Saturday, May 31, 2003

Mary had a little lamb..

I can't believe that there hasn't been more discussion of our government's intention to allow North Korea to become a full-fledged nuclear power. How else can we explain their behaviour? When North Korea's government said 'Uh, hey, we want to have a talk with someone in America, or else we'll be restarting our nuclear program.' Bush's response was to put his fingers in his ears and loudly sing nursery rhymes to block out everything else. If Bush actually wanted us to be safe, he would have talked to North Korea at that point. Why didn't he? Probably because having a nuclear-armed enemy keeps the people scared (and easier to control.) It justifies bigger military budgets (I hope that after the Iraq invasion, it's clear to everyone how ridiculous it is to refer to it as a 'defense' budget.) More money for the military, of course, means more money for the military-industrial complex (read: Cheney, Rumsfeld, and friends.) It just may convince the people that restarting our own nuclear development program is a good idea.

Fear is crucial to the agenda of the regime - Hitler was under no illusions about the role it played in his ability to control the people. In fact, the concept has been understood and utilized by many brutal rulers over time:

Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done.  And I am Caesar.
Julius Caesar

It's important that they continue to feed shit into the fan, and as long as they are in power the rest of us (the 95% of Americans who make less than $1mil/year and therefore number among the filthy poor) will be repeatedly hit with flying excrement. The poor outnumber the rich by massive margins (and the extent of that divide is growing, thanks to careful cultivation by the regime) so how do they manage to get away with it? When are people going to wake up and realize that the GOP's mission is to make the rich richer at the expense of everyone else. If you're not rich yourself, voting for them is like demanding punishment. I mean, duh.

And by the way, shouldn't the little aircraft carrier landing campaign commercial filming be paid for by the Bush-Orwell campaign? The fact that you and I are paying for it is just one more example of the incredible nerve possessed by this regime.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Deja Voodoo

As you probably know, Bush has been pushing for and has just won another monstrous tax cut to make his wealthy supporters even more wealthy. Incidentally, although the extreme right has been claiming for a long time that the projected shortfall in Social Security is far too large for the government to cover, his tax cut will cost three times as much as the total required to keep Social Security and Medicare solvent for the forseeable future. So, he's got this plan which he calls a 'jobs and growth' plan, but well over 400 respected economists - including ten Nobel laureates - have agreed (via a public statement) that his proposal will not promote jobs or growth, and is in fact a major threat to the economic future of our country. Programs like Social Security and Medicare are particularly at risk. Perhaps that's part of the plan - people like Bush will save more money with this tax cut than they would ever collect from Social Security.

Economists are not the only ones who see the folly in this tax cut - even America's second wealthiest man has spoken out against it. Warren Buffet points out that "Putting $1,000 in the pockets of 310,000 families with urgent needs is going to provide far more stimulus to the economy than putting the same $310 million in my pockets." He further reminds us of the following:

When you listen to tax-cut rhetoric, remember that giving one class of taxpayer a "break" requires - now or down the line - that an equivalent burden be imposed on other parties. In other words, if I get a break, someone else pays. Government can't deliver a free lunch to the country as a whole. It can, however, determine who pays for lunch. And last week they handed the bill to the wrong party.

Even Bush senior sees through the bullshit with regard to his son's ridiculous trickle-down theory - when Reagan tried to make the same claims, he called it voodoo economics.

But we need to do something to create jobs - thus far, America has lost over 2 million jobs since junior was selected president. He is set to earn the dubious honor of becoming the first president to actually preside over a net loss in jobs since Hoover in the 1930's . So since Bush's last tax cut failed to create jobs - obviously we should do the same thing on a larger scale. A popular definition of insanity is repeating the same actions, and expecting a different result. Clearly, Bush and his cronies are nuts - incredibly deviousl, clever nuts, but insane nevertheless.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

I would like to believe that all Americans are informed about political matters of critical importance, but because this doesn't seem to be true, my next few posts will deal with issues that all Americans should be familiar with.

1. Your 'representatives' don't really work for or represent you. The American political system, contrary to what you were told in school, is riddled with the cancer of corruption. We may refer to the open bribery that takes place every day as 'lobbying' but I hope we can all agree that when a person or group obtains political favors from an elected official by 'donating' money to that official, that's a bribe, and it should be illegal. Certainly there are countries whose governments are more corrupt, but there are not many that allow such blatant, legal bribery of officials. The irony is that most of the politicians sell their souls to the highest bidder with the ultimate goal of winning the votes of constituents; Americans tend to watch TV to the exclusion of other sources of information while the networks they depend on are far more interested in the money they make selling airtime for political advertising than in educating their viewers about the issues. Tempting though it may be to place all of the blame on the corrupt politicians and the special interests that lease them, some of the responsibility is ours; if Americans were truly interested in the truth and demanded information first and foremost, then television networks would compete to be the most informative instead of the most titillating, and the fact that the vice president is still being paid as much as a million dollars a year by one of the companies that received a no-bid multimillion dollar contract in Iraq would be bigger news than a marital indiscretion by Clinton (something that his wife certainly had every right to be angry about, but which really didn't affect his efficacy or integrity as President.)

Many of the politicians in office right now got there, at least in part, by virtue of their skill at raising money. These politicians generally do not want to change anything that might diminish their advantage, and so there is little campaign finance reform legislation on the horizon. In light of this, what can we do to stop this travesty? Two things: pulic financing of campaigns (everybody gets the same amount of money from the government and nobody accepts 'donations.') This provides a level playing field on which candidates can be evaluated on their merits and their stance on issues. It allows our representatives to actually represent us, making desicions based on what will benefit the people who voted. It will free up time currently spent raising money - or dialing for dollars, as many senators call it - for vital tasks like studying and discussing issues and communicating with constituents (estimates vary on how much time is spent by the average politician holding federal office, but they range from 30% to about 60% - a lot of time taken away from their actual job.) Some states have already adopted public funding of campaigns for state office with great success - Arizona's incumbent governor chose public financing for her recent campaign for reelection, despite the large sums she could have collected as the incumbent.

The other answer is to require the television networks to provide each candidate with free airtime before elections. The airwaves are owned by the public, and networks pay nothing for the valuable (estimated at $367 billion total) priviledge of broadcasting on them. There are a very limited number of available frequencies, and there are undoubtedly numerous companies who would like to use them. It's only appropriate to require those who broadcast to pay for the priviledge in service to the public, including helping people make informed decisions at the polls.

Saturday, May 24, 2003

Would you give DARPA access to your entire life?

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has a new project in the works called LifeLog. The goal is to obtain every detail of a subject's life, using sensors to record what they see, hear and feel, GPS devices to track location and gyroscopic sensors to record motion. Phone conversations will be recorded, with associated phone number logged, and all interaction with computers will be recorded, along with television, radio, newspapers, magazines, etc. This information will then be used for some purpose(s) as yet unstated.

This must be a joke or a screenplay, right? No..it's beyond the theoretical stage, and bids are being requested.

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