Sunday, June 28, 2015

Very Glad Bernie is Running for President

What's tough listening to right wing radio is when they get upset about Hillary's supposed progressive positions.  Hillary wants to raise the minimum wage to $15.  Hillary is a pacifist, she'll gut the defense budget.  She'll regulate Wall St.  When both sides of the debate agree on something it's tough to break through and get people to recognize that no, that's not who she is.  She has a long track record of support for and from Wall St.  Support for war, hostility to unions.  Yet she's trying to pass herself off as a person that actually subscribes to progressive opinions.  In fact she's owned by various corporate boards just as Republicans are controlled by corporate boards (though in a lot of cases it's different corporate boards).

With Bernie you do get a guy that genuinely does care about people first, not the Chamber of Commerce and Wall St.  Even Ann Coulter understands that.  Take a look at where the monetary support for Bernie comes from as contrasted with Hillary.

Can he win?  I don't know.  Can the devastating effects of global warming be stopped?  I don't know.  But what else can you do but push forward based on the assumption that good things can happen?  If you sit back and assume you can't overcome these challenges that you definitely won't.

Here's a really good interview with Bernie that covers a lot of ground.  Maybe prior to 2008 you would expect more people to call his opinions crazy, but it's more getting to the point where you have to call it common sense.  Corruption is legal in the US, and the result is that the US is not a democracy but an oligarchy.  So though even the IMF, despite it's long history of imposing trickle down economics throughout the world, is now admitting that trickle down economics doesn't work, our politicians continue to act on the assumption that it does work.  The US system of for profit health care sucks.  Global warming is real, is caused by man, and needs to be mitigated if we're going to avoid devastating consequences.

Bernie isn't perfect, but he admits these obvious things and really does want to address them.  Hillary will admit them but probably has no intention of dealing with them.  She's Obama 2.0.  Even that is better than the Republicans, who are off the reservation chasing Koch money rather than facing reality.  So I'll prefer a Hillary victory to a Republican one.  But it would be so nice to have an honest progressive rather than a fake one.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Degree of US Responsibility for Islamic Extremism

When the socialist government in Afghanistan asked the Soviet Union to intervene to help repel the Islamic extremists, we all know the response from the US.  Military support for the Islamists.

The elected government in Iran in 1953 was secular.  The CIA overthrew that government for profit.  The current theocracy there is a direct reaction to that.

It's pretty well understood among the most respected sources that ISIS was created by the US.  Not that it was created intentionally, but it was a direct consequence of the US invasion of Iraq and the way the occupation was managed.  ISIS was also provided with military armaments from the US.  The theological roots of ISIS stem from elements in Saudi Arabia, which exist thanks to critical US military support of that regime, which enforces the ultra conservative Wahhabi form of Islam.

Hamas was funded by Israel.  The PLO was regarded as too powerful, so Israel helped nurture the Islamic extremist elements in the Palestinian territories as a divide and conquer strategy.  Hezbollah likewise is a result of Israeli action.  It was formed by Muslim clerics in response to the invasion and occupation of Lebanon in an effort to repel them.

This is what is frustrating to me about complaints from conservatives about radical Islam.  Every major radical Islamist presence has it's roots in policies supported by the very conservatives that decry radical Islam.  If we really have a problem with Islamic extremism we should ask ourselves why we allow our government to foster, nurture, and support it.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Bob Dutko and I talk about Saed Abedeeni

I often see items in my Facebook feed from conservative friends decrying the treatment of Saed Abedeeni, a Christian pastor that's currently being held in prison in Iran.  I find it frustrating.  Sure, it would be great if Saed was released.  I'm all for it.  But for an American war monger like Bob Dutko, who supports imprisoning people indefinitely even though they've not been charged with a crime, and in fact in some cases have been cleared for release, for him to lecture Iran and pretend to tell them that they are morally wrong in imprisoning someone, well it's ridiculous, and I called him up to explain why.  Audio below.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Back Of My Mind

It's funny to me how some truths take some time to really sink in.  I'd heard years ago that meat consumption was worse for the planet in terms of global warming then the entire petroleum industry.  This was from a conservative that was trying to downplay the need for concern about global warming.  I guess the argument was that if I'm not talking about meat, which is worse, then global warming isn't a concern?  That doesn't make sense but in any case, maybe that is something I should be talking about.

So that's been in the back of my mind for a while.  Also in the back of my mind is something I think a lot of people have in the back of their mind and don't think about.  Humanity's treatment of animals is a horror show.  There's a movie called Earthlings which shows the violence directed towards animals by humans.  I haven't watched it, I'm not sure I want to put myself through it.  Here's the trailer.  I watched that.  That might be about all I want to try and handle, though maybe I will watch the full movie at some point.  This is beyond bad.

So I've decided to step it up and stop eating meat and dairy.  So far, about two weeks in, I have to say it's been easier than I thought.  I don't really crave it.  The only problem I've had is sometimes the limit on my options has been inconvenient.  We had food brought in for a work meeting and all I could eat was cole slaw and corn bread.  It's not ideal, but tolerable.

I can't say it's done me any good health wise here nearly two weeks in.  Nor can I say it has made me worse off.  From what I read it should be a more healthy way to eat.  The down side is it may cost more (I'll know soon enough) and of course I have to pass on some tasty food.  I can live with that.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Our Murder of Journalists and Theirs

From William Blum, a great article on the treatment of our crimes and theirs.  Charlie Hebdo vs Al Jazeera.  And other points.

Similiarly, from Glenn Greenwald, when we burn people alive and when they burn people alive.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

More Environmentally Friendly Cheap Vacation Idea

This past weekend I had a (very) mini vacation that perhaps would be more satisfactory for some of my interlocutors here.  Free flights are fine in terms of starving the profit beast, but there's no doubt they are horrible for the environment.  How about just getting a hotel nearby with a nice pool and some free breakfast?  This was how I spent this last Saturday.  Total cost with food and movie rental was about $30 for the one night.  Not bad for 4 people.

It started with a Marriott Rewards credit card.  They gave me 70K points, which is good for almost 5 nights of lodging, depending on the hotel category, and they additionally gave me a voucher for a free night, and that voucher expires in early February.

So I kept saving it thinking that perhaps an opportunity where I would need it would come up, but nothing did.  So I decided to use it anyway.  Take my wife and kids to my old stomping grounds, Ann Arbor, Michigan where I went to school.  We could wander around campus and take in the views, then back to the hotel for swimming or whatever.

So that's what we did.  The family loved it and are looking forward to more of the same, which is likely since I don't often need a hotel but can easily acquire free nights via credit cards.  Just an idea I thought I'd share.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Rah Rah, Vote for Hillary

I watched the state of the union and found that yeah, there's lots of typical war mongering, the US is the greatest BS.  Obama is about "responsible" droning.  Give me a break.  But on the flip side there were a few bones tossed to the progressive wing, maybe more than usual.  Here are a few statements I'm summarizing that jumped out at me:
Are we going to embrace an economy that helps all over the next 15 years?  Or one that helps only the wealthy few?

Are we going to let the powers that be sort us into factions that are turned against one another?

We must treat child care like a national economic priority.  It needs to be more available and more affordable.

Paid sick and maternity leave is something all modern countries provide, except ours.  I'm going to take steps to make it available.  "Send me a bill that allows workers 7 days of paid sick leave."

Employees should get the OT they earned.

We need a higher minimum wage.

We need laws that strengthen unions.

Make community college free.

Make student debt easier to deal with.

Old trade deals haven't lived up to the hype.

We need a free an open internet.

The tax code is rigged to help rich corporations. (Should be uncontroversial, but Republicans don't clap at this line.)

We should tax accumulated wealth.

End the embargo on Cuba and have better relations with them (once again a no brainer that Boehner doesn't like).

Don't pass another round of sanctions on Iran, he will veto it.

He's outraged about potential hacker invasions of privacy, like that of our kids?

"It's time to close Gitmo."

Global warming is happening and must be addressed.

Equal rights for GLBT.

Well, that's all great.  But the cynic in me wonders, where was all this talk when Obama had an actual chance of achieving any of it?  He had both houses of Congress.  Now he has neither.  Are the Republicans going to embrace an economy that serves all?  Fix the tax code to reign in corporations?  Increase the minimum wage?  Deal with global warming?

Let's remember, it was Obama's FBI that worked with local law enforcement to crush Occupy, designating them a "terrorist organization". Obama represents wealth and power. He didn't oppose them when he had a chance of doing it successfully, so why the rhetoric now? I assume it's to deliver a good performance for the Democratic party in 2016. And I'm not saying that we shouldn't vote for the D's. But I think we are being played.