Category Archives: Government & Civics

Power to the People

Corporations, conglomerates, and industrial organizations aren’t the enemy, ipso facto. In fact, they make socialism not only possible, but necessary, IMO.

What is the enemy is unbridled greed, rampant cronyism, nepotism and, especially, the codification of deep income inequality. It is not good for a society when individuals can amass fortunes they can’t possibly spend. That they then turn some of that fortune into philanthropy and charitable organizations doesn’t change the fact that it should be criminal for one individual to take that much surplus value from the workforce that made their fortune possible. It’s estimated Jeff Bezos makes (not earns) around $2,500/second. Dafuque does he do, other than own Amazon stock?

I’m not saying inventors, creators, entrepreneurs, etc. aren’t entitled to profit from their efforts, but they shouldn’t be able to continue siphoning profit off an organization that has reached a point where it could easily survive without them. By the same token, intellectual property law has expanded patent and copyright protections way beyond their original intent, creating other avenues of indecent profit-making.

And getting back to what I said about making socialism possible and necessary, without large profitable organizations, we’d all be living off mom & pop’s and craft-making. Many of the products we enjoy, and that provide the grease that skids civilization as we know it, would not be possible without large factories, laboratories, and other institutions. By their very nature, though, they transcend the control and direction of any one individual, and I believe our pay/profit structure needs to take that much more into consideration, providing a larger share to the workers who have helped make the org successful.



It’s the Small Things

I’m not real big on nostalgia but . . . given the enormity of the shit show we’ve been enduring these past three and a half years, I found watching this enormously satisfying and entertaining. I recommend it highly. You’re welcome.


Whiplash!

Weird how a lying grifter deeply beholden to Russian oligarchs and their mafia, a serial rapist and abuser who’s been married three times and cheated on each of his wives, a traitor who is busy dismantling the government (not that it couldn’t use an overhaul) and selling it piecemeal to the highest bidder, a selfish, egotistical, narcissistic imbecile who trashes the Constitution he doesn’t understand or care about on a daily basis . . .

. . . can make you nostalgic for Dubya.


How NOT to Lead!

The Best & Brightest?

As long as Trump is president, we will never—repeat, NEVER—deal with this pandemic intelligently. He is a micro-manager, which means he will not allow anyone other than himself to control how this virus is dealt with. Consequently, since he is an ignoramus who thinks he knows absolutely everything (“I, alone, can fix it.”) there’s no aspect of this battle that will be addressed with the knowledge and understanding (forget wisdom) needed to limit the damage Covid-19 will cause in the coming years.

I feel the need to repeat myself. As long as this highly unqualified, prime example of the Dunning-Kruger effect, is president of the United States, this pandemic will NOT be dealt with with any semblance of scientific rigor . . . at least not if the results contradict his painfully limited understanding of just about everything other than how to properly grift and enrich himself and his cronies.

Remember when he said “And again, when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.” How does one pre-emptively declare victory? It’s one thing to suggest how things might go, but to declare how those very things went before they actually “went” is the height of folly or, better yet, the mark of a snake oil salesman.

As long as this man is POTUS, we’re well and truly fucked. This country is already a shell of its former self. He’s going to wreak a whole lot more havoc in the next seven or eight months (at least) and, if re-elected, we can probably kiss our nation good bye. I, for one, will be working diligently to support California’s exit. I don’t want to live in Gilead.


A Novel Form of an Old Virus

As I’ve noted before, I’m continuously improving my Photoshop skills, learning how tools I’ve not used before can improve my efforts, as well as improving on techniques I’ve learned as I’ve attempted to create the visions I imagine. Here’s one I did regarding the protests in Michigan and a tweet that made light of the protestors.

Some White Boys Cosplaying as Patriots (which they’re decidedly NOT!)

Yikes!

The photo on the bottom has haunted me for 50 years. Not that I think about it every day . . . or even every year, but over a half century it’s come to mind far more times than I would have liked. So, when I saw the top picture on my phone, it instantly evoked the extra-judicial execution of Nguyễn Văn Lém. I needed to do this to stop thinking about it. Too much thinking about death lately. 😕


Contemporary American History

I just came across one of the better summarizations of two disparate responses to infectious diseases by our two latest Presidents here in the United States. I am not the author of what follows, but I would like to post it here, as I believe it will ultimately get more exposure than it will on Facebook (where I encountered it.)


For those of you complaining about Trump being blamed for the COVID-19 pandemic, here’s a little history lesson for everyone on both sides of the political divide. It’s important that we understand the truth, especially come November when it’s time to vote. Forgive the length, but hey, we all have time on our hands to read, correct?

In December 2013, an 18-month-old boy in Guinea was bitten by a bat and died a brutal death a day later. After that, there were five more fatal cases. When Ebola spread out of the Guinea borders into neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone in July 2014, President Obama activated the Emergency Operations Center at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. The CDC immediately deployed CDC personnel to West Africa to coordinate a response that included vector tracing, testing, education, logistics, and communication.

Altogether, the CDC, under President Obama, trained 24,655 medical workers in West Africa, educating them on how to prevent and control the disease before a single case left Africa or reached the U.S. Working with the U.N. and the World Health Organization President Obama ordered the re-routing of travelers heading to the U.S. through certain specific airports equipped to handle mass testing. Back home in America, more than 6,500 people were trained through mock outbreaks and practice scenarios. That was done before a single case hit America.

Three months after President Obama activated this unprecedented response, on September 30, 2014, we detected our first case in the U.S.A. A man had traveled from West Africa to Dallas and somehow slipped through the testing protocol. He was immediately detected and isolated. He died a week later. Two nurses who tended to him contracted Ebola but later recovered. All the protocols had worked. It was contained. The Ebola epidemic could have easily become a pandemic, but thanks to the actions of our government under President Obama, it never did. Those THREE EBOLA CONFIRMED CASES were the ONLY cases of Ebola in the U.S.A. because Obama did what needed to be done THREE MONTHS PRIOR TO THE FIRST CASE.

Ebola is even more contagious than COVID-19. Had Obama not acted swiftly, millions of Americans would have died horrible, painful, deaths like something out of a horror movie (if you’ve never seen how Ebola kills, it’s horrific). It is ironic because since President Obama acted decisively we forget about his actions since the disease never reached our shores.

Now the story of COVID-19 and Trump’s response that we know about thus far:
Before anyone even knew about the disease (even in China) Trump disbanded the pandemic response team that Obama had put in place. He cut funding to the CDC, and he cut our contribution to the World Health Organization (WHO). Trump fired Rear Admiral Timothy Ziemer, the person on the National Security Council in charge of stopping the spread of infectious diseases before they reach our country – a position created by the Obama administration.

When the outbreak started in China, Trump assumed it was China’s problem and sent no research, supplies or help of any kind. We were in a trade war, why should he help them? In January he received a briefing from our intelligence organizations that the outbreak was much worse than China was admitting and that it would definitely hit our country if something wasn’t done to prevent it. He ignored the report, not trusting our own intelligence.

When the disease spread to Europe, the World Health Organization offered a plethora of tests to the United States. Trump turned them down, saying private companies here would make the tests “better” if we needed them. However, he never ordered U.S. companies to make tests and they had no profit motive to do so on their own.According to scientists at Yale and several public university medical schools, when they asked for permission to start working on our own testing protocol and potential treatments or vaccines, they were denied by Trump’s FDA.

When Trump knew about the first case in the United States he did nothing. It was just one case and the patient was isolated. When doctors and scientists started screaming in the media that this was a mistake, Trump claimed it was a “liberal hoax” conjured up to try to make him “look bad after impeachment failed.”

The next time Trump spoke of COVID-19, we had SIXTY-FOUR CONFIRMED CASES but Trump went before microphones and told the American public that we only had FIFTEEN cases “and pretty soon that number will be close to zero.” All while the disease was spreading, he took no action to get more tests. What Trump did was to stop flights from China from coming here. This was too late and accomplished nothing according to scientists and doctors. By then the disease was worldwide and was already spreading exponentially in the U.S. by Americans, not Chinese people as Trump would like you to believe.

As of the moment I am posting this, the morning of April 20, 2020, we have 770,076 COVID-19 CONFIRMED CASES and 40,316 COVID-19 DEATHS in the U.S.A. The actual number is undoubtedly more than triple that amount.

As if you needed one more reason to vote, here it is.


Oh … He’s Not Progressive Enough For You?

I posted this response a few days ago to someone on Facebook who said they would never vote for Biden, and that Trump winning a second term as POTUS would “teach people” a lesson. I believe that’s an amazingly idiotic and insensitive response to your candidate not willing the Democratic nomination. What follows is my response:


Which people? The kids still in concentration camps?

The women who will lose all control over reproductive rights once Trump replaces RBG with another conservative ideologue?

I’m a Marxist. Bernie’s policies are more conservative than those I’ve been advocating for for 50 years.

This is my 14th general election and I’ve never had a candidate who really represented me.

But, as a Marxist my philosophy—dialectical materialism—is pragmatic, based on the reality we face, not how I would like things to be.

Apparently, you have nothing to lose if this country goes full-blown fascist, and you couldn’t care less about the millions who will needlessly suffer when that happens.

Biden is hardly an ideal candidate. Neither was Obama, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, or Hubert fucking Humphrey, but any one of them were head and shoulders above Trump.

I’ll vote for Biden.

I don’t expect to see this country become a socialist economy in my lifetime (which, at almost 73, is coming to a close sooner than later) but I don’t measure progress by how correct I am.

I measure it by how things change for the better, for those who need it most.

I understand your disappointment, but I have no patience for anyone’s privileged petulance.

Feel free to unfriend me.


Moving Forward

No matter what happens as we are coming out of this crisis, we should never settle for returning to the status quo ante. We need to think of humans and our societies as living organisms; as interconnected and interdependent systems. When some of us are suffering, we must recognize it as an insult to all of us.

“We’re all in this together” doesn’t stop being true when this pandemic is “over.” It remains true except for those idiotic and stubborn people who still believe in rugged individualism as the ideal condition for humans to follow. In my opinion, that model is a recipe for disaster for all but people who live in the woods and, even then—with the exception of people like Ted Kaczynski—if they take advantage of roads, communication channels, and the efforts of entities like the US Forest Service, etc. they’re part of the gestalt that is humanity.

A friend of mine posted this quote on Facebook. It was posted by someone who I don’t know, and his name isn’t important here, but the quote is useful and is what prompted me to write what I did above:

“Indeed, you have to wonder if the virus is so very different from extractive capitalism. It commandeers the manufacturing elements of its hosts, gets them to make stuff for it; kills a fair few, but not enough to stop it spreading. There is no normal for us to go back to. People sleeping in the streets wasn’t normal; children living in poverty wasn’t normal; neither was our taxes helping to bomb the people of Yemen. Using other people’s lives to pile up objects wasn’t normal, the whole thing was absurd. Governments are currently busy pouring money into propping up existing inequalities, and bailing out businesses that have made their shareholders rich. The world’s worst people think that everybody is going to come out of this in a few months and go willingly back into a kind of numbing servitude. Surely it’s time to start imagining something better.”

~ Frankie Boyle

I was also sent a link to a wonderful essay in The Guardian’s “The Long Read” collection. I recommend it highly, though it is a long read. I’m memorializing it partly because I want to return to it and re-read it, perhaps numerous times. I see it as a booster to help me continue to advocate for fundamental structural change in our economy and our society. Our culture.

Here’s a quote, though there are so many useful ones in this particular essay, it’s hard to pick only one:

The first lesson a disaster teaches is that everything is connected. In fact, disasters, I found while living through a medium-sized one (the 1989 earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area) and later writing about major ones (including 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in Japan), are crash courses in those connections. At moments of immense change, we see with new clarity the systems – political, economic, social, ecological – in which we are immersed as they change around us. We see what’s strong, what’s weak, what’s corrupt, what matters and what doesn’t.

I often think of these times as akin to a spring thaw: it’s as if the pack ice has broken up, the water starts flowing again and boats can move through places they could not during winter. The ice was the arrangement of power relations that we call the status quo – it seems to be stable, and those who benefit from it often insist that it’s unchangeable. Then it changes fast and dramatically, and that can be exhilarating, terrifying, or both.

Finally, here’s a link to the article itself. Read it. You won’t regret it.


Too Soon?

Taking my cue from Milquetoast Marmalade, let’s just say this is aspirational

Still working on my Photoshop skills. This was a difficult one. Finding the right pictures of each member of America’s premier crime family took some time. It’s not perfect, but you should be able to get the idea. Actually, drawing and quartering might be more appropriate, but there’s some historical significance to this method.

PS – Jared and Malaria probably ought to be in here too, but I’m tired of looking at all of them.


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