Monday, October 28, 2013

Week of 10/28/2013

The GOP And The “Staged Tantrums”
– by David Matthews 2

There’s an old Warner Brothers cartoon featuring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Elmer Fudd that sticks out in my mind when it comes to the supposed “Affordable Care Act”.

In the cartoon, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck were in an argument over what kind of “hunting season” it really was.  At stake was Elmer Fudd and the barrel of his double-barrel shotgun being pointed at which of the two were “in season”. Daffy, of course, had posted big signs saying that it was “Rabbit Season”, and Bugs, in his typical smart-aleck fashion, had only his words and a carrot to retort that it was really “Duck Season”.

So the two of them go into a long point-counterpoint argument, with Daffy saying that it’s “Rabbit Season” and Bugs saying that it’s “Duck Season”, and the argument gets pretty fast and animated, and then Bugs says that it’s “Rabbit Season”, causing Daffy to insist that it’s really “Duck Season”, and the more he argues, the more he demands that it’s “Duck Season” and that Elmer should pull the trigger right now.


Off goes Daffy’s face in a puff of gunpowder and feathers.

He gathers himself together, and he and Bugs are back to arguing about what season it is, and once again Bugs is able to switch things up to get Daffy to insist it is “Duck Season”.


Every attempt to convince Elmer that it is “Rabbit Season” is countered not only by the quick thinking of Bugs, but also by the eagerness of Daffy to argue counter-point no matter what.

And that got me thinking… what if, despite all of their protests to the contrary, the GOP and the conservatives and neo-conservatives are really pushing for the Affordable Care Act and helped to make it what it is today?

Okay, bear with me here as I explain it.

First, let’s get this out of the way.  What I’m about to tell you is pure speculation on my part.  It’s no different than the pure speculation that comes out of the mouths of the trained parrots on Fox News or talk radio when they claim to “know” what President Obama thinks or does or governs.  It’s no different than the speculation crafted by Glenn Beck or the folks at World Net Daily or what any number of conservative and neo-conservative groups have been doing all this time.  I have no evidence other than what I’ve observed over the years as a political cynic, so this is all hypothetical on my part.

Having said that, let’s think about what people wanted out of healthcare reform and what we ended up with.

People wanted a single-payer system to end the myriad of bills that get generated from one simple hospital or doctor’s visit.  They wanted an end to the bureaucracy that came from the dictatorial demands from insurance companies over what they will “decide” to pay and whether they will “allow” a procedure to be performed and which doctor they will “graciously” cover in their network.  They wanted healthcare coverage that they could consistently afford.  They wanted an end to putting profits ahead of real human beings.

Now you tell me, how did we get from all of that… to what we have now?  How did we go from the “Rabbit Season” of what we wanted to the “Duck Season” of what we got?

How about some sleight-of-hand trickery and political misdirection?

First, understand that anything that Obama proposes will be instantly objected to by the GOP and conservative and neo-conservative groups.  He could proclaim that it is daylight and the GOP will instinctively counter that it’s really pitch dark.  This is the level of extreme obstructionism that has existed since Obama won the 2008 election, never mind took office.  You know that whatever it is that Obama wants, the GOP will automatically be violently against it.

So the subject of healthcare reform comes up.  You know that the GOP will immediately say that it is socialistic, that it is communistic, that it will wreck the economy, it’ll cause post-nasal drip and that not-so-fresh feeling some women talk about in those commercials.

But here’s the trick: in order to get past the GOP obstructionism, the supporters of healthcare reform have to push back just as hard, if not harder.  They remembered what happened in the 1990’s when then-First Lady Hillary Clinton wanted to reform the system, and they had to make sure that whatever they planned needed to be pushed through just as hard as the GOP pushed to obstruct it.

So we have “Rabbit Season” versus “Duck Season”, and the rhetoric gets hot and heavy, as is expected.

But… what if you didn’t want to really fix the system in the first place?  Sure, a good segment of the populace wanted reform.  The system needed to be repaired.  But that doesn’t automatically translate into this being what Obama or his White House team really wanted. 

Keep in mind that this is the same group that facilitated the big banks getting away with their criminal activities.  The same group that keeps the PATRIOT Act and the NSA spying programs in place.  The same group that keeps the perpetual war machine moving.  There is nothing “liberal” or “progressive” in these things, despite the out-and-out lies by the GOP and the Fox News contingent.  Obama and his crew have spent more time sustaining the status quo than to change it.  Is it really beyond the realm of possibility that Obama’s people were more interested in helping the big insurance companies keep their power than in helping the American people?

So you have the reform supporters saying “Duck Season”, the GOP and their kooky “Tea Party” scam artists screaming “Rabbit Season”.  And somewhere in the bowls of Congress, the healthcare “reform” program gets changed into a huge insurance program, without the supporters even realizing something was wrong.  No universal coverage, no single-payer system, the states could opt-out of helping, and an “individual mandate” that forces people to buy insurance whether they can afford to or not. 

“Duck Season” just became “Rabbit Season”.

And the masses were none the wiser!  Objectors still screamed that it was “socialistic” or “communistic” (when, in fact, it’s corporatistic or fascistic), and the supporters screamed back that it was still needed, that we still “needed” these changes.

“Duck Season!”  “Rabbit Season!”  “Duck Season!”  “Rabbit Season!”  “Rabbit Season!”  “Duck Season!”  “Rabbit Season!”  “Duck Season! Duck Season!  Duck Season!  I’m telling you once and for all that it is Duck Season!  Now shoot!  Shoot!


Of course, hypothetically speaking, this would have to be worked out with the GOP… just like the Wall Street bailouts were worked out.  They can’t exactly go through this with the GOP leaders suddenly saying “Hey, wait a minute, this isn’t the same program your own people are talking about!”  They have to pretend like nothing changed in order for this switch to work.  They have to keep the rhetoric going.  They have to keep saying “Duck Season” to Obama’s “Rabbit Season”, and to do so louder and louder to keep the masses confused.

You’re probably asking yourself what the GOP would have to gain by working with the supposed “enemy” on this little game.  Well, it got them control of the House of Representatives.  It gave them filibuster power in the Senate.  It gave them – and is still giving them – a singular issue to not only campaign on, but, most importantly, an issue by which K-Street and their own masses can contribute oodles of money towards.

Forty-two attempts to either de-fund or outright repeal the ACA, knowing full well that any measure that passes the House would never get past the Senate, never mind get signed by Obama or survive a veto-override.  It is a clear waste of time, but it keeps the masses pissed off and it keeps the campaign money flowing.

There are many ways that the GOP could have fixed the ACA.  They could have neutered the IRS.  They could have redefined what a “tax” is so that it couldn’t be used in the way that it is used with the ACA.  If the members of the GOP really wanted to, they could have found a way to dismantle the part of the ACA they really hated, and to do so silently, without attracting attention, and even with the support of the Dems.

But they haven’t done that, have they?  No, they’ve opted instead for big grandiose productions and overblown temper tantrums, screaming like petulant children not getting their ice cream.  It makes someone like me wonder… are they doth protesting too much?

Think about this: the ACA’s Individual Mandate was saved in the Supreme Court by Chief Justice John Roberts.  This was someone appointed by the GOP and Obama’s predecessor.  Do you really think that Roberts could have been convinced just by Obama and the liberal contingent to weasel in the Mandate as being a “tax”?  The GOP had far more to lose over the loss of the Individual Mandate than Obama had to gain by it surviving judicial muster.

Like I said previously, this is still all speculation on my part, but let’s get brutally honest here… this certainly explains some of the antics by the GOP, especially of late.  It explains Senator Ted Cruz and his marathon speaking session, not to mention the Congressional-imposed government shutdown that lasted sixteen days.  It also explains why the GOP is hell-bent on doing this all over again, despite the perceived negative consequences that have come from this.

It’s all an act.  It’s all staged.

It all seems to be a way for both the GOP and Obama to give the insurance companies everything they wanted, and to do so without the liberals screaming in protest.  It gives the GOP a political windmill to tilt, it gives K-Street a crusade to generate money from, it gives Fox News and talk radio something to scream about, and it screws up the economy and puts the screws to the masses, which the GOP can then use to blame Obama for causing.  It became the “key cause” for the 2010 and 2012 elections, and is already the “key cause” for the upcoming 2014 election season. 

That’s some pretty good grifting if you think about it.  But, then again, you’re not supposed to be.

Bear in mind one thing out of all of this… despite the rhetoric and bluster, neither Obama, nor the Dems, nor the GOP have anything to lose out of this whole mess.  They’re all exempt from the ACA.  And it’s not like they couldn’t afford to spring for their own insurance coverage anyway. 

Throughout all of the screams for “Rabbit Season” or “Duck Season”, none of them are the ones that are facing down the rhetorical barrel of Elmer Fudd’s shotgun when the trigger is pulled.  We are.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Week of 10/21/2013

Stop Lying! “Both Parties” Are Not To Blame For Mess!
– by David Matthews 2

Imagine finding out that someone you know was violently attacked.  Savagely beaten, humiliated, or maybe even worse.  Now imagine the police apprehending this attacker, someone with a record of violent incidents, and this person is not only proud of doing what he did, but that the victim deserved to be attacked.  And now picture members of the media, reporters and commentators alike, actually siding with the attacker and saying that the victim was equally at fault.

Wouldn’t you want to go on a warpath with those people?  Wouldn’t you want to punch their lights out for saying that?

That is how I feel right now when it comes to the GOP and their latest political tantrum.

Before we get going with this, I’ll point out that I used to be an actual card-carrying, dues-paying member of the GOP.  I carried their political water through my college years, thinking that they stood for things that I support.  I have no love for the Democrats.  They have proven to be failures time and time again.  The only things that keep the Dems going right now are money, old political power, and the fact that the GOP is their own worst enemy, and sometimes America’s worst enemy as recently demonstrated.

The GOP recently held the federal budget hostage.  They forced a shutdown of the federal government, compelling thousands of soldiers and federal employees to work without pay for about three weeks.  Services were either shut down or put on hold.  Museums, parks, and memorials were closed.  This shutdown could have gone on indefinitely if not for the fact that they also were up against an artificial deadline of their own creation known as the “Debt Ceiling”.

Why?  Because they wanted to de-fund the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare”.  The GOP leaders in the House of Representatives have tried forty-two times to either de-fund or outright repeal it, and all of them have failed to get beyond the House.  So they stole a page from the Mexican Drug Cartel and they kidnapped the federal budget.

And they lost.  They counted on Obama and the Dems to cave and that did not happen.  They lost.

But that isn’t what really bothers me.

What really bothers me is what The Script has been churning out even before the shutdown was resolved.

Even while the government was shut down and the “debt ceiling” deadline was looming and financial “experts” were all up in arms about a possible fiscal apocalypse and Senator Ted Cruz was throwing a temper tantrum about a veterans memorial being closed because of the shutdown he helped to bring about… media commentators began regurgitating the same scripted message.  They all said that the shutdown was horrible, shame on the GOP for doing it…

… But that “both parties” were to blame.

Excuse me?

Are you people in the media on drugs?  What dementedly fractured fairy tale book have you been reading in lieu of reality to come to that conclusion?

Here’s a little reminder: the GOP, the so-called “Republicans”, acting more like anarchists than supporters of any kind of legitimate republic, picked this fight.  They chose to issue an ultimatum.  They were the ones that demanded President Obama and the Senate give up the Affordable Care Act, a law that was already passed, signed, enacted, and vetted by the Supreme Court.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the GOP leadership also enacted a secret rule change in the House on September 30th that would prevent anyone except the House Majority Leader from bringing a continuing resolution from the Senate up for a vote that would have otherwise averted the shutdown.  It’s called House Resolution 368.  Look it up.

The GOP openly picked this fight.  They were the instigators and the perpetrators of this shutdown!

So how the hell do these so-called “professionals” in the media get off saying that “both parties” were to blame?

Are they suggesting that Obama and the Dems were somehow at fault because they did not give in to the GOP’s kidnapping demands?  Isn’t that like blaming the assault victim for not simply giving in?  Or like blaming a rape victim for not spreading her legs wider?  (Yes, I went there.  Or did you think that the GOP is the only group “allowed” to make that kind of comparison?)

You tell me, so-called “professionals” in the media: why is it when the GOP act like the un-budging jackasses that they are, they’re “praised” for sticking to their beliefs, but when the Dems stand firm, you hypocrites tar them as being “unwilling to negotiate” and try to blame them for the destructive actions of their counterparts?  Why are the Dems expected to cave each and every time and then be castigated when they do?  Go ahead, “experts”; I dare you to explain that one to the world!

Unfortunately for us, there is a very simple and painful reason why the media is churning out a fraudulent script that tries to pin the blame on both the GOP and the Dems for the disaster instigated by the GOP… and it is all about fanatically maintaining that damned status quo.

Let’s get brutally honest here… the only reason why “The Script” is trying to share the blame between both political parties, even though only one of them was clearly to blame for it, is because to do otherwise would forever doom the GOP as a party and destroy the two-party dominance.

If the GOP is allowed to take the full blame for their actions, if they were held to account for their acts of sabotage and insurrection, and if the media showed just how destructive the GOP has really become, then the masses would stop voting for them.  The party itself would die.  Literally die, like their predecessors in the Whig Party did back in the 1850’s.

Then that would leave the Dems as the only “major party” left.  But that wouldn’t be for long either.  The Democrats only exist today because of the GOP’s abusive tendencies.  The GOP goes away, the Dems soon follow.  And then where would all of those K-Street power-brokers and special interest groups be?  Their precious status quo would be gone.  Awwww…. “poor widdle” power brokers!

This is the game that has been played on us all this time.  The fanatical extremist cultish adherence to the myth, to the fiction, to the delusional fairy tale, that says that both dominant political parties are equally wrong and equally evil and equally at fault at everything wrong that goes on.  That one dominant party cannot be or do worse than the other dominant party… lest they tip the balance of power that has existed over the decades.

But ultimately there is one group that is truly to blame for this mess… and that is all of us.  We are the ones that buy into the fairy tale instead of reality.  We are the ones that refuse to listen to our own protests and continue to vote to sustain the Dems and the GOP in Washington… simply because The Script tells us to.

I can understand why the GOP refuses to accept reality. I can understand why members of the media continue to sustain lies to support the status quo.  But the only way the lies and the fiction will stop is when we stop buying into it.  A pox on the GOP, shame for the supposed “professionals” in the media, but a double of each should be reserved for us all if we allow them to keep doing these things in our name.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Week of 10/14/2013

Can Atheists Best Theists?
– by David Matthews 2

When it comes to trying to validate religious beliefs, some people use the most asinine presumptions in their arguments.

One of the biggest is the pompous and self-serving presumptions that morals and values and everything that is good and decent and pure can only come from religion.  Of course when they say “religion”, what they really mean is their specific religious belief; but they don’t want to come off as being “too egotistical” when trying to castigate the “heathens”.  They had might as well claim that the air that we all breathe and the gravity that keeps us on the ground all come from “belief” as well.

Yes, it is really about validating their own egos and their arrogant presumption that they are superior to others.  And in doing so, they actually disprove their own claims.

The ego-driven presumption goes like this: all morality, ethics, values, everything that we consider to be “good”, these things can only come from religious belief.  Since atheists and agnostics and freethinkers do not believe like supposedly “devout” people, then they have no “guide” to what is right and wrong, and therefore cannot help but do evil things.

The presumption operates on the delusional fantasy that supposedly “truly devout” people cannot do the wrong things or break the rules of either society or “laws” of that particular belief.  This fiction then advances the equally delusional argument that if there is crime and perceived lawlessness that “society has turned away from God”.

Let’s start with a little quote from the BBC series “Doctor Who”…

“Good men don’t need rules.”

Simplistic but essentially true.  People that already know what is right and wrong will automatically try to do the former and avoid the latter without the need for a law or a rule to say otherwise.  They won’t do it because a law tells them, but because they believe it themselves in their hearts and minds.

So if goodness and ethics and morality truly come exclusively from religion, then why do we need rules in the first place?  All we would need is “faith”, right?  “Devout” people would automatically not do wrong… if the presumption was true.

That explains why the prisons are just overflowing with atheists and agnostics, right?  Oh, wait, they’re not.  In fact, the vast majority of prisoners consider themselves to be quite religious according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  Atheists and agnostics make up only a tiny portion of inmates in the correctional facilities.

Well… maybe the rest are just Satanists and other “demon worshipers”, huh?

Uh… nope.  Christians dominate the inmate crowd in America.

Well, let’s look at the champions of faith; the religious leaders that serve as the shining examples of how goodness and morality flows from their belief in that higher power.

Inquisitions, witch trials, anti-abortion terrorism, rampant instances of physical abuse and systematic concealment of molestations… Yeah, not exactly religion at its best.  But if the presumption is to be believed, then none of these things should have happened!

Let’s face it, if you’re part of an institution that did nothing about the Holocaust while it happened around them, that persecuted men for looking into a telescope, that tortured and killed women and small animals out of fear and then did nothing to atone for it, that forced young victims of horrific crimes into silence and shuffled around the perpetrators, then you’re not living up to the claim that your faith somehow brings goodness and decency and morality into the world.

There’s another flaw in the idea that only through religion can one have goodness, and that is in measuring the goodness itself.  Do you do good deeds because of some sense of obligation?  Or do you do it because you believe it is right?

It’s hard to tell, isn’t it?  There’s really no way to tell if a person is doing good because of obligation or because they believe it to be right in their own minds.  We can’t read their minds.  We can only presume their intentions through our own biases.

So is it possible that a theist, despite their fidelity and proud proclamations of their moral superiority, could be denied that supposed spiritual reward, while the hereafter is filled with good-natured but humble atheists and agnostics?

This will blow the minds of some people, but, yes, hypothetically it is possible.

Let’s get brutally honest here… if you’re going to claim that religion is the basis of goodness and decency and morality, then you better make sure that your spiritual house – both personal and institutional – first lives up to the claim.

As a theist myself, I am somewhat embarrassed by the arrogance by those of faith over those that are not blind followers of that faith.  You’re not exactly helping your cause when your pride leads you to make claims that you know you can’t live up to.  Much like the recent Apple iPhone ads, sometimes the best form of advertising is humble demonstration.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Week of 10/07/2013

How Long Can You Live Without Pay?
– by David Matthews 2

So the GOP has once again screwed over the federal government, forcing a “partial shutdown”, throwing tens of thousands of federal employees either out of work or in a financial “null zone”, where they work without getting paid.

Of course the extent of this “partial shutdown” goes far beyond what I just described.  We’re talking parks and museums being shut down, certain agencies not doing their jobs, aid programs being suspended… and, of course, members of Congress still getting their cushy six-figure salaries while they sit on their platitudes.

But I want to take this time to look at the ones that are hurt the most by this shutdown: those federal employees that still have to show up at work, day-in-and-day-out through this whole mess, and yet not get paid.

The script, which has been regurgitated repeatedly, says that we shouldn’t worry about these furloughed employees, because at least they’re still working.  Besides, they’ll get paid for their work when Congress gets their act together, right?  Eventually.

I find this cavalier attitude very annoying, because of all the people affected by the partisan temper tantrum, these are the ones that have the heaviest burden to bear.  They have to come in and work essentially for free; they have no alternative short of quitting their jobs.  And before you cons and neo-cons start flatulating away about how they should do just that, I challenge you to drop your jobs and go find other work in this miserable economy!  You’ll find millions of Forsaken Americans standing in line for jobs that are not there.  (You know; all those people that you slanderously claim “stopped looking”.)

Think about all of the things that go into that “daily grind”.  You get up, get dressed, drive to work or take public transportation, you get your morning coffee, you work, you have lunch, you go back to work, and then you go home.  Simple, right?

Now think about all of the things that involve money.  Getting to and from work isn’t for free.  You have to pay for the gas in your car, not to mention any possible tolls or parking costs.  You have to pay if you want to take public transportation.  Unless the workplace provides it, you’ll have to pay for your morning coffee, not to mention your lunch.

Most folks could carry on for maybe a week or two without money.  But the last time the GOP had an ego-driven temper tantrum that shut down the government, the federal employees had to work without pay for twenty-eight days.  Do you think you could last that long?

You tell me… how can you pay for gas for your car if you don’t have money coming in?  And if you can’t pay for gas, then how can you be expected to show up at work?  Do you think the narcissistic members of the GOP would pony up for gas for those federal employees so they can continue to work without pay?  Do you think the Koch Brothers will do that?  Or the folks at Fox News?

How about food?  Sure you can go without lunch for a while, but how about the other daily meals?  How will you get groceries if you don’t have money coming in?  “Food Pantry”, you say?  Oh, sorry, many of those places have been depleted thanks to the Great Recession.  You know, the economic disaster caused by those “good friends” of the GOP.  Do you honestly expect those federal employees that have to work without pay to simply show up at the local grocery store and get food without paying for it?

And I know what some of you are thinking right now… and I have to ask you what makes you think that every single federal employee in that situation has a credit card to rely on?  And even if they did, what makes you think they could afford to rely on it for any length of time?  The Great Recession has put a hurt on a lot of us these past five years.  If that wasn’t bad enough, the GOP has also engaged in a little game called “sequestration”, which has hurt certain departments.  How many of those employees had to take a pay cut already, or been denied pay raises just so the GOP can satisfy their political egos?  How many of them have already had their personal finances stretched to the limit?

Now… we’re still talking short-term here.  What happens when the shutdown goes beyond the 28-days of the previous shutdown?  Now we’re talking about the lack of money affecting mortgages, rent, loan payments, insurance bills, utility costs, and those aforementioned credit card payments.  We’ve seen how criminally reckless the banks can be when it comes to people missing even one mortgage payment.  How many federal employees have to lose their homes to satisfy the GOP?

And bear in mind these people have to still go to work with all of that on their heads!  The stress of not having bills paid, of having their utilities cut off, of having to go without food or water, of possibly losing their homes, and wonder just how they will be able to get to and from work, all of that weighing on them as they are expected to continue to do their jobs essentially for free!  Oh, they’ll get paid… eventually… when the politicians get their act together… but not right now.

Let’s get brutally honest here… it’s sadistically and damnably sociopathic to demand that tens of thousands of people work for nothing just because some criminally narcissistic politicians like John Boehner and Ted Cruz want to hold the government hostage for their narrow-minded agenda!

And if you’re on the side of these narcissists, then I challenge you to live like these “exempt” employees!  I challenge you to go to and from work without pay for the duration of this shutdown!  No money for gas, no money for food or groceries, no money for bills.  How long do you think you’d hold out, huh?  I seriously doubt many of you would even last a week, never mind twenty-eight days!

The only people that can afford to get by without pay in the federal government are those at the very top.  The very sadists that we elected!  And while some of them have “graciously” decided to forego their pay during the duration of this shutdown, they have the option of doing that, not to mention they have the option to turn this whole matter off by doing their jobs instead of playing petty narcissistic games.