The State of the Union

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First post in too long!   Not sure if we will have time to post on a regular basis, but this political season is too wacky to pass up.

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On the heels of Hobby Lobby, Jewish Deli owners follow soup.

When discussing Obamacare, Joshua Flickenstein, the owner of J’s Deli said, “We are tired of Obamacare forcing us to pay for heart disease treatment and medication to employees who eat bacon for breakfast, lunch, or whatever.”  People in the Jewish community are getting really frustrated about the new healthcare law also known as Obamacare.  The complaints are numerous especially among tea party conservatives.  Mr. Flickenstein went on to say, “Ever since Obamacare started they built several new Wendy’s restaurants near my deli. Some of my employees have been whorishly sneaking around at eating Baconators for lunch.”  Mr. Flickenstein said his concern is how he can afford to pay for heart transplants for all the people that work for him.  “The best part of running a restaurant is paying my employees 2.13 and hour and I still charge them 14.50 for a sandwich.”  He says that he doesn’t believe that people should eat bacon because it says not to (eat bacon) in the bible.  I asked him where in the bible it says that.  He casually tells me, as he places two soup bowls down on the table, that he doesn’t know where it says that, but that is what his Grandma Ruth has always told him that’s what it (the bible) says.  He tells me that the soup is his Nana’s famous vegetable soup and has secret ingredients.  Mr. Flickenstein laments, “I am afraid that with all the changes and Obamacare that will no longer be able serve Nana’s vegetable soup.  They are forcing bacon and communism on us as a people.  Why should I pay for heart surgery and all that?”  Mr. Flickenstien is afraid after 20 years of business he will be forced to close his doors forever.  “The Baconators are too much fat and cholesterol and even the Son of a Baconator isn’t that much better.  It isn’t fair,” he continued.  “Hopefully, Hobby Lobby will win in the Supreme Court.  I want to travel to the courthouse wearing my ‘Eat Mor Matzah Balls’ T-shirt for the verdict.”  Well, we will just have to wait and see.  Stay tuned.

Take the Money and Run

the dukes of moral hazzard

Republicans and Democrats alike have backed the same failed materialist techno-narcissistic pro-corporate PR-machine policies with “growth at all costs,” debilitating rational selfishness, and a nefarious embracing of a Dukes-of-moral-Hazzard business model.  Ethics, behind closed doors, is something you flush down the toilet along with your brains.  The whole machine will eventually grind to a halt.  It is going to happen piece by piece rather than a big spectacular Hollywood style explosion.

Banksters.

Eric Holder said, “I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy…”

SAY WHAT?

We can’t prosecute Too Big To Fail Jail institutions even though they broke the law.   Matt Taibbi writing about HSBC sated, “For at least half a decade, the storied British colonial banking power helped to wash hundreds of millions of dollars for drug mobs, including Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel, suspected in tens of thousands of murders just in the past 10 years…The bank also moved money for organizations linked to Al Qaeda and Hezbollah, and for Russian gangsters; helped countries like Iran, the Sudan and North Korea evade sanctions; and, in between helping murderers and terrorists and rogue states, aided countless common tax cheats in hiding their cash.”  He also notes, “Yes, they issued a fine – $1.9 billion, or about five weeks’ profit – but they didn’t extract so much as one dollar or one day in jail from any individual, despite a decade of stupefying abuses.”

This should be the new definition of insanity.

Chase and the London Whale.  UBS and Libor Scandal.  Corzine and the MFGlobal scandal.  The Raj Rajaratnam scandal.  Goldman Sachs thinks everyone but themselves are “muppets” that they can knowingly sell garbage to.  And on and on.   There isn’t one single adult running the system.  These are the largest subsidies in the world and people are complaining that someone bought junk food with food-stamps.  You would go to jail longer for stealing a couple boxes of Tide from Wal-mart than people who have screwed around with trillions of dollars and millions of people’s lives.  I guess the Steve Miller Band is right, we’ve got nothing better to do.

This here’s a story about Billy Joe and Bobbie Sue
Two young lovers with nothin’ better to do
Than sit around the house, get high, and watch the tube
And here is what happened when they decided to cut loose

They headed down to, ooh, old El Paso
That’s where they ran into a great big hassle
Billy Joe shot a man while robbing his castle
Bobbie Sue took the money and run
Go on take the money and run

SQUAREROOTOFZERO

Out of Thin Air

Why the Right is Wrong and the Left Isn’t Right.

The Politics of right and wrong becomes so ambiguous.   Each party wants you to see them as the “good guys” and the other party as the “bad guys.”  Which is which?  Republicans have been infighting with “liberal” Republicans since Theodore Roosevelt right up to Rockefeller Republicans and RiNO’s like Arnold Schwarzenegger in California. Democrats have also had their own internal party struggles.  In the Southern United States, today, we find a large stronghold of Republicans.  The South was largely made up of Democrats up until Alabama Governor, George Wallace began to fade from the spotlight and racial divides seemingly morphed into Foreign Policy, Energy, and Economic problems similar to the ones we see today.

Line in the dust.

George Wallace set in motion a conservative movement that would divide the Nation, “at age 14, George Wallace had vowed to someday become Governor. In 1958, at age 39, he made his move. But he now faced a new political force, one that would pit his compassion for the poor against his hunger for power.”  During his run for the Democratic Gubernatorial primary election against his KKK endorsed opponent, John Patterson, Wallace said, “I want to tell the good people of this state as a judge of the 3rd Judicial Circuit, if I didn’t have what it took to treat a man fair regardless of his color, then I don’t have what it takes to be the Governor of your great state.”  Unfortunately, for Wallace, the idea of running on fairness didn’t work out so well.  When the results came in, “the final runoff wasn’t even close. Patterson was swept to victory, Wallace was devastated, his lifelong dream shattered.”  The things that mattered to the average Alabamian were, “the arrest three years earlier of Rosa Parks in Montgomery for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man, (that) had grown into a Negro boycott of the city’s segregated buses, and had given rise to a mass movement for civil rights, led by a young minister named Martin Luther King, Jr. The protest left white Alabamians feeling under siege. In his campaign, Wallace tried to find some middle ground. Though he supported segregation, his moderate position gained the endorsement of the civil rights organization, the N.A.A.C.P.”  Wallace took the defeat extremely hard and, “with his keen political antenna, understood immediately why he had lost. And I think he decided at that point that he would exploit race to the extent it took necessary that we — that he considered necessary to win.”

Four years later, Wallace did win.

Wallace’s 1963 inauguration speech included something that would follow him forever, “In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny and I say, segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever.”  Perhaps the turning tide was attributed to the fact that, “in that time, those days, people didn’t want negroes to be upgraded.  And that’s why he hollered.  Because he knew, you know, the white people (were) against negroes and he wanted to be against negroes so he could be elected.”  Wallace also declared his intention to run against John F. Kennedy for the Democratic nomination for President just a few days before Kennedy’s assassination.  Lyndon B. Johnson would succeed JFK as the President of the United States.  Then, “in early 1965, Selma, Alabama, became the site of a civil rights campaign to enable black voters to register. On Sunday, March 7th, 600 people set out for the state capital in Montgomery, 50 miles away, hoping to gain national attention. Wallace had issued an order to prevent the march. His state troopers were waiting at the Edmund Pettus Bridge at the edge of town.” Civil Rights Leader, John Lewis, would recall, “in the beginning, I thought we’d be arrested and just taken to jail. Uh, but when I saw the troopers putting on their gas masks and raising their sticks and the bull whips. Those moments when the troopers came toward us, I knew then we would be beaten.”

Things would change.

“The violence in Selma had immediate impact. Days later, President Lyndon Johnson asked Congress for the most comprehensive voting rights bill in the nation’s history. Then, a federal court in Alabama ruled in favor of the protesters.”  After that, a lot of things happened that almost seem too strange to be true.  Wallace’s wife became Governor of Alabama.  Wallace ran for President several times and lost.   He was shot, but not killed.   Wallace said at one point, “We’ll use the power and prestige of the Governor’s office to try to awaken the American people to the trends that are rampant in our country. A trend that says we must fight the Communists in Vietnam while at the same time the Communist-controlled beatnik mobs in the streets influence national affairs in Washington, D.C.”  Peggy Wallace Kennedy, his Daughter, would go on to say, “Well, we were at dinner one night and, um, we were just talking about politics and, uh, things that were important in life. And he said, ‘There, there’re two things that are most important in life,’ and he said, ‘that’s money and power and I don’t care for money.’ He loved the power.”

Mr. Conservative.

Barry Goldwater, a Republican, became associated with anti-communism and labor-union reform.  Goldwater became a magnet for Conservatives.  He opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  It was proposed in secretive meetings, by George Wallace and his associates, that Wallace switch parties to become Goldwater’s running mate.  Goldwater eventually declined.  Goldwater’s conservative campaign was based on States Rights, and possible repeal of the Civil Rights Act.  Goldwater was the first Republican since reconstruction to carry South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.  However, Goldwater lost in a landslide everywhere else, most likely, on his vote against the Civil Rights Act to the incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson and would help, for better or for worse, to solidify the New Frontier of domestic programs.  The South found a new champion and Conservative Republicans found a new home just as more “moderate” Republicans were moving, or being pushed, towards the Democratic Party.

Chickens come home to roost.

One of Wallace’s supporters who was horrified about him turning to the Race issue, said, “George, why are you doing this? Why are you doing this?’ And Wallace, sadly he thought, said, ‘You know, I tried to talk about good roads and good schools and all these things that have been part of my career, and nobody listened.  And then I began talking about niggers, and they stomped the floor.”  Today we have “makers and takers” to inflame the same sort of tensions.  I am not sure if it is working.  Yet.  We are more than political parties, we are individuals whose lives should transcend these invisible barriers.  There is plenty of blame to go around, but it just seems senseless to me to keep pointing fingers and creating our own truth out of thin air.  SQUAREROOTOFZERO

To Be Continued…

Dipped in Fear, Fried in Anger

Change?  The election is over.  Obama won and Romney lost.  Where is that “change” we were promised?  Which version of America are we going to get?  First of all, for the average person change does not come from the Government.  The Government does not create “change.”  That change has to come from within.  It is not an external force acting upon you.  Both Republicans and Democrats have dangerously thrown that idea out of their political psyche.

Red, White, and Blue. What went wrong for Romney? The answer probably lies within the Republican party itself and less with Mitt Romney.  The Republicans were unable to win an election by leveraging emotional, not rational, anger about the economy and rouse enough people to vote “against” Obama.  Romney was obligated to indulge in politics Dipped in Fear, Fried in Anger, and served up like chicken and sweet tea on Red, White, and Blue party plates because that is what it takes to get a GOP nomination, but obviously not the Presidency.

Chameleon.  People were asking which Mitt Romney they would get get if he was elected.  Romney became a contortionist to try and please everyone in his Party.  Psychology would suggest that people would pick the Mitt Romney that suited them best by taking the things he said that they liked as the truth and dismissing what they didn’t.  Simply, they will accentuate what they want to believe and ignore what they don’t.  That strategy seems to work for people in Politics in both parties.  However, it seems that Romney had to twist and bend far too much for the average voter.

Race.  Was this about race?  Yes and No.  By and large people that identify with African or Latin heritage have been largely ostracized by the Republican party.  Again, this is based in fear of a America different from the one they know – or want.  Republicans have not been successful in suppressing or distancing themselves from racial attitudes within the Party.  Usually, this dissolves into a Freedom of Speech argument.  I have the freedom to say that women are less intelligent or capable than men, but it won’t get me a lot of dates.  Compassion and understanding goes a long way regardless of religion or situation.  Reaching out to people who are different than you does not mean weakness.

Here is an excerpt of a story written by Calvin Malone called Razor-Wire Dharma that highlights this:

Bulldog was not only loud and obnoxious, he was big and strong as well.  Few people dared to mess with him and he knew it.  I made sure to stay way from him as well.  Christmas season came (as it does each year), and most inmates were not looking forward to the holiday period.  In most prisons, there is almost nothing special done during this challenging time.  In our case, there is a holiday meal: a regular meal made “festive” by the addition of cranberry sauce and stuffing.  The next Christmas, I went to several friends and asked them to help me put on a Christmas party.  Our (Christmas) party was the talk of the prison for a year.  On several occasions Bulldog mentioned that he had heard about our parties, but I never entertained the idea of inviting him.  When I passed Bulldog’s cell something made me stop. I went back and straight out, invited him to the party.  His response was suspicious. “Why you invite me?” he grunted from his doorway.  When they had heard what I had done, two people decided that they would not attend. Others had serious reservations.  I went ahead with the plans and hoped for the best.

It was interesting that all those who attended were dressed in their best “civilian” clothes and made an extra effort to make this a special time for all.  Throughout the party, Bulldog was quiet and nice to everyone.  He got the most animated when we called out the numbers for the gifts. When he received his, he was like a child at Christmas!  Later he told me he thoroughly enjoyed himself.  Bulldog was moved to another prison after that Christmas party.  Three years later I saw him again.  When he saw me he rushed up and gave me a huge hug and flashed an uncharacteristic smile.  Yelling loudly enough for everyone in the next county to hear, he let me know how much that Christmas meant to him and that in all his years in prison that was his best memory.

Common Ground.  Practice what you preach.

The nation, as you know, is at a critical point. At a time like this, we can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work. And we citizens also have to rise to the occasion. – Mitt Romney

 

I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America. – Barack Obama

 

They are BOTH right.  It is time that we stop laying blame on one Party or the other, work together as individuals, and not highlight differences, but find common ground no matter how far away it seems.  You will not only find the change you seek, but a life that is better than you imagined.  SQUAREROOTOFZERO

Let’s Play Pretend

Band-aids.  The fight over taxes is really full of ABSURD arguments.  However, it seems that we just like to fight about entitlements, redistribution, and lack of fairness which all seem to be symptoms of a larger disease.  Let’s not attempt to treat the disease, but put band-aids with Cartoon characters on the symptoms, like we are all still nine.   Let’s ignore that people pay towards all that God-Forsaken concrete and asphalt out there with gas taxes and that the young pay social security taxes for the old.  Let’s ignore our reliance on energy companies and utilities to provide gas, water, heat, and electricity – and those taxes.  Let’s ignore that a single mother might be raising two children on a teacher’s salary of less than 50k a year and has to pay for ALL of these things on top of her mortgage or rent.  Let’s forget about the taxes she pays when buying necessities – like backpacks, books, and clothes – for her children.  Let’s also ignore the fact that no one is doing anything to address the schemes and rackets going on within the financial system and inflationary taxes.  Certainly, let’s play pretend the steering system is NOT broken and hand out boxes of band-aids.

Responsibility?  Any politician who lays out specific goals and then will pledge to give all the money he or she made back to the Government or a Charity and then only accepts minimum wage for their services – if they fail to accomplish those goals – would deserve my vote.  You can call it leadership, “individual” responsibility, or just plain patriotic.  There is NO POSSIBLE WAY that blaming failure on “The other side of the aisle” is going to solve anything.  SQUAREROOTOFZERO

Kicking back, bro

Economy.  The FED built the “explosive” device, Big Banks pushed the button, the Bush Administration fanned the flames, and the Obama Administration is kicking back having a beer and waiting for the smoke to clear.

Puppet show.  At the very best we are letting the same stupid policies come back to bite us in the rear.  I am tired of watching the corporate puppet show.  I might as well buy all the political talking bobble-heads, line them up on the desk, and have them run the Government.  Raise taxes? Bobble-heads? Lower taxes? Bobble-heads?  Drill the Arctic for oil?  Bobble-heads?  Raise the debt ceiling?  Bobble-heads?  Did Democrats get drunk last night and give poor people free Martinis, again?  Bobble-heads?  Did the Republicans steal your lunch money and make inappropriate comments about rape victims, again? Bobble-heads?  Shall we just throw out the rule-of-law, agree that corporations are people, and refuse to acknowledge the rampant financial fraud, swindling, and shenanigans?  Bobble-heads? I think they are saying, Yes.  They are saying Yes and No. Yes and No?  Right?  Left, right, yes, no.  Okay. Got it.

Election season diarrhea.  Is is just me, or does political discourse in America grievously resemble a misleading attempt to sit down to tea and Cheetos with the Mad-hatter inside the oval at a Nascar race within a vast cultural wilderness of bewilderment?   The spectrum of “Save money, Live better” party politics would be much more informative interesting with interpretive dancers dressed like Elvis and Jesus, dipping marshmallows into a Chocolate Wonderfall provided by the Golden Corral.  So far the 2012 Election is a few kittens short of a Pussy Riot and a couple of Budweiser’s short of a Joe-six-pack.  Pass the remote, I’ve fallen and I can’t reach the TV.  Pause.  (Sound of static)  I will take your silence as nonverbal agreement.  SQUAREROOTOFZERO

Schadenfreude [SHAH-den-frio-duh] (pt.I of III)

Schadenfreude is a German word that means “enjoyment obtained from the suffering of others.”

“Destroying things is much easier than making them.”
Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games

In the Hunger Games the people of the Capitol can not get enough of the death and destruction going on in the arena.  Every death will be played and replayed to satisfy the audience’s taste for blood.  What kind of people would enjoy watching innocent children die?  We must ask ourselves are we more like the beer swilling revelers of death or are we just innocent people caught up in the Games of the Capitol and battling for survival?  Our culture is obsessed with celebrity, but even more we are obsessed with the juicy affairs, wardrobe malfunctions, and trips to rehab.  If you have found yourself fighting back a smile when you read about a star’s fall from grace then you have experienced Schadenfreude.

In Panem the government is centered at a place called “the Capitol” and this government has established a ritual as a demonstration that powerfully defines the relationship between the government and the governed.  The arena is a symbol to the people of Panem of the Capital’s control and it’s commitment to that end.  One of the ways the Capitol controls people is through the use of surveillance.  “The Careers” who are the tributes from the Capitol were described by Katniss as “lapdogs.”  Killing for the Careers is not just a matter of survival it is a noble and, perhaps, enjoyable thing.  As shown by the words of Clove one of the career tributes:

“I promised Cato if he let me have you, I’d give the audience a good show.”

Peeta realizes and represents the regenerative power of art imitating nature in stark contrast to the Capital which declares war on the principle of art mimicking nature.  The “freakish” Capitol residents decorate their own bodies and the Gamemakers create monstrous human-animal hybrids.  True culture celebrates the power of re-creation instead of de-creation.

“The pleasure in our lives of affirming creation is inverted into perversities of destruction, pleasured in the pain of suffering and death.”- Phillip Rieff

Art and entertainment in the Capital has abandoned mimicry of nature and meaning in favor of a freakish attempt at self-referencing and self-originating power.  The motto of politics, ethics, and art becomes “I can do it, so I will do it.”  The need to show re-creation through nature, self-mastery, and adopt real meaning has been replaced with the need to assert one’s external ambitions and maintain the perception of total control in a world that is always changing by tapping into our not-so-secret and deeply rooted vicious pleasure in watching others suffer.
to be continued…