Sunday, September 26, 2010

Grizzly Food

Two Grizzly bears on a national forest were hard up for food one year. After a too-cold Winter and a too-hot Spring, there was very little to eat. What there was was dried up and frizzled.

So, the older, more grizzled bear Sam, said to his younger companion Roger one day, “You know what? I’m so damned hungry I think I’m gonna eat me a tourist.”

“You can’t do that!” protested Roger. “Don’t you remember that warning Smokey gave us?”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. We’re not supposed to eat the tourists ‘cause if we do they’ll declare us ‘problem bears’ and hunt us down and shoot us like, well . . . . , bears. But, I’m a-telling you Roger, if we don’t start snacking on some  tourists pretty soon we’re gonna starve to death. Hell, that’s a worse way to die than getting shot.”

“Guess you’re right about that.” said Roger. “So, what do we do to catch us a tourist? I’ve never done that before.”

“Me neither, but it’s simple,” said Sam. “We just hide behind some rock beside a hiking trail and when we see a tourist coming by alone, why we just grab him and run off in the forest with him and fix him and eat him where no one will notice. Why don’t you go over and wait by the Upper Trail and I’ll take the Lower? We’ll meet again tonight to see how we did.”

“Roger that.” said Roger.

Later that evening when they met to compare notes Sam asked Roger, “So, how’d you do today?”

“Pretty good I guess.” Roger replied. “I caught me a Mexican. Holy Cow!  Was he all juicy and spicy! He tasted great once I got by that hot chili pepper zing. But, he was pretty buttery too so I’m worried about my cholesterol now. How’d you do?”

“Sheesh!” said Sam. “I’m gonna have to do better than I did today or I’m gonna starve completely to death anyway! I screwed up and caught me a Norwegian.”

“So, what’s wrong with Norwegians?” asked Roger.

“You don’t know? They’re mostly gnarly twisted gristle and not tasty at all, even on a good day. They eat too much fish and rotten cheese and downright stink inside.” said Sam disgustedly. “Everybody knows that. But, you can’t tell from the outside. My Norwegian must have eaten some of that awful, rotten Lutefisk too. Once I finally got all his stinky parts and bad pieces cleaned out, I ended up with only a couple handfuls of edible stuff. I tell you right now Roger, nobody can live on Norwegians! Let’s hope I can do better tomorrow.”

The next evening they met again. Sam said, “Well, I did a lot better today, thank goodness. I caught me one of those monks from over at the monastery. He was delicious, filling and fully satisfying.”

“Gosh Sam,” said Roger. “I caught me one of those monks too, but I could hardly eat the damned guy, tasted awful. I had to choke him down.”

“How’d you fix him?” asked Sam.

“Boiled him of course, like I always do.”

“Well, there’s your damned problem right there! Don’t you ever learn? Those kind of monks are friars!” laughed Sam as Roger hung his head.

They met again next evening. Roger was grinning and Sam was out of sorts.

“Man, this was the best day so far!” grinned Roger.

“I probably don’t even want to hear about it,” snarled Sam. “but, go ahead and tell me if you must.”

“Yeah, well, I really lucked up and caught me a Democrat.” chortled Roger. “Man, was he sweet and succulent. He hardly even hollered when I grabbed him. He was oozing with all this sweet syrupy stuff and smelled good too. I’m so full of sweet, environmentally friendly wholesome food I gotta take a nap. How’d you do yourself?

“Hell, wouldn’t you just believe the damned luck?” Sam snarled. “You go out and catch yourself a nice fat Democrat and all I got was this knotty, shitty, stinking damned Republican. Once I got all the shit cleaned out of him there was nothing left but his teeth, his gold cross and his wallet. He was ten times worse than a Norwegian! Damn! Do ya think maybe he coulda been a freaking Norwegian Republican?

“I tell ya what Roger, tomorrow me and you are gonna switch trails!”

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Tea Party Ship of State

I first saw the Tea Party Express down at the docks. I was drawn to that odd vessel by all those flags waving about overhead. That boat was a strange sight indeed. First, there was the hull itself which looked hurriedly cobbled together - and not very expertly either - seemingly out of discarded railroad boxcars, re-cycled army tanks, church steeples and a lot of other unidentifiable material. Lying at the dock, the boat seemed to list impossibly far to the right. In fact, the strange craft looked entirely hard aground and near capsizing.

There were all those flags and banners of course. First, there was a huge American flag flying from the masthead, which itself seemed to be made from an extra high church steeple. Flying from the crossbars of the cross on top were  other flags. One had ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ boldly written beneath the image of a rattlesnake on a yellow background. Another small one showed a tree with the words “It’s Time to Water the Tree of Liberty with Blood”. Still other smaller ones here and there had pictures of guns, and some had images and words which would guarantee a desperate life-or-death fight if unwisely waved in the Watts neighborhood of LA for example.

Still and all it was a colorful sight. I spotted an oddly dressed man striding importantly about on deck. He wore camouflage trousers and a shirt seemingly made out of the United States flag. On his head appeared to be some sort of floppy olive drab military campaign hat. A large, oval silver belt buckle with an American eagle set in gold was at his waist, and a large silver cross hung conspicuously from a chain around his neck. “I (heart) Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck” was tattooed on his right arm. Taking him for some sort of comic icon I asked if he knew where the captain might be found.

“I am the captain!” he informed me importantly. I introduced myself and said my newspaper sent me to write an article on the ship and that I’d like to interview him.

“Fire away.” he said. I had noticed that he seemed very militant and had sort of belligerent in-your-face attitude, so first, I asked him about his military experience.

“Unfortunately, to my great regret, I never had the opportunity to serve my country in the military.” he answered.

I asked why not since his apparent age seemed about right for the Vietnam years.
“Well at the time I was seeking a critical civilian occupation and felt my services were far more important to the war effort through that there here at home.” he replied, not looking me in the eye.

I wondered out loud what that critical civilian occupation might have been.

“Well, to be honest, I was between jobs but looking for work of a critical civilian nature so to speak. So I could offer my expertise you know.  But unfortunately, it was very hard to find the right kind of work and since I had a high draft number, I just was never called up during those times.”

“Did you ever find your critical civilian job, or think about volunteering for the military?” I asked.

“No.” he said tersely, looking up at the huge American flag flying at the steeple-mast. “I spent most of that time working in construction, which you really should consider critical work couldn’t you? I just never thought of it that way until just now.”

I sensed he wished to be off this particular subject. “So, tell me about your boat.” I said to him.

“Well, first of all,” he said rather stuffily, “this here is not a boat. This here is a ship, and a powerful ship of state to be precise. This here ship will be used to bring about critically needed political change to a nation in great peril. Namely ours.”

He went on, “This here ship is very strong. A lot of people don’t know this, but we’ve got a pretty much unlimited budget to make sure the ship is as strong as we want. For example, our powerful engines have been provided to us by wealthy patriots like the Koch brothers and Rupert Murdock who are vitally and unselfishly concerned about this here country. Other money and all our fuel is provided by big oil and energy companies who care about the direction our country is headed and want to dispel any and all ridiculous climate change myths. The hull and many other important parts were donated by Christian patriots who only want to make sure God’s will is followed by the leaders of our country to guarantee abortionists and homosexuals aren’t able to contaminate our society any further.”

“So, where did you get the design for your ship, and who is responsible for that?” I asked, a burning question I had in mind ever since I first saw the thing.

“God provided the design.” he said. “This here ship was built and guided by the hand of God. All the input, every part, every screw and bolt and welded seam was directed by God, every paint brush stroke. In fact, I think this here ship should be considered holy. All we did when we built the ship was put the pieces where it seemed like God wanted them.”

“Which God is that?” I wondered. “Would that be a Jewish god, or Buddhist god, or a combination of a lot of different kinds of gods?”

“Of course not you idiot! I mean the one and only Christian God, Jesus Christ our savior, the Holy Trinity and our country’s salvation!”

I protested at once, “But, our country was founded on freedom of religion or no religion at all. It wasn’t based on any Christian god and neither was the US Constitution.”

The captain instantly swelled up at that and got red in the face. “Well, that’s where you’re absolutely and completely 100% wrong, by God!” he shouted loudly. “Everyone knows this here is a Christian nation, founded by Christians and on solid Christian principles! Maybe they just made a mistake in not pointing that out in the Constitution in the first place, I don’t know. But, that’s one of the things we aim to fix. We’re gonna put Christ back in the schools where he belongs, and put the Ten Commandments in every courthouse in this here country! What are you some kind of heathen atheist communist or traitor or something?”

“No, not at all.” I answered. “Actually I was raised as a Catholic, though probably not a very good one.”

“Well, there you are then. That’s different. Catholics are actually Christians too in their own way I’ve been told.” he said. “Although I don’t know all that much about you Mackerel Smackers myself.”

“Thanks.” I said. “Glad to know I will be allowed to get along in your world once you take over.’ I said somewhat sarcastically. The captain looked at me sharply.

“You ain’t trying to be a smart ass or anything are you?” he snorted.

“Nosirree, not me.” I replied. “So, tell me about the ships’s navigation equipment, the compass and electronics and things like that.”

He smiled as if here he knew to be on solid ground. “Well, we have all the latest there is. All the radars and radios and GPS’s and stuff like that. We didn’t need to spend no money on anything like a compass, now with all the fancy electronics and all, so we didn’t.”

“What if you have a power failure or something?” I asked. “Besides a compass being required by law, power failures do happen on ships fairly often, you know.”

“Law, schmaw. Ridiculous laws ain’t meant to be followed, at least by real Americans. If it’s God will we don’t need no particular law, we don’t pay no attention to it at all. Anyway, God’s hand will guide us if anything happens. Just like he guided Moses in the wilderness, and like he’s guided us so far.” he gave a superior grin. “We have no fear or worries about any of that being Christians. Ain’t you been listening to what I been telling you?”

“Oh, yes, I’ve been hearing you.” I said.

He went on. “Through this here ship we aim to take our country back, and set things right. We’ll fix the excessive taxation, and the runaway budget, and do away with all that social welfare stuff. If folks can’t make it, well, just let them go somewhere else where they believe in and have all that socialism stuff. We ain’t gonna allow that crap here. This country is for God-fearing, hardworking, Christian Americans only. No one else need apply. And that means all those wetbacks too. We’re gonna round ‘em up and send ‘em back where they belong. We’re gonna save America for us Americans!”

“You do know this country was founded almost 100% by immigrants from other countries don’t you?” I asked. “Plus the country was already inhabited by native people who weren’t Christians when our ancestors got here.”

“Well yes, that’s so. But THOSE immigrants were good Christians, and those Indians had to turn over their country to us because they WEREN’T Christians! That was God’s will!” the captain retorted. “Now, it’s our job to keep any more damned dark-skinned heathens out.”

“Most all Mexicans and Central Americans are good and faithful Catholics.” I pointed out.

“Yes, but they are mostly from the brown races which the Europeans brought religion to, just to save their souls from hell and damnation. But they ain’t exactly perfected as Christians yet neither in my opinion. I’ve always suspected that holy Catholic stuff was just a cover for them anyway. Those wetbacks ain’t got no business in our country I tell you, Catholic or not.” the good captain replied.

To change the subject I asked him, “So where is the ship ‘Tea Party Express’ headed from here and what qualifications do you have as captain?” 

The captain replied. “As for my qualifications, why, I’ve got years of experience operating wheat combines on Kansas farms, which ought to qualify me enough to run just about anything you know. As to where we’re headed, why we’re headed to Washington, DC of course. We’re gonna be taking over there or ain’t you heard yet?”

“Well, I’ve certainly heard that’s your goal, but there are at least 70 percent of other Americans who don’t agree with you.” I said.

“Don’t matter.” he said. “We know what’s best for everybody. It may be a little rough for them at first, but they’ll soon see the light and be satisfied once we fix things.”

“What if they aren’t?” I asked. “What if they still disagree?”

“Too bad for them I guess. Like I said, it don’t matter if they do or not. You just can’t go against God’s will.” he replied.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Unfettered Capitalism Myth

"Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains." -- so said Thomas Jefferson when he advocated against corporations having political power and worked to build a wall between them and our government. Corporations are the single largest form of dominance over people ever devised and have no particular loyalty to any country, including our own.  Profits are the singular guiding standard as Jefferson noted and ever since his time corporations have tried to insinuate themselves into our political system.

They have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are now defined as ‘persons’ and the US Supreme Court recently ruled they can spend as much as they like to elect politicians of their choice. This signals a crystal clear and present danger for our way of life. Now, there seems to be no real obstacle to corporations taking complete control of our government

Lot’s of us own stock in corporations, and prosper from their prosperity to various degrees. That’s only one of the many ways used to mollify and soothe the masses. But, it has gone far beyond that.  Corporations invested in and have been stunningly successful in enlisting the very people they are economically enslaving  to their defense and cause. Disparaging ‘capitalism’ in the slightest way exposes you to attack, ridicule and accusation of being communist or treasonous.

“Unrestrained and unfettered capitalism” is the popular war cry. And, war cry it is. The problem is, it is a complete and utter myth. First, it is not capitalism at all. Capitalism as in the popular conception of it went out the window a long time ago. Capitalism as it exists today is actually a 'Corporatocracy', a many-tentacled form of governance by entities nourished and sustained by corporate socialism in the form of huge subsidies and tax breaks from our government. This is orchestrated by the elites who rule the corporations. And, the ones paying the bill are you and I, the taxpaying saps who are now virtual economic slaves.

These elites have access to unlimited funds to influence the legislators who live in their pockets, and have little hope of election without their help. They also have huge treasure chests to propagandize the masses to get them behind their causes.

The Tea Party is a prime example. The spark, and initial money behind this ‘movement’ has been traced back to the Koch brothers, two of the richest men in America and the world. They are aided by a huge media conglomerate (FOX), also owned, not incidentally by one of the richest men in the world. They capitalize on the legitimate fears and frustrations of millions of Americans watching our politicians sell out our country wholesale. Faith in Congress is at an all-time historic low, and with good and sufficient reason. It’s simple really. Congress long ago essentially defaulted on the people’s business, except occasionally under the strongest public pressure. Instead, they block, obfuscate, confuse and dodge any progress or beneficial change objected to by their real clients - the corporations who keep them in office.

And, the damage caused by special interest legislation is legion. One historic example: Corporate money funded legislation legalize a mining method called 'mountaintop removal'  (‘Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977,' (515(c)(1)'. Today this vast region is internationally  known as 'APPALACHIA'  with the distinction as the most backward region with the lowest health and literacy rates anywhere in the US. There is more of the same type of thing going on in our country today than most people can ever imagine. The human, or social parts of our society have little value to corporations except for how we can contribute to their profits.

Who are these elites who rule the corporations, and thereby the rest of us? Well, to begin with they are, with few exceptions, the really, really rich. Some of their wealth is inherited, and some was gained through their own efforts, Horatio Alger style. But generally speaking, they comprise the richest one or two percent of people in the nation, and internationally too, as many corporations are wholly or partly foreign owned - yet still have their full say in our political system. And, since they essentially rule our nation, this means we are also being partially ruled by foreigners. Hard to believe, eh?  It is harder still to stomach.

We have been through similar times in our past. The infamous ‘laissez faire’ times of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries come to mind. The rich had control back then too. In 1928 almost 24% of the nation’s income came to the hands of the richest 1%. This ratio declined to around 8 or 9% by the 1970’s due to economic reforms, wars and the so-called Great Society. By 2007 we were right back to 1928 levels - almost 24% of total income came once again to the richest 1%. 

It is not coincidental that both periods were followed by the greatest economic crashes in history. Sadly for the rest of us, ironically, in bad economic times the rich tend to get richer, relatively speaking, than any of the rest of us. This bears our the cliché that if you do not learn from history, you are destined to repeat it.  Sadly for our country, all too true.

An election is coming up. We are daily being innundated with political ads demonizing ‘Obamacare’ - the first comprehensive health care plan for all citizens in our entire history. ‘Liberals’ and ‘Progressives’ are roundly pilloried. How anyone can be against progress is beyond my understanding, but there you are. Today is a black is white, white is black world, bought and paid for lock, stock and barrel by Big Corporate Money - ‘BCM’.

Enjoy if you can.