Archive for March 6th, 2012

March 6, 2012

Why Are Religious Beliefs Off Limits?

SATAN SAYS

Why Are Religious Beliefs Off Limits?

 

By Lawrence M. Krauss

 

A month ago I wrote a piece making fun of Newt Gingrich’s wild ideas about space exploration. In the interest of fairness, it is time to make fun of what are now the two leading Republican candidates ideas, not about space, but about heaven.

 

One might think that the religious beliefs of political candidates should remain off limits in public discourse. I don’t think so, at least not when candidates wear their religion on their sleeves.

 

Candidates should have the right to keep their religious views private, but in the current climate essentially none of them actually do so. Rick Santorum has gone so far as to argue that John Kennedy’s strict confirmation of the separation of church and state, which many consider one of the pillars of American democracy, should be discarded. In this case, it is all the more important to explore his theological views.

 

More generally, should we not be able to question whether the beliefs of the religion publicly espoused by a candidate may reflect on candidate’s judgment and their ability to distinguish sense from nonsense? Why is it acceptable to dissect Newt Gingrich’s fanciful plans for making the Moon a 51st state but not his implicit suggestion that Pope John Paul II was responsible, via divine intervention, for the fall of communism?

 

Not all religious beliefs are currently so immune. Christine O’Donnell, the Tea Party Senate candidate from Delaware, had her campaign torpedoed when it was revealed she had “dabbled in witchcraft” as a teenager. This, in spite of the fact that, as my colleague and Templeton prizewinner Paul Davies reminded me at the time, Wiccan theology is in many senses no less strange than Christian theology.

 

This issue is particularly relevant in this election season because the two leading Republican candidates, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, are an enthusiastic Mormon and a fundamentalist Catholic respectively.

 

The bible is full of dubious scientific impossibilities, from Jonah living inside a whale, to the Sun standing still in the sky for Joshua. But while the miracles at the foundation of the Mormon Church may be no more or less believable in an a priori sense than those attributed to mainstream Judeo-Christianity, they are clearly more suspect. Joseph Smith was previously tried for the crime of claiming to falsely find lost treasure when he then claimed to discover golden tablets buried under a tree in upstate New York in the 19th century, and with the aid of an angel translates them into 17th century English, and then the original tablets miraculously disappear. Among the beliefs that followed include the claim that native American tribes represent the lost tribe of Israel and that Jesus Christ also conveniently visited North America.

 

Shouldn’t we wonder about the judgment of anyone who buys that story without doubt, especially when that person is vying for our trust as commander in chief?

 

It should be admitted that Mitt Romney does not openly defend the dubious claims of Mormonism while declaring his faith on the campaign trail. Rick Santorum on the other hand is more explicit about his own unique brand of Catholicism. He is most well-known for his religious opposition to both contraception and abortion, which have led him to make ridiculous statements regarding how birth control leads to more abortions for example, which bring back memories Pope Benedict’s famous claim that condom use in Africa would increase the likelihood of AIDS.

 

However, his theological beliefs have led him to more bizarre beliefs that transcend even the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. Unlike the official statements of the Vatican, Santorum has argued strenuously that his theology is incompatible with the facts of biological evolution, and he has spearheaded calls for the insertion of religious based nonsense, labeled “intelligent design” into public school science curricula. Perhaps even more worrisome is his “end of days” theological belief that “Satan has his sights on the United States of America,” as the former Senator put it in a speech a few years ago.

 

When a person’s religious beliefs cause him to deny the evidence of science, or for whom public policy morphs into a battle with the devil, shouldn’t that be a subject for discussion and debate?

 

As Richard Dawkins has emphasized, you wouldn’t want to go to a doctor who subscribed to the Stork theory of reproduction, so why should we not focus on the actual content of the publicly espoused beliefs held by politicians?

 

Both Romney and Santorum no doubt gained their faith by exposure to their respective religions as children. Nevertheless, as adults we should amass sufficient tools of critical thinking to know which stories to keep and which to discard. It thus seems fair game to openly and directly ask Mr. Romney and Mr. Santorum to outline the specifics of their beliefs about the sacred as well as the profane, in order to more fully probe the character and intellect anyone who proposes to lead this nation. To do any less is to be negligent in our duties as citizens.

From nonplussed by religion

Obviously, I don’t believe that they are off limits nor should they be. If  those with religious beliefs were silent about  those beliefs and  did not constantly attempt to inflict their beliefs, their particular idea of morality  upon the rest of us through legislation, then I might beleive in a live-and-let-live approach. They do not  choose to do that so neither do I. SOB

 

 

March 6, 2012

Living in a bubble of their own

From Socialistworker.org.

Living in a bubble of their own

Occupy Chicago and labor activist Michael Weinert explains that the Federal Reserve didn’t just fail to predict the Great Recession of 2008–it helped create it.

March 6, 2012

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke (Shirley Li)Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke (Shirley Li)

THE FEDERAL Reserve Board makes verbatim transcripts of its policy-making sessions available after a five-year lag. So the transcripts from these meetings now being released provide a window into just how clueless the government’s own top economists were in the run-up to the financial crash of 2008. The transcripts are also reviving discussion about what the Fed should have done to address the situation in order to prevent the misery that now grips tens of millions of Americans.

Here are some of the more mind-boggling quotes from these transcripts.

In 2006, for example, Federal Reserve Board Chair Ben Bernanke proclaimed, “We are unlikely to see growth being derailed by the housing market.” Bernanke made this obviously “un-prescient” comment at the March 2006 meeting, the first he headed as chief, when housing sales and prices had already significantly fallen.

The March 2006 meeting was the one at which the board said goodbye to outgoing Fed Chair Alan Greenspan. As Janet Yellen, then-president of the San Francisco Fed, gushed during that meeting, “It is fitting for Chairman Greenspan to leave office with the economy in such solid shape.” With respect to Greenspan handing off the position to Bernanke, she employed the analogy of Greenspan giving Bernanke “a tennis racket with a giant sweet spot.”

In retrospect, one (but not I) could remark that she definitely did not serve an ace with that remark.

At the Fed’s June 2006 meeting, then-Atlanta Fed President Jack Guynn placed a lot of faith in some “innovative” home sales techniques, including “providing upgrades such as marble countertops” and “throwing in a free Mini Cooper.”

To present these “techniques” as encouraging signs rather than examples of a housing market desperate to save itself from disaster is all the more mind-boggling coming from someone deemed capable of guiding the nation’s economy.

Then, at the December 2006 meeting, Yellen declared, “There are some encouraging signs that the demand for housing may be stabilizing.” By “stabilizing,” she apparently meant “leveling off” even though the housing market had shown no signs of halting its ongoing decline.

At the same meeting, Kevin Warsh, a Fed governor, offered, “I consider the debt capital markets to be incredibly robust.”

“Incredibly robust!” Incredible, to be sure. It seems our nation’s so-called top economists were in a bubble of their own.

These and other excerpts from the transcripts have provoked exasperated disbelief and frustration among many Americans–and provided ammunition to people from a variety of political camps.

Some conservatives (mainly Reaganites but not many officials from either Bush administration) are using the transcripts to make their case that the Fed should not aim to “manage” the economy beyond ensuring the maximum availability of capital to business on generous terms.

The transcripts have bolstered liberals who argue that the Fed should play a stronger role in developing, implementing and enforcing prudent financial practices in the banking industry.

Some so-called “libertarians,” such as Ron Paul, use the transcripts to back up their view that the entire Federal Reserve system should be eliminated. (The system as a whole consists of the Federal Reserve Board (also known as the Board of Governors) and the Federal Reserve Bank network; while the board is an independent government agency, the Federal Reserve Bank is owned by its member banks, which are the federally chartered, private-sector banks).

These “libertarians” think that interest rates should be solely determined by decentralized economic competition and not by a central authority, and certainly not by an authority influenced by politics. Such “libertarians” think the abolition of the Fed system would go a long way towards “solving” America’s financial and economic woes.

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MOST IF not all socialists see little if any benefit to be gained from focusing on just one aspect of American capitalism as if removing a single brick would bring the whole edifice crashing down. For one thing, the idea that abolishing the Fed would “decentralize” the interest-rate-setting process, and thereby the money-supply-determining process, is naïve and ludicrous.

According to a recent article by David Wheelock of the St. Louis Federal Reserve, there has been “a substantial consolidation of the banking industry” since the mid-1980s. In some markets, this has accelerated with the recent round of bank failures, acquisitions and mergers. Thus, it is difficult to characterize the current banking scene, with national mega-banks dictating market terms, as a purely competitive, decentralized situation.

There are a few instances of lower-level board members expressing reservations about developments such as mortgage-backed securities (MBS), which is a type of investment product known as a “derivative” (the film Margin Call portrays the impact of this phenomenon through the lens of fictional but reality-based financial services firm).

An MBS investment represents a claim on the future performance of a package of mortgages. The MBS does not consist of the mortgages themselves, but is essentially a wager that the mortgages in the package will hit a particular performance benchmark related to the health of the mortgages after a designated time period has elapsed. Hence the term “derivative,” which in itself does not consist of anything that has true economic value, but is “derived” from some specified measurement of something that has value.

While most MBS securities are positively structured, there is the infamous example of a bank taking a negative position on its own mortgages–in other words, betting on and profiting from the failure of loans that the bank itself has extended.

Also of importance is that a “derivative” does not directly provide funding (capital) for the production, distribution and delivery of goods and services. It is a wager, pure and simple, no more or less so than any wager placed at a casino. Since stock trades as such do not provide capital (though they determine the price at which a publicly traded concern can raise capital), it is really but a very minor leap from stock (also known as equity) investments to derivatives.

As we now know, the reservations expressed about these derivatives were not taken seriously by the Federal Reserve Board as a whole. Little wonder, as their former guru Alan Greenspan is on record as having had no problem with derivatives, and it was not until after the housing bubble burst that his reputation started to show some cracks among his former devotees.

Greenspan sprang to the defense of derivatives in testifying before the Senate Banking Committee in 2003, asserting that “derivatives have been an extremely useful vehicle to transfer risk from those who shouldn’t be taking it to those who are willing to and are capable of doing so.”

This statement was taken as a green light not only by the financial industry but also by those whose role it was to prevent abuses related to these “products.” (And here we are.)

With this kind of support for derivatives from such a legend of monetary policy-making, is it any wonder that any criticism of them would have quickly been put down by the board as a body? Yet mortgage-backed securities ended up being a significant part of the problem.

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IT WOULD be one thing if nobody at all recognized the growing bubble in the housing sector. Yet there were those who did. Among these was Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He writes about the whole mess in his book Plunder and Blunder: The Rise and Fall of the Bubble Economy. And Baker was not alone in recognizing the nature and magnitude of the developing problem.

The fact that independent analysts were able to identify the looming economic problems that somehow eluded the top economists and financial experts appointed by the government has led many to draw the conclusion that the government-appointed “experts” weren’t so expert after all. In fact, they are frequently characterized as a bunch of drooling morons. Many find this a very satisfying characterization, especially the millions of Americans who have suffered as a result of the whole fiasco.

As we working Americans know, if we had so completely failed to properly perform our jobs, as the Fed members appear to have done, it would not be long before we would find ourselves at the unemployment office.

The members of the Federal Reserve Board were presumably hired to analyze economic developments and anticipate problems. As such, with a modicum of research and just a tiny bit of brainwork, they could easily have discovered the extent to which the lending industry had relaxed its standards to qualify people to purchase houses–despite unheard-of leaps in housing prices.

But they didn’t.

One would be hard-pressed to imagine these supposed brainiacs receiving a rating as generous as “poor” on a performance appraisal. Compared to their official job specifications, they have been abject failures. Truly, how could anyone have performed worse?

With that in mind, let us see how these people have fared in the years since their failures have become headline news the world over.

For one, no member of the Fed has suffered any consequences for his/her poor stewardship. To the contrary.

Ben Bernanke? He is still chair of the Federal Reserve Board.

Janet Yellen, who gushed about Alan Greenspan? She has been promoted–to vice-chair of the board.

So today, the Fed’s top two leadership positions are held by individuals who issued absolutely no warnings about the coming crisis despite the gathering economic storm clouds, and who, when the severity of the situation finally dawned on them, took no steps to mitigate the effects of the crisis other than getting behind the bailout.

What is the conclusion that a logical person can draw from this? That analyzing economic and financial developments, and taking steps to troubleshoot problems, is no longer part of the expected job performance of the members of the Federal Reserve Board.

And that is exactly the situation.

Simply re-read the above quotes from our “esteemed” economic gurus. What are they really saying? Nothing more than what a college football cheerleader might say to try to sustain momentum. That’s right: The role of what used to be our nation’s top government-appointed economic and financial experts has deteriorated to the extent that they are now nothing more than glorified cheerleaders. And God forbid they should say anything that might “alarm the markets.”

“Get ahead of potentially negative developments?” “Relax. No big deal. Enjoy your oatmeal.”

“Institute measures to counteract problems?” “Don’t strain yourself. The taxpayers are good for it!”

One can imagine the musical accompaniment to Fed meetings, as directed by the financial industry. “Don’t rain on my parade!”

For the Fed to conduct itself in this way is the result of messages they have obviously received–loud and clear–from Corporate America and from both of the major political parties of Corporate America.

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OF COURSE, the Fed doesn’t see things this way. But if the perpetrators of this debacle aren’t those ostensibly managing the economy, who is to blame?

Well naturally, the perpetrators are the victims themselves! According to the Federal Reserve Board and the rest of the financial industry, it is the “irresponsibility” of homebuyers who purchased property they couldn’t afford that was responsible for the financial crisis.

Talk about damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. When we working people don’t “spend enough,” we are criticized for not doing our part to help the American economy.

And when we get suckered into buying into the “American Dream” with its cathedral ceilings, multicar garages, and yes, marble countertops (what’s not to like about marble countertops?), then we are criticized for that.

If the main criterion for loan qualification is the loan officer’s question, “Do you think you can handle this mortgage?” it’s not hard to figure out how a person buying into the American Dream is going to answer that.

Of course, there are a load of “if’s” behind that “yes” response, such as, “If the car doesn’t need a repair,” “if nobody gets sick,” “if we don’t take any vacations,” and perhaps most vitally, “if I don’t get laid off.” But “stuff” happens, and when housing prices have been juiced up to the point where they exceed the income limits formerly imposed, it doesn’t take much for it all to come crashing down.

Not a single borrower pointed a gun at a loan rep’s head and forced him or her to grant a mortgage. It’s the responsibility of the lending institution to either approve or reject a loan application. The extent to which some of these mortgages were not financially sound is not the borrower’s fault. The lending institutions are supposed to be the financial experts, not the borrowers.

So what did the members of the Federal Reserve Board actually do about the housing bubble? For one thing, they were responsible for the development of the bubble in the first place. And once it got going, they kept it going, as long as they could. Some analysts estimate that without the cheerleading of the Fed, the housing bubble would have collapsed approximately two years earlier than it did.

The Fed nursed the bubble, and the longer it did so, the more people were sucked into the resulting misery, as into a black hole.

While Fed officials can say one of their motivations was to help Americans buy homes, it doesn’t take an advanced degree to know that a better way might be to focus on keeping housing affordable. An even better solution would be a socialist society, in which housing would become a basic human right, not a commodity to be bought and sold.

There is a fallacy that the housing bubble just “happened.” But it was made to happen. It was brought about by by financial institutions which assumed that, regardless of the high degree of risk they were undertaking (with corresponding ultra-high profits), the government would use taxpayer resources to cover their losses in the event that it all came crashing down.

The housing bubble has also brought the pain of the boom-and-bust cycle, always an inescapable aspect of capitalist markets, into that aspect of economic life that for generations of American workers encompassed their largest asset–their homes.

Housing prices had until 2008 been largely immune from overall business cycle fluctuations. Did anyone ever think there would ever be a widespread collapse in home values across the nation? It seemed an impossible idea. Yet what is more nightmarish than the situation in which the mortgage balances on many Americans’ homes actually exceed the current market value?

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AMERICAN POLITICS is no enemy of boom and bust. Despite some politicians and government officials paying lip service to “maintaining equilibrium” and “stable growth,” the party in office loves a boom come election time, and the other party hopes for a bust. President George W. Bush at least was honest when in early 2006 he said, “Economies should cycle.”

He made this comment specifically in relation to the housing market, but it reflects a reasoned realization that, if one is to support the capitalist economic system, one is obliged to accept an economy-wide boom-and-bust pattern.

Honesty aside, however, Bush’s statement reflected the heartlessness at the core of capitalism. As part of his same remarks on the bubble, he said, “If houses get too expensive, people will stop buying them.” He meant this statement to be a defense of the idea that boom-and-bust is a good thing–the implication being that if people stop buying houses, prices will eventually come down.

But as we’ve seen, as long as the bubble lasted, many Americans anxious to buy a home became impatient. How long can you expect a young couple starting a family to defer getting into a family home? Why should a significant segment of a generation be expected to suffer due to the timing of their coming into young adulthood? (This phenomenon has its counterpart in the employment field, when a large segment of a generation comes of employment age during a period of high unemployment.)

And after all this, the Fed has also been made whole, if not in reputation at least in terms of position. The Federal Reserve Board has deteriorated into being nothing more than a public-relations branch of the financial system. Cheerleaders for a capitalist financial system that can no longer serve the interests of us working people, and hasn’t the slightest interest in doing so.

So if you happen to see Ben Bernanke in a blonde wig, miniskirt, stockings and high-heeled white boots, carrying pom-poms, don’t assume he’s going to a costume party. He’s probably just on his way to a Fed meeting.

March 6, 2012

Need a Quick $1,000,000?

March 6, 2012

Still Burning Witches in Kansas

From  Counterpunch

March 06, 2012

Stand Up for Dr. Kristin Neuhaus against the Kansas Theocracy’s Anti-Abortion Jihad

Still Burning Witches in Kansas

A few hundred years ago in colonial Massachusetts, the theocratic fascist men who ran that society had a way of dealing with free-thinking women in their midst: they burned them at the stake or drummed up hordes of frightened and unthinking neighbors to stone them to death.

Most of us today imagine that if we had lived in those dark times, we would have stood up against such an outrage. Now is the time to find out.

Salem, Massachusetts of 1690 is alive and well in the state of Kansas, where a thuggish regime of charlatans currently led by Republican Governor Sam Brownback and supported by the terrorist organization Operation Rescue have been hounding doctors who have dared to provide desperate pregnant women of the midwest with access to safe abortions out of business and literally to death. (It was after a botched attempt by these theological fascists to charge and convict Dr. George Tiller of operating his abortion clinic in the state illegally that Scott Roeder, a fevered backer and confidante of activists in Operation Rescue, made the decision to kill the doctor, shooting him in the face as he greeted parishioners at his church on Sunday.)

Today, the target of Gov. Brownback and his fellow women haters and religious fanatics is Dr. Ann Kristin Neuhaus. A courageous physician, Neuhaus was long one of the few doctors in this benighted state, dubbed Brownbackistan by Neuhaus and her journalist/farmer husband Michael Cadell, to offer abortions. From 1999-2007 she acted as a consultant to whom Dr. Tiller could refer
women and young girls — many the victims of rape and incest — for a second opinion required by the state.

The urgent issue today is a hearing, set for March 8 — ironically on International Women’s Day — of the Kansas Board of Healing Arts — a body that oversees the licensing of doctors, chiropracters and other medical professionals. This board has been stacked over the years of Republican control of state government with hacks and shills for the anti-abortion movement, including people with close links to Operation Rescue, the anti-abortion organization that has terrorized women seeking abortions at clinics across the country, and that has inspired a number of clinic bombings and even the
murders of abortion doctors. Some of the members aren’t even doctors. For example, a recent Brownback appointee to the board was Rick Macias, a lawyer for Operation Rescue and other anti-abortion organizations.

Neuhaus’s problems began in 2006, when a convicted felon, Cheryl Sullenger (who served time in federal prison for her role in a 1988 plot to blow up a California abortion clinic, who was and is a close associate of Roeder and who is a senior policy advisor to Operation Rescue), filed a complaint with the Board of Healing Arts, alleging on no evidence that Dr. Neuhaus had not been adequately evaluating the women seeking abortions at Dr. Tiller’s clinic, or properly documenting their files.

During a lengthy investigation, based upon the word of this convicted felon, the board used lies and deception to steal Dr. Neuhaus’s confidential patient medical files, first asking her to bring them with her to a hearing “for reference purposes,” with the promise that they would not be taken from her, and then confiscating them all at the hearing.

Although Dr. Neuhaus now has no medical practice, having herself placed her medical license in inactive status while studying for a master’s degree in public health at the University of Kansas Medical Center, where she sees patients on welfare, the rabid fundamentalist thugs doing Brownback’s political bidding on the Board of Healing Arts are nonetheless continuing their inquisition against her.

A negative ruling by the board permanently revoking Neuhaus’s medical license would be bad enough, but Neuhaus and her husband worry that this would only be the beginning. There are rumors that state and county prosecutors in the pocket of the governor have been preparing to jump in after that with a criminal indictment against her. As the family (the couple have a teenage son) is already in dire financial straits because of the years of unrelenting attacks by the anti-abortion movement and the political charlatans playing this Medieval theme for all it’s worth in this Bible-belt state, even an indictment could land her in jail, unable to post bail.

It’s time for all those Americans out there who like to think that they would have stood up against the witch-burners of Salem to take that stand now in defense of this current victim of the same kind of religious witch-hunting. Stand up for Ann Kristin Neuhaus and women everywhere against the politically grandstanding Gov. Brownback and his religious fanatic backers.

For information, articles about the case, transcripts of last fall’s Board of Medical Arts hearings, to sign a petition of support, and to offer any financial help you can, please go to: http://brownbackistan.wordpress.com

For an excellent story about Dr. Neuhaus, go to: www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/950

And be sure to listen Sunday at 5 pm Eastern time (4 pm Central) to Mike Cadell’s Radio Free Kansas “Secular Sunday” radio program on Blog Talk Radio.

Dave Lindorff is a founder of This Can’t Be Happening and a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press. He lives in Philadelphia.

March 6, 2012

Rocky Versus the Capitalists

From Counter punch

March 06, 2012

Walking His Talk

Rocky Versus the Capitalists

by ROBERT HUNZIKER

Rocky Anderson is one of the most appealing, and accomplished, progressive politicians in the history of the United States of America, and he’s running for president. However, the only widely recognized ‘Rocky’ amongst American voters is Rocky Balboa. Thus, Rocky Anderson can only compete for the highest office in the land if he gains prominence thru moneyed interests because America is owned by capitalists’ democracy.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, a capitalist is: An investor of capital in business, especially one having a major financial interest in an important enterprise.

Capitalism knows how to spot lucrative (important) enterprises that pay dividends, and capitalists cherish the biggest dividend payer of all… politics; the proclivity of capitalists to invest in politics to earn dividends is as old as American democracy, ever since the Colonial era.

It would be unworthy to ignore the influence of money in politics since America’s break with colonialism under the tutelage of King George III, when the plutocrats of the day wrote the Constitution, e.g., George Washington was the richest man in America (and he is the richest-ever president, in 2010 dollars, according to Forbes’ Richest President’s List); he owned 8,000 acres at Mount Vernon in Virginia alone and thousands more acres in several surrounding states like N.Y. and KY; he was also a banker and a money lender and an owner of more slaves than anybody could count. Washington’s earnings equaled 2% of the total U.S. budget in 1789. Whereas, James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, only owned a 560-acre plantation and 9 slaves. He was a poor-rich-man at the time. Most of the framers of our Constitution, similar to Congressional members today, except for Bernie Sanders and Dennis Kucinich, were/are multi-millionaires based upon today’s dollars.

But, what distinguishes today’s politics from the revered past is the breadth and depth of investment by capitalists in the enterprise of politics, and it has, indeed, become an investment, similar to financing a corporate enterprise. We all know how venture capital works: First one finds angel investors or family members for seed capital, then, come the venture capitalists who take turns at various rounds of money invested, depending upon how the business grows, and then, a listing on the New York Stock Exchange, where the Venture Capitalists sell out to the public, who pay top dollar to the original capitalists. The political process today mimics venture capital investment in enterprise and reaches the same conclusion with the voters buying into the venture capitalists’ investments, i.e., candidates.

The American tradition of moneyed interests controlling politics is as deep as the county is old, more so today than ever before, and the only way to combat this tradition is to fight back with… yes, money!

Enter Rocky Anderson (Justice Party); a political maverick if ever there has been one, a man who refuses to accept campaign donations over $100 from any one donor. He is the Rocky Balboa of today’s politics, and his candidacy is strikingly similar to the storyline behind the movie “Rocky,” a small-time boxer who gets a shot at the heavyweight championship, and it is a story ironically similar in so many respects to the American Horatio Alger rags-to-riches story that predominates capitalistic dogma, a mythology that perpetuates middle class presumptions about getting rich.  This is the only logical conclusion for why middle class people vote for rich Republicans, idolizing the people who represent their dreams of achieving wealth, the All-American solution to happiness. These are the same Republicans who have cleverly, over three decades, shifted their own taxes away from the federal government, resulting in massive annual deficits and soaring national debt for all to bear, witness: Federal tax receipts as a percentage (14%) of Gross Domestic Product are at 50-year lows, starving the federal government of adequate funding, the antithesis to investing in an enterprise.

At the very least, one would expect the middle class to vote 100% democrat… why they vote republican is a mystery even though the two parties are so close in policy, but hey, how about 100% voting for Rocky Anderson! If this happened, Rocky would become President of the United States of America!

There are no candidates for president who have the breadth of political accomplishment and progressive credentials to match Rocky Anderson, a Mister Rogers look alike, whose gentle, but firm, voice resonates deeply in any venue. This is the man who took on ‘W’s Administration, before, during, and after the Iraq invasion, traveling across the land crying out for impeachment, testifying before the U. S. House Judiciary Committee: “There has never been a more compelling case for impeachment.”

Rocky’s indomitable, audacious opposition, coast-to-coast in speeches and public meetings, calling for impeachment, earned him the accolade, “One of the most outspoken critics of the Bush Administration and the Iraq War,” by Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman, proof positive of his political courage.

He is one of America’s progressive bulldogs, never letting go in the face of improprieties by public officials, publicly opposing Reagan’s efforts to overthrow the government of Nicaragua and going so far as to organize two trips to Nicaragua for dozens of Utahans to see first hand what was happening in Nicaragua.

Rocky is unabashedly progressive in every aspect of life. As mayor, he turned Salt Lake City into one of the Greenest cities in the world, internationally renowned for his Salt Lake City Green Program, he achieved 31% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from municipal operations in 3 years; dramatically improved efficiency of the city’s fleet; established a bicycle and pedestrian friendly city; established cogeneration plants, doubled recycling, and recaptured methane gas from landfills to generate electricity, committing Salt Lake City to the Kyoto Protocols, surpassing Kyoto standards seven years ahead of schedule. WOW! If only America could do the same, setting an example for the world, we might not spend so many sleepless nights worrying about lonely polar bears floating on tiny ice flows.

Renowned as the “Greenest Mayor in America,” he lives what he preaches, including xeriscaping his yard, solar panels, cold-water detergent, fluorescent bulbs, and a natural gas-powered car. He has won more awards and honors for positve accomplishments than the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics, combined, have won world championships, including Business Week naming Rocky one of the top twenty activists in the world on climate change.

In spite of all the accolades, Rocky has a mountainous task ahead of him if he is to prevail as the 45th president of the United States, and like the great sigh of relief that swept the land when George W. Bush left office, once voters thoroughly understand Rocky’s platform, there will be another great sigh of relief if he pulls off the most remarkable political coup in the history of U.S. politics, and if anybody can do it, he has the credentials and the stamina as a proven winner.

The only possible way for Rocky to win the presidency is if all of America’s progressives come to his support.  His web site is: www.voterocky.org

On Super Tuesday he is planning a Moneybomb, asking supporters to join his campaign and send his message to 5 friends, and maybe they’ll pledge as well. Don’t worry if you miss the Tuesday date… you can still pledge.

Look at it this way: If 1,000,000 progressives donate (there must be several million progressives in America… aren’t there?), and if each can afford $100 (the maximum pledge), Rocky will receive $100 million in pledges, and he’ll be a ‘player in capitalistic democracy’. He’ll be able to compete with Obama and Mitt head-to-head, and they’ll be obliged to bring him into the presidential debates, knowing how money ‘speaks’ in American politics; after all, it’s a tradition started by our Founding Fathers.

With Rocky’s $100 million, the established parties will look foolish if they do not let him participate in the debates because he will have earned his way in. Yes, the $100 million will for sure buy him a spot in the national spotlight on stage in debate against Mitt and Obama. How could it not since the entire election is based upon who has the most money to compete?

If Rocky succeeds, that is if he gets the $100 mil, which will buy his way into the debates (imagine the revolt by the wealthy if $100 million is not enough to get someone into the debates; they’ll fear for their own candidates in the future) the American public will hear what he has to say.

AND, his message conforms to everything the 99% stand for… the 99% will fall in love with him because he walks the talk, a rare politician who actually puts his rhetoric to work, accomplishing what he preaches, and his platform is pure progressivism or as they say Down Under, The Third Way, i.e., entrepreneurship in combination with social justice, equal opportunity, public-private partnerships, emphasis on human capital rather than financial capital whilst safeguarding the environment.

Once America grows to understand him as the only healthy political solution in a very sickly political climate challenged betwixt democrats and republicans, Rocky Fever will infect the country from coast-to-coast, and he’ll win the presidency! BUT, it may be 2016, not 2012.

November 29, 2011, Rocky announced via the Salt Lake Tribune: “I’ll be announcing my candidacy,” for the 2012 presidential nominations of a new national party. He formally accepted the 2012 presidential nomination of the Justice Party on January 13, 2012.

Robert Hunziker earned an MA in economic history at DePaul University. He lives in Los Angeles.

 

 

March 6, 2012

Mikhail Bakunin

via ummagumma

 

March 6, 2012

Things I Don’t Understand!

Mostly from elegance 4290 with a couple of variations

Things that I do not understand.

How will it affect your life if I get an abortion?
How will it affect your life if I marry someone of the same gender?
How will it affect your life if I marry someone without a gender?
How will it affect your life if I use birth control?
How will it affect your life if I have sex?
How will it affect your life if I am a man with a vagina?
How will it affect your life if I  am a woman with a penis?
How will it affect your life if I don’t identify as male or female?
How will it affect your life if I don’t believe in God or a higher power?
How will it affect your life if I am a man who wears dresses, thongs, and high heels?
How will it affect your life if I am a woman who wears boxers and “men’s” clothing?
How will it affect your life if I get a tattoo?
How will it affect your life if I pierce my body?
How will it affect your life if I dye my hair?
How will it affect your life if don’t eat meat?
How will it affect your life if I don’t  wear leather?
How will it affect your life if I smoke marijuana?

Not your relationship. Not your happiness. Not your  body. Not your decision.

 

Get your primitive morality and your ignorance out of my life. SOB

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