Friday, May 30, 2014

"Put Up or Shut Up," Senator Bernie Sanders

All-righty, Eric Shinseki is gone.  Resigned, fell on his sword like a good warrior to the relish of the mob.  Once again done and dusted as the Brits would say.  Now it is time to hold our bloody media – most of you know that I have little use for the vast majority of them – accountable.  Let us make sure that they closely follow the reintroduction of Bernie Sander’s VA funding bill that was blocked by filibuster in February of this year – at least as closely and with as much moral indignation as they followed the humiliation and fall of Secretary Shinseki.  In Bernie’s own words to the Republican Senate Caucus, “Put up or shut up.”   What follows is a list of the Twitter feeds of some of the most arrogant, smug and righteously indignant.  Don't forget the politicians in your area who called for the Secretary's resignation after engaging in the filibuster.  

Chris Matthews:
Chuck Todd:
Ronan Farrow:

Thursday, May 29, 2014


We are about to toss Secretary Shinseki under the bus.  Well done.  Problem solved – done and dusted as the Brits would say.  Righteous politicians slithering on their bellies, pandering to this group or that, have called for his head.  The media drooling at the prospect of a public flogging can’t stop counting down the minutes and seconds.  

Never mind the obstructionism in the most dysfunctional Congress in history – Shinseki is on thin ice.  Never mind the blatant indifference to reports from the VA Inspector General and countless Veterans groups over the years about veterans being denied care or waiting unacceptable periods of time – Shinseki is on thin ice.   Never mind the insipid self satisfaction of a media that reported on none of this with any integrity because they were too busy peddling their own political views as fact or following the trial of some hump in South Africa who offed his girlfriend and would have never made the news if he hadn’t been an athlete – Shinseki is on thin ice.

Now we can all go back to sleep, business as usual.  Back to pissing on each other shoes in the Capital while the veterans drown in urine; back to snickering privately at the prospect of using this tragedy to leverage more privatization while ignoring the fact that some vets are stating publicly that their own members of Congress ignored them as effectively as everyone else had; back to reporting on celebrities doing just about anything. 

Yeah it is all okay, all right, just fine because we have a scapegoat.  Shinseki is on thin ice.

If I were Secretary Shinseki I would tell President Obama to shove his job in which ever orifice would accommodate it.  I would tell this ungrateful nation to wake up, grow up, sober up; never mind staring at the idiot box and living vicariously through the sports team of your choice.  Pay some attention to the people you send to Washington.  Pay attention to the nightmare they are creating – it is your nightmare.  Never mind God, the Almighty doesn't live in Washington and never has.  Never mind looking to the influence peddlers you hire to lead this country for a moral conscience – might as well look to Jack the Ripper to run a battered women’s shelter.   Never mind allowing the Rush Limbaughs, Sean Hannitys, Sarah Palins, Chuck Todds, David Gregorys and Joe Scarboroughs to define your reality – get off your ass and define it yourself.  No one is responsible for doing your thinking but you.  I take full responsibility for any mistakes I have made; you do the same.

That is what I would do, but then as Betty Davis once said, “I am a mean nasty bitch, and I am good at it.”

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Not One More

If you go into this site and fill out the questionnaire – name, email, address, city, state and zip – they will send your elected officials a post card that says, “Not One More.”  Please and thank you.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

My father died of WWII over twenty years after the conflict ended.  He came home from North Africa with what was diagnosed as Rheumatic Fever – somewhat problematic in the days before microbiology had come into its own and was capable of succinctly identifying microbes.  Nonetheless, his heart valves were destroyed.

In the early 60’s he had a procedure known as a Mitral Commissurotomy, an opening of the valve to relieve stenosis. The year that I graduated from high school, he and two of his buddies suffering from the same condition were issued medication for the following three months.  The medication was called back well into its course.  By March of the following year they were all dead from a brain tumor, Grade 4 Astrocytoma, on the right side of the head.  They all suffered from large and deep radiation burns.  Make of that what you will.  I can make nothing of it since repeated requests for his medical records have been denied. 

During my adult lifetime I have seen four wars and half a dozen near misses.  That is twice as many wars as my parents saw in their adult life.  Their parents fought WWI, the war to end all wars.  Given this escalation, we clearly missed that mark.

The human race has always been adept at self annihilation.  With each successive combat we develop better and better ways to exterminate one another.  While the medical world has done a good job of keeping pace with the treatment of battlefield injuries, sending home soldiers with catastrophic damage the likes of which my father or grandfather’s generation could never have imagined, still the butchery stays well ahead of the treatment.  Today as in days gone by the resources grudgingly committed to caring for our Veterans meet with far more resistance then the insatiable appetite for funding and conducting yet another international pissing contest.

Every Memorial Day it is the same thing, speeches, wreaths, promises to the wounded, condolences for the loved one’s of the fallen.  Every Memorial Day we speak of sacrifice, of freedom and of keeping this country safe.  I never hear about the glory of peace or the insanity of war.  I never hear about the enemies within – the corrupt politicians, their corporate masters and their anointed stooges.  No, the enemy is always out there, over there, a different color, a different religion. 

Every Memorial Day I listen to “Taps,” and in each sorrowful, poignant musical phrase I hear the voices of the lost, the heartbreak of the grieving, the whispering of shattered dreams and murdered potential.  Every Memorial Day I wonder will there ever come a day when the last and final memory of war is war itself?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Truth and Balance

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.  … Winston Churchill

Shinseki, Shinseki, Shinseki; Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi; it is like some monstrous chant, a poem for the self promoting that is shouted over and over again without the slightest interest in what it might signify, invoke or generate. The political class, always anxious to stick its face in front of a camera and righteously frowning its displeasure or moral indignation, can’t wait to weigh in on the V.A. scandal.  For instance Allison Lundergan Grimes, running to unseat Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, pilled on and called for Secretary Shinseki’s resignation.  I Tweeted her this morning suggesting that she give equal time to her opponent by repeating her objections from February when he lead his caucus to block a bill that would have expanded veterans health and educational benefits. 

Somewhere in the vast, whirring electron fields of the Internet there is a picture of Senator Bernie Sanders with his head in his hands just after he realized that the bill was going nowhere.  Later he told McConnell and the Republican skinflints in the Senate, “If you think it's too expensive to take care of veterans, then don't send them to war.”  It is about balance goddamn it; it is about telling both sides of the story. 

We can’t count on most of the media to give parity to both planks of an issue.  They are either busy flashing their teeth and knees for the camera, kowtowing to their corporate masters or presuming through their infinite arrogance and hubris to give their personal bias the weight of high quality journalism and breaking news – case in point, Benghazi.  It is only within the last several days that I have heard pundits make a point of drawing attention to the fact that the very same Republicans sitting both on Oversight and now on Boehner’s Select Committee voted to cut State’s funding, much of it earmarked for security, one month before the attack. 

In the final analysis most politicians are alike.  They will do anything to get elected and everything to stay elected.  A corrupt Supreme Court and Citizens United has guaranteed that only the richest need apply.  Dirty tricks, influence peddling and other forms of legalized corruption have given our political and electoral institutions the scent of the sewer and the dreadful visual sensations of sadistic pornography.  Our Democracy is circling the drain.  The only thing that will save it is the truth. 

Truth does not limp along on one leg, having lost the other to a gangrenous process resulting from loss of circulation.  It stands firmly on both feet and holds its center of gravity against our best efforts and worst intentions to knock it down.  Demand the truth.  Listen for it, and talk back when you believe you aren't getting it. 

First we get the truth; then we vote. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Not Again

I don't know about anyone else but I am getting sick to my soul of this retro world some are insisting upon building and/or defending.  I am not talking about the beautiful clothing of the '20's or the Art Deco of the '30's.  I am not talking about the victory gardens of the '40's or the poetry salons of the '50's. Sadly, I am not talking about the revolutionary spirit of the sixties and the seventies.  I am talking about a time before child labor laws and a recognition that people needed to make enough money to live on for the economy to grow.  This is fucking unbelievable.  Is this why the righteous Right is so intent upon stopping abortion, to produce an army of child workers?  God my ass.  There is no God in tobacco fields where children work.

Monday, May 5, 2014


I have this morning called Mark Udall and Michael Bennett to find out where they stand on the Keystone Pipeline.  They haven’t decided yet.  I spoke to people in their office, actually it sounded like the same person disguising his or her voice, who were utterly confused about what I was asking when I asked them what good the Senators thought this bill would do, and if they understood the apprehension of people who are opposed to the project.

It sees that some of the “honorable” men and women in the Senate – including Landrieu and Manchin who routinely claim to be Democrats – think they can pass a bill that will override State’s reviewing process, Obama’s presidential decision making and the courts where litigation is ongoing.  Some of the major concerns about this filth carrying artery are its potential for contaminating the Ogallala Aquifer which is one of the greatest underground water sources in the world and if contaminated the damage would be irreversible and likely catastrophic; the taking of private land under Eminent Domain, in and of itself a questionable practice; and the violation of treaties with Native American peoples.

I was told by the people (person) in Udall and Bennett’s offices that they were waiting to make a decision until they hear from their constituents.  In my constitutionally protected opinion it is more likely they are waiting on an offer from the oil lobby, and I told them so.  Is it possible that the American People are being asked to trust those who have repeatedly proven themselves to be untrustworthy to defend the integrity of a pipeline promoted over all good conscience and reason by the money-grubbing politicos that Citizens United has crowned rulers?

Please call your Senator and object in the strongest terms to the proposed bill.  Remind them that while their honor may be for sale, your vote is not.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Nightmare in Oklahoma

I am not a proponent of the death penalty for a number of reasons.  Beyond the obvious objection to taking life is the simple fact that it doesn't help deter crime in anyway.  To support the death penalty for me would mean asking society to do what I could never do for myself – fire the bullet, flip the switch, drop the rope or send the drug home.  Such a sifting of responsibility is something that I consider highly unethical.  Still, I realize that there are people whose crimes are so heinous and whose existence on this planet is so dangerous to the rest of us that they simply can never be allowed to live in the general population.  Given that our societal institutions are crumbling faster than our roads and bridges, can any of us trust our prisons – particularly privately owned prisons – to guarantee that such people never reemerge in our midst?

Having expressed all of this, it is worth noting that what occurred in Oklahoma the night before last was not even the abomination of Capital Punishment.  It was instead a state sponsored science experiment conducted for the political benefit of a smug and egotistical Rightwing harpy and a retinue of followers attached to her like head lice.  It was unwillingly sanctioned by a cowardly court that caved under threat of impeachment and was carried out by quasi competent prison officials, one of which was masquerading as a medical practitioner and welding an intravenous line like a stiletto with which to administer a poisonous concoction of untried drugs that would give Edgar Allan Poe night terrors.  I submit that it is horror shows like this played out on the international stage, as they always are, that has eroded our moral authority in the world much more than the so-called weakness of a president who generally prefers diplomacy to combat.  What gives us the right to lecture China, Syria, Russia, North Korea or anyone else on human rights violations given what was done in the Sooner State this week?

When did people like Mary Fallin, the Governor of Oklahoma, become the moral conscience of this great nation?  When did mean spirited “Christians” decide that the best part of God’s love is cruelty and punishment, and when did we decide to allow them to foul our public persona and political dialogue with their vile ethical perversions and religious rot?  Is it through selection or apathy that we now find the generosity of spirit and the kindness of heart which give meaning to our Exceptionalism shivering in the cold shadow cast by the metastasizing financial malignancy  that allows such politicians to slither in and out of office on fear and the largess of corporations?

It has been swelling for decades this symphony of corruptions.  Reaching its crescendo with the Roberts Court, everything is corruption now.  Our social and political institutions, our regard for one another, our respect for ourselves, our world view have all soured and gone bad like milk left to stand out in the heat.  Money is the heat source and everything is for sale.  One thing I know – when money is all you want, money is all you get.  It is the only value we have left. 

In the early and middle part of the last century when a Capo di tutti capi like Torrio, Capone or Luciano funneled unknown sums of money into political campaigns from behind closed doors it was called racketeering, bribery and graft.  Today when men like Koch, Adelson and Walton funnel unknown sums of money into political campaigns from behind closed doors it is called Citizens United, Free Speech and Dark Money.  The modern day Capo runs a corporation, usually has a neck and someone else carries his gun.  His consiglieres, solders and enforcers roam Statuary Hall, the corridors of Congress and state houses all over this country bullying with money - buying influence and the politicians who peddle it.  

The major difference, however, between the mob boss of the last century and today’s version is that Torro, Capone and Luciano never claimed to be saving the world, defending freedom or upholding a moral society. They were just selling vice to people who wanted to buy it.  When they killed they did it out of pure self interest and for the good of the organization, making no pretense to the contrary. 

Like it or not, the promoting of political power has a great deal in common with the selling of vice.  Maybe because the way politics is handled post Citizens United resembles vice more than ever it resembled virtue.  It is my belief that the ill thought-out, couldn't-get-it-done-fast-enough, gruesome killing of a death row inmate in Oklahoma on Tuesday was largely about self interest and protecting an organization.  Perhaps when we stop torturing and slaughtering the truth we will be able to do the same for one another.