Daily Puking Points

Talking points are not enough at this time.  Words have been reduced to funny sounds, signifying whatever the spin doctors say they now signify, regardless of whatever they may have meant five seconds ago. What we need now are good puking points.  Here  are a couple of quick ones, from American hero Amy Goodman.  

I can hear the clucking, so what if 198,000,000 information-rich American voter profiles were placed on-line for weeks by the Republican National Committee’s voting analytics data mining branch, Deep Root Analytics?  So what?  James “Toxic Turd” Mitchell and Bruce “Dickface” Jessen, psychologists paid tens of millions by Cheney and Bush to design the American torture program?  Ancient history, so what?  The U.S. appears to be currently participating in, or at least complicit in, the interrogation and torture of  detainees in Yemen today?  So what?  If it’s even true, the president is only keeping a campaign promise to do a lot worse than water-boarding.  They fucking hate our freedom.  What should we do, tickle ’em?

Ah say, Ah say, boy

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My apologies for all this political “poop” lately

I am truly sorry to be as distracted as everyone I know by the political rumblings from the bowels of a powerful, highly successful reality TV brand (and, of course, the legislators who ride his gassy underbelly like suckers on a giant shark).  A U.S. fighter jet shot down a weaponized drone, made in Iran, over the skies of Syria.  A cop who shot a burst of bullets into a car, killing a man reaching for the driver’s license the cop demanded, was acquitted of all charges by a jury who presumably saw this video.   The Republican Senate has vowed to pass a secret replacement for IllegitimateMuslimPresidentcare before they go home to celebrate the Independence Day Recess.   The worst of the worst are doubling down, the intellectuals among them, in moments of candor, citing opinionated anti-Communist Ayn Rand as the philosophical foundation for their anti-human beliefs.  Fucking freedom is on the march.

Amy Goodman discusses the media silence on the Republican scheme to replace the Affordable Care Act with a tax giveaway to the wealthiest Americans.  She speaks with Katrina Vanden Heuvel, who has deemed the media’s focus on Russian involvement in the 2016 election (with scant coverage of the rest of the Republican’s ‘toxic agenda’)  “media malpractice.”      The brutal, anti-democratic tactics of politicians like McConnell get buried in the news, if mentioned at all.  Democrats, unfortunately also bought and paid for, are not making effective noise to oppose the Secret Tax/Health Bill.   They continue to rely on and speak facts, while their political opponents continue to scream bloody murder and set their base into a rage.  Guess which tactic works better here in America?

Once again, we have to turn to a comedian to get the condensed, truthful story.  Go, Trevor.  He points out how well Republican lies about Death Panels and other completely fabricated details of the hated Obama’s proposed health care law played during the long, vicious debate over extending health insurance to some of the many millions of Americans who had no access to health insurance. Their arguably unprincipled opposition resulted in many amendments to the law they claim was shoved down their throats in a partisan Congress.

While making America Great Again, why not restore that boon to our great American healthcare industry known as the preexisting condition?  Only sick bastards could object to that one.   Submit to whatever it is.  You have no choice anyway, consumers.  Submission is God’s will.   Have a blessed day!

McConnell’s Secret Kick in the Diaper

As despicable as steely-eyed, chinless tortoise Mitch McConnell is, there’s a certain sly irony in him protecting the murderous Trumpcare bill from public scrutiny as zealously as the president he hated and vowed to thwart hid legislation he knew was shameful.  If the public knew the details of this “health care bill” giveaway to the richest at the expense of everybody else there would be massive outrage– supporters of the bill would be primaried and run out of office.    So they do it the principled way that unpopular, troubling laws are always done, in secret.

The shameless McConnell and his ilk keep the details of this punitive (except to the richest among us) proposed American Health Care Law secret while trying to ram the exceedingly ugly bill through in the darkness of night for the president to sign.  Not so different than the way  President Transparency proceeded with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) flimflam, though, since McConnell and Ryan are playing directly with the daily life and death of millions of citizens, the stakes are even higher.  The result is likely to be serious as preexisting cancer.  

Obama knew there were enough corporate giveaways in the TPP to outrage millions, so he made sure there was less than full transparency about the details.  To be a bit more transparent, Obama made sure there was no transparency or public debate whatsoever prior to his fast track up or down vote.  

McConnell is a corrupt, despicable, hypocritical villain with testicles larger than his head, but Obama doesn’t get a pass from me because he was a great comedian who spoke beautifully, and proudly wore a blue hat, but did the same sickeningly anti-democratic thing whenever circumstances “demanded” it.  

I’ll always hold those drones against him, the ones we know about that killed completely innocent people in the name of the War On Terror.   The missile that killed Mamana Bibi the 67 year-old midwife, and the one that killed innocent 16 year-old American citizen Abdulrahim, a kid who liked hiphop and had not even a suggestion of a capital charge against him.  Obliterated, along with countless other innocents, by the complicated, supremely practical Nobel Peace Prize laureate.   One more reason to keep policies like this as secret as possible, a reasonable politician reasons, reasonably.

That said, these guys in there now, determined to strike down every bit of the legacy of the Negro Democrat they were united in hatred of, are probably the worst guys we’ve ever had in charge of everything.

The Free Market

When politicians talk about our Free Market, many of us realize it is a variation on a glittering phrase like “Freedom is On The March”, spoken over the burnt corpses of those we liberated from a modern-day Hitler while making half of the survivors stateless refugees and leaving the rest in a permanent killing zone.   The Free Market sounds like a great place.  In theory, it’s wonderful.   There is free and sportsmanlike competition, on an even playing field, where the best product, sold for the best price, sets the pace for the race to give people the best of everything at the most affordable price.  Like the best health care in the world, available here in America, to those who can afford it.   Like a delicious and filling meal containing several times the daily sodium, sugar and fat recommended for health, for under $5.   That’s the magic of the Free Market.  How can you beat that?

The “Free Market” is very much like the red and blue fucking baseball hats and the loyal, uncritical thinkers who wear them.   There was a critique of Hillary’s campaign– her message didn’t fit on a baseball hat.   Trump had a great, if ambiguous to the point of sinister, motto: Make America Great Again.  Sekhnet snapped a great shot of a smiling older man at an anti-Trump rally wearing a red Make America Hate Again baseball hat.  Closer to the mark than Trumpie’s motto, but still — just a gotcha.  Sticks and stones can break my bones, but political mantras can never hurt me.  Unless, perhaps, I look like a Muslim to a group of angry guys in red hats.

I’m reminded of this “invisible hand of the Free Market” bullshit, demonstrably stinking bullshit at that, by the pills I receive in the mail from an outfit that mails out my prescription drugs.  One pill is to keep my blood pressure under control, a Herculean task these days.  The other is a statin, because my kidney disease has caused my cholesterol to spike.   Here is a photo of the two pills, greatly magnified, to show one of the tiny wonders of the Free Market.

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This is an example of the Free Market being free.  You see, these wonder drugs were originally developed by big pharmaceutical companies at the cost of many millions of dollars.   Then, after a certain term as a patent protected drug, to pay back the cost of development with a handsome profit as a reward, the drug was allowed to be produced as a “generic”.   Same chemical composition, a fraction of the price.  I get the generic Avapro and the generic Lipitor.  My mother always said, of the latter, “I luuuuuuhv Lipitor.”  She did, apparently.

Luckily for me, I have a magnifier app on my new brilliant phone.  It allows me, when studying a pile of these pills, to separate the 329s from the 10s.   As I do this I wonder how intolerable to the Free Market the government intrusion would be if they mandated “red for blood pressure drugs, green for statins” to the manufacturers of generic drugs taken by tens of millions of Americans.  I know, I know, it stinks of state-controlled Communism.    Seriously, I don’t fucking get it.   Is America really that fucked up?   Are we really this fucking stupid?

I get that Obama had to please those who put him in office, that he was constrained and coerced left and right.  Mostly right, in fact, but also left.  Money, it is said, has no political allegiance, although recent American history may argue that point.  It’s not like anyone with a brain said money has no political allegiance, money said it.  Yes, money talks.  Of course it does.  It told Obama that his signature health insurance plan could not overturn some very, very lucrative practices fundamental to the American Free Market.  Those hungry foxes?  They are the best and most experienced guardians of the hen house.  

Look how well it worked having Goldman Sachs guys in charge of economic recovery from the massive financial fraud they profited from, an intricate scheme of deliberate deception that would have embarrassed Bernie Madoff, and almost sank the boat in 2008.  These experienced foxes know exactly how many hens they need to eat, let them do what they do best.  Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the continued unnecessary deaths of tens of thousands of Americans a year.   Those dead Americans are patriots, in a way, dying for the Free Market we all love and defend to the death.  Those preventable American deaths are the price the rest of us pay to live in a Free Market, and don’t you ever forget that.

I’m harsh on Obama because I actually believed the poetry he recited while campaigning.    Sad to say, my man was mostly saying whatever he needed to say to get into power, like they all do.  Sad to say, the alternative, both times, was seemingly much worse.  Now we’ve got a wobbly, over-confident scary clown for a commander-in-chief, thanks in part to my man Barack “Raking in Some Serious Tubmans” Obama.  People can only hear so much polished, meaningless bullshit coming from a bullshit artist, even a genius of the art, before they shut down.  

You like the Free Market so much?   Let the private health insurance industry compete with Medicare for all.  Let the best entity win, as it is written by the invisible hand of the Free Market.  “That was never in the cards,” say those in blue hats who still believe Obama had no choice.   Tacitly, they add with a silent sigh “super lucrative business interests and very well-paid, in-the-loop, revolving-door lobbyists are too powerful here in the Free Market to allow that massive incursion into their market share.  No matter how much better virtually everyone agrees a public option would be.”

Amy Goodman:

(After writing that meteorologists need to constantly explain that the latest catastrophic climate event is related to the pattern of increasingly disastrous global climate change)

How else will people understand the connection between disparate weather events, from dust-bowl conditions in the Midwest, to epic wildfires in the Northwest, and record-breaking cold in the Northeast?  Scientists tell us that climate change played a role in at least half the droughts, floods and storms in 2014.  The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), on its global climate change website, states that “multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities.  In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.” In Europe and other parts of the world there are debates on what to do about climate change.  But in the United States, we have debates on whether it exists at all, or if humans have contributed to it.   It’s as if every time we talked about the earth being round, we interviewed a member of the Flat Earth Society for “balance”.  (Democracy Now! p. 213)

The idiotic American debate on whether climate change even exists has been underwritten, at a cost of billions over several decades, by the industries that profit the most from the ultimate destruction of life on the planet.   Those industries are simply too lucrative, and too powerful, to let themselves wither and die just because the earth is being destroyed by the fossil products they extract and refine. 

The Secretary of State we have now knows this better than anybody, he was until recently the CEO of Exxon.  Exxon’s scientists were among the first to discover, in the 1970s,  the connection between burning fossil fuel, increased CO2 in the atmosphere and rising global temperatures.  The corporation published these findings, then spent the next few decades funding studies that would obfuscate those findings, cast them into doubt, create a debate between Alarmists and Skeptics.  Who are you going to believe, a hysterical Alarmist or a cool, calm skeptic?  Let the debate continue.  Meanwhile, CAH-ching!  Fossil fuel.  Good to the last drop.

What is the lesson of all this brouhaha over global warming for a leading voice of the Flat Earth Society, former loudest, unrepentant “Birther” voice?  Simple. Shut down NASA’s fucking website.  DUH!

Free Market, baby.  Like Justice, you get all the Freedom you can afford to pay for.  If you are poor, you know, you can’t afford much of either.  Probably best to shut the fuck up and keep your head down while the best and the brightest Make America Great Again.  Freedom, as always, is on the march, taking flight in the skies over your hovel.   Ask any ten year-old in Mosul, Waziristan or Raqqa. 

The Campaign for Critical Thinking

This campaign, which I am officially launching, though nonchalantly, will likely meet with the same fate as my undeniably innovative and, I’m sure, verifiably effective, program for team problem-solving, the student-run animation workshop.   A good idea, no matter how good, is not enough, of course.  If the idea is not self-monetizing and irresistible to angel investors, one needs funding, or, at minimum, a large network of enthusiasts.   In our culture, money speaks, and spreads the word, and makes or breaks.  One billionaire backer makes all the difference.

Even in the case of genius, great skill, luck and complementary genius is often necessary before an idea can get huge, become a force in society.  The Beatles would quite possibly never have become the worldwide phenomenon they became without the public relations genius of Brian Epstein.   The president we have now would not be the president without the genius of those who helped promote him, target his message, data-mine voting patterns to pinpoint the exact number of districts he needed to win the Electoral College, an anti-democratic mechanism created by the framers of the Constitution that can only be understood in connection to protecting the rights of slaveholders, who were a tiny minority of the population.  In some cases these poor slaveholders lived in states where they were also part of the racial minority!  Can you imagine the pressures on them?!

The certainty of failure must not deter the pursuit of a needed idea.   I heard Chris Hedges couch this in terms of his Christian belief– the duty to intervene on the side of righteousness does not depend on your chances of success.  In fact, you could argue that the duty becomes greater as the abuse escalates and the odds of failure increase. 

A simple idea then.  Reserve opinion, and advocacy, until you have as many facts as you can get.   Facts, you will say, are slippery.  There are now also “alternative facts” and facts invented for profit.   Many of the unverifiable facts that influenced the outcome of our recent election were dreamed up by industrious young capitalists, creating a market-driven product for which there was a huge demand.  

Millions hated Hillary, it was simply shrewd business to create another incendiary reason to hate her.   Make it wild enough you could get millions of monetized clicks.  How about a factual account of a child-sex ring she was involved with, located in the basement of a pizza place that has no basement?  They got millions of hits on that one, each one sounding a distinct “cah-ching!”. The story was repeated over and over among those who hated Hillary, each time it was liked, more profit for the “content creators”.  A guy with a gun finally went to investigate, to free the child sex slaves that Hillary and her people had locked up in that basement.   Hard to blame the guy, in a way.  

The same cynical genius, or a similar nonpartisan businessman, also came up with the Trump and Sheldon Adelson gang-raping the under-aged girl story.  CAH-ching!  Much of this fake news was created by highly successful content creators who wrote the fake news of the right and of the left.   They had no dog in the fight, did not even like dog fights, maybe, but there sure is money in the right dog fight.

Critical thinking is harder than reflexive thinking, for sure.  It is harder than many things.   The confirmation bias is one factor, we tend to believe new things that conform to what we already believe.   This has been greatly exacerbated by that tsunami of capitalist genius, Facebook.   Most people get their news from their friends on there, and algorithms track the news and send them more like-minded well-liked stories (and related ads).  Everybody wins.  Except for critical thinking. 

There has been a deliberate campaign against critical thinking in the United States, accelerated since the days of Reagan when political debate began to be reduced to “I Know You Are, but What am I?”  That anti-intellectual ideology is now personified in a party “intellectual” like Paul Ryan whose political credo was forged while reading a really long novel by a supremely opinionated Russian anti-communist named Ayn Rand.  Paul Ryan considers this poet, a rationalist, a self-proclaimed Objectivist, who believed that the “Invisible Hand” of the “Free Market” would free mankind from the tyranny of altruism, a profound political philosopher.

In Ayn Rand’s gigantic allegories about the evils of Communism she makes her case that the remarkable man will always be considered an enemy of the State, hated by the herd.  The titanic struggle of the remarkable visionary protagonist of her books inspires readers to admire persecuted individual genius and to value it far above the craven needs of the masses, who are lazy, corrupt and indifferent to evil.   Her novels also hammer home the message that it is no virtue to want to help others.  

Paul Ryan is considered a Republican intellectual because his political epiphany came while reading a really, really long book.  Take a quick, mocking look at the philosophy of Ayn Rand.   Here is the visionary herself, explaining to Phil Donahue why wanting to do good in the world is not a virtue.   If you have the stamina, toward the end of her presentation, you can hear Ayn Rand’s attack on public education, which she says creates a class of brainwashed slaves to government tyranny.  She also states that she would never vote for a woman for U.S. president.  A female commander-in-chief of the Army, she said, is “unspeakable”.

I am not using this despicable example simply to bash Republicans and Libertarians.   Democrats may be arguably likelier to critically debate policy positions, at least during the primaries, but they are hardly great advocates of critical thinking.  They defend their own indefensible inconsistencies as doggedly as their colleagues across the aisle.  

Any time you have only two positions to choose from, you are probably leaving important considerations and options off the table, not thinking very critically.   And critical thinking is now more critical than ever, as vast areas of the inhabited earth will soon be uninhabitable, as we pass a climactic tipping point while false arguments are forcefully presented, at great expense, by those who profit handsomely by the destruction of the planet. 

Critical thinking.  The Campaign for Critical Thinking.  Hastag don’t be a fucking asshole.

Compassionate Care Act, my ass

In a nation that for more than one hundred years could not agree that freed slaves had a federal right not to be lynched by terrorists in the states that formerly employed them, or anywhere else, it is not surprising that other, lesser injustices are sometimes tolerated.  We only have so much ability to be vexed by injustice, after all.  How many people can really get exercised when Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, the diminutive racist Attorney General with the recently affronted honor, apparently blind and deaf to the lessons of American history, declares that the long war on marijuana users is back on, big time, baby.  Lock ’em up!   Lock ’em up!  

I am thinking of the short, violent, lawless failed experiment in making America sober, the Constitutional Amendment that gave us Prohibition, before that Amendment was repealed by another Amendment thirteen years later.   For many of the years it was illegal, you could do heavy time for transporting or even drinking alcohol.  Not surprisingly, it was a better bet for the mugs making a dollar hauling booze to reach for a machine gun than a driver’s license when stopped by the feds.   Today, the same is true, in certain states, for people carrying large amounts of marijuana in their cars.  

You can make a good argument that this country’s inexorable swing toward surveillance and the ever-increasing exceptions to the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures (not to mention increasingly organized crime) are all traceable to the selective war on selected intoxicants.  I would — and I will, for my customary fee, drop me a line and a check.   In the meantime I’m here to say, once again, what the fuck?

Alcohol is a dangerous drug that fucks and kills thousands of Americans a year, destroys lives.  Liver disease, drunk driving and vehicular homicide, increased risk of heart disease, domestic violence, foolish and/or disgusting public behavior, bar fights, fights between angry drunks at sports stadiums, regrettable teenage overindulgences, direct deaths from alcohol poisoning in cases where a college freshman may have a quart or more of vodka poured into a tube inserted into her asshole, or when delicious, sweet liquor is guzzled by a child.   It’s not surprising that there was an effort to curb its abuse.  

But like the War on Terror, the war on some people’s need to abuse certain intoxicants can’t be won by SWAT teams overpowering people and throwing them into cells for long prison stretches.  

Hey, YO! it doesn’t fucking work, if your purpose is to actually address the problem you claim to want to solve.  That’s not really your purpose, as any child can see, but who am I to question the motives and wisdom of those who declare and conduct such wars?  

Anyway, dating back as far as Prohibition, there was a federal effort to root out marijuana use.   It is racist and xenophobic in its roots, sure, was codified and doubled down on by Richard Nixon, a paragon of moderation in his nightly alcohol use as his paranoia escalated in the lead up to his resignation in disgrace, yeah, yeah.  We know all that.   One can say that the criminalization of marijuana, a relatively innocuous intoxicant, while alcohol, a drug whose ongoing destructiveness is well-known, is readily procurable by any determined ten year-old, is a bit hypocritical, or whatever.   I just want to point out one recent example of “let me take a shit down your throat and tell you that it’s raining.”  It is part my campaign for critical thinking.

Criminal law under our Constitution is a matter for each state to decide for itself.  That is a cornerstone of our federal system.  The states make their own criminal, matrimonial, family and business laws.  That’s why, before the Supreme Court stepped in, some states could allow same sex marriage while other states could as be homophobic as their most influential homophobic constituents pleased.   Same goes for pot.  In some states you can now smoke marijuana “recreationally,” in other states you have permission for “medicinal use” which is given liberally, in some states permission for medicinal use is given less liberally.  

State laws are generally untouchable by federal law, except in the very special case where there is an overwhelmingly compelling need for a uniform federal law that preempts local and state wishes.  For the important federal purpose of breaking up protests and jailing political enemies, Negros, jazz musicians, itinerant Mexican workers, hipsters, hip-hoppers, poseurs, vipers, slackers, scoffers and other morally degenerate pot smokers, enforcement of the federal law against marijuana is clearly one such compelling exception to our general rule of States’ rights here in America.

States wishing not to arouse the federal government to literally send a SWAT team in and mass arrest those who, while complying with the laws of their own state nonetheless defy the unamended 1970 Controlled Substances Act, the federal anti-marijuana law, must “narrowly tailor” their state marijuana laws so that they do not run afoul of the federal law. The federal law defines marijuana as a dangerous drug with absolutely no redeeming medical value, a substance that needs to be controlled at all costs.  Federal law makes it very difficult to even conduct scientific research on marijuana.

Wait, I know, how do you not run afoul of that federal law with a medicinal marijuana law based on marijuana’s proven medicinal value when the federal law from 1970 clearly classifies marijuana among the most dangerous drugs, a potentially deadly substance with no medicinal value?  You actually can’t, of course.  But New York State, under its neoliberal asshole governor, gave it a good shot recently with its incredibly narrowly tailored, and puckishly titled “Compassionate Care Act”.  Check it out the overflowing compassion.

In the State of New York, you can use a preparation made from marijuana (but not the natural product itself– it is illegal under all circumstances, in NYS, to smoke or vaporize the actual plant) if you suffer from a select list of debilitating or deadly conditions AND have an additional associated, complicating factor.  If this surgically drawn list makes you think of John Yoo’s cunning redefinition of torture in that secret memo he wrote for Dick Cheney’s trip to the dark side, you’re not alone.   Here you go:

You are potentially eligible for medical marijuana if you have been diagnosed with a specific severe, debilitating or life threatening condition that is accompanied by an associated or complicating condition. By law, those conditions are: cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury with spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy, and Huntington’s disease. The associated or complicating conditions are cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, or severe or persistent muscle spasms.

The source of this is the NYS Department of health website, via the FAQ, the last of a few dozen, from the website of a corporation with a franchise, that includes New York City, to provide medical marijuana derivatives under New York State’s Compassionate Care Act.  Check out these dynamic cutting-edge, physician-led benefactors of the selected extremely ill of New York State.  

If you have PTSD, glaucoma, loss of appetite from chemo (but neither severe nausea nor facial wasting), sleeplessness, anxiety, severe pain not associated with the listed conditions, or suffer from the effects of any other non-specified condition that marijuana is known to palliate — have a very nice day, and best of luck to you.   New York is interested in complying as strictly as possible with the Controlled Substances Act, even though it is a clear logical impossibility to do so.    We’re working harder to serve you better, bitches.  Vote for me and I’ll set you free.  

And if you just want to get high, and not use alcohol or a pharmaceutical, we can still lock you up, if you’re going to be an asshole about it.

I’m going to go drink a flagon of Monkey Shoulder now, if you will excuse me.