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Archive for the ‘Tea Party’ Category

It’s difficult to understand why law enforcement, city, state, and federal, as well as the President of the United States, took so long to state the obvious about San Bernadino. I just don’t comprehend what is so difficult about seeing this couple, dressed as they were, not being immediately identified as ‘terrorists.’ However you wish to slice it, this was a terrorist act. It certainly terrified the crap out of the people who were being shot and those ducking for cover. With the discovery of the ammunition and pipe bombs in the house occupied by that couple and their baby would indicate preparation for a ‘terrorist’ attack. So we’re at war. Is there anyone in the USA who doesn’t understand that? Are there actually people whose heads are stuck so far up…in the sand that they aren’t aware that Americans are considered by some people who actually live and work here, as the enemy. Take a look at Dylan Roof who thought that blacks were taking over America. Can you understand why an ignoramus like that would think such a thing? Who does he see on television when the President speaks? Who does he see when the Director of Homeland Security speaks? Granted, the kid is probably not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he’s probably just a wee bit prejudiced against black folks in the first place. Someone said to me the other day, “I saw a family of Muslims in traditional dress coming in the store and I didn’t panic,” as though that was a major friggin’ achievement. It’s clue time…this country is filled with all sorts of people; some came here to escape terrorism and want to live peaceful lives. Others are here but are nothing but crazy fucking assholes who are influenced by other crazy fucking assholes and who will go out and kill anybody they see who is not dressed or look exactly as they do. They do have sufficient smarts to make certain they kill at a gathering…just walking up and down the street is not going to give one maximum exposure nor maximize your kill rate…riiiight!

To top off our understanding that we are at war, we have public panic purveyors like Donald “I-can-fix-everything-but-I-won’t-tell-you-how-because-I don’t-really-know-what-to-do” Trump. I find it truly difficult to understand how this man became a billionaire. The only thing I can think of is that he bullied his way to riches; he was the loudest shouter in the room; his face got so red, his opponents thought he was going to literally explode and shit would be flying everywhere since he was so full of it, so they gave in. It’s all I can think of. He speaks such ridiculous bullshit that no one in their right minds could possibly believe what he says. And yet, what is he doing? He’s appealing to the frightened, the uninformed, people who don’t know, or care to know, understand or care to understand other cultures. These are the folks who believe that blacks eat only fried chicken and watermelon; they may see hummus in the store so that’s what “they’ eat; Asians eat only fish and seaweed or some other shit like that. They don’t know, and one who preys on their fears such as Trump becomes their hero. The media is proving to be just as gullible. Trump speaks; it’s a sound byte they have to get on the air before the competition. Don’t react; don’t cover, and see how long Trump stays in this race. The media are “feeding Seymour” and he continues to grow. If the media ignore him, Trump will be within his rights to demand an equal amount of time as is given to other candidates; that is his right. However, the minute his talk becomes inflammatory, as it has been through most of his campaign, cut off the microphone; he has overstepped his bounds.

On November 8, 2016, America will go to the polls to elect a new President. That is eleven months from this very day. Should this country, in its ultimate stupidity, elect Donald Trump, I will make every effort to move to Nova Scotia and to renounce my American citizenship. I have little doubt that the world will become a nuclear wasteland before his term of office has ended.

Lone wolf terrorists on American streets will become more identifiable and stopped as we move along in our war. At some point, they will be identified before they enter the country. ISIS or some offspring of it will continue to function in the Middle East. It is only when America says, “Enough, solve your own problems,” that we will be able to breathe easily again. If “secure the homeland” is a dirty turn of phrase, forgive me. However, I don’t want to see more gold star flags hanging in more windows than are already there. We can “preserve, protect, and defend” the United States of America by putting our own nation first and let other nations solve their own problems.

The United Nations appears to be a useless group of foreign representatives suckling at the American teat and little else. Let us move their headquarters to someplace like Belgium, Luxemburg, or Lichtenstein, and see how quickly they dissolve or get their collective acts together to solve the world’s problems. America is too rich and too developed a nation to be playing host to a bunch of spies and neer-do-wells. Is this laissez-faire attitude going to work? No, because it will never receive bi-partisan support, nor will Wall Street allow it to happen. It would be nice to give it an honest try; to attempt to make other nations wholly responsible for their actions. We can’t; we’re America. We’re the supposed 800-pound gorilla in the room. That’s why poor families raise cannon fodder and we cry crocodile tears when they’re blown to pieces. If we really cared about our young men and women, we’d be expanding our efforts to keep them out of harm’s way rather than putting them directly in its path.

We have a great many problems in our own country that are in dire need of solutions. We need solutions to our problem of poverty. We need solutions to our problem of racial injustice and profiling. We need a unified, national police force that is fully trained and fairly paid. We need to stop teaching our children to pass some damned standardized test and teach them what it means to be a citizen of this country. We need more, better trained, and again, fairly paid, teachers. We need term limits for members of Congress to weed out the do-nothings, hangers-on, and radical assholes who somehow find their way into Congressional seats every now and then. We don’t need equalization of wealth, because if you’ve got the brains and ideas, God Bless You for making the money you’ve made, but we do need workers who are paid above a poverty level to build what you’ve designed or to sell what you have made. We need equal pay for equal work. We need to stop treating women like second-class citizens by telling them what they can and cannot do with their bodies. Our problems are tremendous; they’re hard to solve and they will continue to get harder until and unless we take some positive steps to address them. However, remember this: Over half of the Pilgrims who made the voyage on the Mayflower died before a year had passed – OVER HALF – yet the rest didn’t just lay down and die. Seventy-five thousand colonists died in the Revolutionary War; that’s 1 in 20 what we now call Americans. Yet, the men who signed the Constitution didn’t give up and say, “Screw this; take it back England.” No, the problems of their day were no more or less complex than the problems we face today. Sure, the world’s a smaller place, and the problems are terrifying. Problems of the magnitude facing the Pilgrims and the colonials and that guy who lives down the street from you today are daunting, but they can be solved. That’s our job – yours and mine – to chip in and ask what we can do to help solve those problems. No, I won’t give you the Jack Kennedy tag line; you can do that for yourself. I will say a couple of things: “If you see something, say something,” and “Don’t listen to fear-mongers and loud mouthed know-nothings like Donald Trump, because he’s not worth your time.”

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Is a seat in the United States Senate worth over 100 million dollars? Is it worth $86 million? How about $78 or $72 million? What is worth spending those kinds of dollars? It seems that ever since the Supreme Court struck down the ruling on campaign contributions, PAC’s of all types and sizes are going wild with the money they are throwing around to get their candidate into a Senate seat. Senator John McCain was disgusted when he recently spoke to a Washington reporter. McCain, as we know, was one of the authors of campaign finance reform.

Back to the big bucks…Democratic incumbent Senator Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis, the state House Speaker who is challenging her, could retire for life with the money that is pouring in from their party as well as from “independent” sources. In Colorado, Democratic incumbent, Mark Udall and his challenger, Republican Cory Gardner are wooing voters with over $86 million. And Udall is in trouble, in part because of his support of the Affordable Health Care Act.

If the Republican Party takes control of the Senate as it has the House of Representatives, it’s time for many people to be frightened. Obama might as well take the next two years off because he sure as hell isn’t going to get any bills passed by a Republican Congress. Senior citizens may as well take classes in shoplifting and other crimes to supplement what will surely be a reduction in Social Security…if it’s not cut altogether, along with Medicare benefits. Am I sounding like an alarmist? You-are-goddamned-right, because while Obama care is not perfect, the Republican House tried more than 40 times to get it repealed and failed each time. Can you imagine how fast it will go down the tubes if the entire Congress is controlled by Mitch McConnell and John Boehner? Neither has the courage to stand up to the Tea Party extremists like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Joe, “You’re a Liar” Wilson and other crazies who put themselves ahead of their constituents and the Republican Party they are supposed to represent.

If the 113th Congress was the least productive group ever to occupy the halls, the 114th will be one of the most productive, and Barack Obama may go down as the President who vetoed the greatest number of bills. The question then becomes, will Congress, with majorities in both houses be able to override those vetoes? If so, what will that mean to Mr. and Mrs. Average American?

How have we come so far away from where we started? Our founding fathers didn’t agree on everything that appears in the Constitution, but they at least had the ability to discuss questionable phrases and clauses within that document. In addition, there has always been a certain degree of rancor in both houses, but in the overall, things were accomplished, and we, the people, were better off because of it. That’s not so today.

Twice I voted for this President. I believed his rhetoric, and I still believe that he has the best intentions for the nation in his heart. Today, I believe he was not ready for the job; today, I believe that if he had waited; had gained more experience; had learned to listen to some of the more seasoned members “on the hill,” that he would have been better prepared. His failure to involve members of Congress from the onset of his presidency has cost him dearly with both parties. His inexperience in foreign policy has alienated many of our allies. His choices for department and division heads have been questionable, at best, and downright stupid in a number of cases. Could I have done a better job? Don’t be ridiculous. Could Hillary Clinton, his opponent for the nomination, have done a better job? I have no idea. Personally, I believe that Mrs. Clinton has a long list of people who did not serve her husband during his time as leader of the free world, and should she ever win the presidency, those folks would be wise to hunker down and hide.

I shudder to think how much money will be spent on the 2016 Presidential campaigns. My singular hope is that between now and then, a campaign finance reform bill will be passed by Congress, one that the Supreme Court will find acceptable, and that will make campaign spending more respectable. It’s time that “We the people” take back our rights; that instead of being led like sheep, we begin to howl like wolves and say that the rich may not be allowed to buy the United States Congress; that the rich may not be allowed to buy a President they can control; that there is a middle class in America, and we are sick and tired of being screwed by those who believe they can control us with their money.

 

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A panicked Senate Majority Leader sent me a four-page hysterical appeal the other day. He expects me to send money to stop the Koch brothers from buying the United States Senate in the November 4th elections. Now you have to understand that the Koch brothers have a net worth that exceeds $100 billion. There’s an old Tanzanian proverb that says, “Little by little, a little becomes a lot.” Okay, fine, but Mr. Speaker…that’s Harry Rein from Nevada…your own net worth is between three and ten million dollars. How much of your own personal fortune are you committing to ‘stop’ the Koch brothers?

It seems to me that American politicians are bought and sold on a pretty regular basis, depending on what bills are before Congress or what bills might come before Congress. Since, Mr. Speaker, your own net worth has more than doubled since you went to Washington, isn’t it fair to say that you, too, have been bought and sold a few times? Heck, the Koch brothers are just the latest in a long line of carpet baggers that have sought to line their own pockets with a few more shekels and enrich a few other people who believe as they do.

Another assumption you have made that I I don’t understand, Mr…oh, hell…that I don’t understand, Harry is why you address me as a “…fellow Democrat.”  That just straight out isn’t true. I’m not a party person – at my age, in more ways than one – but Harry, I’m not a Democrat. I am an independent voter who supports candidates, not parties. You’ve been in the Senate long enough to have heard Tip O’Neill say, “Country first; state second; party third.” You and your colleagues – on both sides of the aisle by the way, have changed that to be “Party first; me second, state third…and the nation a distant fourth.” The number of ethical violations of which you have been a part lead me to believe you’ve either completely bamboozled the voters in your state or that you have spent even more money to ensure they don’t know of your ethical abominations.

If you are so interested in defeating the efforts of the Koch brothers, why not turn to that great Democratic supporter, George Soros. Granted, he is getting along in years, but he certainly has much of the money required to dull the sharp blade of the Koch swords. You state in your letter that the Republicans are “…outspending us 3 to 1 in must-win Senate battlegrounds! Join us in the fight to retain our Democratic majority!” Well, hell, Harry, you don’t want me; I’m one of those senior citizens living on a fixed income. You need to turn to the big guns you’ve turned to in the past.

Although I’m quite certain you will say it’s a right-wing propaganda machine, Investors.com, states that “Right after the Supreme Court’s decision to lift limits on campaign contributions, Democrats and their left-wing supporters assaulted the decision as a boon to Republicans, “the party of the rich.”

“This of course is part of a far-wider narrative — slavishly repeated by largely unquestioning liberal media — that the GOP outspends Democrats on campaigns thanks to big-buck donors like the billionaire Koch brothers.

“But, as it turns out, that’s a lie — as big a lie, in fact, as “you can keep your insurance,” “you can keep your doctor” and “ObamaCare will bend the cost curve down.”

“By almost every measure, in fact, it’s the Democrats, not the Republicans, who are the party of the rich.

Start with Congress itself. Who are the wealthiest members? Well, there are 269 millionaires among Congress’ 535 members. And most of them are Democrats.

“And contrary to the hand-wringing on the left about the Supreme Court’s 5-4 McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission ruling Wednesday, Democrats far outspend Republicans on elections. It isn’t even close.

“According to OpenSecrets.org, from 1989 to 2014 rich donors gave Democrats $1.15 billion — $416 million more than the $736 million given to the GOP. Among the top 10 donors to both parties, Democrat supporters outspent Republican supporters 2-to-1.

“But what about the villainous Koch brothers, those conservative plutocrats supposedly seeking to control American politics? They rank 59th on the list of big givers — behind 18 unions and No. 1 Act Blue, the massive left-wing fund raiser that gives only to Democrats.

Now there is no question in my mind that figures don’t lie, whether they are presented by left-wing extremist such as you and many of your colleagues or by right-wing radicals such as Rand Paul, Mario Rubio, Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, and company. But it’s a known fact that liars do know how to figure. You paint a portrait of disaster if the Senate should be taken over by the Republicans. Perhaps having them do so would not be quite as disastrous as you think. It just might rattle the American public sufficiently that they will begin to think once more about who should be running the country. If health care disappears for millions; if Medicare and Social Security sneak off into the sunset; if our children suddenly find themselves being taxed to death, then it won’t matter what the Tea Party and their Republican allies do to the planet, everyone will be dead and there will be no one left to care.

In your diatribe you state that “Republicans don’t care who gets hurt in the crossfire as long as they get their way. And trust me, their Tea Party and Super PAC’s must not have a free ride to spew their nonsense.”  I’m sorry, Harry, but that kind of scare tactic went out with Herbert Hoover. To paraphrase Franklin D. Roosevelt, “We have nothing to fear but the scare mongers,” and that is exactly what you have sent to your “fellow Democrats.”

Senator, it’s you and your ilk, along with Mitch McConnell and his ilk that have brought on this terrible gridlock in Washington. Drop the scare tactics and begin discussing issues. Don’t tell me to fear the Koch brothers. Give me honest answers about why I should give you and your colleagues my vote.

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“I used to read your blog, but then you got boring…but I’m back now.”

Boring? Me, boring? Moi?

Damn straight, Skippy, and don’t you forget it.

The reader who sent me that comment was absolutely correct, and I thank him or her for doing so. There’s no question that there are plenty of times I climb up on the soapbox and pontificate about this happening or that. In so doing, I get diarrhea of the mouth compounded by mental constipation. The result is what can often be found on this blog. I think I may have said this before, but let me reiterate that I really don’t write for any reason other than to get people like that reader quoted above to react; good, bad, or indifferent, I don’t care.  If someone reads something I’ve written and thinks I’m mistaken in my view, I want them to come back at me with an opposing view. If the man or woman can back it up with research, I’ll even print the response on the blog.

Right now, for example, I’m somewhat irritated with the President of the United States and his minions. The problem is that I haven’t read the Affordable Care Act in its entirety so I’m on shaky ground when I begin to criticize it. First, it was late being rolled out; part of the reason for that was that the House of Representatives kept trying to get it repealed – Forty-one freaking times they’ve tried – but it was still rolled out to the public…late. Not only late, but people couldn’t get on the web site to sign up. The company that built the web site screwed it up…badly. Therefore, why was it rolled out? Why didn’t the President, as chief honcho of this bill, have the balls to come right out and say, “We’ve got some problems here, and we’re going to hold off on this thing until we get those problems resolved?” That would have been the transparent thing to do. There is no shame or embarrassment in saying that you moved to quickly in an attempt to bring a health plan to the public – “which seven of my predecessors were unable to do” – and that you, as Prexy, are going to have a bipartisan committee review portions of the Law – note upper case – because it is a Law, passed by Congress and signed by the President, before putting it before the public.

There is no question in my mind that people like Rand Paul, Eric Kantor, Ted Cruz, and some of the other Tea Party Crazies – that’s how I’ve come to describe them; even capitalizing the last word – will look on this as a significant victory, but we all know they’re so full of crap that when they breathe, they smell like great granddaddy’s outhouse, so who cares about them. And some members of his own party will have harsh words about the President’s inability to stand his ground, but frankly, that’s bullshit!

In its current format, the Affordable Care Act is a bad law. It hurts people. In some cases, people can’t even keep their own doctor…after having been told by their leader that this would not be the case.  In other cases, people are going to have to choose between food and medical insurance after having been told that the insurance would be “Affordable.” In other cases, people can’t get the care they need because the hospital that can give that care is “outside of their circle.” Listen to the American people, Mr. President. This act that you signed into law is not good. There is not one person in this country who wouldn’t agree with you that the nation is in need of a national insurance plan. In addition, what works here in Massachusetts, may very well not work in Mississippi, Minnesota, or New Mexico. Personally, I believe you would have been wiser to demand the governors of the fifty states to present plans for their states to a Federal health agency for approval. At the point of approval, the plans could be launched with the backing of some federal dollars, raised by a national sales tax of one or two percent on everything from dog food to diapers and allocated by population density. Plans from one state would be honored by those of other states. Don’t worry, abuses would soon be noticed.

Mr. President, you and I both know that the health care needs of the people in West Virginia are not the same as those in the people of Colorado. I’m not into making invidious comparisons, but attempting a national health care law seems to me like make a one-size-fits-all shoe. Yes, we are fifty states that are united, but in health care? I have no idea what governors do at a governor’s conference, but when the issue of health care became so important, it seems that the governors should have recognized the problem, taken their heads out of their butts, and gotten busy. There’s no question there would have been some ‘foot-draggers,’ but that’s where the federal government could have stepped in and provided a little incentive to get things going, e.g., no more federal funding for a governor’s pet project. Certainly, this wouldn’t have been a feather in any President’s cap, but spinning a story is done every day in Washington; what’s one more?

You, Mr. President, and many members of your inner circle, will say, “It’s too late. It’s the law of the land and we will stand our ground and work this thing out.” That’s all well and good, but you know damn right well that the next Republican president is going to try his/her damndest to repeal that law…and they will succeed.

These things I know: In 2016, the country will have a new leader. I will be 82 years old. Tom Brady will still be the quarterback of the New England Patriots and LeBron James will still be leading the Miami Heat to NBA titles. Gay marriage will still be the issue it is today although many of the homophobes will have gone quietly away. America will still be at war somewhere, but we won’t call it a war, and caskets of young men and women will still be landing at Andrews, mothers, dads, and siblings will be there with moist eyes, but whoever is the new leader will find some excuse for continue the slaughter. The NRA will still be saying that guns don’t kill people, but there will be more shootings at schools and colleges and nothing will be done. We still won’t be free of our dependence on fossil fuel and cancer will not have found a cure-all.

These are the things I know. What I do not know would fill the Smithsonian a thousand times over. What I’d like to know is if our current President has the courage to say, “This isn’t working, but I’m going to make damned certain that before I leave office, each state in this Union will have health care for all of its citizens supported by both state and federal funds.” Isn’t that worth a try?

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If you’ve ever held a job that you thought would make a good career, only to lose that job to ‘downsizing,’ the economy, outsourcing your part of the organization overseas, or because your position is being abolished and absorbed into others, you just haven’t lived. If you’re lucky, you get two weeks’ severance pay, a pat on the back, and a guarantee that you’ll receive a wonderful letter of recommendation. If you’re not that lucky, you get called in on a Friday afternoon, told to clean out your desk, locker, or work space, and get off the premises.

Admittedly, I was ‘fired’ in 1974. I’d only been doing this particular job for about twelve years before the new administration decided that the position should be abolished. And yes, I was thanked for my service, guaranteed that letter of recommendation, but surprisingly, I was given three months’ severance and an office at an off-site location where I could read want ads and write letters applying for this position or that.

A couple of things I learned right off the bat about applying for a job in higher education. Never believe that an ad posted in The Chronicle of Higher Education is a real job. Colleges and Universities and probably most organizations are forced to cover their collective asses by posting positions that are open in their companies. In other words, any want ad may not be what it appears. I know of one case in Pennsylvania where a friend of mine was asked to take a highly qualified applicant to lunch. “Throughout the meal, I wanted to scream at this guy, you’re not getting the job. It’s an inside deal. Even though the guy who’s getting the job is far less qualified, you’re a friggin’ token.” He told me this year after I had gotten another job, but I already knew it. I’d been on an interview for a job at a college in Upstate New York; went through the round of interviews, and was told, in confidence by the president, that he did not want a woman in the position – pretty heavy admission when you think about it. His assistant, a woman, was not present at the time. It turned out that they (a) hired a woman, and (b) that she was a friend of the president’s assistant.

The jobs for which I was applying all reported directly to a senior vice president or to the president of the organization. It didn’t take long before the first question I asked was, “Is this interview a formality to satisfy federal employment laws or is this an actual position?” The second question was, “How many internal candidates to you have applying for this position?” If they hemmed and hawed in answering, I thanked them for their time and left. In one case, I asked the president, in front of all of his direct reports, “Is your board of governance aware of what you’re telling me?” His answer was that no, the trustees were not aware. He then questioned why I would ask. Here’s my answer: “Because if they did, I would question how seriously they take their responsibility…and if I were on your board, I’d question having you in your position as president. Thank you gentlemen, I can let myself out.” And I did…without looking back. It was quite clear that they were looking to hire a hatchet man because they didn’t have the courage to do their own house cleaning.

The portrait I’m trying to paint is that of a person searching for a job and winding up as a viable candidate but the job is already taken; your candidacy is merely a formality or of being interviewed for a position that is nothing like the ad described. Week after week, month after month, this goes on, and each week, you make the ‘walk of shame’ to the unemployment office to tell them, “No, I haven’t found anything yet,” and to get your check. You want to work, although I suppose there are some who don’t. You’re embarrassed by your inability to find a job; you know there has to be something out there for you. You may even be told that you’re one out of three, one out of four, one out of two, and in my case, one out of one…I actually went on a cold call, told them what they needed, and they turned around and hired someone else! That is not what you would call a confidence-builder.

Each week, you go to unemployment. Each week, you become more desperate; each week, your depression grows. If you smoke, you smoke more; if you drink, you drink more. The more you smoke or drink, the faster the money goes and the deeper becomes your depression. After a while you either begin applying for jobs you know you won’t get or you stop looking quite so hard. You might even take a part-time job in the local supermarket or in a warehouse. You question yourself as you’ve never done before. It’s one of the worst feelings you’ve ever had. How do you tell your kids they can no longer play soccer or take piano lessons or this or that? How do you say that you no longer have cable in the house because you can’t afford it?

If you’ve worked for any length of time and suddenly find yourself on the sidewalk, it’s horrible. I rather doubt that there is a US Congressman or Senator who knows this feeling. They can’t understand what it’s like. As a consequence, they become piddling little children when it comes time to extending federal unemployment benefits for those who have yet to find jobs. I was fired the week before Christmas 1974. I went back to full-time employment on January 3rd, 1978. Count ‘em up; that’s three fucking years that I did not work at a full-time position or in my field! I was one of the lucky ones. I found a job that gave me tremendous satisfaction for the next 20 years, and it was in my field. The day that I went off unemployment was a day that I felt reborn. I’m willing to bet there are nearly a million people out there who want the chance to feel the same way. Instead, they are dependent on a group of 535 squabbling children in Washington, D.C. to help them continue their search. Sure, there are hundreds, maybe thousands who love suckling on the government teat. Maybe they aren’t getting caught because unemployment offices are short on staff…hey, there’s some job creation for you.

Congress, the unemployed don’t want your help; they need your help. The authorization has begun its path through the Senate. Keep pushing. Don’t let the Tea Party idiots and others stop extension from passing the House. Most Americans are happy to work. Give them that opportunity, please.

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America is petrified of home grown terrorists, correct?

We appear to believe that these home grown terrorists will attempt to set off bombs in Times Square in New York or use something like Sarin gas in our subways, correct?

American’s believe that these home grown terrorists will poison our water supply, the feed for our animals, and commit openly heinous crimes that will cause great death in human terms and destroy our infrastructure, right?

Allow me to postulate another scenario: What if these home grown terrorists had been planted in the United States decades ago? What if their parents were the original sleepers and raised their children to infiltrate various groups in the United States? What if they eventually infiltrated a single political party that already had a somewhat dubious reputation and whose sole goal appeared to be repression of those not in positions of power and to abet the rich and shameless who, other than knowing how to make money off the backs of others were unequivocally stupid in the ways of the real world?

Let’s give these home grown terrorists a group name, shall we? Let’s call them the Tea Party. That’s right; I’m openly calling the members of the Tea Party home grown terrorists. The founders of the Tea Party state, “Our mission is to bring awareness to any issue which challenges the security, sovereignty, or domestic tranquility of our beloved nation.” To that extent, what have they actually done? The answer is that they have attempted to fulfill this so-called mission by disruptive, demoralizing, and devastating the two-party system of government in the United States which has, over two and a quarter centuries, brought this nation to a leadership position in the world more rapidly than has ever been achieved by any civilized nation in the world.

Think about what has happened since the cowardly attack on the United States since 2001. Although they waited until three years later, when perhaps 20 percent of the shock had worn off, the Tea Party moved in to fill a void and to appeal to the less intelligent about their goals and objectives. Let’s take a few of their core beliefs and examine them. I freely admit that I do not have the capability to examine them to the depth that perhaps they should be, so let me give simplistic explanations.

The first of the Tea Party “Non-negotiable core beliefs” is that “Illegal aliens are here illegally.” Well, duh, that makes a whole hell of a lot of sense, except it doesn’t say anything about what should be done. Illegal aliens are here illegally because the jobs they are willing to take are jobs that the average American citizen won’t touch because they are hard, back-breaking labor, without which, you and I would probably (a) not have vegetables on our tables or (b) the cost of our vegetables would be so high that we couldn’t afford to put them on our table. Americans are funny; they want a good day’s pay for a good day’s work. Illegals just want ‘some’ money that they can send back to wherever it was they came from, ie, countries that are not fully developed or that inhibit that development in order that the government can keep them under said government’s thumb. While the Tea Party’s non-negotiable core belief is that illegal aliens are here illegally, I don’t see or read how they would remedy this situation.

“Pro-domestic employment is indispensable.” I can really think of a single way in which we could make this happen in some fields. That would be to repeal all of the Civil Rights legislation that has ever been enacted and to bring slavery back to the United States. That would certainly ensure domestic tranquility. Can you say, “Uncivil War,” or “Race War,” or any one of a hundred wars occurring in every city, town, village, and hamlet in all 50 states? This sounds to me like a guarantee of work for every American citizen, whether naturalized or born here, but what kind of job will this be? Tell me how you’re going to do it and don’t just toss out these blanket statements.

“A strong military is essential.” We have a strong military; we have a strong volunteer military. We have a military that, in terms of its equipment and training, is probably ten times stronger than any other military in the world. Some have even argued that our military is almost too strong and that because of its strength, it is called on to be the world’s policeman. Is that what America really wants, to be known as the world’s policeman? Isn’t that something like empire-building, because whenever we step in to help somewhere, it seems that we always have to leave troops behind? I’m not talking about the men and women we bury on foreign soil, and God knows there have been too many of them. I’m talking about the ones along the DMZ in Korea, the troops in Vietnam, Germany, Iraq, and other spots around the world. I’m also talking about how sick and tired America’s moms and dads are of changing that blue star flag in the window to a gold star.

“Special interests must be eliminated.” This is a gutsy core belief. I congratulate the Tea Party for putting it on their list…when I can finally stop laughing. The sophistication of special interest groups to influence every member of every party, both in power and out, is so great as to be a government unto it or themselves. I have no idea which egomaniacal son-of-a-bitch thought this one up, but if we haven’t been able to do it over the past two centuries, it’s not going to happen when the new kids on the block tell the special interest groups they’re no longer welcome. Telling the farm lobby, pharmaceutical lobbyists, bankers, tobacconists, and automakers to get out of Dodge is just likely to get you unelected really quickly.

“Gun ownership is sacred.” No, it’s not sacred. The Second Amendment of the Constitution provides “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” It says nothing about owning a gun being sacred. As a matter of fact, it could be interpreted as saying that anyone who owns a gun is, de facto, a member of the Militia, ie, military, and is subject to being called to active duty at any time so long as he or she owns that or a gun. “Because you are a registered gun owner, we’re going to put you through eight weeks of basic training and then we’re sending you into the hills of Afghanistan. You will receive shit for pay and eat MRE’s every day. You will sleep on some of the coldest friggin’ ground upon which you have ever slept. You will get fired upon on a regular basis and if you aren’t alert, you will be killed. How’d ya like them apples?”

We will examine several more of the Tea Party “non-negotiable core beliefs in future essays. When all is said and done, however, I believe you will begin to question whether or not our own home grown terrorists are merely masquerading as members of a third political party.

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“The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” Marc Antony’s soliloquy at Caesar’s funeral demonstrates clearly how words can be used to inflict meaning other than that which is so obvious. Brutus had already told the gathered crowd that Caesar was ambitious and therefore had to die, and Caesar’s other killers were also gathered. For Marc Antony to disagree with Brutus would certainly have caused his immediate and painful death. Antony turned the crowd against the killers with his subtle choice of words. Today we call it, “damning with faint praise.” If you had read Julius Caesar in junior high or high school, I can well imagine that (a) you were pissed because you hated Shakespeare; (b) you founded it impossible to make sense of what the characters were saying, and; (c) so they killed the guy, so what? If it went something like that, you were probably not alone in your thinking. Today, as an adult, you probably are still not too crazy about “Wild Bill,” as I used to call him, but I encourage you to read that one speech to see how clever Marc Antony was in his rebuttal of Brutus’ speech.

If you watch television, and if you watch reporters attempt to get politicians to give straight answers to straight questions, you can well understand what I’m saying. Just as Brutus demanded that Marc Antony not make any reference to the killers, and as Antony did so without ever blaming them openly, he cleverly made his position clear and turned the crowd against Brutus and the others.

Antony may be justifiably compared with any politician in America. They never seem to answer a question directly. Watching a newscast the other day and a reporter finally had the courage to address his interviewee by saying, “I’m not going to ask you that question again because I’ve asked it twice and you seem determined not to give me a direct answer. This then concludes the interview.” Damn, but I wish more questioners had that kind of chutzpah.  If I ask a question that requires a yes or no answer, I really don’t expect anything other than yes or no. If I want follow up, I’ll ask for follow up. The minute someone begins to give a long, drawn out response, you can pretty well be assured that they don’t wish to answer the question. There’s an old joke that asks, “How do you know when a politician’s lying?” The response is, “His lips are moving.” What I really like is that there is a new word in this bullshit lexicon. They call it, “spin.”

Democrats spin; Republicans spin; all God’s ‘chillin’ gotta spin, spin, spin! It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic. Democrats talk about the Affordable Health Care Act; Republicans talk about Obamacare. People in the Tea Party insist that we reduce the federal deficit immediately but increase spending on defense, education, infrastructure, and pork that benefits their constituents.  Oh, and closing tax loopholes or increasing taxes on the wealthy is not an option. It’s laughable to hear the answers when one asks how reducing the budget can be accomplished, largely because no one seems to have an answer…but they sure want to spend.

There was a time when I enjoyed watching Sunday morning talk shows. Face the Nation, Meet the Press, et. al,  were great fodder for making decisions. Today, it is impossible to listen because people don’t answer questions directly.  It’s a sad state of affairs when one cannot say with certainty who they trust to deliver unbiased news. The days of Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley, and David Brinkley are gone forever, I guess. The closest thing we have today to unbiased reporting is Charlie Rose and I’m not all that certain about him…just kidding Charlie.

Adrian Vrettos is a writer who lives in Greece. We have in common our love of Diogenes, the Greek cynic and philosopher who spent nearly his entire life wandering around Greece searching for an honest man. Let me share with you Vrettos’ commentary and why I enjoy his writing so much…

“…ONE of my all-time heroes is Diogenes the Cynic, who spent most of his life chilling in his barrel outside the city-state of Corinth. He was the original Cynic because he believed that men and women lived a life dictated by rules and taboos and therefore no one was really truthful or honest. Actually Diogenes is my hero because he was witty, rude, and had little respect for authority. For example, when Alexander the Great rode down to visit Diogenes in his barrel, he offered Diogenes any gift of his choice. With a scowl, Diogenes snapped back his response: “What you’ve taken away, you can never give me.”
“Huh?” said Alex.
“You’re standing in my sun.”

 

I could easily put my own “spin” on this exchange and bring it into the modern day. It’s difficult, if not impossible, for me to find one honest person in America’s political history. What they have taken away from me, they can never give back. My answer is that they have taken away my trust in humankind, and that, my friends is a terrible loss.

 

Let me offer one other quotation which I believe fits in this little essay. It’s attributed to Lao Tzu who lived in the Sixth Century. Believe it or not, I wasn’t around then, therefore I cannot verify the accuracy of either the quote or the authorship:

 

“Watch your thoughts for they become words.
Watch your words for they become actions.
Watch your actions for they become habits.
Watch your habits for they become your character.
And watch your character for it becomes your destiny.

What more need be said?

 

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