Thursday, June 30, 2011

Republicans, Wall Street and Inflexible Greed.

I'm glad that President Obama is finally punching back at the Tea Party and conservative Republicans over the debt ceiling and 2012 budget. The Republicans in Congress are playing chicken with a fully loaded, full-throttled freight train when they say they won't vote to raise the debt ceiling. This isn't about raising the debt ceiling so that we can keep spending but rather about paying our obligations that we've already made to our creditors, seniors and veterans. Not raising the debt ceiling is like buying the car but not paying on the loan you took out to pay for the car (debt)!! The full faith and credit of the United States of America would melt away and that would have disastrous effects upon our fragile economic recovery.

If we don't raise the debt ceiling, interest rates will sky-rocket, which could cause increasing foreclosures on homes. In addition, international confidence in our economy would decrease, causing less interest by foreign investors in our economy. Less economic investment from abroad means companies will continue to decline, if not go bankrupt. Failing to raise the debt limit is foolish and irresponsible. Republicans and Democrats have both understood this and thus raised the ceiling many times; until the Tea Party wing of the Republican party showed up to throw a ill-informed wrench into a very serious and critical issue. We shouldn't be using this debt limit as a bargaining chip for spending cuts. Those discussions can be hashed out over the 2012 budget; once we get past this irresponsible game of "Russian Roulette" with the debt limit.

I fully agree that we need to pay down our debt and balance the budget like President Clinton did in the 1990s but that shouldn't come at the cost of the middle-class alone. It's the middle class that has already taken the biggest hit from this Great Recession. They are the ones who've lost the jobs. They are the ones who've lost their homes. They are the ones who've lost their savings. Democrats are simply asking for shared sacrifice.

So, if Democrats are willing to adjust the cost of Medicare and Social Security then it's disingenuous for Republicans to refuse to talk about tax hikes for those making over $500,000 a year. They've already had it good with tax cuts since Bush took office in 2000!! They walked away from negotiations because Democrats and Obama wanted to talk about targeted tax hikes on those who can most afford and who have, so far, avoided much of a hit from this recession. The Republicans are behaving like the kid who took his ball and went home.

The expression comes from the playground where one kid, the one who owns the soccer ball or basket ball, doesn't get his way in the game. If he doesn't get his way then he gets mad and punishes those who are unwilling to accept his mandate. He does this my taking his ball and going home thus ending the game and any fun the participants were having. I know what you Republicans are thinking; why believe a liberal? Then maybe you'll listen to former hedge fund manager and Wall-Street guru, Jim Cramer on the matter (his comments are 3 minutes and 30 seconds into the clip):

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All that President Obama and Democrats are asking is to end the tax loopholes that the uber-wealthy exploit to basically pay no taxes. It's like Warren Buffet (who isn't exactly dumb when it comes to the economy) says, his secretary pays higher taxes than he does!! And, he agrees that it's wrong!! If you can't see the need to raise taxes on the uber-wealthy after Jim Cramer's expertise then maybe you'll listen to former Senator, Republican Allan Simpson? He is a veteran of the Reagan era and hails from one of the most conservative states in America--Wyoming.

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The Democrats are willing to compromise on programs they hold dear but Republicans can't expect to get everything!! They have to allow tax hikes for millionaires and billionaires because compromise is the tool of democracy. There wouldn't be many marriages if no one compromised. Compromise is how a diverse society operates without wars every decade. Who do these Republicans think they are? Dictators???

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Federal Bill to Legalize Marijuana. Plus, Private Prison Populations Dramatically Increase.

Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts has introduced a bill in Congress to end marijuana prohibition at the federal level; freeing up states to decide their own course of action. This will help end the confusion over who has authority in a state where medical marijuana is legalized. As Americans, who believe firmly in personal freedoms, it is wrong for the federal government to supersede the will of the people in a state. If a majority of voters in a particular state vote to legalize marijuana, either for medical and/or recreational use then that democratic will, should be respected by the federal government. The fact that this hasn't been the case has been a real injustice to our constitutional right to self-determination.

If you believe as firmly about ending this failed war on marijuana, as I do, then please send an email to your representative in support of the Frank bill. The Drug Policy Alliance has made it easy for you. All you need to do, if you pressed for time, is fill out your basic information--name and email, etc and hit send. It will shoot a form email to your representative in support of this important issue. To do so, click on this sentence. Thank-you for standing up to end prohibition.

Together we can end it, as we ended the ridiculous war on alcohol in the 30s that gave fuel to Al Capone, organized crime and violence. The same is happening on our Southern border because of prohibition of marijuana. Seventy percent of the drug trade across the Mexican border is marijuana; legalizing it would drastically reduce that drug trade. The war on drugs has failed--the time is now to call a truce and regulate it like alcohol. Only then will we be able to stabilize the drug trade. It is only through legalization, regulation and taxation that we can move forward because this war has been going on since the 1930s!!!. That's 70 plus years!! We would never keep up a military war for 70+ years. So, at what point do we admit failure on this damn war on pot?!! The only reason the violence on the border doesn't decrease is because we refuse to admit that prohibition has failed--just like alcohol; and that legalization and regulation would stabilize the situation.

This issue ties into the growing trend of private prisons. WASHINGTON, D.C. — Over the past 15 years, the number of people held in all prisons in the United States has increased by 49.6 percent, while private prison populations have increased by 353.7 percent, according to recent federal statistics.

Private prisons are disgustingly, wrong. Their success is directly tied to increasing the prison population. An increase of 350% tells you that businesses are making money off of a broken justice system. This is so wrong on so many levels. I'm certainly not against justice but turning a profit off a crime is behaving no better than the criminals!! They make money off a crime too, but the difference is that, they are criminals!! (smacks head with hand in frustration). I guess it's not a shock to see companies behave like criminals after the rich jackasses on Wall-Street stole America's piggy bank. I can't help but wonder how much of the profits from these private prisons comes from the ever increasing arrests of non-violent marijuana users; many of whom are arrested for simply possession of a small amount of marijuana, which is a drug that has never caused a drug over-dose.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Utah Attorney General Shurtleff Approves of Medical Marijuana.

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said he would support the legalization of medical marijuana after experiencing months of intensive cancer treatment. "Until you've experienced chemo, you can't describe exactly how it feels," he said Thursday on KSL Newsradio's Doug Wright Show. "It's kind of like having the flu because you ache all over. But it's worse than that... Everything feels awful." "They give you pills to help you with the nausea, but if you can't keep those down, then what do you do?" he said. "You just suffer. That's one of the reasons I understand why people who are going through chemo are prescribed medicinal marijuana in states where it is legal."

TPJ: Wow, if Utah's attorney general backs medical marijuana then the marijuana debate is truly making progress. Utah is one of the most conservative states, which is also home to one of the most conservative religions--Mormonism. And, Shurtleff isn't someone to ignore that easily, considering he's the top law enforcement official in the state of Utah. I must say though, as a proud Coloradan, he needs to back-off criticizing Colorado for their very progressive medical marijuana industry. He's supposed to represent the state of Utah--let Colorado decide it's own way of doing things. I doubt he'd appreciate our attorney general telling him how to run his state.

Speaking of Colorado, we will have a proposal on the ballot next year on whether to legalize marijuana in the state. I think it has a real chance of succeeding, so if you want to see marijuana legalized and believe in the personal freedom to use it then please consider donating 5, 10, 20 dollars to the campaign. SAFER is a well known, established and respected cannabis organization here in Colorado; they successfully got small amounts of marijuana legalized in Denver city limits.

You might say, "Well, why should I help Colorado legalize it when I don't live there?" Understandable question. But, consider this--if Colorado legalizes it then it will create an example and momentum for others states to follow suit. Especially, if California also legalizes next year; as they have a ballot measure that will be on the '12 ballot, as well. Marijuana was given to us by Mother Earth and has medicinal and spiritual properties for a reason--it's meant to be used. Mother Nature has given us everything we need in nature.

It's amazing to me that we're fine with prescribing highly-addictive opium based pills for people for everything from a back ache to blue balls but marijuana is more dangerous? Despite it's known benefits and lack of side effects??? Bullsh*t. It's less addictive than alcohol, and yet, people see it as worse than the opium based pills they hand out like candy!! True story. I was raised in a conservative household and wasn't allowed to sexually explore. So, during college, I got sexually ramped up one night and got blue balls. I didn't know what was going on, so suspecting a serious problem, "down there" I went to the emergency room!! Yep, and the doctor just told me about blue balls and gave me VICODIN!!!

Good, god!! Handing out Vicodin to a 21 year old kid??? Why don't you just give me a heroin needle and a gun!! "Here kid, get hooked on a heroin derivative, but stay away from that natural herb over there, it's the "devil's weed!!" No one dies from marijuana use, whereas car crashes, hepatitis, firearms, Tylenol (acetaminophen) over-dose, alcohol over-dose and homocide deaths are numerous!! Those are based on 2007 numbers. Unlike most drugs, if you ingest a high amount of marijuana, you just get tired and fall asleep and wake up refreshed; but no over-dose. It's virtually impossible to over-dose. You'd have to eat a couple hay-bails worth of the stuff to get anywhere close to dying--and who the hell is going to do that?!! You'd vomit well before finishing all that weed. Suicide killed 34,598 people in 2007--marijuana? Zero!! The hysteria and lack of education on the true nature of marijuana is astounding--even still. We have to keep pushing for our freedom to use this substance responsibly, and educate the masses.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Psychopathic CEOs.

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Fascinating clip. One percent of the general, American population is psychopathic, and 4% of CEOs are, as well. I'm not shocked. There are so many stone, cold-hearted business people out there. Who else, but, psychopaths could tell sick and dying people that they're health-care insurance has been revoked. Who else, but, psychopaths could lay-off an entire company and set it up overseas, just to make an extra fraction of profit?

Who else, but, psychopaths could contaminate ground-water and oceans from pumping gas and oil, yet deny it to the face of the people who are swimming in that very contamination?!! Who else, but, psychopaths could steal money from the American people through banking fraud and not feel the shame enough to resign? Who else, but, psychopaths could keep asking for tax cuts after getting bailed out by the average, middle-class, American tax-payers?

There are plenty of psychopaths in government, too. I'm not shocked but I am disgusted with all these heartless bastards running around. They are all over the roads, too, it seems!! No one gives a shit about anyone but themselves anymore; and that is one of the symptoms of psychopathology.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Men, Women, Sex Scandals and Congress.

I've been hoping I wouldn't have to write another damn post on this Representative Anthony Wiener sex scandal but the media is gratuitously milking the story. It's ironic, because on all these cable news shows, the media feigns surprise that the Weiner story isn't go away; despite the reality that it is they, the media, who drive stories!! They try and stir stories up into month long sagas to boost ratings and spin off other sub-stories. That's what they do, and it's revolting to watch them try and pretend that they don't relentlessly manipulate news stories.

I knew the media had "jumped the shark" on this Anthony Wiener story when all weekend the news shows portrayed men in Congress as selfish opportunists with could care less about trying to solve America's problems:

“The shorthand of it is that women run for office to do something, and men run for office to be somebody,” said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. “Women run because there is some public issue that they care about, some change they want to make, some issue that is a priority for them, and men tend to run for office because they see this as a career path.”

Well, I would say that's over-stating it. I would agree that the sex scandals in Congress almost always involve men. However, it's going too far to say that most men in Congress tend to only be there to stroke their egos and pad the resume, rather than find solutions. There are plenty of men in Congress who have a good heart and clearly are passionate about solving problems. Look at: Bernie Sander's fight for universal medical care, Dennis Kucinich's fight to end the wars, or John Lewis the great civil rights leader who works hard for equity amongst races, sexes and sexual orientation. It is also true that a lot of men in Congress have strong egos and want to make a name for themselves, but to suggest women don't, is folly. A few off the top of my head: Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and Michelle Bachmann.

My over-all point is that this battle of the sexes is a battle that is never-ending because both men and women have enough faults to crack open the San Andreas Fault and turn California into an island. Congress is full of politicians (women and men) who are power hungry and cultivate healthy egos. We should be less concerned about who's worse, men or woman and everything about coming together regardless of difference to do the work of the people. There will always be corrupt men and women in Congress, so let's focus on the good ones for a change!!

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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Anthony Weiner and America's Sexual Dysfunction.

O.k., listen up because this is hopefully the only time I'm going to post on the Anthony Wiener "scandal":

I find it sadly ironic that we'll roast politicians for their personal sex lives and drop-kick them from office but allow them to stay when they funnel money to no-bid contracts and corrupt lobbyists.
The only stuff I really care about is the lying and the bigger cover-ups that threaten the structural integrity of our economy and government. We're missing the real scandals by focusing on a sexting "scandal." We've got bigger problems to tackle than Anthony's weener!! We are dying financially due to corrupt dealings in our economy and not one person has seen jail time because of it. Yet we're going to focus on Anthony's weener for months on end??? We have soldiers dying in a quagmire over in Afghanistan, a broken health care system, a broken education system, a broken banking system and terrible energy strategy; but we can't muster up enough outrage over those to equal and overtake a sexting "scandal???" We have our priorities all mixed up.

There's another issue at hand here. America has a prudishness problem. In many cases, (but not always) the personal sex lives of politicians in Europe is seen as personal. So long as they don't break the law. They realize that we are all flawed humans and that our personal lives are just that--personal. In Europe, most do not fear the naked body and don't see it as something to be ashamed of and hide from head to toe. In America, we freak out when we see a boob on the Super Bowl half-time show. Americans aren't allowed to talk about sexuality very openly, which is why I think people try to hide their sexuality and end up lying about it.

We like to think we are above sexuality and see sexual expression as taboo and love to trash celebrities and politicians whose private sex lives become public. Yet, at the same time, we love movies and television shows that show sexuality and suggestive dialogue. That's why I think Americans secretly love sex scandals--they are constantly the most talked about stories. They are intrigued by the sexual nature of them but feel guilty about enjoying the sexuality of it all, so they balance it all out by criticizing the person or people involved in the sex scandal. It's completely and totally dysfunctional; especially when you acknowledge that the vast majority of us have some sort of moral failing in our personalities. But we sure love to trash others over their issues to make us feel better about ours!!

Europeans understand that temporal problems such as economies, the environment, national security and health care are vastly more important than someone's personal sex life. A sex scandal of a politician doesn't impact the personal lives of a country's citizens like an economic crisis does. I think Europeans get that distinction but America is still stuck in high school drama mode. We're getting screwed--and not in the good way!!

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Stephen Colbert "Defends" Sarah Palin's Version of Paul Revere's Ride.

This is hilarious!!
One of the saddest parts of the Paul Revere revisionism is that Sarah Palin had just visited Paul Revere's house and The Old North Church; where she would have heard the real history around Revere during those tours. You'd think the accurate story would be fresh on her mind after visiting those sites, but then again, she's not known to be the brightest bulb in the chandelier!! I guess she should have taken notes--on her hand, of course!!

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Monday, June 06, 2011

Sarah Palin, Paul Revere and Conservative Anti-Intellectualism.

Man, you’ve gotta almost admire the sheer blind dedication of Sarah Palin’s wingnut acolytes. Now they’re trying like crazy to edit the Wikipedia page for “Paul Revere” to make it match Palin’s botched version of history. Here’s the Revision history of Paul Revere; check out the edits that are being reversed. Also see the discussion page for an entertaining exchange between Wikipedia editors and a would-be revisionist.

In case you missed it, Sarah Palin ignorantly stated that American hero, Paul Revere was riding through the American colonies on horseback to warn the British that they couldn't take away our guns!! Seriously. But, here is the real history behind that ride:
In 1774 and the Spring of 1775 Paul Revere was employed by the Boston Committee of Correspondence and the Massachusetts Committee of Safety as an express rider to carry news, messages, and copies of resolutions as far away as New York and Philadelphia.

On the evening of April 18, 1775, Paul Revere was sent for by Dr. Joseph Warren and instructed to ride to Lexington, Massachusetts, to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British troops were marching to arrest them. After being rowed across the Charles River to Charlestown by two associates, Paul Revere borrowed a horse from his friend Deacon John Larkin. While in Charlestown, he verified that the local "Sons of Liberty" committee had seen his pre-arranged signals. (Two lanterns had been hung briefly in the bell-tower of Christ Church in Boston, indicating that troops would row "by sea" across the Charles River to Cambridge, rather than marching "by land" out Boston Neck. Revere had arranged for these signals the previous weekend, as he was afraid that he might be prevented from leaving Boston).

On the way to Lexington, Revere "alarmed" the country-side, stopping at each house, and arrived in Lexington about midnight. As he approached the house where Adams and Hancock were staying, a sentry asked that he not make so much noise. "Noise!" cried Revere, "You'll have noise enough before long. The regulars are coming out!" After delivering his message, Revere was joined by a second rider, William Dawes, who had been sent on the same errand by a different route. Deciding on their own to continue on to Concord, Massachusetts, where weapons and supplies were hidden, Revere and Dawes were joined by a third rider, Dr. Samuel Prescott. Soon after, all three were arrested by a British patrol. Prescott escaped almost immediately, and Dawes soon after. Revere was held for some time and then released. Left without a horse, Revere returned to Lexington in time to witness part of the battle on the Lexington Green.

TPJ: This attempt at rewriting history shows you what many conservatives really think about American history. It's too be manipulated and massaged to fit their agenda. This is a stark reminder of how the conservative right will do anything to win. To them, it is less about the truth, and all about the victory. To many of them, they see it all as a game, and if history gets changed on the way, so be it. They love the symbols of America (the constitution, the flag, the liberty bell and statue of liberty, etc) which they fetishize.

They focus on the symbols because that's all many of them grasp of American history. If they knew the real history behind those symbols and stories then they wouldn't behave like dumb-asses. To them, the symbols are used as a replacement to the full history behind them. It's like the early Christians who were illiterate and thus relied upon the frescoes, stained glass symbols and other illustrations to explain the Bible. This only gave them a vague and incomplete understanding of their own belief system.

Sadly, however, this isn't the first time they have done this kind of thing. Representative Michelle Bachmann, (who is being talked about in Republican circles as a candidate for president) went to New Hampshire recently and claimed the "shot heard 'round the world" that kicked off the American Revolution rang out in New Hampshire!! The truth, of course, is that it occurred in Massachusetts. Bachmann also claimed that the founding fathers (Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, etc) abolished slavery!! In reality, it wasn't abolished until the "Emancipation of Proclamation" was put forth by President Abraham Lincoln in the 1860s; which was well after the founding fathers died. You'd think she'd get that one right considering Lincoln was the founder of the Republican Party and a president that generations of Republicans revere.

A lot of this ignorance is not only tolerated by many on the conservative right, but applauded. For the past several decades, there has been a steady and strong anti-intellectual movement amongst conservatives. They tend to nominate candidates that are "just like them" which often means someone just as ignorant and out of touch with the wider world as they are. They scoff at science and find the Bible to be more credible. They often see public schools as corrupt institutions of evil and instead home-school them; despite a lot of the parents lacking teaching degrees.

Many of these hard-core conservatives ignore the rest of the world, so that they can blissfully continue claiming in denial that America is the best in every category of measurement. All while America declines in quality of health care, education, environment, transportation and in so many other categories. If this wasn't bad enough, a lot of conservatives are seeking to literally rewrite the history books with a conservative ideological spin. This recently occurred in Texas where K-12 history books were edited to reflect a conservative, ideological view of American history.

So, it isn't too hard to understand why Republicans often pick their candidate based on how passionately they deny reality. Just look at how many of them refuse to acknowledge President Obama was born in America and that he's a Christian!! Thus, when you worship at the altar of ignorance, it shouldn't come as a surprise to people that those who eschew intelligence are so gullible and easily swayed by conspiratorial theories. Sarah Palin isn't just a bad political candidate--she's a symbol of just how much America has declined.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Massachusetts Ranked 47th out of All 50 States in Job Creation Under Romney.

Former Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney has been touted as a strong business leader, despite his poor record on jobs. Under Romney's reign, Massachusetts ranked 47th out of all 50 states in creating jobs. Being in business, doesn't necessarily mean that you know all aspects of it--like adding jobs to the economy. Romney made a name for himself in the business world as a venture capitalist (at Bain Capital) who would buy whole companies, liquidate the employees and sell off the rest for a profit. In other words, he flipped businesses like some people flip houses.

He might be good at making a profit off of a failing company before throwing it in the trash, but that certainly doesn't help the average worker or middle-class family. At Bain Capital, where he worked, he also took advantage of tax havens over-seas and dealt in risky debt hedge funds.

Then there was the auto industry loans that the Obama administration successfully used to bring back the domestic car industry, in America. It has stabilized an industry that is one of the last manufacturing industries left in America that hasn't been liquidated and sold off to China. But, Romney, "Mr. Business" said the loans to the Detroit based car companies was a bad idea--despite Michigan being especially hit hard by the recession. This from a guy, Romney, who claims to be "Mr. Michigan" with his family roots there. However, now that things have stabilized in the auto industry, and they are hiring again, Romney is claiming credit for it!!

He is shameless on changing positions; as he has on abortion, gay marriage, his health care plan (which was what Obama used as a template for the recent health care reform) and now this jobs issue in Michigan!! It's pretty sad when a person like Romney is so inauthentic and lacking in integrity that he downplays his most successful accomplishment as a politician--health care in Massachusetts. How can you vote for a guy who doesn't really want to talk about his biggest accomplishment? In his announcement today that he will be a candidate for the presidency in 2012, he barely mentioned it. It has been a success in Massachusetts and it's rather pathetic to see him play it down. It underlines my assessment of him in 2008--that'll he's an empty suit who will say anything to win. Will the real Mitt Romney, please stand up? Or, perhaps, the question should, instead, be, "Is there a "real" Mitt?!!

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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Gov Christie Rides in Style to His Son's Baseball Game.


(PHOTO: Governor Chris Christie [seen in white shirt] by Christopher Costa for Patch.com

Governor Chris, "the bully" Christie luxuriously took a New Jersey State Police helicopter to attend his son's baseball game. As governor, he does have special needs that demand using police helicopters, but his son's sporting events don't qualify. I think the governor's limo should be enough; especially given he doesn't have to stop for traffic!! This looks even worse for a governor who has made a name for himself in Republican circles for being tough on government benefits.

The state police claim it doesn't cost the taxpayer for Christie to use their helicopters because they consider such excursions as "training." Yeah, well, someone has to pay for that ever expensive gas. It looks elitist to buzz around New Jersey on personal errands when people can barely pay for the fuel to go to work.

However, even if we believe the New Jersey State Police that the trip didn't cost the taxpayers, it is incredibly out of touch with the daily struggles of the recession hit American people. Especially from a guy who gets praise in Republican circles for telling his citizens that they have to cut-back their lifestyle because of recession demands. He should be living a low-profile lifestyle if he's going to ask that of everyone else.

Everyone says they like him because of his "no nonsense," unvarnished manner of speaking but to me he comes off as a bully. You can be honest with people without having to talk tough like an Atlantic City debt collector.

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