nature Network. The 13 largest oil spills in history. by Laura Moss. Friday July 16, 2010.

Nuclear Accidents (Under Construction)

  • 1957 Windscale, UK
  • 1961 Idaho Falls, Idaho, US
  • 1979 Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, US
  • 1984 Athens, Alabama, US
  • 1985 Athens, Alabama, US
  • 1986 Plymouth, Masachusetts, US
  • 1986 Chernobyl, Ukraine, USSR
  • 1996 Waterford, Connecticut, US
  • 1989 Griefwald, Germany
  • 1999 Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan
  • 2002 Oak Harbor, Ohio, US
  • 2004 Fukui Prefecture, Japan
  • Source: Benjamin Sovacool

Mining Disasters (Under Construction)

  • China 1942 - 1549 deaths
  • France 1906 - 1100 deaths
  • Japan 1963 - 447 deaths
  • Wales 1913 - 438 deaths
  • South Africa 1960 - 437 deaths
  • Source: Epic Disasters Website
  • Note: Do not look at the dates herein and conclue that mining disasters are a things of the past. Every year thousands of miners die worldwide in largely unreported accidents.

OIL IS OVER! - Resources

  • Hibbert's Peak - "The" source that explains why Oil is Over.
  • Tragedy of the Commons -Garrett Hardin
  • The Land Ethic - Aldo Leopold
  • Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight - Thom Hartmann
  • Eco-Defense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching


  • The Dirt People - Ray Bawarchi (yes, that's me)
  • The Razor's Edge - Somerset Maugham
  • Demian - Herman Hesse
  • Black Elk Speaks - Black Elk (as told to R. Neimur)
  • The Quiet Don - Mikhail Sholokov
  • Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
  • Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
  • 1984 - George Orwell
  • Delicious Laughter - Jallahudin Rumi
  • The Sybil - Par Lagerksvitz
  • The Fixer - Bernard Malamud
  • Spirits Rebellious - Khalil Gibran
  • The Quiet American - Graham Greene
  • Midaq Alley - Nagib Mafouz
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Farenheit 451- Ray Bradbury
  • We - Yevgeny Zamyatin


  • John Coltrane - St. John the Divine
  • Patti Smith
  • The Clash - the only band that matters
  • Billy Bragg
  • Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band
  • Art Blakey
  • Death - pre-punk visionaries from Detroit
  • PJ Harvey - Polly Jean, Polly Jean
  • Woody Guthrie
  • Michael Franti (Spearhead)
  • Public Enemy
  • Ray Charles - the Genius
  • Bob Dylan
  • Velvet Underground
  • Flaming Lips
  • John Doe & X
  • The Beatles

opiate of the masses

  • God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh. - Voltaire
  • I do not feel obliged to believe that the same god who has endowed us with sense, reason and inellect has intended us to forgo their use. - Galileo Galilei
  • The ink of a scholar is worth far more than the blood of a martyr.- Mohammad
  • If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. - Sheldon Kopp
  • No one will be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest. - Louisa Mae Alcott
  • When it is a question of money, everyone is of the same religion.- Voltaire
  • If God were alive today, he'd be an athiest. - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The god I worship is not short of cash, Mister. - Bono
  • Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine. My sins they only belong to me. - Patti Smith
  • God sure baked a lot of fruitcake baby, when Adam met the Eden lady. - Joe Strummer