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28 June 2011

Quote of the day:

by: Peter of Lone Tree

A child-like man is not a man whose development has been arrested; on the contrary, he is a man who has given himself a chance of continuing to develop long after most adults have muffled themselves in the cocoon of middle-aged habit and convention.

- Aldous Huxley
19 June 2011

"To Know the End from the Beginning"

by: Peter of Lone Tree

"Today’s world is filled with belligerent drunks and mental defectives who have embraced a lie and lumber through its environs like sleepwalkers in a nightmare. The public servants are a cartoon. The religious leaders are hypocrites and self serving fools. The corporations and banks are bloodthirsty sharks in a community swimming pool. Mass insanity doesn’t look like what it is because there is no normal for comparison. Crazy just gets crazier and looks more ordinary because that’s how it is and that’s all you see. Some of us are aware of this but we’re not welcome in the general affairs of the nutters who think that we are crazy. We’re not."
Les Visible's Latest
14 June 2011

Get Internet Access When Your Government Shuts It Down

by: Peter of Lone Tree

Does your government have an Internet kill-switch? Read our guide to Guerrilla Networking and be prepared for when the lines get cut.
08 June 2011

Gone by the Wayside

by: Lisa Ranger

One day we're gonna wake up
And the ghetto's all around
All over my friend
Have you ever seen a man break down?
--Feel No Pain, Sade

~~I'm afraid it's no use.
The boat won't come until Monday.
~~No boat will ever come.
We're here forever.
--And Then there Were None,
Agatha Christie

Many niceties of our civil society are going by the wayside due to fiscal insolvency. In the past two weeks, National Parks and Public Broadcasting have taken the ax.

It takes passion, devotion and insight to build something great and good, and momentum to keep it going. Once gone, that good thing is unlikely to return, and certainly not in its former guise. That is why we shouldn't give the heave-ho to civilizing institutions in the name of pragmatic privatization. When things become private rather than shared matters, the money usually follows the drift line of vested interests vs. the general welfare.

In The Sunshine State (not), Governor Rick Scott has vetoed Florida’s nearly $4.8 million appropriation for public broadcasting. The last-minute budget had already trimmed a third from the PBS budget; now, there is nothing. The station I grew up on -- WMFE -- is going dark.

Public broadcasting began in 1970, forged from private educational stations. One of its primary functions has been to provide educational programming for young people, and generations learned the basics of grammar, reasoning and citizenship on that network. It was a "free" counterpart to the hustle of the commercial networks, producing thoughtful programming and financed by private contributions and matching state funds. Its day is drawing nigh.

Now, state parks across the nation are being forced to close; 70 of 278 in California alone. For those that remain, the bargain with the devil is to allow drilling, raise entrance fees, eliminate provisions and/or cut employees in favor of hoped for volunteers. Timothy Egan calls it "the death of American life by a thousand cuts," and that about sums it up.

Compassionate conservatism under George W. Bush hacked away at the AmeriCorps program, Bill Clinton's initiative to unify a stateside version of the Peace Corps, another worthy initiative which could have helped fill in the gaps. Though John McCain made a gesture to support national service, that program was eviscerated years ago.

There's always money for the dirty, pretty things, the things that elicit a rise, or more lately, a shrug from people falling into lassitude. But the generous and decent things that speak of a nation's drive to uplift itself, those things are being frozen in amber.

As with Ozymandias, there will remain a plaque somewhere to note the spot.

[For links, see cross-posting @ RangerAgainstWar]

05 June 2011

Pay or Die

by: Peter of Lone Tree

by Russell Mokhiber
An old friend came over today.

Hadn’t seen him in a couple of years.

He’s a self-employed contractor.

He’s uninsured.

Two weeks ago, he was driving home from a job.

He felt a severe pain in the back of his head.

His right arm was going numb.

His chest was getting tight.

He drove to his family doctor.

The doctor called the ambulance to take him to a hospital 35 miles away.

He said no, he couldn’t afford the ambulance ride.

He got someone to drive him.

He was admitted for one day.

They did a catheterization.

Cost — $18,000.

Doctor tells him that he has an aneurysm on his aorta.

Needs an operation.

He asked the doctor — how much?

Doctor says $180,000.

Can’t afford it.

The doctor sent him home with a warning — don’t lift anything heavy.

He drives home.

He has worked all his life.

He refuses to take handouts.

He’s going to pay the doctor for the catheterization at about $200 a month.

He’s 63 years old.

He figures if he can live two more years, Medicare will kick in and he’ll get the operation.

If not, he says he’ll die knowing that the system is corrupt to the core.

He says that it’s so corrupt, there is nothing you can do to change it.

You can’t go through a month here in West Virginia without running into someone holding a raffle, or a yard sale, or a party held to raise money for someone who is sick without insurance.

My buddy came over to do some work on our place.

My wife and I were talking to him on the porch.

I asked him how he was feeling and he told me the story.

When he told us that he couldn’t afford the procedure that would save his life, and he was resigned to it, my wife excused herself, stood up, and went inside.

She came back and apologized.

I just stared at the floor.

Common Dreams
03 June 2011

Urgent News About Bad Trade Deals - Please Take Action Now!

by: Anna Van Z

Right now the GOP is attempting to ram through some really bad "free trade" deals before summer break on behalf of a variety of corporate trade lobbyists, including Sprawlmart. By bad deals, I mean bad for the American worker - yet, as you'd expect from anything involving repugs, deals that enhance the profit margins for Wall Street and the investor class. These trade deals will cost even more American jobs; valuable manufacturing jobs that pay well. Needless to say, we can't afford to lose any more jobs, let alone decent jobs - especially in light of an economy that's continuing to stagnate.

Todd Lipscomb, founder of Made in USA Forever, explains that these are one-sided trade deals. He says, "Working in Asia really opened my eyes to the truth about these deals. I saw firsthand how in spite of all the talk of free trade, there is really no such thing as goods only flow to the USA, plus how difficult it is for us to export to Asian nations. It is no surprise they have other priorities, such as taking care of their own. They know that manufacturing is vital to economic growth and prosperity.

"Additionally, they have complex legal and cultural barriers beyond just direct tariffs. For example, Korea protects its automotive industry not so much through direct tariffs that even our politicians could comprehend, but through more subtle barriers – the Korean IRS very, very often audits the taxes of those Koreans that dare to buy American or other foreign cars.

"That is why the Korean Free Trade deal is such a fiasco for the USA. It deals with direct tariffs, while completely ignoring the deeper factors that keep our products out. The Economic Policy Institute estimates we will actually have a net loss 160,000 jobs in the USA if this goes through. Plus, the jobs lost would be good manufacturing jobs, while the jobs gained here would be lower paying agricultural harvesting, etc. meaning wages would drop there too."

Todd reports that Walmart lobbyists, along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, visited all 100 senators last week "in an effort to ram through the so-called “free trade” agreements with Korea, Panama, and Columbia." He added that a Chamber leader was quoted in a WSJ article, saying that "We're fighting like hell because if the vote doesn't happen by the recess, we risk it not happening in the fall."

Let's be lobbyists on our OWN behalf (like anyone else is gonna do it!) and let our legislative creatures hear loud and clear that we want no more of these "free trade" deals that only line the pockets of the super-wealthy, while gutting income opportunities for the rest of us. We might also remind the beltway bubble people that we see how these "free trade" deals worked out for this country last time around, even if most of THEM choose to ignore it. Those of us out here in reality land see the disastrous outcomes - every day.
01 June 2011

"Are We Living in Post-Legal America?"

by: Peter of Lone Tree

Is the Libyan war legal? Was Bin Laden’s killing legal? Is it legal for the president of the United States to target an American citizen for assassination? Were those “enhanced interrogation techniques” legal? These are all questions raised in recent weeks. Each seems to call out for debate, for answers. Or does it?

Now, you couldn’t call me a legal scholar. I’ve never set foot inside a law school, and in 66 years only made it onto a single jury (dismissed before trial when the civil suit was settled out of court). Still, I feel at least as capable as any constitutional law professor of answering such questions.

My answer is this: they are irrelevant. Think of them as twentieth-century questions that don't begin to come to grips with twenty-first century American realities. In fact, think of them, and the very idea of a nation based on the rule of law, as a reflection of nostalgia for, or sentimentality about, a long-lost republic. At least in terms of what used to be called “foreign policy,” and more recently “national security,” the United States is now a post-legal society. (And you could certainly include in this mix the too-big-to-jail financial and corporate elite.)

Read the rest at Alternet.

HERE it is:

by: Peter of Lone Tree

Written by Two-Time Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient

Major General Smedley D. Butler

USMC, Retired