Monday, December 21, 2009

Sorry, soldier - you have a uterus

by Rich Miles

Army Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo, the head of American forces in Northern Iraq, has banned pregnancy under his command.

That's right - it's now against Army regulations to get pregnant.

Now, this is the very definition of mixed emotions for me - I really don't know which way to look on this one.

I have for years been an advocate for responsible penis and vagina use, and abhor the massive number of inadvertent pregnancies in all segments of our society, including the military. I personally have no biological children ('bio-kids', as I coined them.) That's just how good *I* am.

But according to a story printed in the military newspaper Stars and Stripes, any member of the armed forces who becomes pregnant or impregnates another servicemember, including married couples both in the service, could face a court-martial and jail time.

Note that "or" clause - OR anyone who impregnates another service member. This includes married couples who are both in the service. If one is and the other isn't, I guess only the service member gets busted.

Now, how are we to think about this matter?

On the one hand, it's at least gender-neutral, since both the impregnee and the impregnor are liable for these penalties. Since it's nearly impossible to hide one's paternity these days, both parties will face sanction. That is, IF they are both members of the military. Frankly, not a very frequent occurrence.

But on the other hand, what de fuck BIZNESS is it of the military command structure as to whether a couple choose to conceive? Married or no?

And then on the inevitable third hand, do the armed forces in essence own yo' sorry ass for as long as you're in the service? And do they thus have the right to tell you that you can't get knocked up, or do any knocking up?

Col. David S. Thompson, the inspector general for all soldiers in Iraq, says that this is a legal order. I'm not quite sure of that. I have too much experience of the military SAYING that something is legal etc., and just waiting for it to be proven so or not at a future date - kicking the can down the road, as they say.

So perhaps it remains to be seen. But my initial response to this knowledge is that it's just SOOOOO very illegal, even for the military, to pass down an order like this.

I'd enjoy reading your comments on this. I really need guidance.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What does it take to learn?

by Rich Miles

So I'm sitting here multitasking, that is, watching TV and reading blogs etc., and all of a sudden, two HUGE (to me) obvious thoughts pop up out of the mire, to wit:

1) Most Americans don't realize why we're at war, and

2) Almost no one has made the obvious connection between the fact that Joe Lieberman is from Connecticut and the fact that he is doing his level best to defeat national health care reform legislation.

Let us address #1 first. It's traditional, after all:

Ever hear the expression "Defense industries"? Ever given any serious thought to what it means?

It means billions of tax dollars flowing from government coffers into the hands of privately owned corporations and private individuals. I mean, in the worst of times for the nation, it's absolutely necessary that things flow that way.

But in the BUSH of times, in which we've been living for 8 of the past 9 years, the money was made to flow in that direction, no matter the need for national security, etc.

And this is what it seems most people don't realize. They can spot when there is government waste in other areas, but for some reason it doesn't occur to them that the treasury can be deliberately drained in time of war.

This seems obvious to me, and perhaps to you as well - but do you remember the last time someone pointed it out in no uncertain terms? That "we're being robbed by being at war"?

I don't think I ever saw that. But it's true nonetheless. The Iraq War, and now the Afghan War, are nothing more - NOTHING more - than ways for unscrupulous war profiteers to appear to be serving the national interest while in reality robbing the country. And American soldiers are dying in service of this venal enterprise.

You see, the Bush administration was all about the money. In fact, it's arguable that every administration since, oh I don't know, Washington was all about the money. But Bush (and his pals) were just that much more obvious in his ways of robbing us. In fact, that was what pissed me off the most about him and his pals: he robbed us, then laughed at us when we noticed our wallets were a little light. Or missing.

See, everyone knew he and his cronies were robbing us. It's just that damn few people knew they were using the armed forces and the federal procurement system to do it.

Which brings us to point 2: Joe Lieberman is from Connecticut. You know - the INSURANCE capital of the nation?

And you remember how he surpassed all expectations for fundraising when he ran against, and almost lost to, Ned Lamont?

Gee, I wonder how all that happened? Don't you?

So there are your two obvious points for the day. Not very elegantly presented, perhaps, but true nonetheless. At least as far as I can tell.

And even without proof, don't the above two points make perfect sense? Doesn't even require too much in the way of paranoia, does it?

How do we stop it? How do we make the corruption in our government stop?

Because it's everywhere, and it's killing us.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

What We Can Learn from Movies

by Rich Miles

Those who know me well know that I am an inveterate film buff. I would rather watch a film from the 1930's than from the 2000's, and Turner Classic Movies is the best thing that ever happened to television, as far as I'm concerned.

Well, anyway - the reason I mention all this now is that I am in the process at this very moment of watching a film that has much to say to us. It's not a terribly well-known film, though it has some quite popular actors in it. James Stewart, Margaret Sullavan, Robert Young, Maria Ouspenskaya, Ward Bond, Frank Morgan, among others whose names and faces most of us would recognize, film buffs or no.

The film is called "The Mortal Storm". It was made in 1939 and released in 1940, even before the full ramifications of its subject matter was known worldwide.

And quite a subject matter it has, too. The film is about the beginnings of Nazism in Germany. ALL the beginnings, most especially the ugly ones.

And in addition to being something of a historical document showing how fascism took root in Germany back then, and the powerlessness of the average man and woman in the face of such psychic and physical violence, it also manages to be something of a precursor to the world as it is today.

I know, I know, everyone always calls his adversaries Nazis. Rush Limbaugh has been doing it for years with his "Feminazis" shtick, among many others on both sides of the political spectrum.

But if ever there were a filmic demonstration of what fascism actually looks like, at ground level and in the daily lives of men and women, this film is it.

An eerie moment, reminiscent of far too many things, takes place early in the movie. Here's a short description of it:

Germans were well known for their fondness for singing - group singing in bars and restaurants especially. Such a group sing takes place with the local Nazi cell leading the song.

And they sing an early Nazi anthem, with their arms raised in the traditional Nazi "Heil Hitler" salute.

And it reminded me for all the world of the way fundamentalist Xtians often raise their hands while they sing supposedly rapturous hymns to the alleged almighty.

It's not a perfect analogy, but it is a spooky reminder, or precursor if you prefer.

Those who seek to control the hearts and minds of others often make the same outward moves and gestures every time it happens.

And now - how did we get to this point? Where supposed "Christians" have become our 21st century Nazis?

And more to the point - what do we do about it now?

As Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan are about to escape over the border into Austria, he gives her one last chance to change her mind: "Shall we go, over the border? Or shall we go back?"

And she says, "Back to what?"

Good question.

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Secret of the North

by Rich Miles

There's a dirty little secret being revealed in Massachusetts. You know, that state up north where the former governor, Mitt Romney, rammed through a universal health care bill REQUIRING that all residents of the state have health insurance? The state where they actually FINE residents who don't have the money for health insurance?

And a writer named Wendy Button, a former speechwriter for some of the brightest lights in liberal thought, has written a summary with an admittedly subjective, what-I'm-not-getting-from-it POV. But Ms. Button's description has the advantage of being from the perspective of someone who has gotten her insurance from a reasonably priced (yes, there is such a thing) place like Washington DC to the state with the highest health insurance premiums in the country.

Click on the link and read Wendy Button's description of how she went from insured to can't afford to be insured in one geographical move. It's a cautionary tale not only for NOT moving to Massachusetts, but for our Congress as they seek a path through the maze to universal health care.

This doesn't seem an impossible task. Can we reduce it to its simplest form?

Nah. I mean, this is American politics we're talking about, after all. We have that serious, major fuck-up period to go through, then 20 or so years later it gets fixed. More or less.

I'll never live that long.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Financial Ramifications of Birth Control

by Rich Miles

' the words of Mike Thomas of the Orlando Sentinel, "The minute sperm enters egg, we have a person. One way birth control pills work is by thinning the womb so if an egg is fertilized, it will not implant. Some Christians consider this an abortion."'

Is it me, or are the religious nuts getting even nuttier with each passing headline?

I mean, read that opening graf again. "Some Christians" consider this an abortion? What the FUCK do I care what "some Christians" think?

In fact, I question the entire premise that "some Christians", or any Christians, think at all. It's my contention that, by the simple act of being Christians, they relinquish all claim to "thought" or "consideration".

But I digress.

The above quote is from an article by Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux called "Birth Control Threatened by Recession", in which several other such ridiculous and sexist ideas are propounded as well (on the con side, I'm pleased to report.)

I recommend you read the entire post. Especially if you live in Florida. Florida is a loony bin in this and other wingnut regards. But then, if you live there, you already knew that.

Seriously, the abject lack of respect for women - not MORE respect than is accorded men, but simply ANY respect at all - is just galling, for lack of a better word. I mean, there is a definitive link between global warming and reproductive rights, and the main stumbling block to the link is that women must not be allowed to decide whether or not they have children. I mean really, WTF?

Read the whole thing, and decide for yourself.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Jews have the right idea

by Rich Miles

News reports out of Jerusalem today tell us that former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has been indicted on charges of public corruption. It was the first ever indictment of a current or former Israeli prime minister, and is an extension of corruption charges that were originally filed during Olmert's tenure as prime minister.

Now, I don't have a clue as to whether Olmert is guilty or not. But I do know this: if guilt by association were an acceptable legal principle in Israel, Olmert would already be fried or at best would be on his way to the frier.

But so far it's only an indictment, so we'll pretend for the time being that Olmert is innocent until proven guilty, though I don't know for certain if THAT is an accepted Israeli legal concept either.

Anyway, here's the point I want to make with this: what if the Israelis, one of our staunchest allies if not best friends in the region, did this in part at least to show us a valuable lesson: that a strong and democratic nation can indeed arrest, indict, try and convict a former leader (prime minister, president, etc.) without the country in question falling apart at the seams?

And what if we, fairly intelligent as a nation, got the clue and indicted our former president for much the same charges and more, and in the process managed to punish the worst criminal we ever elected?

Is it possible? Could we yet punish Shrub? Not commensurate with his sins without resorting to the death penalty, which I personally abhor even for Shrub, but what if we could do that?

What would it do to our international prestige? Would we look like asses in the international community? Or would we, as I personally contend, look better for having acknowledged our mistakes and sought to redress them?

I don't know if Israel is that devious. But I do know that the arrest and indictment of Olmert sets an international precedent that we should not ignore.

I myself would pay a quarter to watch the trial of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney on TV.

Friday, August 28, 2009

What's a few measly popularity points?

by Rich Miles

OK, OK, we don't want to pull a George W Bush and deny the facts, but there are extenuating circumstances:

President Obama's job approval ratings have fallen below 50%.

But you see, he's done some pretty profound and brave shit in his first 7 months in office, and it should be expected that a number of people are going to be against him because of that. This whole health care initiative has probably cost him 8-10 points in the polls. No one knows where it's going to go - no one knows if it's going to pass, or tank taking Obama's presidential fortunes with it. And of those who have changed their minds about Obama in the past few months, I'd wager that a good 8-10 points' worth have changed simply because they think Obama is gonna crash and burn, and they don't want to be seen to be supporting a loser.

So I'm not too worried about Obama's loss of some popularity points. I rather doubt he is either, in fact he says in the linked article that he's not. Not in the same arrogant way that GWB wasn't concerned, but nonetheless.

After the health care initiative has made it to the floor, and been voted on, and passed, we'll revisit this issue. And my guess is, if it DOES pass, and I think it will, then Preznit Obama's job approval rating will lodge somewhere in the low to mid-70's.

At least, that's what *I* think...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

When did making sense become optional?

by Rich Miles

You know what I don't understand about conservatives?

Well, there are a lot of things I don't understand about them, like for instance why they even exist, but here's the main thing, and while I haven't articulated this before now, it's been true for quite a while:

What I don't understand is, why do conservatives believe - and believe as if Gospel - the words and thoughts of idiots like Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Michelle Malkin, Glenn Beck (less and less as time goes on), and others of their lying, self-deceiving and hate-filled ilk, but they DO NOT believe the President of the United States.

Now, these are the same people, in large part, who got their knickers in a major twist ANY TIME anyone even so much as questioned the slightest judgment of their beloved George W. Bush.

And never, or hardly ever, do ANY of these people even question whether the heinous crap they're laying on Pres. Obama even makes SENSE!

I mean, does the concept of "death panels" make any sense? Does anyone really believe the government could even get away with instituting such a horrible concept?

Surely, if it's thought through, the answer to the above MUST be "no".

And so it is with any number of other points of objection maintained by the righties. They just don't make sense. And yet, the right-wingers believe them. And WILL NOT believe the standard authority figures, not that they should be believed out of hand, but that they are at least a first point of departure.

For sensible people, anyway.

But au fin, the Marching Morons continue to live in fear, and continue to refer NOT to people who might reasonably be able to allay their fears, but to those who play to them, and who increase their fears.

I don't get it. And it's my guess that even the people who DO it don't understand why they do it either.

They're just like Pavlov's dogs. Only dumber.

Teddy's passing

by Rich Miles

Update: What about Kennedy's widow? I'm not kidding, she's one sharp cookie, and has the same or nearly the same politics that Teddy had. What about Vickie Kennedy, no joke!

Ted Kennedy is dead.

It's a strange thing, but I feel a personal sense of loss at his passing. Just as I did when his brother Jack died in 1963, when I was 10 years old, and when his brother Bobby died in 1968. Only a little bit worse, because I'm now an old man, or oldish anyway, who has some understanding now of mortality.

But enough about me, let's talk about the country. How are we going to replace Ted? Doesn't matter whether the governor of Massachusetts does it, or there is a special election, how are we going to find a new Ted Kennedy? There is a reason he was known as the Lion of the Senate, and not just any old fool can replace him.

Barney Frank might be a good choice, but then the people of Mass. will be faced with the problem of replacing Barney in the House. No mean feat in itself.

Other than that, I have no idea. But I know this: we - all Americans, and perhaps even all the world - are the poorer for the passing of this fine, humane and brilliant man.

Requiescat in pace, Edward M. Kennedy. We will miss you in ways that we cannot even anticipate today.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Obiter Obit

by Rich Miles

OK, so I don't speak Latin:

Don Hewitt is dead. What a shame. Would that we had 20 more like him only younger.

Robert Novak is dead. I have absolutely nothing else to say on this topic, or at least nothing that's decent.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Riots in the Streets

by Rich Miles

A small factoid has slipped by us all in recent months, and as 2009 draws to a close, we draw ever closer to this factoid coming to pass:

There is not going to be a Social Security COLA in early 2010.

Now, needless to say, the SocSec Administration has not trumpeted this information too terribly far and wee, so a lot of old folks don't know this yet. But when they do learn it, there is going to be blood in the streets.

Perhaps literally. But figuratively in any case.

You see, the older generation, the folks who are fully retired and vested in SocSec, Medicare, pensions, and all that, have come to view all those benefits as not just governmental entitlements but MORAL entitlements as well - in other words, they think they deserve these emoluments. And now that we're in the middle of health care reform, and may still be at the end of the year, the old folks will bitch and moan a blue streak if anyone tries to deny them one thin dime of their due as they see it.

If you don't think this is true, you just hide and watch about Dec. 15, when the government finally can't hide this any longer, and has to tell people about it (again, since the news has already been put out, if quietly.) The Democrats will be held responsible for it, and AARP and all the other advocacy groups for the elderly will behave as if the 8 years of GWB never happened, and it seems likely that the only way out of the mess will be for the COLA to be reinstated after all, costing the government several billions more than it anticipated.

There'll be no mention of mutual sacrifice, or if there is it will be ignored by the Auld Folks, and the deficit will get bigger and bigger (even more so because the numbers were crunched without the COLA), and even if the COLA is reinstated, the Dems will suffer for it at the ballot box next November. Perhaps enough to turn one or more houses of Congress over to the forces of evil, AKA the repugs.

Which brings me to another point: the American people in general have become a bunch of selfish pig bastards. 60 or 70 years ago, Americans really were a generous nation. We really did care about the rest of the world, and from thence came our reputation worldwide that so many of us still believe we merit today. There are many Americans who do indeed care about others - but as a nation, we have become insufferable. And the rest of the world knows it. And regrets it as much as we do, or should.

Nuff said. Comment if you dare.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Big Lie is now American

by Rich Miles

I keep making the mistake of thinking the Republicans have been as big assholes as they possibly can be about health care (or anything and everything else), and then they do something like THIS stupid shit, and I'm once again proven wrong, and see that they really can sink below the bottom.

This article, and numerous others recently, are getting to the nitty-gritty of the repug method for spreading manure - just repeat the lie over and over and over again, regardless of any relation or lack thereof to the truth - and that's a semi-good thing, I guess. A few people are "getting it" that didn't before.

But the gist of the lie, that Pres. Obama is proposing a law that would force old people into euthanasia, is just so ludicrous, so incredible, so over the top, that I can't imagine anyone believing it.

But apparently some do. Apparently.

You should read the comments attached to this and other articles on the topic of repug perfidy. It shows why repugs think they can get away with this kind of unbelievable lying. Because the repugs who write the comments, and the moronic and indeed evil ideas they espouse, are taking up the majority of space in most blogs, and would lead the casual and uninformed (and BIASED) reader to believe that the repug point of view is the majority view.

(Which brings me to point out the fact that there have been numerous headlines in print and online lately, mentioning the fact that Pres. Obama's approval ratings are in decline. What they DON'T mention is that his numbers are STILL higher than Bush's ever were, except for the period immediately after 9/11, and are STILL well over 50%. The majority of Americans actually rather like Obama and his policies. Wonder what's in it for these publications to present the president in decline like this? They never did it to Bush, at least as far as I can remember. In fact, quite the opposite. If Bush's numbers went up a tenth of a percent, the headlines would often trumpet it to the skies, even though they were still below 50%.)

So anyway - I guess we let the insane repugs go on being insane, as if there were anything we could do to alter it. The only thing I can think of to do here is to write more comments on these posts. That will at least alter the appearance of where the majority lies. If you have any better ideas, please post them in the comments of this post.

Mandatory euthanasia. Pah!!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

One more Xtian scumbag does little girls

Ya know, I'm beginning to espouse the idea that those who call themselves Xtian honchos should all just be rounded up and thrown into cells with each other so they can have sex with each other and leave the rest of us the hell out of it.

A guy named Bernie Lazar Hoffman, known publicly as Tony Alamo, was convicted - convicted, mind you, not just arrested or indicted - on charges of transporting girls as young as 9 across state lines for sexual purposes. In addition to guilt for the sexual activities, he was also convicted under the century-old Mann Act for the crossing of state lines for this purpose.

Hoffman-Alamo was known as a preacher who had helped numerous adults recover from various social and emotional collapses, and had created a multi-million dollar empire on the back of this reputation.

Why do these bastards so often fuck little girls? Or boys? Why can't they just content themselves with adults? There must be enough stupid adults to get them off. Right?

As he was being led into the courthouse, he shouted to the waiting crowd, "I'm just another one of the prophets that went to jail for the Gospel."

Could someone write to me and tell me where fucking little girls is found in the Gospel?

I hope this fuckin' Shorteyes ends up dead in prison. I hate to say that about another human being. But I'm not sure this guy IS another human being.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

D'You Know What That Fool Has Done??

by Rich Miles

This is my 100th post in 4 1/2 years of posting. Of course, that's nothing compared to the 817 posts in a mere 2 1/2 years of my friend Yellow Dog, but it feels like a milestone to me. Esp. considering that I posted virtually not at all for almost a year and a half due to illness.

Anyway, to the matter at hand:

Oh. My. God.

Gov. Steve Beshear (D-KY) is up for re-election a mere 17 months from now (my, how time flies), and guess what he's done?

I mean really, think up the most outrageous thing you can imagine, and then multiply by 100.

Give up? OK, I'll tell you.

He's switched running mates. But not just that, he's selected for his Lootenant Goobner a guy who is geographically challenged - a man who can't lose in Louisville, and who can't win anywhere else in Kentucky.

Yep, you guessed it - he's selected Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson as his running mate.

(Update: It's 29 months till the election in 2011, not 17 - which brings up a whole bunch more questions about this move - like why is Beshear dumping Mongiardo so soon. I have an answer, but I'd sure like to hear what Beshear's answer is.)

Now, never mind for a minute why Beshear chose Jerry. Let's ask ourselves why Jerry accepted.

Jerry Abramson has been Mayor in Louisville for about a hunnert years. He's run for the office I think 5 times, and is known in Louisville as Mayor-for-Life Abramson. He has not, to my knowledge, ever lost an election for any office, cuz he's pretty much only run for one office. He is as well thought of in Louisville as any politician in the country is in his home constituency.

But he is virtually UNKNOWN, in the parts of the state where he's not roundly hated, outside of Jefferson County. And that's why he's not really a good choice for statewide office.

So why would he accept a Lt.-gov. bid at this stage in his life? After 20 years in office, he probably will qualify for a full pension as mayor by the end of his term. In any case, due to his low profile outside of Louisville in the rest of the state, he's probably going to taste his first defeat for political office in this race.

And for that, I feel sorry for him. I know Jerry - interviewed him a couple times on my radio program back in the 90's. He's a smart guy, and until this debacle, I would have called him the consummate municipal politician.

But I just can't imagine, other than a need for a wider power base for some damn reason or another, why at this time of his life he would want to put himself in the path of this political truck. Beshear is poorly regarded throughout the state, in addition to being the textbook definition of a Blue Dog Democrat. And Jerry is not. Neither poorly regarded, nor a Blue Dog.

But in any case, it's very difficult not to view this as anything other than Beshear blowing himself up.

I mean, I don't like Dan Mongiardo - he's such a blue dog he's practically a Republican, and in general he's one of the most obvious liars it's ever been my misfortune to observe in public life. But he's already there - he's the Lite-gov, and Jerry is not, so why change him? It's a pretty much useless job, after all. Unless Beshear and everyone in Democratic party circles are trying to make this look like an optimistic move, on the assumption that Dan is going to win the Senator's race against Little Jimmy Bunning. I mean, he may win, but he may not, in fact probably won't since Jack Conway probably will, and to put the cart that far before the horse is a bit unseemly.

At any rate, it seems a rather hamfisted way to go about this entire campaign. But then, isn't that what we've come to expect from our Democrats in Kentucky?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Socialized bullshit

by Rich Miles

Yellow Dog's post today, generally on the topic of socialized medicine, put me in mind again of a public encounter I had a week or so ago.

I was in the Rite-Aid on Midland Trail, picking up a prescription (that, coincidentally, costs me $60 a month, even WITH insurance), and in the interest of being sociable, asked an older gentleman who was in the store how he was doing.

His reply, testy in the extreme, was that he might have been all right, were it not for Obama and his socialized medicine.

I, having a lifelong inability to keep my effin' mouth shut, said, "What the hell are you talking about? Do you use Medicare? What the hell you think Medicare is but socialized medicine?"

The old man said something rude, and left the store.

So anyway, here's the thing: most of the people who use the expression "socialized medicine" haven't the first fuckin' clue what that expression means! They think that anything with the word "socialized" in it refers to something communistic. Something the Soviets would have thought up, or perhaps did think up, back in the 50's or 60's.

Not that that would have made it a bad thing in any case. Some of that Soviet stuff worked pretty well.

But I'm gettin' pretty tired of listening to the right-wing fearmongers trying to drag us back into the 50's "Communists scare me" bullshit about healthcare.

How much fear can these fuckers mong? If that's the right word, and it's probably not.

We're supposed to be afraid of damn near everything. So the bad guys in our government can keep control over us. And most of them are Republicans.

You wanna be afraid of something? Be afraid of Republicans. And don't ever stop.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Let's go living in the past

by Rich Miles

Remember back before the election of 08, when I was saying that I thought Bush was going to try to trump up some reason to stay in office beyond 1/20/09? Remember I said I thought one of the reasons (if you can call them "reasons") why Bush et al. would do this was that they couldn't possibly allow a new, probably Democratic, administration to get their hands on all the evidence of malfeasance, misfeasance, and just all-around fucking up that were going to be lying around for the taking after a new president took office?

Well, I was wrong. The Bushies were so very stupid that they didn't even clear their desks properly before they left town, but leave town they did, as scheduled. And as you will know, Preznit Obama has resisted every opportunity to pursue, or even suggest he MIGHT pursue, the criminals of the Bush administration for various reasons, ranging from a desire not to appear vengeful in victory, to "political reasons" probably having much to do with not wanting to stir up the hornet's nest that is the Republican Party Hate Machine.

BUT!!!! (and you knew there was going to be a "but") events are overtaking the Obama administration, in such a way that there might not be any way to avoid going after all the miscreants - and I mean ALL of them, including the Big Kahuna and his sidekick Cheney-chan (Perhaps most especially Cheney).

And the hornet's nest bedamned.

So much new evidence is surfacing that Bush, Cheney, and most of their minions were in it up to their eyeballs that Obama is going to have the devil's own time soon in denying that crimes were committed and must be punished.

I confess to wondering what it REALLY is that's keeping Obama off Bush's case - is Obama afraid that, if Bush-Cheney bite the big one, some of his guys will get caught up in the hurricane?
Because the excuses he's given so far don't wash: It will make America look bad? Nah. Clearing up the mess that was Bush-Cheney will actually make America look BETTER worldwide.

Americans don't want it? No, strike 2. Americans, or at least the 60% or so who will work hardest to re-elect Obama in 2012, want it desperately. And of the rest of us, there are an accountable percentage who want it simply because it represents justice for America.

Do not tell us, Mr. President, that we don't want this. Because an awful lot of us DO want it - we want to see George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, mass murderers, in prison. Or worse. We want to see that awfully badly.

Don't make the mistake so many politicians make. LISTEN to your constituents. We are talking to you. We are telling you what we want.

Don't ignore us. We get real cranky around election time when we're ignored.

Ummm...thanks, but no thanks

by Rich Miles

Remember the old joke about the lottery drawing: first prize, a week's vacation in Scranton. Second prize, a TWO weeks' vacation in Scranton?

I think I may have discovered the political equivalent of that joke.

Sarah Palin, she should only go to the smallest of the Aleutians and STFU, has now promised - or perhaps threatened is the right word - to stump for Democrats (as long as they're the right KIND of Democrats) in upcoming election years.

First prize, a campaign appearance by Sarah Palin. Second prize, TWO campaign appearances by Sarah Palin.

I can't imagine even the deepest royal-blue Blue Dog asking for this boon to be granted him or her.

I mean, is there no one on the national political scene, of either party, who is willing to say to this woman, "Sarah, sweetheart, baby, darling - who the fuck ASKED you? Sit down and shut UP!"

I'll just close this with a final vow: I will not vote for ANY Democratic candidate who has this moron campaign for him or her. This might even be enough to get me to vote for the repug opponent.

Naaaahhhh....but you get my point.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

John Barker Gray R.I.P.

by Rich Miles

Not very many of you will have even heard of my friend John Barker Gray. He was not a celebrity even in his own circle of friends, but he was - though I think he would have denied this - a very good friend. Not because of what he did, or what he gave to people, but because of who he was, and what he gave of himself. He never had much in the way of wealth, and toward the end of his life, had virtually nothing - lived with his elderly mom, had little money, etc., etc., but nonetheless if you went out to lunch with him, he always tried to grab the check. Sometimes I'd even let him get it.

John was a former actor, but never really worked at it much. He was, by his own admission, one who liked the trappings of the theater more than the actual work of it. So he hung out with actors, rather than worked with them.

And a few weeks ago, he told me that all he had ever wanted was someone to love him, someone to spend time with and care for. He never had that, as far as I knew. He was always alone, though he had lots of friends.

John requested that he not have a viewing or a funeral. He's going to be cremated, and we will have a memorial service at a later date.

I think John would have been surprised at how many people will note his passing. He never had a lover, but he had quite a few friends, as far as I could tell. At the memorial service, we'll see how many.

Rest in peace, Johnny me boy. Whether you think so or not, you will be missed. You will be sorely missed.

John Barker Gray was 57 years old. I think. Or maybe he was 56. We hardly ever talked about it.

Your friend,

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Iranian Clerics: God is wrong

by Rich Miles

Now this is news: large numbers of Iranian clerics have gone against the status quo, and have declared that the Ayatollah Khamenei and the Guardian Council, the government organization that regulates elections are...simply...wrong.

Think about this for a minute: Khamenei is the Iranian equivalent of the Pope. He is considered infallible, and to even question his decisions and pronouncements is blasphemy, literally. It can get you jailed, or even executed.

But now, over a month after the Iranian election, and over a week after Khamenei made his pronouncement that it's all over, nothing to see here, the election is final and Ahmadinejad is the winner, no discussion or further examination - a large group of lower-level Iranian clergymen are questioning - questioning!!! - the Ayatollah's decision, and indeed disputing it, saying that the evidence is there that says the election was rigged.

Now, consider this for a moment: Iranian clergymen (there are no clergywomen, at least none whose opinions are this important in Iran) are doubting their god-on-earth.

Could this be the beginning of the end of the Islamic Revolution?

But more to the point, could this be the beginning of the end of infallibility cults in religions all across the globe? The pope, the Dalai Lama (a good infallibility figure, but still...), the wingnut leaders in America, etc., etc. Could we start viewing these people as just people, just like us, instead of godheads in earth?

We could only be so lucky.

Regardless of your own religiosity quotient, have you ever thought about what the world would be like without gods? Have you ever imagined what we as the human race could do with all the resources that are diverted to religious causes, if we only had them to distribute to the truly needy all across the globe?

"Imagine there's no heaven,
It's easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky.
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace.
You may say I'm a dreamer,
But I'm not the only one.
I hope some day you'll join us,
And the world will live as one."
- John Lennon

Almost 30 years after his death at the hands of a murderous madman, could it be that John Lennon's dream is starting, on a very small scale, to come true?

I know, pie in the sky, dreaming, crazy nuts, etc. etc.

But I'm not the only one.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

PETA goes completely off the deep end

by Rich Miles

Do you remember the little human interest piece last week, about Pres. Obama managing to kill an annoying housefly that was buzzing about while he was doing an interview?

PETA - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals - has lodged a complaint about the prez's treatment of that poor little creature.


I mean really, folks. Is it me, or is this the most fuckin' ridiculous abuse of a public forum that EVER was?

I'd be interested in seeing comments defending PETA in this. If you can.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A short thought on Iranian and American politics

by Rich Miles

I don't have much to say here. Just this:

What we should be learning from the Iranians re: the recent elections there is simply this:

We should have done the same.

In 2000 and 2004, we should have had the courage of our convictions, we should have marched in the streets to protest OUR stolen elections. For it remains true that those two presidential elections were indeed stolen. Rigged. Faked.


But we as Americans did NOT protest our stolen elections. There are as many reasons for this as there are people who believe that the elections were stolen. And there are a LOT of those people.

But it is arguable that the Iranian authorities, learning from the experience of America, stole their election too. Seeing how easy it was, they did the same more or less, and are going to install a phony incumbent into the office of president. Just like we did in '04.

One wonders what the Iranian powers-that-be fear about Moussavi. It's probably just that he has an unfortunate tendency to tell the truth, even when it disagrees with the party line of Khamanei and the theocracy under which they live. Perhaps especially when it disagrees.

In short, we have to learn that America is not always the exceptionalist nation we all want to believe it is.

Sometimes, we're just a bunch of pussies.

(And I say that with no intention to insult pussies.)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Teacher Obama

Note: For reasons unknown, my cut and paste function is not working. It will make this piece somewhat less than complete, but you can find the links if you want to badly enough. At any rate, on with the business at hand:

by Rich Miles

I wonder what the mean-ass rightie weenies will do with this one...

Last night, June 12th, Pres. Obama did something so warm, so human, and yet so totally unexpected that, even though it was a small gesture, it was something his opponents, among others, will take notice of.

In short, Pres. Obama, in response to a youngster's concern over missing class in order to see the president, wrote an excuse note so the child would not be penalized.

Now, it's been almost 24 hours since this event took place, and so far I've seen no evidence that any rightie asshole has had anything significantly negative to say about it.

But there have been several other events to which the repugs have had almost inexplicably negative responses, to the point that they made themselves look foolish in their criticism.

For instance, remember the night the Prez and VP Biden sneaked out for burgers? Of course they were accompanied by Secret Service agents, and the repugs accused them of wasting government resources. (No mention of how wasted they as government resources might have been without the Secret Service along.)

Or the night the Prez and Mrs. Obama went on a dinner-and-a-play "date"? Ditto the wasted resources accusation.

Or how much shit Michelle caught for her sleeveless dress?

There were one or two more such displays of humanity that received some negativity from the wings. The right wings, to be precise.

But to make a long point short, can you envision the Bushmaster doing ANY of the things listed above?

I can't. Not that he was too good for such hobnobbing with the hoi polloi, but that he seemed to know, or at least his advisors did, that he was not well enough liked to try something like that. And as for Cheney accompanying him, fuhgeddaboudit.

Anyway, to conclude a long story: it's a wonder Preznit Obama doesn't just tell us all to go fuck ourselves. It's a tribute to his presidency that he hasn't. Yet.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Human Nature, vol. 189

by Rich Miles

Today, Sunday May 31, my friend Yellow Dog over at Blue in the Bluegrass got his teeth into this week's Frank Rich column ahead of me (he gets up earlier than I do most days). I was in the process of writing a comment to his take on Rich's column when I realized I had a bit more to say about it than that. So here I am, over here on my side of the 'Net, and here's what I have to say. Frank Rich is to be found at Who is to Blame for the Next Attack?, Yellow Dog is at Blue in the Bluegrass, and my take on all of that is...ummm...right here.

Ya know, though I agree with the main thrust of your argument in this piece, I want to point out a truism that, I think, relates to it:

A crowd is a dicey critter. You never know what it's going to do, what's going to appease it, what's going to set it off.

And when you have a crowd of 300 million, you have a whole new set of imperatives to deal with when addressing that beast.

This concept is, in my opinion, the genius of the Obama approach so far: Obama knows this, and is so far handling the crowd pretty well. Or so I think.

(I think I'm going to pop over to my blog and discuss this topic a bit further. See you at )

OK, now, as I was saying:

It's my opinion, based on observation of Preznit Obama in action and in speeches, that he knows that, when addressing the self-same issues, you say different things to a crowd of 100 than you do to the nation at large on national TV. You don't say things that diametrically oppose each other, so that you end up lying to one or the other or both groups. But you do temper your message to the size of the group.

F'rinstance: let's say it's 1942, you're president, and you tell the nation, on a national radio hookup, that "the only thing we need to fear is fear itself."

And then you go speak to the combined houses of Congress, and you say much the same thing, except that you alter the words slightly to make it clear that you know you're addressing a room full of more or less adults. Some of whom actually know what the Japanese and Germans are capable of, and apparently bent on.

And then you speak to the leadership of both houses - the smallest crowd so far - and you tell them what's REALLY up - all that stuff about how the Germans and Japanese are determined to kick our asses and eventually rule the world. And that we have to go to war with them to prevent this.

See how it works? Nothing really dishonest in any of the three levels of discourse. It's just that the larger the group, the less detail one offers.

And Obama knows this. Whereas Bush simply bullshitted us all, no matter what level he was speaking to. And even the most obdurately stupid and oblivious of us - well, not THE most etc., those are the hardcore Republicans - but nearly the most, started after a time to notice that Bush was talking down to them, and trying to scare them into line. And the one thing you must NEVER do with stupid people is let them KNOW you're talking down to them. So he, and his fellow repugnicans, fell out of favor in large part. And the opposition filled the vacuum. Which brings us up to November of 2008, and thence to today.

To wrap up this little exercise in human nature, let me relate something that Mitt Romney had to say on Chris Wallace's Sunday morning program today, the name of which program escapes me because usually I'd rather have my nipples ripped off than watch such a program: Ol' Mitt said, and I paraphrase since I can't remember the precise words, that when a political party has reached too high a level of power, and has been in power too long, they start to "think too highly of themselves", and they start to take things for granted, and to - in essence - screw up on a regular basis. And that, he thought, was what had happened to the Republicans in recent years.

This little piece of unintentional honesty - for I am convinced that Mitt had no idea how honest he was being - is an object lesson for the repugs, but more than that, it is a warning to the Dems. If only they will heed it. That's why we've heard so much in recent years about the political power cycle - First repugs have power, then Dems, then repugs, and etc. etc. etc. But is there any way to stop the swing of the cycle? If anyone (or any party) ever discovers it, we will have 200-year political power cycles, instead of about 20 or so as we do now.

That's all for today. Except this one final thought: political parties will never take real power until they learn to serve the needs of the people. Thoroughly, and consistently, conscientiously and well. When they stop treating us like obstacles to be gotten around on their ways to power and wealth, and start realizing that, if they treat us well and serve us well, the power and wealth will come, THEN and only then will we have leaders who follow us. The people.

Boy, that went on far longer than I thought it would. Comments?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why the healthcare system is sick (and you don't look so great either)

by Rich Miles


OK, morons. Pay attention. I'm only gonna say this once. I get so TIRED of having to clue you people in to the most obvious shit sometimes.

Here's why the repugnicans are against health care reform. It really is this simple:

If the government insists that every American is covered under a (at least) government-ADMINISTERED plan, if not a totally government-RUN plan, the major profit centers of the medical-health care industry will lose money. Perhaps large amounts of money.

And repugnicans always, and I mean ALWAYS, are supportive of the wealthy taking money away from the not so wealthy by fair means or foul, preferably foul if it can be managed. This is how they maintain their class system: Upper class, upper upper class, and the rest of us, who can, in the opinion of the wealthy, go fuck ourselves.

It's just that simple - as in so many things in life, one must follow the money.

It's nothing to do with you, as an American or a legal resident of America, receiving adequate health care at an affordable price - though that is unquestionably how the Enemy will frame their resistance to the reforms.

For those over the age of about 45 or so, you will probably be old enough to remember a time when health care was NOT something that routinely bankrupted average people. But at some point between your childhood and now, certain segments of society decided to apply the Law of Supply and Demand to the area of personal health, and the result was that health care costs rose DRAMATICALLY and OBSCENELY every single year thereafter, until today we have a health care system that costs, on average, more than 2600% of what it cost in 1970. That's an increase of about 66% a year across the board. NOTHING else in the world, neither service nor product (with the possible exception of French wine), rose at a comparable rate in that same period. Not even gold and diamonds rose in price so much and so fast.

But see, the bean counters and paper pushers of the medical profession came to realize, as arguably they should have done years earlier, that everyone needs health care at some time or other in life, and therefore everyone will pay whatever it costs to receive that health care when they need it.

In other words, greed drove the market. Drove it fast and well, and left the horses snorting and sweating in the dooryard. Nowt to do with the actual COST of providing health care, though that rose, too - it was greed, pure and simple, and in the main, it was not the doctors and nurses who were demonstrating the greed, but the administrators and accountants and OWNERS of hospitals and clinics and so on.

OWNERS. By and large, not medical practitioners but administrators of health care. The profession of health care administrator, the degree programs, the professional associations, popped up all over America, and lots and lots of money became necessary to sustain them all.

And where was that money coming from? Regardless of whether it was filtered through the kidneys of health insurance companies or not, it was coming from people like you and me.

And that, in a nutshell, is how the average cost of healthcare rose 2600% in a mere 39 years. People like you and me allowed it to happen on our backs. And now, here we are with a health care "system" that is, at best, bloated beyond any recognition, with profit more important - FAR more important - than healing.

And to conclude the history lesson, here we are today with the same - the SAME, mind you - demand for health care - the same percentage of the population, approximately, get sick and need health care, but it's a much larger number of actual people because the size of the population is greater. More money flows out of our pockets and into those of the health care industry. And more and more of us are financially gutted by the phenomenon (while our Congress passes new laws making it harder for those of us who are gripped by this monster to get out from under it, but that's a story for another time.)

And the realization of all this - specifically, the realization of how much money can be made from sick people - has led us to where we are today, which is to say in a situation where it is far more likely than not that, if we become seriously ill, we are going to find ourselves in an extremely difficult financial situation. At best.

So this is why the Swift Boaters of health care are going to try to defeat the forces of health care reform - because to allow it, to permit the government to administer the national health care system, is to allow the diversion of huuuuuuge amounts of cash to some other locale.

And we can't have THAT, now can we?

Seriously, kids - we're getting fucked here, and if there were ever a political cause one might take part in or advocate for, this one is IT.

Trust me.

And I'm sorry I called you names at the beginning of this essay. It's just that I get afraid sometimes that you haven't logicked this out, that you think that those who oppose nationalized health care really ARE doing it for your benefit. To keep you from suffering the depredations of "socialized medicine".

(Seriously, if you were dying of a curable disease, do you think you'd really give a shit if the cure were provided by "socialized medicine" or not? I'll leave the answer open for you.)

Anyway, when you hear, as you will, the opponents of health-care reform tell you all the reasons why you should oppose it yourself, just remember this one relevant fact:

They're lying.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Little Hippie Music For Ya

by Rich Miles

Here's a musical moment for you from, quite literally, all over the world. Listen to the music, but also watch the names and locales as they go by on the screen. Bono, lead singer of Ireland's U-2, is included, but I'm bound to say tnat I haven't heard of any of the other players on the video.

Note, too, the truth in the lyrics. War has GOT to stop. It's not human. In fact, it's anti-human. We don't need no more trouble.

And while America is not alone in the warlike business, why is it that we are the most warlike of all nations? Why are we the bullies on the block? Why don't we take care of our people, instead of getting them killed on foreign shores?

Listen to the music. Maybe some ideas will occur to you.

Friday, April 24, 2009

"We do not f__king torture"

by Rich Miles

Update at bottom of piece: I found it.

I don't know how it happened exactly, but the comment by Jack Jodell that's attached to this post was actually created BEFORE the post was written. All I saved was the title, and Jack popped up with his remarks. I guess that's because the topic of this post is pretty obvious.

On April 24th, Fox News golden boy Shepard Smith had a bit of a hissy-fit on the air. He slammed his hand down on the countertop in front of him, and declared in no uncertain terms, "Goddammit, we're America! We do not fucking torture!"

He did this live on the air, in the presence of two of his colleagues, one of them female. Not that her femaleness should matter, but to rightwing fanatics such as Smith, it presumably does. One must always be a gentleman, after all!

At any rate,no matter what your political leanings, I ask you to consider what your response to such an action would have been if the "sinner" had been a leftie - a Democratic-leaning commentator. The Fox pundits would be climbing the walls, going off on how the very nature of being a liberal lent itself to such indecency, such obscenity, and so on and so forth. Somewhere in the rattling would almost certainly be something about the end of Western civilization as we know it, or some such drivel.

But because the miscreant is from the right wing, the incident first off, disappears, and the few comments one can find on the incident - well, I can't find any comments on it. A rather serious breach of etiquette, not to mention FCC rules, just simply - disappears. From the annals of broadcasting. It's gone! I did about 10 web searches, looking for Shepard Smith, the quote, the quote in quotes, etc., etc., and nothing came up. I saw it right after it happened on You Tube, but now, a day or more after the fact, it's not to be found.

If you want to see/hear this piece, try your own search. If you find the piece, drop back by here and leave a link for it in the comments. You'll be doing me and your fellow readers a favor. And if you don't find it, leave a comment saying so. I'd like to know if Fox News has "disappeared" this little mistake.

In the next few days, I'm going to discuss why it's so important to foxites to convince themselves and us that what our people did on our behalf is both necessary, and NOT torture.

From preliminary research, the reasons for this are pretty scary psychological stuff. Denial is not just a river in Africa...

Update: Operator error - I don't know why I couldn't find it before, but this time I got 296,000 hits in a search. Here's one randomly chosen one for your perusal.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Gail Collins has a valid question

by Rich Miles

Gail Collins is one of the most famous people you never heard of. She's a columnist for the New York Times, and I don't even know if she has a regular column or not, cuz normally she is so mild that I can't remember what she said last time or when.

But she's a good writer, and often says things that no one else has thought of. So it is today, when she asks the following very important question: How...can you stand at a rally waving the American flag while yelling “Secede”?

It's a valid question: the equivalent of asking, "how can one be a patriot while seeking to dismantle the very government that makes your country so unique?"

So what nutball has so thoroughly screwed this particular pooch as to be on record doing these two mutually exclusive activities?

The person in question, the one who made that ridiculous public picture, is that old GWB protege, Rick Perry, governor of Texas.

So my question in return is, "What the fuck?" Why is it, since November of last year, that so many right-wing "patriots" are so keen to leave the country? And I don't just mean travel abroad, I mean start another civil war, unless of course the administration in Washington just says, "Fuck 'em. Goodbye and good riddance, let 'em leave."

Unlikely, but it would serve them right.

In fine, I am getting so effin' tired of Repug posturing. I keep hoping Pres. Obama will too, and will call them on their bullshit in a national forum. I don't really get why that happens so infrequently.

I've had enough of loudmouth demagogues. I want some of them publicly and unmistakably embarrassed.

What about you?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Why We Hate the Rich

by Rich Miles

OK, let me get away from that title a bit here - I don't hate the rich. Hell, I don't know enough of them (zero = not enough) to hate them. But I wanted to comment on an article in today's New York Times in which the mayor of New York City feels the need to defend the poor rich people who are currently under attack in the press and the public forum (AIG bonuses, among other issues.)

Now we mustn't overlook the fact that the mayor of NYC is himself a billionaire - yes, that "b" is correct - several times over, and that therefore he has a personal stake in rehabbing the public image of the wealthy man. But let's think this concept through a little: Why are the rich so vilified these days?

I maintain that it's because those of us firmly entrenched in the middle class or below for the past 8 years have seen a lot of this trouble coming - redistribution of wealth upward, overvaluing of stock shares, the total corruption of our unregulated financial systems, and more. I personally saw it coming that unregulated greed was much more powerful than unregulated human generosity. I'm not sure I understand why everyone didn't see it. I mean, has there ever been a period in human history when people could be counted on to conduct themselves with kindness and generosity, without some governmental body forcing them to do so? Haven't there been several somewhat lengthy periods of our history in which exactly the opposite has happened? The Gilded Age, the period just prior to the Great Depression, other less prominent eras?

It's far too obvious to dispute: rich people cannot be counted on to conduct themselves in a way that will not harm other people and the financial systems in which they operate. It simply cannot be done. Greed always - and I mean always - wins out.

And the net result, then, is that rich people must be regulated - history has shown us this, and for us - any of us - to maintain that government regulation is unnecessary or optional is - has been proven to be - foolish and risky.

And the rich, or even the moderately well-off, disagree with this premise, not because they've thought it through and have reasons for it, but because it's to their personal benefit to disagree. Because it's their perception that if they're left alone, with no government interference, they can get ALL the money.

And that kind of attitude - we want it all and we don't want the government telling us we can't have it - is why we hate the rich.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Conscience Clause, my Ass!

by Rich Miles

Back in college, back during the last Ice Age, we used to sit around in someone's dorm room discussing the most arcane shit - deep-level discussions, or so we thought, on stuff that no one else had ever thought of, or so we thought. We actually used to do this without the aid of intoxicants most of the time. It was kinda fun to reduce shit to its lowest possible intellectual common denominator. Or at least it was back then. Or at least, we thought so. Back then.

Apparently, somebody still likes to do this sort of thing, except that they do it in ways that have the potential to harm or even kill other people. The method they use to do this is the executive order now commonly referred to as the "Conscience Clause".

It's one of those messes we knew we'd have to clean up after Shrub left office. He put it in place with one foot out the door, within the last weeks of his term, and quietly so no one would know about it till he was well and truly gone. What it means is this:

If a doctor or other medical practitioner is asked to perform a procedure or provide medical care or medicine, and that practitioner believes it would offend his/her moral precepts to perform the procedure, the doc may refuse to involve him/herself in the procedure, and the executive order in essence lets the medico off the hook for any consequences of the refusal - like, if the patient dies or something. You know - consequences.

I think this concept sucks.

Y'see, I didn't become a doctor because I didn't want to be confronted with such moral dilemmas. (Among other reasons - like, I'm skeeved out by the sight of blood and guts). But my objection to MY participating in such behaviors is not moral in nature, nor is it a function of my conscience. No, it's a choice I made many years ago - not to be a doctor.

And it's my belief that those who DO make the choice to be a medical practitioner make in that same breath a choice to do ANYTHING that's required to be a medical practitioner. Not just the parts of it that are fun, or easy, or don't cause one moral qualms. ALL of it.

And if one does choose to be a doctor (or more to the point, a pharmacist) and then at some future point refuses to do some part of his/her legitimate practice, then that person should lose his/her license to practice medicine. Lose one's RIGHT to be a doctor or other practitioner.

That's my opinion - what's yours? How many patients have to die or suffer other serious consequences of such a refusal before this stops even being an issue? Before one may not accept a state-granted license to practice medicine at any level, and then refuse to provide this care?

The short answer to this quandary is, if you have such strong moral beliefs that you could actually do that, refuse to provide any measure of medical care including the rendering of pharmaceuticals to a person whose illness you are unlikely to know with certainty, to anyone, then you should not go into the business of providing medical care of any kind to anyone.

That's my opinion - what's yours?

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Come Home, America

by Rich Miles

I don't usually recommend books on this site, mainly because my reading tastes tend toward ancient history (pre-1700), but also because reading choices are such personal things, and I don't wish to impinge on what you like with what I like.

(Also, I don't often find books I like well enough to suggest that you read them.)

But today, I've come across a book that I AM going to recommend to you, even though I myself haven't read it. My only contact with this book is a lengthy interview on NPR's "Diane Rehm Show" today, in which the author, without even trying, managed to convince me that he thinks just like me! Or nearly so, at any rate.

He says the things I try to say here - the obvious stuff about why America is falling apart in spots, and what should be done to stop the decline and get our country's international pre-eminence back on track for reasons that apply today and are not holdovers from our "imperial era", over a hundred years ago. Which is a long time for a country that's not much over 200 years old.

So at any rate, here's the book I want to call to your attention today:

"Come Home America: The Rise and Fall (and Redeeming Promise) Of Our Country" by William Greider.

It's available on, and if you Google it, you can get several reviews of the book and reader discussions as well.

If Greider's on-air discussion of his beliefs is anything like what the book has to say, we should all have a copy.

I'm not going to try to review the book - there are professional examples of this available all over the Web.

But I recommend you take a look at this book, because it's not just flag-waving and "Rah, rah America" kind of stuff. It's the author's ideas of what we've done wrong, and how we might benefit from doing those things a different way.

Monday, April 06, 2009

What the 'estate' tax really does

by Rich Miles

Sometimes a blogger experiences that bane of our existence, the comment that explains the thesis better than the original post did. Or really, it's not a bane, it's just mildly embarrassing - if we're so smart, why didn't we say it that well to begin with?

Hilzoy over at Washington Monthly has had this happen to him/her, though at this writing, I'm not sure he knows it yet, unless he's an early riser. He offers a quite cogent, yet rather technical explanation of the ins and outs of the estate tax, and then, a person calling herself Jennifer comes along, and in essence says, "This is what Hilzoy really meant." She's not snarky about it - she just says it a little better and a whole lot funnier than Hilzoy did. Here's Jennifer's comment, in its entirety because I laughed out loud at the observation in the last sentence:

The estate tax was imposed in the first place because there was a recognition that over-concentration of wealth into fewer and fewer hands is ultimately detrimental to the economy. The estate tax is one means the government has to put the brakes on over-concentration of wealth; progressive income taxes and capital gains taxes are the others. All of those have been slashed to the bone and guess what? The utterly predictable thing happened - too few people now control too much of the money, the rest of us have had to borrow from them just to stay afloat the past 10 years, and a lot of people can't pay it back - leading to the credit crisis.

The "death tax" tripe has always irritated me no end. Dead people don't write checks - they're dead, and they could care fuck-all about anything at that point. They use this terminology to boost their ridiculous argument that it's somehow "unfair" that the money "gets taxed twice". Uh, no, it doesn't - it's treated like every other dollar in the economy - it's taxed when it changes hands. Such as when rich dude dies and the money goes to his heirs. At base, the argument is that Paris Hilton shouldn't have to pay any taxes, even though she's very wealthy without ever having worked, but you and I should pay full freight on every dollar we earn doing actual useful work. Paris' daddy or granddaddy isn't being "taxed twice" because it's not his money anymore. Paris isn't taxed twice because the money belonged to someone else when it was taxed before. Just like I pay income taxes on my earnings, then spend some of my money at the grocery store, where I pay sales taxes, then when the cashier at the store gets a paycheck in part underwritten by money I spent at the store, she pays taxes on her income as well.

In short, the Republican argument (and make no mistake, Miz Blank IS a Republican in all but name) is one that only makes sense to stupid people who have no idea how the estate tax works. Since stupid people are the natural constituency of the Republican Party, expect this moronic argument about the "unfairness" of "death taxes" to continue ad infinitum.

Since stupid people are the natural constituency of the Republican Party...Wow. I wish I'd said that. It is precisely le mot juste (or is it les mots justes?)

It's particularly important in both Hilzoy's and Jennifer's words to note this fact: the "inheritance tax" was first imposed to keep the rich from becoming richer to an obscene degree, and they (the rich) have never gotten over it. It is amazing how entitled one thinks oneself to be when one has money, and ONLY money, never having contributed to anything by the sweat of one's brow or the work of one's hands or mind.

Seriously, this redistribution of wealth upward MUST be curtailed, and soon. I mean, the question I've always had about the concept is, if the rich people get all the money, and the rest of us starve, what are the rich people going to do for servants?

I'm kidding, of course. It will come to an American storming of the Bastille long before that.

And remember, rich bastards: to most of us, the guy who makes $500K a year is just as much a plutocrat as the guy who makes $250 million. And will be dealt with just as harshly when the Revolution comes.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Limbaugh propaganda kills 3 cops

by Rich Miles

Update below: Corrects my remarks about Pres. Obama's statements on guns and gun control, and also adds information about the deaths of 4 policemen in California several weeks ago.

In Pittsburgh today (April 4th), 3 police officers were killed by a gun nut who claimed he heard President Obama was going to take away everyone's guns. (Unlike most such nuts, the guy didn't kill himself, and survived the firefight he started with only wounds to his legs. He was wearing a bulletproof vest.)

Do you wonder where he got that idea, that the president was going to take away everyone's guns? I do, since Pres. Obama has at NO time I'm aware of EVER made any statement about what he was going to do concerning private ownership of firearms. He's never said he wanted to take everyone's guns away from them. In fact, he's never said ANYthing about them, pro, con, or neutral.**

Do you want to know who has been saying that Pres. Obama plans to take away everyone's guns?

Right-wing talk radio nuts. Like Limbaugh. Michael Savage. Any number of other fanatical nimrods of their ilk, whose names escape me because I don't listen to that kind of tripe. In fact, the only reason I know that these morons say these things is that I have read about them doing so in various and sundry national and local publications, and heard it mentioned on some LEFT-wing broadcasts.

They (the right wing propagandists) have frightened weak-minded people. They have made up a supposed position of Pres. Obama's, and preached that position to their weak-minded followers, and this is the result: three dead cops.

Rush Limbaugh is just as responsible for the deaths of those three cops as the guy who pulled the trigger. All those nutcases on the radio and TV are responsible.

But will they ever be brought to task for their crime? No, I rather assume not.

If they had any conscience at all, any honor at all, they'd take responsibility for their actions without prompting. I rather assume that won't happen either.

My deepest sympathies to the family and colleagues of those three dead cops. Look to your supposed "friends" in right-wing radio for the reason behind this horrific event.

**Update: Revised Article

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The cockroaches are crawling out of the woodwork

by Rich Miles

I have to confess that I'm surprised we haven't seen more of this:

An idiot on the radio named Tammy Bruce has embarrassed all white people, all broadcasters, and all racists (yes, I meant that too) with an on-air tirade in which she repeatedly referred to the Obama family as trash in the White House. There is much to be said for not giving Ms. Bruce the publicity that comes with making her actions known, but here it is. This hurts my heart even to present it to you, but I think it needs to be done:

Tammy Bruce Acts Out Like Total Racist Slag She Is

I sometimes despair of my country. This is one of those times.

If you can stomach it, read some of the comments.

My poor, bleeding nation.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bad habit overcome - for the moment

by Rich Miles

I have had a very bad habit in my life - failing to see and take note of significant events in the news, etc.

The best, or one might say the worst, example of this happened when the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was taken over by militant students in 1979 - an event that almost certainly toppled a U.S. regime, and had many other far-reaching ramifications to it over its 444 days' duration, and far into the future after it was over.

I didn't understand it.

Or rather, it might be more accurate to say that I didn't realize how important it was.

I remember thinking, when I first heard of the seizing of the embassy, "Well, there goes another U.S. embassy - not the first, certainly not the last, but no big deal."

It's pretty clear today how wrong I was back then.

I've done this many times before and since - just simply failed to notice how important an event was, and thus failed to learn anything from it, among other things.

But today, I am here to announce that I actually got out in front of one: I was a day ahead of the national outrage over the bonuses at AIG, and I am very proud of myself for having done so. Frankly, when I wrote that piece on the 13th, I thought it might just cause a little flameout, and then would disappear, as do so many such stories in recent months. In fact, AIG was at the center of another story about the payment of bonuses late last year, and that one did fizzle and die after a few days.

I don't think this one is going away so fast, and I'm glad of it. And glad for any little part I may have had in the story growing legs. I'm under no illusion I am responsible for it, but if I've been able to prop up the legs a little from my little corner of the world, that's great.

So AIG is getting a bit of its own back - that's great, too. I sincerely hope the bigwigs at AIG keep trying to make excuses for themselves. It will only make them look worse and worse. And then, I want to see a bunch of the ol' boys working behind the counter at Arby's or some such. All of 'em - 6 bucks an hour or so. I want these morons who've been making 6 figures or better since 4th grade to learn what it's like to have to sweat a bit to make ends meet.

I don't really expect that to happen - but I'd sure love it. As someone important said, payback's a bitch!

Ain't it?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Idle Threats

by Rich Miles

There's an article in today's New York Times that, in essence, makes it clear that, come Hell or high water, AIG is going to pay $165 million in bonuses to executives of its financial services division, despite the obvious truth that these morons drove the company into the ground, and have had, so far, to be bailed out by the government to the tune of about $170 BILLION.

The basic premise of the article is that AIG HAS to pay these bonuses, because of contractual obligations entered into before the company's collapse. Well, that all sounds right and honorable, until you read the part about this money being "retention bonuses", to get the executives to stay at the company. Which brings to my mind at least the two following questions:

1) Why would you want to retain executives that killed your company, and damn near took the entire national economy down the toilet as well? Let 'em go, fer cryin' out loud, and

2) Where are these mugs going to go? If you refuse to pay their "retention bonuses", and they quit in a fit of pique, WHERE ELSE CAN THEY GO in this market atmosphere to do any better? Who's going to hire the architects of one of the greatest financial collapses in the history of the WORLD, much less America? I mean, can you imagine their resumes? "I took down one of the biggest companies in America. Let me do the same for your company!"

So obviously, as usual I'm missing something here. What *I* think I'm missing is the "old boy network camaraderie", that will cause these guys to take care of each other no matter how big fuckups they are.

Yeah, you can't let a former classmate at Yale or Harvard or whatnot fall by the wayside just because he's an incompetent boob. I mean, that would ultimately harm ALL incompetent boobs. And might even lead to the imprisonment of one or two of them. Like, for instance, GWB II. He was/is the ultimate incompetent boob raised to a level far above his competence. Can't have HIM called to task for his mistakes. God knows what that will mean to the rest of them.

The average American taxpayer (whatever "average" means in that context) is being reamed up the ass with a hot poker, and all these idiots can think about is "retention bonuses".

What can we do about this? I'm open to suggestion. But I'm just sick about this. And you should be too.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Wholesale Theft Begins in Earnest

by Rich Miles

There's an article on the front page of today's (March 13th) Courier-Journal that lays out the numbers for how Kentucky's first installment on the Obama stimulus package will be spent.

In essence, David Williams is, as we might have expected, going to get a lion's share of the money. Of the $442 million appropriated, Williams' district is going to get over $80 million - nearly 20%, in a corner of the state where are ensconced something like 3% of the people, and only about 8 percent of the roads - many of which have been recently paved. In fact, in one portion of Clinton county, part of Williams' district, they had so much money for roads and so few roads needing the work that they paved the SHOULDERS of the roads, rather than leave them in gravel as is usually the case. This was BEFORE the recent federal appropriation.

And Jefferson County, the largest and most populous region of the state, got about $36 million. About 7-8%. Less than David Williams' district. Less than the second-largest allocation of funds, $59.5 million to Ed Worley, D-Richmond.

Let me just close by suggesting this: get used to it. Every time the federal government allocates a portion of the stimulus package to our state, just assume that the fat cats will get the biggest piece, regardless of who or where needs it, and the rest of us will get the crumbs.

I suppose that's how it's always been. I just guess I hoped that this huge chunk of change would somehow be allocated a little more honestly.

But as I have mentioned in previous posts, I believe in the Easter Bunny, too.

Monday, February 16, 2009

La-di-da, La-di-da

by Rich Miles

Hey, I'm getting better! It's only been 6 1/2 months since I last posted this time. But enough of that, on with the business at hand:

Since I last posted, Barack Obama has been elected and inaugurated. George Bush proved me wrong by not trying to stay in office on some trumped-up emergency basis (and I've never been happier to be wrong), and the Republickin' party has remained its old, steadfast self by engaging in the same treasonous behavior it did before the election, continuing to obstruct the business of the people and do all they can to keep anyone - Democrats, mostly - from doing anything to serve the needs of the American people. And then, they blame everything on the Democrats.

But the really heinous part of this equation is that, with the exception of the President, the Democrats are doing remarkably little to thwart these efforts on the part of the Repugs.

I mean, do you understand it? I don't. All the Repugs seem to have to do is say "boo", and the Democrats will just back down. It was most evident in the recent negotiations for the Big Bailout plan, when people like Lindsay Graham and others made all sorts of accusations of being left out of the process, and instead of Harry Reid telling them what was true, which was in essence "go fuck yourselves", he bent over and greased up again, and gave the Repugs what they wanted. Or more or less so.

See, here's how it goes: the Repug leadership tells its guys when to jump and how high, and those ol' boys just DO IT!!! That's why NOT ONE House Repug voted for the recovery plan, and then they had the nerve to complain about being left out of the process! And don't you know Middle America (gor bless their little pointed heads) hears that, and says, "Yeah well our good ol' Repug boys put down them smartass Demmiecrat boys up in Washington, and didn't yield to them one time ever!"

But while not many middle Americans gave this much thought, the fact is, every single Repug who voted against the bill WAS TOLD TO DO SO BY THEIR PARTY LEADERSHIP!!None of them, not ONE, read the bill, and after careful consideration decided that it was a flawed bill, and their conscience would not let them vote "Aye". Lindsay Graham said that the bill "stinks the place out". Others said similarly over-the-top things. I mean, is this the behavior of an adult, a member of one of the supposed greatest deliberative bodies on the planet? Daddy tells you what to do, and you do it without question, without actually DOING any of that deliberating you're supposed to be famous for, just because to do so will defeat the evil Democratic president, will start him on the road to un-reelectability in 4 years. All they have to do is make him politically impotent for four years, and he won't be reelected, and we (the Repugs) will have another go at fucking up the country again!!! Isn't that exciting?
And no one - not even Pres. Obama, who was starting to look like he was not going to allow this kind of nonsense with his "are these people kidding?" remark a while back, called them on such ludicrous remarks.

When are we going to call these fools on their shitty behavior? When are we going to stand up in their faces, and say, "You're morons. Among other moronic behavior, you're accusing us of the exact same bad behavior that YOU committed for 8 years under Bush, and called it logic and party loyalty and probity. And it resulted in the country being more fucked up than it hsa been since the Depression!"

People are FED UP with this crap. I can only hope that the general intelligence of the American people has risen a bit, and more Americans are seeing this for what it is: obstructionism, pure and simple. Not obstructing for a reason, just - obstructing.

But frankly, I have little faith in the intelligence of the American people. It was a little better when they elected Obama by such a hefty margin, but now we're right back where we started from on 9/11 - scared little rabbits who will let the Repugs frighten us into doing their bidding.

Except that Obama is whuppin' them this time. He's just doing it so subtly and quietly that they don't see it for the ass-whuppin' it is. God grant that he remains able to pull the wool over their eyes for another 8 years.

Thanks for your time and attention. As always, I'll try to get back here a little sooner next time. I mean, you'd think I'd have plenty to say these days, wouldn't you?