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Perverts

September 21, 2014

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climate_voting

85% of Scottish voters turned up at the polls this past week to decide whether or not Scotland should leave the UK and become its own country. In a typical US Presidential election, fewer than half of eligible American voters show up, and in a midterm election, the percentages are even worse.

Perverts? Wait. No. Pope Francis, on a visit to Albania this week, said religious extremists are perverting religion to justify violence.”  Big difference there. And here’s the quote, in context, juxtaposing current goings-on around the world to the current peaceful coexistence between Muslims, Catholics, and Christians in Albania, a country that’s known more than its fair share of religious oppression and related suffering:

“This is especially the case in these times where an authentic religious spirit is being perverted by extremist groups and where religious differences are being distorted. Let no one consider themselves to be the ‘armor’ of God while planning and carrying out acts of violence and oppression!”

You hear that Islamic extremists? He’s talking about you!  But he could be talking about any religious group that uses faith as a weapon to divide people and then uses actual weapons to seek dominance. And virtually every religion has been or is guilty of it, so slamming the Qur’an as a terrorist’s handbook is naive – and dare we say it – stupid. The Bible has been used to justify everything from genocide to slavery to segregation, so it’s hardly an ode to peace and compassion.

Of course, the Pope’s statements could also just as easily apply to anyone who uses religion to confuse and divide people on any number of issues, ranging from education to race to abortion to climate change, the latter being the real threat to our existence. Pitting climate change believers against climate change deniers here in the US is putting people’s lives in true danger – and given that air and water don’t pay much attention to national borders, the entire globe is affected by our ridiculous debate on the subject.

And yes, that’s what we’re saying.

Climate change is a greater danger to our lives than ISIS/ISIL will ever be. Because squabbling over land and religion and history – even when the squabbling includes guns and bombs and video-taped beheadings – will seem like a day at the beach (which will have moved quite a bit, due to rising seas) compared to people fighting over the last drops of clean water and a dwindling food supply, on a planet heated and poisoned to the point that it no longer supports the lives of billions of hungry humans.

So once again, Americans are being led away from what should really concern them – the future of the planet – by media hype of everything from domestic violence involving millionaire athletes to Syrian airstrikes and whether or not we’re already at war again, to the state of Beyonce and Jay-Z’s marriage and their “On the Run” tour.

No wonder Americans don’t see the point in voting.

And speaking of voting, we’re also being distracted by all the talk about the 2016 Presidential election, when our eyes should be firmly fixed on November 4, 2014 - a date that’s less than 2 months away. This midterm election is important (as they all are) because depending on voter turnout, the GOP could end up with a majority in both the House and the Senate. And if you think  President Obama has had trouble getting anything done except by executive order so far, just you wait ’til he’s completely stymied by a corporate-sponsored Congress that – in an utter perversion of their jobs as our representatives – would rather do nothing about anything, and hurt millions of Americans in the process, than let the black man in the white house do the job a majority of Americans elected him to do.

This week’s links:

The Scottish Referendum: The Stay Vote Wins 

CNN Needs a New Calculator 

No Matter How High the Stakes, Americans Don’t Bother to Vote

But It’s a Great Time to be a War Profiteer

Climate Change: A People’s March or a Corporate PR Opportunity?

PeoplesClimate.org

Naomi Klein’s Optimistic Take on the People’s Climate March 

Or Was It All About Marketing?  

Hey, EU, Get on the Ball! 

Religious Extremists are Perverts?  

Say what?

September 7, 2014

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corporations_carpool

Language matters. Because pointing and grunting and drawing pictures on cave walls only got primitive humans so far. It turned out we needed words to identify and describe things, so that instead of just waving madly, we could shout “The lion is right behind you!” and save our friend from being eaten. Then, with those basics out of the way, language became a tool for getting people to give us what we want. Because we have words, we can say things like “Pass the salt” when our diner is too bland or “Corporations are people” when the corporate overlords tell the Supreme Court they want to be able to spend freely and determine the outcome of elections.

But we can speak, too. We can say “Enough!” and demand the overturn of Citizens United. Use our links below to find out more, or click here to speak up.

It’s time to use your words. 

This week’s links:

Giving Congress the Ability to Overturn Citizens United:

Senate to Vote on September 9th

How the Congressional Amendment Gained Momentum

Senate Judiciary Votes to Back the Amendment Allowing Overturning of Citizens United

<< Contacting Congress – Call Your US Senators to Ask for Support for the Amendment  <<– Find Your US Senators Here!>>

Hyperbole from the Right:

Charles & David Koch Feel Like They’re in Front of a Firing Squad?

Minimum Wage Increase Leads to Fascism?

Speaking of Speaking:

Grammar & Cultural Identity

The Dark Side of the Subjunctive

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London – His Blog

Pretty Funny, Mr. President:

Obama Photobombs Family Visiting Stonehenge

And He’s a Really Crappy Socialist:

Obama Outperforms the GOP’s Sainted Reagan

Workers of the World Unite

August 31, 2014

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labor-day

This week’s links:

The History of Labor Day:

Labor Day, First Monday in September

May Day! May Day! International Workers’ Day

To Serve & Protect? Not So Much:

The US Police Kill 400 American’s Per Year

The Militarization of Police

Lots of Links to Militarization of Police

Are We Really Free in the US?

No Pledge? You’re Outta Here

Picking Up Your Kids from School? That’s a Taser-able Offense in the US

10 Reasons We’re Not Really Free

Everything You Never Wanted to Know About ISIS:

You Can’t Talk About ISIS While Wearing a Tan Suit

The History of ISIS

ISIS Supporters Could be Its Downfall

Iraqi News – A Variety of Sources

The EU’s Interesting Regulations:

EU Bans Vacuums that Really Suck

What is a “Metric Martyr”??

Curvy Bananas & Cucumbers – EU Drops the Ban

The Upcoming Scottish Referendum:

http://scotreferendum.com/

Women’s Views of the Referendum Could Impact the Outcome

Scotland Decides: Ongoing BBC Coverage of the Referendum

Another Bucket List

August 24, 2014

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paulryan-icebucket

The idea of  “The Bucket List” – the term for a list of things to accomplish before you die - was popularized by the 2007 movie of the same name, starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. The movie and its message about making good use of one’s time on the planet was inspiring, and for most people, their bucket lists include things like running in a marathon or biking through Europe or finally finishing the screenplay they started writing in college.

For legislators, however, the idea of a bucket combined with a list – the “Ice Bucket Challenge” to raise funds for ALS research – got a little scary this week when the list of members of Congress who voted to cut federal funding for ALS research made the politicos being doused with ice water look… well, all wet.

It turns out that if you support shutting down the government rather than raise the debt ceiling and then have to vote on ways to cut spending so that your corporate sponsors aren’t mad at you, you look like a jerk when you’re caught engaging in what then becomes a meaningless stunt for charity. For the many Americans who aren’t in Congress, the Ice Bucket Challenge was a true act of kindness, a stunt that did some good by raising money for a worthwhile endeavor. Not so much for people like Tea Party darling Paul Ryan, who in addition to voting to cut research funding, only found it in his heart to donate $100 to the Ice Bucket Challenge fund. Really, Paul? Is that all you could scrape  up?

Now, there are those who’ll say that the real reason that Congress voted to cut the research funding is that private money – not government money taken the tax payers – should go to fund things like medical research and support for those with serious illnesses. That would be in keeping with the right-wing handbook, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, certainly. Screw the people paralyzed and dying from ALS – if people want a cure, they should fund finding it themselves.

Not surprisingly, more of the “f*ck you, I got mine” attitude can be found throughout the news, and our links below are just the beginning. From climate change deniers – who only deny the science because accepting it would be hard on the petroleum, natural gas, and coal industries – to war profiteers banging the drum to become even more involved in Iraq to companies like Amazon.com that routinely abuse their employees, a lot of the 1%-ers and their Tea Party reps in Congress need a bracing bucket of ice water poured over their heads.

Better yet? Let’s give them all a cold slap in the face this November. If the sane and kind among us all turn up at the polls, we can take OUR country back. You know, the country we built by demanding civil rights and a clean environment and a real chance for everyone to make good, happy lives for themselves and their families.

Sounds like a pretty good bucket list. Let’s make it happen.

This week’s links:

Ice Bucket Challenges

This Changes Everything

Amazon: Worse than Wal-Mart

Fake News

Nixon’s Treason

Eisenhower’s Prophecy

Ayn Rand vs Frank Underwood

The Who Loo

Soaking Sarah

Cruel Summer.

August 17, 2014

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onvacation

I’m on vacation this week, so for the most part, the blog is, too. It’s been a very cruel summer, and it shows no sign of changing any time soon. From the sad demise of Robin Williams to the chaos in Iraq to yet another case of the police murdering an unarmed person, we’ve got the dots you may have missed in the mainstream news. Check out the links below and make the connections. Don and I will be back next week, and Andy will be back with us the following week.

And hey – enjoy the last few weeks of summer… just don’t piss off the police, and you’ll probably be OK.

This week’s links:

Fake News

Is this where it starts?

Robin Williams

What are We Bombing in Iraq?

Nixon’s Treason

Oops. Rick Perry for President

Ted Cruz Tries to Steal Yellowstone for the Kochs

Ayn Rand vs Frank Underwood

Uhh…A Map

The Downton Abbey Anachronism

The Downton Abbey Cast’s Rebuttal

It Must Be True Because We Read it In the Daily Mail

The European Subliminal Use of Penises:

Promises, promises.

August 3, 2014

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nypd

Whenever someone takes on the job of serving the public, whether they do so as police or as a member of Congress, they take an oath. Typically, the police say something similar to this, the oath preferred by the International Association of Police Chiefs:

“On my honor, I will never betray my badge, my integrity, my character or the public trust. I will always have the courage to hold myself and others accountable for our actions. I will always uphold the Constitution, my community, and the agency I serve.” 

Members of Congress swear to “support and defend the Constitution” and we’ve all watched the President take the oath of office, promising to “…preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

But does anyone mean it? You be the judge. From wanton, often racially-based abuse of power by the police to Congress purposely failing to do their job – and in so doing keeping Americans out of work, allowing our infrastructure to continue crumbling, and using immigration tensions to pit the voters against one another but refusing to do anything to solve the problem – it would seem that these public servants forget their oaths and often act in direct opposition to the public interest.  Certainly Eric Garner, NYPD’s most recent brutality victim, didn’t have his public interest served – assuming remaining alive was something he was interested in.

As you watch events unfold in this country – and around the world – remember – as long as any one of us is in danger from the people we empower to carry and use guns, write laws, declare war, collect and spend taxes, you name it – we’re all in danger from them. And any one of us could be on the ground next, a cop’s knee in our back and his forearm cutting off our air – or suffering the legislative equivalent, silenced by “voter ID” laws and gerrymandering, denied equal pay and access to medical services based on gender, or forced to remain hungry and in poverty, because our needs aren’t as important as the desires of billionaires and corporations that pay no taxes.

This week’s links:

Mitch McConnell & Allison Grimes Video – a Candidate’s Playbook?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vo7xQ6_4Sk8

Or is it more like comedic theater? To Andy, the McConnell/Grimes video seemed a lot like pantomime (British pantomime, known as “panto” – takes familiar fairy tales and children’s stories – Cinderella, Aladdin, Dick Whittington and His Cat, Snow White – and injects a bit of vaudeville sensibility, contemporary references and audience participation to create a raucous, noisy entertainment). Here’s his example:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adb3Sfo__nE

NYPD Brutally Kills a Staten Island Man
http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Staten-Island-Man-Dies-Heart-Attack-Police-Custody-267599171.html

New York Medical Examiner Rules Garner’s Death a Homicide
www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/eric-garner-death-ruled-homicide-medical-examiner-article-1.1888808

NYPD’s Long History of White Police Killing Black Men and Getting Away With It
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/18/killed-by-the-nypd-black-men_n_5600045.html

How Many Americans Have Been Murdered by the Police? A lot.
http://thefreethoughtproject.com/americans-killed-cops-outnumber-americans-killed-iraq-war/

The Tea Party Explained: White Police Brutality Against Black Suspects and a Rise in US Racism Overall Are Connected
http://prospect.org/article/rising-tide-anti-black-racism

Russell Brand Hammers Sean Hannity Over His Childish Gaza Rant
http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/trending/Russell-Brand-hammers-Sean-Hannity-over-childish-Gaza-rant-.html

Is That a Thing? Congress Votes to Sue the President
http://mashable.com/2014/08/01/how-congress-can-sue-obama/

Fact or Crap – Why the Bride Stands on the Left, and Other Wedding Tradition Roots
http://www.abazias.com/diamondblog/wedding/why-does-the-bride-stand-on-the-left

Duh.

July 20, 2014

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We apologize for the sound issues in this episode… we’re upgrading our studio in the coming weeks. The 7/27/2014 show had so many audio issues that we decided not to post it – so only those who listened to it live will have heard the show. Please come back next week – 8/3/2014 – listen to our live show at 12 pm eastern daylight time or check out the podcast later that day. Thanks!!

american_pie

It all boils down to what you know. What you know affects your perceptions of everything that happens – to you, directly, to other people, in events around the world – and your perceptions affect your responses, and your responses can affect what happens going forward. So knowing stuff matters.

As we look at two of the biggest stories in the news – Israel’s attempt to use bombs to bring about peace and the struggle for control in Ukraine – people’s interest in the stories is in direct proportion to their understanding of the basic facts. How many people – in the US, that is – could find Ukraine on a map? How many Americans know how the state of Israel came to be and why there’s so much turmoil in that part of the world? The answer, sadly, to these questions is “Not many.”

So let’s look at the history, and let’s take Ukraine first. The connection between Russia and the Ukraine goes back over a thousand years. Both countries were once part of a single Slavic state, Kievan Rus, founded by the Vikings. The word “Rus” in the name refers to the red-haired Scandinavians who lived there, arriving from the north in the 9th century. After religious conversion (and the founding of the Russian church, based on Eastern Orthodox Christianity), a bloody Mongol invasion, and the establishment of what would become the Russian capital, Moscow, hundreds of years of attempts to control Ukraine ensued. Much like oil makes a country interesting to outside interests today, the Ukraine’s fertile farmland made it appealing to countries who wanted control over what became known as “The Breadbasket of Europe.” Luckily for those in Ukraine who wanted to be a separate country, the collapse of the Russian empire after WWI gave them the opportunity to declare themselves a separate state. Russia kept meddling, however, and even after a 1991 vote in which 90% of citizens in Ukraine wanted to be separate, Russia has made no attempts to hide their desire to fold them back in.

As for Israel, many Americans have no idea that Israel was a created state – invented for the Jewish people after WWII. Nobody would begrudge anyone for wanting to give something big to people who’d seen 6 million of their friends and family murdered by the Nazis, but the location and way the state was created seems – at least in hindsight – to have been asking for trouble. Plunk down a group of people in the middle of several other countries, mostly inhabited by people who have longstanding dislike for them and on land that some of the people already consider home, and you’re looking at stressful coexistence, at the very least. In reality, it’s been more than stressful, with wars, terrorist attacks from both sides, shifting borders as the displaced Palestinians try to regain their homeland and the Israelis try to assert themselves and make it clear that they’re not going away. You can’t blame either side for how they feel, if you look at the situation fairly, but the situation is one that might have been avoided had the originators of the Israeli state adhered to the old realtor’s adage that the three most important things in choosing a home are location, location, and location. Not to mention that FDR had promised the Arabs (as the native inhabitants of the region were then collectively called) that no US intervention in creating an Israeli state would take place without consulting them, and then that’s not the way things went down.

So there’s a lot of back-story in both cases, to say the least. Some of it is way back, centuries ago, and some of it took place within the lifetime of people still living today. And of course, history is happening before our eyes right now, as these two stories continue to unfold. Fascinating, right? That’s something you’d watch, at least if The Housewives of Wherever was a rerun, no? But actually, the interest level among many Americans is pretty low. Kids aren’t taught a lot about current events in school, much less learning how they’re connected to events in the past, and their parents didn’t learn much about it either. Why? No, you union-basher, it’s not due to mediocre teachers. It’s planned ignorance, planned and dictated from high above the lowly teachers in the classroom.

It’s the purposeful increasing of the “Duh Factor.” Not teaching anything beyond what one needs to know to operate a Wal-Mart cash register assures the 1% multiple generations of voters who have no idea what’s going on or why, and who won’t really hold anyone to task for how they handle foreign affairs – given that most Americans can’t find states in their own country on the map, much less locate other countries. Hey, if you don’t know where Palestine used to be and only know that Russia is that big chunk up and to the right of Europe – and that Sarah Palin can see it from her house – you’re probably not too concerned with foreign affairs. Add in some stress about finding a job you can live on, how you’re going to afford to fix your roof or replace your 10-year old car, and who’s got time for watching David Gregory completely erase the proud tradition of Meet the Press on Sunday mornings? The average American is either at church, another big contributor to the Duh Factor, or sound asleep when the pundits and politicians square off for their weekly scripted, meaningless circle-jerk.

On that cynical note, here are this week’s links. We assume if you’re reading this blog, you may have some brain power left to read a bit more:

How We Got To The Point That A Malaysian Plane Was Shot Down Over Ukraine

Wow, That Was Fast – Fox Starts the Blame Game Before the Smoke Cleared

Americans Have Spent Enough Money On Broken Fighter Jet to Buy Every Homeless Person a Mansion

Marco Rubio Dooms a Reasonably Good Student Loan Solution to Failure – By Supporting It

Gaza conflict: Obama Warns Israel Amid Rising Death Toll

Rick Perry’s Not the Only Jackass in Texas: They’ve Got an Endangered-Species-Hunting Cheerleader!

 

 

 

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