Saturday, July 28, 2012

All's fair in fraud and felony

Voter suppression -- there's nothing new about it, but when the support for it comes from people who think testing city water for arsenic is "too much government" you have to expect odd, snarling  noises from the cynics.  Pennsylvania's latest attempt to reserve the right to vote for the landed gentry, posing as a reaction to voter fraud that might possibly occur but actually does not seem to have, has Pandagon snickering and me barking  -- and for good reason. Government intervening in the free exercise of a constitutional right is different I guess, because the goal of keeping Pennsylvania for "real" Americans sanctifies a little bit of  double-think.

". . . the argument seems to be that the state can impair a constitutional right because…well, because they can. It doesn’t really matter why, it just makes a kind of instinctual sense, like  how vaccines cause autism or how evolution can’t exist because I’ve never seen a thing evolve in front of my eyes despite staring at it and chanting “evolve” for hours on end." wrote Jesse Taylor yesterday.

Meanwhile, back in Florida, where excluding "undesirables" from the voter rolls is a tradition of long standing, former Florida Republican Party Chair Jim Greer is suing the “whack-a-do, right-wing crazies” that filed  criminal fraud charges against him in 2010 in a plot to force saner Republicans including former Governor Charlie Crist out of the party and suppress the African-American vote by once again purging voter rolls.

Florida of course, bans ex felons from voting for life for those without good connections in the GOP, like Governor Scott of the Fourteen Felonies, so if one wrote a bad check in 1956 or was found with an ounce or so of Cannabis in 1968, one can go fish forever.  In fact if your name sounds like someone else who did, and you live in Florida, you may have been illegally banned from voting in the 2000 election by a similar voter roll purge that targeted minority voters and probably put George Bush in the White House.  You may be banned once again and you won't likely know until you show up at the polls.

It's funny how consistently the voter fraud circus parade neglects to mention the voting machine "problems" in Ohio.  Again, I'm a cynic so I find it easy to believe that GOP tampering is treated differently in the Post Bush, Tea Party era.  Remember those "unhackable" Diebold machines that took only minutes to hack, delivering more Republican votes than could be accounted for by registered voters  -- and delivering Ohio for Bush, as the CEO openly boasted before being forced to resign over accounting fraud?  I wonder if he's still on the voter rolls.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The terrorists within

Perhaps now that John McCain is no longer running for president, he doesn't have to be so afraid of every little thing he says  to the point where he says and does some incredibly stupid things.  Choosing Sarah Palin, for one thing and telling us in all snarkiness that the economy is robust and those lying liberals are talking it down because they hate America or Capitalism or whatever, he made himself foolish to the point where, had he been a Democrat, Republicans would be vilifying him for the next three hundred years. 

At least and at last, he has recovered some character and a little dignity yesterday by describing the attacks by such unworthies as Michelle Nachmann and Florida  District 18 Representative Tom Rooney against Secretary of State Clinton's deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin  as having "no logic, no basis and no merit."  Abedin, of course has relatives "tied to" the Muslim Brotherhood which of course makes Clinton a "serious security concern."  It takes some kind of person -- and I use that term loosely -- to think that our Department of State shares an agenda involving "destroying Western civilization from within," as the raving Bachmann wrote and all because of some tenuous and contrived "links" with organizations somehow associated with other organizations by virtue of being Muslim with other groups who may or may not be enemies.  It's as obscenely contrived as Rooney's obsessive efforts to impeach the President for treason.

Someone watching all this from Mars might find it very amusing and probably would have found it all rather predictable that the party that since the beginning of the 20th century has manufactured support  by manufacturing enemies, would still be grasping for new evil empires to scare us with with stories of  Sharia law being instituted in New Jersey and government plots to hand the country over, now that the Communist threat seems almost ludicrous to all but the galaxies far, far away, to some grand worldwide Caliphate. They've been desperate for credible enemies since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Yes, certainly we have had some very, very real enemies, but I seem to recall that during the Rise of Hitler, the Republicans were advising us to ignore the Nazis and the Empire of Japan because of the far more important Communist threat at home.  Curiously similar to what Hitler was telling the Germans.  Most of those reading this won't remember Joe McCarthy who made a fool out himself and out of America by overplaying his hand - stuffed with blank pieces of paper claimed to be lists of Communists in the State Department and the "Jew Dominated" movie industry. It was shameful, but as with much of rewritten history, Joe is back and his lies have been whitewashed and he has become a model for such equally shameless whores as Tom Rooney and Michelle Bachmann.  Here we go again.

Indeed, since Florida has been redistricted, my Mr. Rooney will no longer be representing us and the massive support of his would be replacement, the reprehensible and disgraceful Allen West who claims that 80% of Democrats in Congress need to be deported and that Obama supports slavery, is astonishing.  How many politicians have failed by overestimating the ignorance and stupidity and gullibility of the American voter?

How is it, I have to ask, that we have a whole party, a vastly wealthy party, dedicated to terrorizing the American public out of their freedom -- until they give up their rights -- and nobody sees them as terrorists? Communists, Muslim radicals, welfare mothers and of course Liberals - anything to keep the rubes afraid and angry to the point where the real enemy can take over.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Thou shalt not laugh

Is it bigotry?  Or shouldn't the greater question be: "is it true?"  It's no secret to anyone who has read my blog posts that I don't hold religious belief to be any more unassailable, any further off limits than any other opinions and beliefs people hold and since nearly every nasty thing humanity has done has employed some sort of belief to justify it, I think it's dangerous to refuse to question the influence of any particular religion or creed that presents itself to the public, whether it's personal or institutional.

Yes, our founding document does guarantee that the government not interfere with the "free exercise" of religion but that such non interference does not convey license to ignore the law doesn't need to be restated every time some group decides it's exempt from restraint ( or subject to taxes.)

Certainly I am not opposed to the right to build churches or attend them and I am very much opposed to a government suggesting or forcing anyone to attend or not to attend or to worship or to recite allegiances to belief systems or gods -- and I suppose I'm not in a minority in that respect, unless we're discussing Islam.  In fact I've frequently irritated people by defending Muslims from unfair criticism and bigotry. I've also irritated many by insisting that my freedom of speech and my freedom of belief trumps their efforts to keep me from criticizing their saints and deities and highly criticism worthy personages like Joseph Smith and Elron Hubbard.

It's often be explained to me that Islam is a "transcendental" religion, attempting to convert the world and so is dangerous, while religions like Christianity are not of that sort and so "Christian" or more ludicrously, "Judeo-Christian" law is the basis of our constitution and perhaps takes precedence.  Sharia law alone is a clear and present danger say so many Americans.  Can we really say that the enormous efforts Mormons make to convert the planet are different than other Christian efforts? 

So why are there accusations of bigotry against Businessweek and Caroline Winter's article  How the Mormons Make Money,  which examines the finances and enterprises of the LDS?  It's an

"in-depth look into the business side of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with much attention given to the tax benefits the church enjoys and the extent of its holdings of property and stock in multinational corporations"  

says Dan Merica at CNN Belief Blog. And why is that off limits?  Why is the anger more justified than the anger against pictures of Mohammad with a bomb in his turban?  Of course a spokesman for the Church of Later Day Saints was quick to tell us the article was in poor taste and intended to insult Mormans, but then I haven't noticed the same attitude as concerns the Book of Mormon and its vile insults against American Indians and people of color nor the same sort of thing as concerns Jews in the Gospels. Unfair and often vicious criticism isn't exactly uncommon in religion or religious texts.

The LDS is a Church, but also in fact, a huge international business enterprise claiming special treatment and  special exemption from inquiry or criticism as a religion.  It's not unique in that respect but I don't think any church is off limits when it comes to business interests and the obligations that obtain. Is freedom from taxes on income and capital gains and the right to secret dealings really part of the protection of free exercise?  No more than the freedom to traffic in underage girls. We have the right to criticize, to contradict, and yes to laugh.  As an old friend of mine used to say  "one man's religion is another man's belly laugh."

As the Businessweek article says,

"A recent study by Ryan Cragun, a sociology professor at the University of Tampa, estimates the church receives around $8 billion in tithing from members each years and is worth around $40 billion."  

They don't have to report it or disclose it and they do get to spend it on influencing Congress to make our laws more in line with their sometimes abhorrent moral doctrines.  To me that puts them in the same category, only with more money behind them, than those American Muslims, a few of whom would like to see our laws more in line with Sharia. 

Was our bill of rights intended to protect the right of belief, of worship or was it intended to allow organizations to operate as separate countries within our own, free to tamper with our laws, but exempt from taxes and from criticism?  I don't think so and I'm far more offended by money they earn at the taxpayer's expense being used to deny freedom to others then I am by a cynical magazine cover.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dream on

Dear Mr. Romney Willard Mitt Willard Romney WMR

Forgive me for shredding your name, but as your letter of July 6th was in the same format, I assumed you would find it preferable if I used the same scheme.  It's best to assume it was done deliberately rather than being the product of the same method you use to formulate your political positions from one minute to another.  Thank you for your letter reminding me that I may legally contribute an amount greater than the average American family income to your campaign, but I suggest that if you can't run a campaign with the hundreds of millions the corporate aristocracy has given you, you might not be the frugal sort of leader you'd like us to believe you are.

I'm glad to hear that

 "Growing up, I was fortunate to have been an eyewitness to the American Dream." 

but I suggest that your vantage point might have been different from that of the actual

"people [who] worked hard, seized opportunities, and hammered out a legacy of prosperity and hope for their children and grandchildren."  

Most of them didn't have multi-millionaire parents who served as governors and Presidential cabinet members and of course very few of them ever realized the kind of success you had handed to you.   But I have to ask how you have arrived at the notion that people can no longer work hard or seize opportunities -- after all you're currently engaged in at least one of those activities and I have no doubt that you've spent many hours campaigning.  I see absolutely nothing in "Obama's policies" that have interfered with your or my or anyone else's endeavors. Perhaps you could enlighten me as to what policies you refer.  Doing that would at least set you apart from your colleagues and staff writers since not one of them seems to know or acknowledge that those policies have either been thwarted or in many cases are policies inherited from the previous administration along with its unprecedentedly expensive wars. Obama has lowered taxes for most of us -- wasn't that supposed to be the Republican panacea?  Where were all the jobs that tax structure was supposed to create?  Why did we have 8 years with zero private sector job growth which then began to grow under "Obama's policies?" Without some actual economic policy suggestions that might somehow pay off the massive debt Mr. Bush left us -- I mean suggestions other than making our government more like the weak and ineffectual government of India so as to import a wage scale like theirs, without ideas like eliminating Social Security and Medicare and the very health care plan you wrote yourself -- without some real ideas that a moment and a contribution won't reverse, all we can do about opportunity is dream.

Anyway Mr. Romney Willard Mitt Willard Romney WMR, I remember too.  I remember solid growth and high employment levels and a land of opportunity when we had a 90% top tax bracket and strong unions.  My grandparents remember a time when that wasn't so and 12 hour work days and 6 day work weeks with no vacation or benefits and mostly the rich and the Caucasian went to college was the way it should be according to Republicans -- and you were a communist if you didn't agree. 

I remember when I couldn't live in many neighborhoods, when I would be a felon in Florida and most of the south for marrying outside my race -- a time when many jobs and many schools were not open to me and other minorities and when firehoses and dogs were turned on women and children who may have disagreed with your fictitious views of our immediate past.  I remember the "conservative" opinions and I don't see that they've changed all that much.  For all our problems - for all the problems Republican policies have caused - Today my children and my grandchildren are closer to their dreams than I could have been and  it's still a better country than it was when you were born.

In terms of upward mobility and opportunity, in terms of education and health our country has been sinking for a very long time, with perhaps the exception of the all too brief Clinton years.  I'm sure you remember Clinton, the fellow your ilk branded as being against Capitalism and business and the "American Dream" and many other absurd and dishonest charges you now try to pin on Mr. Obama.

I'd also be interested to know what your policies actually are other than to beat Obama at any cost and undo the health plan you wrote for Massachusetts. I'm asking how you're different because I and most of the economists I know feel that no matter who is elected, the only way Republican generated debt ( be honest now, the biggest borrowers and spenders in your lifetime have been Republicans and much of the "spending" you accuse Democrats of consists of paying Republican bills) the debt will finally be settled by devaluing the Dollar and evaporating the savings of Americans, leaving us with the kind of America I dream about and wake up screaming. There's nothing you can do to change it.

So no,  Mr. Romney Willard Mitt Willard Romney WMR, I won't be putting a stamp on the return envelope to spare your billionaire budget, but as as a measure of my esteem, I am enclosing an envelope sized piece of 1/8th inch rolled steel for ballast. It's American made steel. It's a piece of history. Use it as a reminder of how the greedy liars on the right exported opportunity. Use it as a paper weight for all that money Daddy Kochbux gives you.


Capt. Fogg Fogg Capt RG banana fanna fogg . . 

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Halleluja, it's the Higgs

So it may be the long sought Higgs particle observed by CERN and announced officially today. It also might not be and of course this God particle really has nothing at all to do with God or gods of proofs thereof. We owe that idea not to physicists, but to journalists who don't know a Boson from a Bos'n but know anything they can dishonestly and ignorantly claim to be about  scientific proof for any kind of God will attract ratings like mass attracts other mass.

“The whole world thinks there is one Higgs, but there could be many of them.”

said Dr. Joe Incandela of the University of California, Santa Barbara, a spokesman for one of the two groups reporting their data today.   So far the unofficial theologians of the press haven't mentioned the pantheistic possibilities should Super symmetry and its attendant multiplicity of Higgs particles be the next theory to be backed up by the worlds most powerful and expensive physics experiment, still only running at half power.  Even if it isn't and whether we have the Higgs particle or something that doesn't quite fit the model, we've had another giant step for mankind, not that many in the US will take much notice. A door has been opened to a whole new level of understanding and that reveals many other doors. It's another giant step away from mythology and speculation as the key to understanding.

 Perhaps few will notice that this was a discovery made in Europe because we decided we couldn't afford such a machine and the next most powerful accelerator at Fermilab was shut down last year because you can't have wars and tax cuts and take giant steps even though of course, we're number one and the greatest country in the history of the galaxy and the only place where freedom rings.  Who wants all those scientists here anyway, taking jobs away from Americans and looking down on us all -- confusing us with talk about reality being far more complex than you can dream about -- infinitely more complex than the Bible tells us.  It's not a sad failure, it's a victory!

Rocket's red glare

For the last month, the supermarket I frequent has had racks and racks of fireworks on display and of course the local fireworks store - a rather large one - is having a two for one sale today. The local newspaper has a front page article on how to use fireworks safely.   

The firecrackers, the sparklers, the small bottle rockets, pinwheels and other things you can fill your shopping basket with are, of course quite a bit smaller and less dangerous than the artillery your town or city are likely to be using  to light up the sky and they're probably set off remotely by professionals, but making smoke and noise on the 4th of July is still well ingrained in our tradition even now that candles are so lethal we're advised never to use them, burning leaves in the fall is highly illegal ( even though shooting a gun in your back yard no longer is in Florida) and every TV show or advertisement that shows anyone driving a car has to have a disclaimer advising us that only trained professionals on a closed course should ever, ever drive fast enough to make the fallen autumn leaves rustle.  A show about Alaskan bush pilots I often watch begins with the warning never, ever, to fly planes "at home."   Seriously.

I have to think it's sad that the fondest memories I have of childhood: riding my new Raleigh  for endless unsupervised miles with the wind in my hair and without body armor, the smell of burning leaves in October, of gunpowder in July -- things like riding beltless and booster seatless in Dad's new MG when I was 9, these are all things that could get you arrested today. Today when life is so dull and safe we retreat into a violent virtual world, when kids are afflicted with lethal allergies because they never encountered a bacterium until they were 25 and can be expelled from school for carrying a nail clipper or an aspirin tablet.

Yes, for sure  -- some Budweiser addled, shoeless swamp cracker will hold a firecracker too long today and blow off a finger and some kid will burn his hand with a sparkler, but I'll guarantee a bunch of people will be killed on jet skis and in boats, will drown at the beach and drive their cars under the influence and kill someone coming home from the municipal fireworks show, but that we really aren't going to be asked to ban boats, beaches or beer. Not yet, anyway.

Coming from Illinois, of course -- a state where your car can be confiscated if sparklers are found in your trunk ( but not a firearm) -- it still takes me aback that one can be a criminal so vile and loathsome  that your neighbors will shun you in one place and in another place,  sometimes right across the state line, you're just an ordinary, law abiding citizen with a good shot at running for mayor.

I saw on TV just the other day, that Chicago has seen more than a 35% increase in violent murders lately, while New York as had a 17% decrease.  Seeing as both cities have the most severe gun control laws in the country, I'm interested to know how the "ban it" people are going to explain it all by the need for more and stricter bans.  Of course the current Chicago crime wave is the result of  our fiercely defended 'substance' bans which finance gangs and gang wars,  just as it was during Prohibition when anyone could buy a Thompson submachine gun, or "Chicago typewriter" at the hardware store but a beer would land you in the slammer.

A cynic might be tempted to claim that bans are better at causing crime than at preventing it, but although I'm tempted to agree, I'm cynical enough to think that such an observation wouldn't persuade anyone that I'm not a terrorist and a public menace for having bought sparklers along with the Bratwurst yesterday or that I enjoy an occasional afternoon at the shooting range.  I'd really like to give my grandson a ride in my Corvette too, but alas. . .

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Three pigs for Doctor Higgs

Deus ex machina at CERN

Fortunately someone turned off Dad's new flat-screen before I could draw my gun.  I guess my family knows me well enough to predict my reaction to the CNN headline about how "Science" might have found "proof of God" but my Colt Mustang .380 was safely locked out of reached in the car anyway. 

If you've read my rants long enough you probably know my frustration with arguments that attempt to prove some  concept of God since any of them, even if they weren't fallacious, don't argue for any one of the infinitely possible concepts of any deity over another, but of course, CNN was just being coy so that the viewers wouldn't tune out during the endless commercial breaks.  If we had waited long enough we would have  found out that they were only speculating further about a possible July 4th announcement by CERN that they have observed a Higgs Boson; that thing not one person in 10,000 is able to describe, but nonetheless knows as the "God Particle." What must he weigh if he's composed of such heavy particles?

I've often wondered why a incomprehensibly small yet massive particle  might have anything more or less to do with God than another. God after all seems to exist in some massless form;  in some formless, ineffable state that can interact with matter and energy, but is composed of some undefinable, self- negating, insubstantial non particulate substance one calls "pure spirit" and is therefore free from the constraints imposed by the universe on matter and energy.  Does not God also claim neutrinos and neutrons as well? If we create such particles artificially, aren't we creating gods, or at least "godstuff?"

The Higgs particle, if it exists, is postulated to  explain the property we call mass in the classical model of physics.  If gods have mass, it's hard to allow them divine properties if the universe is consistent and it's also hard to explain how some subatomic particle pertains exclusively to Krishna rather than Yahweh or Puff the Magic Dragon and maybe harder to explain why any god could not create a universe without inertia if he wanted to.  Can a boson be a trinity or a pantheistic infinity?  Crank up the accelerator because inquiring minds want to know.

If it were up to me, I'd have called it the ego particle but if it had been up to the Nobel Prize winner and Director of Fermilab, Leon Lederman who coined the regrettable term in his pop-Science book The God Particle and launched the meme that sunk a billion minds, it would have been called The Goddamn Particle but for his editor's objections. How I wish that editor had had more courage and that we'd been spared the endlessly dimwitted godbothering about some subatomic particle being "proof of God."

Of course those  who are prematurely jubilating today about how science proves God -- those disciples of those who have been battling against science for centuries, aren't going to accept the actual scientific proof of the age of "the world" or anything else that challenges their celebrated certainties and I doubt they'll feel remorse about the closing of Fermilab's accelerator for lack of funds, giving the opportunity for divine revelation to foreigners.  If those those atheistic, socialistic geeks, buried with their witches circle under the soil of Europe were the ones to prove that the Bible and all our holy Christian beliefs in all their wholly different forms are true, so much the better.