Monday, February 28, 2011

Week of 02/28/2011

– by David Matthews 2

Isn’t it funny how politicians can whine and moan about spending except when it comes to THEIR pet projects?

Politicians will nickel-and-dime a project and complain endlessly about how much is being spent on it and ask why it is being spent and why some private group (preferably one of their campaign sponsors) can’t pick up the tab on it. They will make it their mission in life to defund, deprive, and destroy that project by any and all means necessary, but they will just as passionately cry bloody murder when THEIR OWN pet projects are not given the budgetary blank check that they feel that project is ENTITLED to have.

Yes, in the corrupt minds of the politician, money is tight, and sacrifices have to be made, unless it involves one of THEIR projects, at which point there’s always money to burn.

That brings us to Georgia’s own certifiable political flake, state representative Bobby Franklin of Marietta.

Mister Franklin is a man of simple beliefs. He believes that…

* All the money minted in the United States is in violation of the U.S. Constitution and therefore all commerce needs to be done in silver and gold.

* Drivers licenses are an intrusion on privacy.

* The state has no jurisdiction to educate children… at all.

* Rape victims should be prohibited from calling themselves victims and should instead be referred to as “accusers”. (Mind you, all other victims of crime would still be called “victims”.)

* That America’s greatest threat isn’t Islam, but God, because we supposedly “turned away from God”.

* That former President George W. Bush “praised pagan religions”.

* That both Georgia’s Roads and Tollways Authority and Georgia’s Health and Human Services need to be abolished.

Which brings us to his latest idea…

It should come as to no surprise that Mister Franklin is a fervent opponent of abortion. But he just doesn’t want to stop with outlawing the procedure. He wants all miscarriages (defined as “spontaneous fetal death”) to be investigated by the “proper investigating official” and make what he deems “human miscarriages” punishable by either life in prison or death.

No, this is NOT a joke.

No, I am NOT exaggerating this.

Yes, he IS serious about this.

The media and the Internets are already having a ball with this idea, dubbing Franklin’s “proper investigating official” as the “Uterus Police”. Women’s groups are in a tizzy over the very idea that some state would come up with a police force dedicated to do nothing but criminally investigate miscarriages, ready to lock some woman away for life, or else plug her into the electric chair if they don’t like how it happened.

Now I’m not going to debate this on the basis of freedom or liberty, because there isn’t enough dandruff shampoo in the world that can wash the flakiness out of Franklin’s idea. The whole idea of a “Uterus Police” investigating miscarriages makes Margaret Atwood’s theo-conservative dystopia in “The Handmaid’s Tale” look like Sesame Street in comparison.

But putting the question of freedom aside for this article… in the midst of the biggest recession that NOBODY in politics is willing to admit is still going on, with governments large and small being strapped for taxable revenue just to keep basic services going, how would this “Uterus Police” unit be paid to do their job of investigating miscarriages?

Where will these new “CSI OB/GYN” agents be recruited from? Are you actually going to take seasoned officers off of going after drunk drivers, violent street gangs, drug dealers, child predators, delinquent students, traffic violators, and have them start harassing women that suffered through a miscarriage? Or are you going to spend more money to recruit new officers so you won’t have to pull the current officers off the other various “social epidemics” that ALREADY get oodles of tax money and media attention?

How would they KNOW a miscarriage happened, much less determine it was by “human factors”? Yes, these new gyno-cops would need specialized training. That’s the kind of training that doesn’t come cheap. That means even more money.

Of course I haven’t even gotten around to the costs associated with the prosecution, conviction, and punishment of this new hypothetical “capital offense”. That first prosecution would be a financial doozy, with appeals and injunctions and appeals on top of appeals. And then there’s the cost of interning that first death-penalty offender until she can get strapped up to “Old Sparky”. Death penalty cases take about ten years worth of appeals and incarceration before the sentence is carried out. That’s a lot of money, especially when state and local governments don’t have the money to keep cops on the streets.

Let’s get brutally honest here… even IF Franklin was able to get enough political clout together to force this jingoistic wet dream of his into law, local governments would not have the money to afford the resources to put it into effect. Even if every agency was stripped to the bare-bones minimum or otherwise cut altogether, it would not be enough to survive the long-term legal costs just to appease Franklin’s frosted flakes delusions.

Now while it’s easy to dismiss the state rep as being just a flake, you need to bear in mind that he’s been representing that part of Georgia since 1996. That means that he’s been re-elected by his constituents, and they obviously don’t have a problem with his flaky ideas, otherwise they would have gotten rid of him fifteen years ago. A rather scary thought.

Sadly, though, even when you turn the focus on the finances of such a plan, it really doesn’t matter to someone like Rep. Franklin. Politicians will ALWAYS insist that THEIR projects get the blank check, and often at the expense of everything else in the world. After all, it’s not coming out THEIR personal pockets. It makes you wonder why they even call themselves “representatives” instead of the more honest title of “self-servants”.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Week of 02/21/2011

The Union Problem
– by David Matthews 2

A very rich man was once troubled by what he called a “serious security problem”. Strangers would just waltz into his wealthy home uninvited and steal things. All sorts of animals and insects would come in. He would spend endless amounts of money on exterminators and security consultants to come up with ways to keep the “undesirables” from ruining his home, but, as he told his friend, he feared he may end up having to move.

His friend was very understanding of his plight, and after showing up - invited, of course - to the rich man’s house and was given a tour of the whole place and the money spent on it, he told the rich man that he had the solution to his “security problem”.

“Give me seven days,” his friend said, “and by the end of that week, you’ll see that in that time you won’t have a single intruder or unwanted pest.”

The rich man was intrigued by the offer and told him that he had seven days. Sure enough, the following week, the rich man was pleasantly surprised by not having a single intruder or pest or stray animal in his home.

“How did you do it?” the rich man asked.

“I closed the front door,” the friend replied.

Yes, sometimes IT IS that simple.

It’s no big surprise that the GOP doesn’t really like unions. Sure they’ll suck up to certain unions like the Police Officers union and the Teamsters, but their loyalties are clearly in the back pocket of Big Corporate, and Big Corporate has NEVER liked unions… AT ALL!

For the GOP, it’s a matter of political power. They’ll suck up to unions that give them votes, and then when they get in power, they do everything needed to get rid of those unions that don’t give them votes. Ronald Reagan did that with the air traffic controllers in the 1980’s.

Democrats, of course, LOVE unions. Again, it’s a matter of political power. They’ll suck up to the unions that give them power, but unlike the GOP, they don’t want to destroy the ones that don’t give them power. They’ll just let those groups twist it the wind, knowing that the GOP will screw them over eventually because of that party’s fidelity with Big Corporate.

And so the matter becomes one of political struggle. Who has the bigger wallet? Who carries the bigger political stick? It’s the rich versus the not-as-rich.

But somewhere in the discussion a HUGE “front door” issue is left gaping open.

WHY do the unions exist in the first place?

That doesn’t really get too much attention, does it? We can figure out WHEN the unions got started. We can figure out HOW they got to where they are, but we don’t put too much thought into WHY they originally came to be.

Does any businessman worth his salt actually wake up one morning and have a union magically appear in his workplace? No. Nobody wants to have a third party come into their business, no matter who that third party is. Government, lawyers, special interest groups… never mind that the third party is claiming to represent your own employees!

So WHY was the need there in the first place?

That’s something that the conservatives and neo-conservatives and their friends in Big Corporate don’t want us to think about. But the truth of the matter is that the only reason why the unions exist is because the business world screwed up! Unions exist because some in the business world treated their operations as miniature fiefdoms at a time when any form of repression was met with revolution.

In other words, there WOULD NEVER have been unions if not for the abuses of the employers!

That’s the deep, dark, unspoken secret from Big Corporate that you’re not supposed to know. Big Corporate essentially CREATED the need for unions through their actions!

And now Big Corporate and their friends in government want those unions broken. Not just removed, but physically, mentally, and politically shattered.

The problem is they don’t have a clue as to how to really do it.

“Breaking” a union through strike-busting programs and “starving” them out of a workplace may work in that one instance, but it doesn’t stop the union from eventually returning. And starting a new business doesn’t mean it’ll stay union-free. There are instances where a new business would open up in a community that would be fiercely anti-union, and five years later that place would BECOME a union shop. How? What happens to change the minds of people who USED to be anti-union? Two words: bad management.

Let’s get brutally honest here… the only way to get rid of a union or to keep one away is not do the things that would WARRANT one! In other words, it is high time that the business world got a clue and cleaned up their own act!

Unions exist and crop up because the seeds of discontent are already planted in the workplace through bad or abusive management. All that needs to happen, then, is for someone to ask questions like “When was the last time you had a raise?” “When was the last time you had a day off?” “When did your CEO get a raise?” “How often is he able to take a day off?” These need to be answered positively. But if you as an employer are fostering an environment where those answers are negative, then you only have yourself to blame for the results.

Having a union is not an ideal situation. It is a poor substitute for good management. It is a glaring symptom of bad management. All of the consultants and political brinkmanship going on doesn’t solve the problem that CREATED the need for the union in the first place. If you want to get rid of them, then you need ACTUAL good management. That’s the only way for you to close that “front door”.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Week of 02/14/2011

How Fast They Flash Out
– by David Matthews 2

My, oh my, how quickly they forget…

Not even one month holding the reigns of power in the U.S. House of Representatives and already the “unstoppable party” is starting to unravel.

GOP Congressional darling Chris Lee (not to be confused with veteran horror actor Christopher Lee) out of the blue (or should that be “red”?) announces his resignation after being caught trolling Craigslist for a hookup. The lipstick proof in this case was a shirtless photo that he sent one woman in Maryland, claiming to be a “divorced lobbyist” when in fact he was a married member of Congress from a political party that claims to champion “family values”.

Since Mister Lee is from New York, you’d think that he’d know better. After all, what brought down that state’s governor not too long ago? A horndog hook-up. Oh, wait, wrong party. Yeah, who cares what DEMOCRATS do, right?

And then we have the announced departures. Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, GOP whip, is leaving. So is Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas, and renegade Senator Joe “Whiny Dog” Lieberman of Connecticut. They’re not leaving quite yet, but they’re also not going to be running for re-election… although you can’t really trust Lieberman on his word until he actually packs his bags and physically leaves Washington. They join Democrats Jim Webb and Kent Conrad as they cash in their taxpayer-funded golden parachutes.

Funny… not too long ago Kyl was holding up efforts to extend unemployment support to the millions of Americans who need it until Big Corporate can live up to their half to the bailout deal, and here’s Kyl primed to be getting about $135,000 a year for the rest of his life… paid for by the very taxpayers that he spat upon. How’s that for gratitude? And it’s probably a fair bet that he would never have to worry about finding work thanks to his friends in think tank foundations and lobbying firms and the speaking circuit, unlike the millions of Americans he claims to represent. It must be nice to be in a position where work can be treated as an “option”. Yeah, they’re so “like us”, aren’t they?

How about the GOP’s new “We Support the Constitution” kick? Remember their pledge to not bring forth any bill that they don’t first cite the constitutional authority? Yeah, that turns out to be a bold-faced LIE. Just look at HR358 and ask yourself where the “constitutional authority” is on it.

What’s wrong with these people? Are they inherently brain-damaged so they don’t have any short-term memory?

Or have the politicians stopped trying to pretend to really care anymore? After all, they already have what they wanted after the election. They have the power, and if people have their heads turning towards the 2012, they won’t be caring about the games going on in the here and now. Oh, hey, how about those guys at GPAC?

Let’s get brutally honest here… if the politicians - especially the GOP - want to continue to convince the masses that they have somehow “learned their lessons” of their previous failings, they certainly are not trying hard enough!

Faux-patriotic talk about “respecting the Constitution” and “citing constitutional authority” are nothing more than empty words if you won’t even live up to the very rules that you touted to get elected. And do we really… REALLY… have to remind politicians that trolling for sex on Craigslist is NOT a good thing to do, especially if you’re supposed to be a happily-married elected official in a party that CLAIMS to defend the “institution” of marriage? Never mind “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, how about some simple “Don’t Do” from the party that claims to be entitled to dictate to the great unwashed about how to live their lives?

This is precisely the reason why this commentator has been a critic of the election-to-election mindset being foisted on us by the media and the political bosses. The masses have been told that these “new” politicians are different than their rancid predecessors, but we have no reason to believe anything they have to say if we are not given any room to see if they are practicing what they were preaching on the campaign trail.

Rancid sewer water does not become healthy just because you slap a “new” symbol on it. Likewise, rancid politicians do not become “reformers” just because they claim to be.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Week of 02/07/2011

2012? NO! Not Yet!
– by David Matthews 2

I didn’t want to hear it.

I really didn’t.

Just the thought of it brings up feelings of utter revulsion. I have to fight the urge to do something very primal and very instinctive.

But it’s too late.

It’s already been brought up.

Names are already being floated. People are already thinking it. The machinery is already primed to go.

It’s… the 2012 Presidential Election.

NO! Not just “NO”, but “HELL NO!”

Don’t go there! Not now!

Unfortunately it’s not OUR choice to make. It’s all in the hands of “the machinery”. The party bosses and media bosses are the ones that make the ultimate decision as to when “The Season” will start up.

But they are itching to shove it in our faces all over again, aren’t they?

It’s not like this is anything new. Right after the 2006 mid-term elections, when the Democrats suddenly found themselves in control of the House and the Senate, the “machinery” started cranking up all over again. Names were being floated, candidacies announced, pollsters were running around asking people what they through about certain names for President.

“MOMENTUM!” cried the Democrats, seeking to keep the winning streak going all the way to the White House.

“SECURITY!” retorted the GOP, panic-stricken over the prospect of seeing everything they had built up for five years come crashing down just because some of their “family values” champions were being embarrassed, indicted, or even convicted. How DARE they be sent to prison for stupid things!

But a funny thing happened on the race to the White House in 2008. We forgot something very important.

We forgot about 2007.

We pretty much forgot all about that whole year, didn’t we?

We forgot that we had a new party in charge of Congress. We forgot about the things that they promised to do if they got control of the Congress. Remember those promises? What happened to them?

If you are scratching your head right about now and saying “What promises?”, then in the words of an infamous banner on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln: “Mission Accomplished”. As long as we were fixated on the 2008 Elections and who would be running and what they were saying, then we didn’t care what the Democrats were doing in the Congress, were we? We didn’t care that they were rubber-stamping the Bush Imperium appointees and programs and renewing the expiring legislation like they were card-carrying members of the GOP. We were focusing our attention on Obama and Clinton and McCain and Romney and Giuliani and all of the other people that were being shoved in our faces.

Now think for a minute about the things that could have been done in the year that we forgot about. Even in 2007, the signs of economic trouble were standing out more blatantly than Mike Tyson’s face tattoo. Congress could have acted to minimize the damage, but they didn’t, because we weren’t putting on any pressure for them to do it. We were thinking 2008.

And so here we are again, fresh off another mid-term election with another change of power in the Congress. They just got started and already we are hearing talks about 2012.


I am telling you right now DO NOT DO THIS!

DO NOT buy into their games again!

Look, the GOP wants people to believe that they’ve “learned their lessons”… that they can be worthy of the trust they squandered before. How can they do that if their own machine is shoving the events of another year in our faces and telling us to forget all about 2011? How can they PROVE that they are worth our trust in 2012 if they can’t show it in 2011?

While some people think that getting a whole year’s jump into the next election season is just a matter of “brand recognition”, I have to suspect something a little more sinister. Let’s get brutally honest here… I suspect that this push to get us to focus our attentions from one election to the next is really an attempt to PREVENT us from keeping an eye on the people IN power! The Democrats did this in 2007 and I can see the GOP trying to pull this one on us for 2011!

Think about HOW the GOP managed to get control of the House… in addition to the continual failures of the Democrats, the GOP managed to convince the voters that they really were this “new” kind of politician called the “Know Nothing”... oops, I mean the “Tea Party” politician. They spun this yarn about how they’re “anti-Washington”, “anti-Beltway”, “anti-Politics-As-Usual”, and pretty much “anti-” everything that they were before 2006; and they promised that if they were given the opportunity that they’d make “the system” work for “the American People” instead of for the power elite. Come on guys, it was just LAST YEAR! I don’t think that’s too long of a time for you to forget about that!

So now it’s time for them to put their money where there mouths are… and isn’t it interesting that the temptation is to suddenly talk about NEXT YEAR?

No. Don’t let them do this.

Don’t let them write off 2011 by hyping up 2012.

If the GOP is honest about wanting to be “better” than before with their new “Know Nothing”… oops, I mean “Tea Party” faction, then they need to actually PROVE it instead of playing distraction games. They need to demonstrate that they’re not there for the sake of amassing power and bigger campaign war chests, because we SAW what happened the last time we were told “Trust Us” by the GOP! Thousands of soldiers died in Iraq, Afghanistan was left to fester and re-militarize, billions wasted, and those “precious civil liberties” that the “Know Nothings”… oops, I mean “Tea Partiers”, love to wail about were getting slashed to pieces in Executive Orders and Signing Statements and thousands upon thousands of new regulations. And we’re talking GOP! Not Obama and the Dems! (Maybe that gaffe about the “Know Nothings” has more than just a historical reference?)

But we’re not going to KNOW just how good their “reformed” word is unless we are given the opportunity to see it in action, as they are RIGHT NOW… not after next year’s election.

So to those who wish Sarah Palin would throw her hat in the ring, and to those bit players who are eager to be the next “Senator Obama” to Palin’s “Senator Clinton”, how about you do the American people a favor and hold off on the 2012 rhetoric until you know from real-time experience what kind of Congress you’re probably going to work with? After all, why speak of Reagan-esque dreams if the Congress you’re probably going to be working with is more Hoover than Reagan? And yes, I mean Hoover as in the vacuum as well as the former President.

2012? Go to hell.

Let’s worry about 2011 first.