Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Shooting at N.C. community college investigated as possible hate crime

According to Reuters.  Gee, you think so?  Here's the shooter:


The article continues:

"...detectives also were looking into whether the former student with no prior criminal arrest record had any affiliation with white supremacy groups."

What could have ever made them think that?  The 88 on his cheek?  the iron cross on his throat?

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Greatest Republican Idea In The History of the World

From ABC's This Week with George Stephanopolis:

"STEPHANOPOULOS: One final question for each of you, who is the most promising Republican candidate not in the race yet? […] 

BILL KRISTOL: If they get to nominate Hillary Clinton, why don't we get to nominate Dick Cheney..."

Bill, please, please, be our guest!  There is no one in the Democratic party that would have any problem at all with your nominating Dick Cheney to run for President. He is the very apotheosis of what it means to be a Republican, in every way. And what a record, both in economics and foreign policy.  And what a great campaigner, what with him being such a likeable guy.  Let's all see how many people in this country want that.  Really, please go for it.  Please!
I mean, everyone wants to look at that for the next eight years.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

FDR

Today is the seventieth anniversary of the death of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  I'd like to take the opportunity to remind people what a real Democratic President sounded like.  If you have never heard this short clip, please take a couple of minutes to listen to it, and try to remember the last time you heard a living Democratic leader talk this way:



I've been to Warm Springs, Georgia, to the "Little White House" where Roosevelt was so content to be.  Here's a picture of it:

Roosevelt was born to wealth and influence, yet he didn't need car elevators and all the rest of it to be happy.  This humble little structure was all he wanted, and I think it says it all.  We can't seem to be able to have Democrats like this any more.  Too bad, huh?

Republicans- A Challenger Appears

We have seen how the Republican party has been controlled totally by the rich for a century, and how, for at least a half century, no one has been nominated by the Republicans to run for President who is not the choice of the rich- primarily the investment bankers and hedge fund managers, who include among their members the Bush family (dating back to Prescott Bush, who was an investment banker) and Mitt Romney.  These people have generally had net worths (in today's money) in the hundreds of millions of dollars, mostly extracted from other, semi-rich dupes, but much of it also gained by destroying jobs or (in Prescott Bush's case) supplying the Nazi war effort.  Based on this phenomenon I have been confidently predicting that Jeb Bush had a total lock on the Republican nomination.

I'm beginning to think of hedging my bets, so to speak.  For a new power has emerged in the Republican party- a few dozen people who are not merely disgustingly rich, but who are hyper-rich; people whose net worth now allows them to dwarf the entire rest of the country in campaign expenditure, and whose political behavior is so despicable that it even may make a compulsive liar and sociopath like Mitt Romney look not so bad in comparison.  These are the Kochs, Sheldon Adelson and their few compatriots, people for whom no political expenditure is too great, and no dirty tactic is too low.  And they have their candidate too: a man who has proven to them that he will do any damage to the people he was elected to govern, if it serves their interest.  That man is, of course, Scott Walker, who has been willing to cripple his State's ability to function, and callously cause any damage to its people, if instructed to by the Koch brothers.  Walker is still a cypher to most people, and in the face of a billion dollar plus campaign of lies, both about Walker himself and whoever stands in his way, who knows if the truth will ever emerge?  The mainstream press certainly saw to it that the truth never did about George Bush, or Mitt Romney, and with a little help from them, the Kochs will be able to present Walker to the country as a rational businessman making the necessary choices for the country; choices which always involve taking from the rest of us and giving to these few dozen rich thieves.

So, there it is: the potential of a war between the merely rich and the hyper-rich to control the Republican party and then move on to savage the country for their own benefit.  At this point, I still have to favor Bush to get the nomination, just because of political inertia, but this could truly be a watershed election, in which the pretense of the Republican party to be working for the good of the country is abandoned once and for all, and they begin the rush to their long-intended goal of a land in which rigged elections aren't really even needed to hide the reality of a nation totally owned by a few dozen families, because there will be nothing that the rest of us can do about it.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Appomattox

Maybe not that important, but I think it is worth remembering that today is the 150th anniversary of the surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox, thus effectively ending the Civil War.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

How Ugly It Is Going to Get

You just watch how the right wing narrative about the police murder of Walter Scott in North Charleston is going to develop, if you want to see just how determined right wingers in this country are to license themselves to commit whatever atrocities they want to.

Here it is, only a couple of days later, and it has already started.  Here are a couple of excerpts from a site called "Charleston Thug Life" which seem to be along the lines of the famous saying, "who you going to trust, me or your lying eyes."

"Let’s deal with some new developments in the case of the horrendous officer involved shooting in North Charleston. Yes, we know reasoned analysis is racist, but what the hell, let’s do it anyway. 
First and foremost are the actions of James Johnson, Al Sharpton’s racist in training, who levied his usual unfounded allegations of racial profiling against police. He may tell you he doesn’t want riots, but he’s secretly longing for them so he can continue his time in the spotlight and he doesn’t mind slipping in those sly references in order to stir up the public to facilitate his dream. 
The death of Walter Scott is tragic and was caused by a chain of bad decisions made by all involved. Unfortunately, it also gives the hustlers exactly what they have been trying to get by lying about events in other cases – a dead black man with empty hands shot in the back by a police officer."

Because as we all know, 3 day old Mercedes so often have broken tail lights, and white people in 3 day old Mercedes get hauled out of their cars and tasered all the time for broken tail lights.  Scott was perfectly justified in fearing that he was about to be subject to unprovoked violence at the hands of a Southern cracker policeman.  And he was right.

"Next up is the contention the officer planted evidence, to wit, the Taser. Immediately after handcuffing Scott the officer trots back and picks up the Taser from the spot where it fell, or was dropped, as Scott turned to flee... 

What the media fails to show you are the images of the officer picking up and holstering the Taser at about the 2:00 minute mark...The video...shows there was no planted evidence."

Well, whoopee.  The minute the cop picked up the taser from where it fell, and put it by the victim, which can be clearly seen in the video, he had materially damaged the crime scene, which he knew perfectly well.  Maybe he had second thoughts about whether he could get away with that, but in any event, he had already committed a serious felony when he rearranged the evidence at a murder scene.

"Any claims that the officer lied in his statement are just that – claims with no basis in the evidence currently available to the press or the public. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t."

Maybe the video is a quick CGI job by Hollywood liberals.

"As much as certain people try to avoid reality, Scott’s poor decision making also contributed to his death. His bad decision to run from and struggle with a police officer was compounded by the officer’s poor decision to shoot him in the back as he fled. If you are going to assign blame honestly you cannot deny both are responsible for Scott’s death."

Because, you see, running from a policeman who, as you correctly feared, is on the point of murdering you for nothing is exactly as bad as gunning an innocent person down in the back, so Walter Scott is equally at fault for his own murder.  I am sure that some right wing racists will soon be pointing out that Scott actually was not innocent- he may, for all we know, been guilty for driving with a broken tail light on his new car, which is, as we know, just as much a capital crime as jaywalking or selling someone a cigarette- if you are black.

I promise you, just as with the other cases that have been in the news recently, this will be the sort of twisting of the obvious truth that we are about to be buried in.  All of it will then be cited when the local prosecutor sees to it that the cop gets a dead minimum punishment, or is very likely let off altogether.  That's justice American style.

My Reaction to the North Charleston Police Murder

I guess everyone has heard about this disgusting incident, and I usually don't like to just repeat what others have already said, but in case there is anyone who hasn't seen this video, I think you should watch it, to really understand what is going on in this country.

Before reproducing it here, I think it is important to be clear about what the North Charleston police department had to say about this incident, when they didn't know the video existed.  They claimed that the officer felt a threat to his life, and that the victim had taken his taser away from him and was trying to use it on him.  And please remember, this all involves a police stop of a 50 year old man for a broken tail light on his Mercedes- not even a misdemeanor; at most a citation, and normally a warning if this is the first time he was stopped for it.  I leave it to you to determine how likely it is that a police officer would actually feel in fear for his life from, and use a taser on,  a 50 year old man stopped for a broken tail light.

Of course, then the video showed up, and here it is:



As can be seen, the victim did not take the taser.  At most, he tried to knock it away, as, given the circumstances, he had every right in the world to do, as no policeman has a right to use a taser on a person for a broken tail light.  You can then see a black object, presumably the taser, fall to the ground.  The victim then runs away, correctly perceiving the threat to his life from this evil policeman, at which point, the policeman fires numerous shots into him, when he clearly was no threat at all to the policeman, and who then proceeds to pick up the taser and place it by the victim's body; his first thought being to manufacture evidence for the story he already intended to tell.  Neither he nor another cop who appears in the video seem to be interested in doing anything at all to aid the victim.

What we have here is deliberate, first degree murder, with callous indifference to the welfare of the victim, combined with an immediate attempt to fabricate evidence.  And all of this would have been totally successful if it had not been for this video.

In the last month, one hundred Americans have been killed by police, who are always, it would seem, "in fear for their lives."  How many of those deaths would, if we had similar videos to this one, prove to be cold blooded murder?  And how many of the perpetrators would, like Darren Wilson in Ferguson MO, be aided by their fellow policemen and corrupt prosecutors to escape punishment?

Well, here is what I am suggesting:  When a police officer kills someone with the weapons which we allow him to carry around in public, it is not enough that he claims to be "in fear for his life;" like any other citizen, he had damned well be prepared to prove that the threat to his life was real.  If he can't live with this, then he needs to get another job that doesn't involve being licensed to carry a firearm. And secondly, when a police officer kills someone, we can no longer afford to grant his story any more credence than we would to any other murder suspect.  Haven't we seen clearly by now how often people are killed, beaten, harassed by out of control police officers?  Isn't it time that, for our own safety, they must be stripped of the benefit of the doubt about their behavior?

And furthermore, if any case calls for the death penalty, this is it.  If this man is given any lesser punishment, in a State that loves the death penalty, it will be one more travesty of justice in favor of the authorities (and, of course, in favor of a white man's right to kill a black man without consequences.)

And I repeat, Mr. neighborhood cop: if you can't live with this, get another job.



Update:  Well, it sure hasn't taken Southern States long to figure out the appropriate reaction to incidents like this.  From Crooks and Liars:

"New Texas Bill Would Prevent Bystanders From Recording Cops"

Well, that'll solve the problem. There is absolutely no way to exaggerate the cynicism and contempt for human decency that exists in these States today.


But Wait, There's More!  I have just read that the car Mr. Scott was driving was a brand new Mercedes Benz that he had purchased only three days before.  What are the odds that a new Mercedes Benz would have a broken tail light?  Will someone even check to see if this part of the officer's story was true, or as is far more likely, Mr. Scott was pulled over and murdered for the crime of being a black person in possession of a  Mercedes in North Charleston, SC, where such things are patently not allowed?


Notice:  Just for the record, I worked on a TV series in Charleston, during which we filmed a lot in North Charleston, often no more than a mile from the site of this shooting.  So I am pretty familiar with the area.  If you are ever around there, DO NOT MISS an opportunity to eat at Bertha's Kitchen, the home of the best pork chops you will ever eat.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The California Water Crisis- A Proposal for a Necessary Step

I live in California, which probably gives me a little more motivation to follow the story of its water crisis than most people, but by now, I am sure you have all heard something about ours record breaking drought.

One of the facts you may have picked up is that 80% of all the water used in California goes to agriculture.  It surprised a lot of us, therefore, that the recent action by Governor Brown (a great governor, who I have always supported) left the agricultural sector totaly untouched.

Since even Jerry Brown, not noted for shrinking from hard stands, can't bring himself to deal with this issue, I would like to propose a solution of my own.  It is something that I started thinking about last July, when I read an article in the New York Times, some of which I'd like to quote now:


"His boots were caked with mud when Thomas S. T. Gimbel, a longtime hedge fund executive, slipped in a strawberry patch. It was the plumpness of a strawberry that had distracted him. 

Mr. Gimbel, who once headed the hedge fund division of Credit Suisse, now spends more time discussing crop yields than stock or bond yields. 

He is the man on the ground for a group of investors — including New York’s biggest real estate dynasty, two Florida sugar barons and the founder of a multibillion-dollar investment firm — who have been buying up farms across the United States through a real estate investment trust called the American Farmland Company. 

Hedge funds are not new to farmland. For nearly a decade they have scoured the corners of the globe for cheap land as food prices have soared, positioning themselves to profit from the growing demand. Hedge funds now have $14 billion invested in farmland...
The latest wave of interest was generated by the 2008 financial crisis...Investors were wary of the exotic sliced-and-diced securities that had contributed to the crisis, and farmland seemed more tangible."

Now, I understand the need to keep agriculture economically feasible in this country.  We all have to eat, so we all have a vital interest in seeing that farmers can make a living growing crops, and that disruptions like the current drought do not make food prohibitively expensive.  So, the Central Valley, the largest food producing area in the country, needs its water, or we all will suffer.  But let's get serious here: hedge fund managers are not farmers, they are human parasites who have found one more area of our economy to plunder in order to support their private jets and homes in the Hamptons.

Since when did the government enter into an agreement to shelter investors from the consequences when their investments don't pan out?  Well, okay, that's exactly what happened in the 2008 Bush Administration bailout of Wall Street, and in fact that is what happened in the 1920's too, when the response of three successive Republican administrations to the ongoing agricultural depression was to do nothing for the farmers, but to pay the banks back for the bad loans they made.  This behavior was part of a pattern of serving the rich which led to the Great Depression; meaningful efforts to set our agricultural sector back on its feet had to wait until the inauguration of a Democratic administration in 1933. In fact, I guess that bailing out rich guys and letting everyone else rot is pretty much standard operating procedure for Republicans.

But the State of California is not run by Republicans.  These hedge fund managers made a bad investment when they put their money in water intensive crops before global warming caused a massive drought.  Well, too damn bad for them.  It is not our responsibility to protect them, or to suffer ourselves to supply them with water in order to guarantee that they can make a profit on their investment- I thought that the free market was supposed to work this way; you take a chance, and if it works out you get to keep the private jet.  Otherwise, it's off to a duplex in Staten Island with you, and you can start working on some new scheme to bilk the nation.

And that is the basis of what I propose.  Let the State determine what real farmers need to continue their production, which benefits all of us.  And let the profiteers, who made a bad investment, lose it all.  It's time to stop coddling them at the expense of the rest of us.  Cut their water off, and use it for something we really need.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Sea Change In Republican Politics?

Over the last few months, I fear that I have begun to detect a serious change in Republican behavior.  I have noticed, in States like Wisconsin, Kansas and Indiana, less and less concern for any effect of their behavior, except as is either serves the hyper-rich, or contributes to keeping the blinders on the 20% or so of the electorate needed to run grassroots electoral campaigns.  In these States, as well as in the other usual right wing States, there seems to be a new attitude of open disregard for the disastrous effects that they are causing to the environment, the economy, or anything else, as they rush to either satisfy the inextinguishable greed of hyper-rich psychopaths, or to pass a bundle of deliberately offensive, hate-filled legislation, to satisfy the also inextinguishable ocean of anger that they have synthetically generated to preserve their "base" of people who are willing to work to destroy their own lives, if only it hurts someone else.

This is what I fear:  The Republicans, through decades of corrupt behavior, have now reached the point where they simply do not need anything like a majority of voters to support them, in order to capture and retain power.  The tsunami of funding coming from no more than a couple hundred people is now greater than the political resources of the entire rest of the country, and other than the "base," which they need to maintain the illusion of democracy, they can simply stop any pretense that they give a damn about the rest of us.  And you can count on this: another few years and they won't need the suckers who go out and work for them any more; the electorate will be so reduced and rigged that those couple of hundred rich guys can do it all on their own.  At that point, perhaps only a couple of electoral cycles away, all pretense can be abandoned, and they can institute the government that has been their clear goal for decades now:  one in which not one percent, but a thousandth of one percent, or a ten thousandth of one percent of the American people will run the country for their own private benefit, and the rest of us will be nothing but serfs.

I think they are already at the point where many of them don't even feel the need to hide their intent any more; they are convinced that they have won, and their dreams of an American Fascist oligarchy are just around the corner, with the rest of us helpless to do anything about it.  And they may very well be right.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Iran- Let's Not Forget the History

You just can't appreciate what a great accomplishment Obama's successful negotiation with Iran has been, without remembering a little of the history between our two countries.

Particularly the story of Mohammed Mossadegh.


Mossadegh was the head of a democratic government in Iran, elected in fair and open elections.  This was too much for the United States to bear, so in 1953, he was removed from power in a coup orchestrated by the CIA.  He spent the rest of his life in prison or house arrest, for the crime of having been chosen by his people to lead their country.

The result?  The Iranians suffered through decades of rule by Shah Reza Pahlavi, a vicious, brutal dictator easily as bad as Saddam or Khaddafi.  His secret service, the SAVAK, was responsible for the torture and murder of thousands- the exact number will never be known.  And through all of this, the Shah was maintained firmly in power through US military aid.

And the consequences of that aid?  No one in the Middle East had the power to unseat the Shah except the well-organized and financed Islamists, so, to add insult to injury, our pet dictator ended up being replaced by a government of religious fanatics, which has plagued the Iranian people, formerly quite secular, ever since.

American warmongers, naturally, expect the Iranians to just forget about this sixty years of misery at our hands. These are the same Americans, of course, who still cannot forgive the Federal government for taking away their right to own other people, which happened a century and a half ago.  Well, it's hard for Iranians to forget about things when they are still happening, so it really is pretty amazing that Obama so far overcame their understandable and legitimate contempt for our country, as to get them to go along with this agreement.

And once again, right wing warmongers cause us untold misery, and then count on Democrats to undo the damage, while attacking them every step of the way.

Remember the Iraq War?

"I can't tell you if the use of force in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks, or five months, but it certainly isn't going to last any longer than that."--Donald Rumsfeld, November 14, 2002

Remember the Iraq war?  Well, here are a couple of comparisons for those who are planning our next cakewalk in Iran:

Population:
Iran:  78.47 million
Iraq 2003:  25.96 million

Armed Forces:
Iran:  Army: Frontline and Reserve Personnel:  2,345,000
           Navy: 397 ships
           Air Force: 471 aircraft
Iraq 2003:  Army: 375,000 troops
           Navy: virtually totally destroyed during 1991 Gulf war, and never rebuilt
           Air Force:  Estimated 90 flyable planes

And this time we will be going in with absolutely no allies.  As in the last two wars in the Middle East, Israel will have to stay out, or we will risk a unified Muslim front against us, stretching over a third of the world.

The fools that think we can go halfway around the world and defeat an army that is vastly larger than the one next door that made total idiots of our government- well, of course, they are the same fools that think we can go on ignoring global warming, and somehow the mess will get cleaned up; the same fools that think the free marked fixes everything.  Greed, not reality, is their guiding light, so don't be surprised if they actually find a way to start a war with Iran.  Just don't have any illusions that we will win that war.  It will be a military blunder that will make even the Iraq war look like a minor incident- it will be more like the Austrian invasion of Serbia in 1914, which not only made the Austrians look like one of the most pathetic military powers on earth, but managed to start a world war that killed 20 million people.  And the next world war killed 50 million.  How many do you think we could go for this time?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Let the Screaming Begin

Over this development, of course:
"LAUSANNE, Switzerland — After marathon negotiations, the United States, Iran and five other world powers announced an agreement Thursday outlining limits on Iran's nuclear program to block it from developing atomic weapons and directing negotiators toward a final accord this summer. 
The United States and Iran each hailed the framework, reached by weary but upbeat diplomats after a week of intense diplomacy in Switzerland that capped 18 months of negotiations. Speaking from the White House, President Barack Obama called it a "good deal" that would address concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions."
Of course, there will be two immediate Republican responses:  First of all, Obama is a traitor who has sold the security of the country out to his real friends, the Muslims.  And second, that this agreement is all the result of the Republicans' tough stance on Iran, exemplified by the notorious Senate traitor letter, so the Republicans deserve all the credit, while this just proves once again why Obama needs to be impeached.

Because only war is a valid foreign policy option for the United States.  No one that contributes to Republicans can make money off of diplomacy.

And probably they will come up with a couple of responses that are so piggish that even Green Eagle can't imagine them.  Don't worry, I'll be back to let you know soon enough, why a great diplomatic triumph proves that Obama isn't up to being President.