Thursday, August 30, 2012

Prime Time Theater

Willard M. Romney caught in a meditative moment

I am so glad that I don't watch TV, 'cause if I did, there's always the off chance that I might stumble onto Repub convention coverage. Imagine a perfectly good dinner, hurled to the floor. Ughhh!

The terrible fact about this election is that the nation faces unprecedented problems, but by unspoken mutual agreement, neither side can speak candidly about them. So we are faced with the spectacle of the candidates dancing about, vilifying and demonizing the other while implying that each has what it takes to deal with the (mostly unspoken) problems.

The economy is, as usual, a prime topic. Of course the challenger is going to focus on persistent high unemployment and try to nail it on the incumbent. Unfortunately, the Repubs have offered no ideas on how to get people back to work, other than more tax cuts for the uber-rich 1%. Supposedly, this will create such a  warm glow among the capitalist barons, that they will be inspired to move some of their wealth from offshore havens into investments for new plants and businesses.

Blaming the economy on Obama really rings hollow, since the severe recession began on Bush's watch. Repubs attack Obama's stimulus efforts as wasteful and ineffective, unless they happen to target their own constituents (as Congressman Ryan was forced to admit). In fact, the massive stimulus and Federal Reserve intervention (began under Bush) probably forestalled complete collapse for a few more years. Everyone understands that, but politics is a game and empty rhetoric is the strategy of choice.

Dealing with the Debt Monster really brings out a creative dance act. Obama is "bad" for running up the deficit, but Bush and Reagan did it too, and the economy really fell through the floor in 2009. Whoever is president in 2013 will face the "fiscal cliff" caused by Congress having punted difficult budgetary decisions and requiring draconian "sequestration" of spending in the absence of a comprehensive budget agreement. As everyone knew, the chances of that happening in an election year are less than zero.

So how will Romney/Ryan attack the Debt Monster after first digging an even deeper hole with their beloved tax cuts for the rich? When this comes up in the debates, it should make for interesting theater.

Obama's approach seems to be to muddle through and try pushing doomsday back as far as possible, which sounds positively brilliant when compared to the Repub's forward charge over the cliff.

The allegation that Obama is a socialist doesn't stick. Taxes have not been raised under his watch, (although they should have been). For all its flaws. Obamacare is essentially an attempt to broaden the base of those paying into the insurance system. In his past incarnation as moderate Republican, Gov. Romney pioneered this concept in Massachusetts. Now he is trying to sprint away from this record with the tenacity of an Olympian marathon runner.

What is the Republican alternative plan for health care? Buy insurance if you can afford it. If not, then shame on you - you're clearly not one of us, so who cares.

The issue that neither party will face is that the nation is spending an unsustainable proportion of income on health care. What politician will propose that we spend less? Who would support that? Not big Pharma. Not big insurance providers. Not big hospitals and health care chains. These aforementioned vested interests contribute heavily to both parties. Their lobbyists wrote the Obamacare legislation, and will likely write whatever Republican bill gets passed in a Romney administration.

How about a simple extension of Medicare for the general population, with equitable haircut applied to Big Pharma and Big Health Care providers? How about using the existing Medicare payroll tax structure, with no increase in bureaucracy? How about cutting Big Insurance out of the picture entirely? Now that's "socialism" - can't have that!

So enjoy, if you will, the absurd theater as the Romneys present themselves at the convention as average, down-to-earth folks. Hear Ann talk about the challenges of being a mother despite having a few loose millions in the household checking account. Hear Mitt talk about his grinding days at the Bain Capital CEO suite while Ann struggled with housewife duties. Perhaps Ann will come up with a photo op featuring her shoveling manure at the horse farm. Mitt could take a page from Reagan's publicity book by purchasing a ranch so he can pose in plaid shirt and jeans while chopping firewood. Just regular folks!

No one has a clue what to do with the Debt Monster, but we can't admit to that. Perhaps the PTB plans to just let everything blow up and melt down after the election. All the posturing and rhetoric prior to that is meaningless. So enjoy the theater while you can!


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ryan Pick: Boon or Bane for Repubs?

The picture is from a 2008 Democratic campaign ad that depicts a Paul Ryan look-alike as pushing Granny off a cliff from her wheelchair. The narration described  Ryan's proposed changes to Medicare as equivalent to this dramatic metaphor. Presumably we can expect a revival of ads like this in coming months.

Willard "Mitt" Romney seems to be signaling that his evolution to the right-wing darkside is now complete, for better or worse. Since his campaign has battled headwinds from the onset in the attempt to capture the hearts and minds of the right-wing rabble in his party, this could be the final coup de grĂ¢ce for that battle.

Of course, energizing the right-wing core of the Republican party is one thing, but swinging back far enough toward center after the convention is quite another. The gambit is contingent upon the apparent assumption that enough swing voters can be persuaded to bite on an extreme right economic agenda, for Ryan's positions are well-known and clearly defined. Normally the successful nominee leaves enough blank slate to enable a recasting in more centrist terms, but Romney has now foreclosed on that possibility.

The polls indicate a very close election, and the anemic economy could tilt things toward the Repubs. The nation is divided along partisan lines like never before. Both extremes are entrenched, with relatively few undecided in the middle. The campaign will be nasty, replete with demonizing attacks on both candidates. Romney the elitist uber-rich capitalist who outsourced jobs overseas vs. Obama the Socialist who is intent on destroying America. Let the lesser evil win.

As I often point out, this partisan facade is a but a fabricated ruse, intended to conceal the true source of power and create the appearance of democracy. No need to cite conspiratorial sources on this, such as photos of Henry Kissinger or David Rockefeller sitting in on cabinet meetings. No need to discuss the role of the Bilderberg meetings or Trilateral Commission in deciding public policy. The only proof needed for my thesis is to examine how little actual governmental policy changed between past alternations of Democratic and Republican rule.

Sure, Obama is running up the national debt to record levels, but this trend really first gained traction under Reagan due to his tax cuts. Clinton actually presided over some balanced budgets, but then the descent toward hell accelerated under GW Bush after he cut taxes and then financed a massive war machine expansion on the national credit card. Add to this a financial crash and ensuing deep recession just as Obama took office, it's easy to see that the landscape would look much the same at this point if McCain had won the election.

So Republicans claim to be the party of fiscal responsibility? Give me a break. The fun really begins when Romney-Ryan try to lay out their blueprint for reining in the deficit. Balancing the budget while cutting taxes even further would result in a landscape that no one will recognize or desire.  Romney says he wouldn't cut military spending and would presumably keep feeding the war machine, so programs that affect a lot of people would have to be on the chopping block. Granny would not be the only one hurled off the cliff under this scenario.

One factual area that Romney has going for him is that the current growth of debt is unsustainable. If Obama points out the folly of slashing the heart of entitlement programs that many depend on, he will need to paint a plausible alternative that would work better. Sure it's heartless to gut Medicare, but if nothing is done, Medicare and Social Security are on a path toward collapse. Neither side can dispute the dire fact that the debt monster, fed for decades by both parties, now threatens to engulf everyone and everything.

It's fascinating to watch this partisan theatre with the knowledge that neither side is proposing real solutions, nor can they even if they wanted to. The Powers That Be (PTB) have created the economic quagmire, and only they know what end game is planned. My concern is that, with a major economic collapse and/or depression possibly on tap for next year, slashing the safety net would cause enough pain and suffering to create serious social unrest.

Could that be the end-game the PTB have in mind? Let the economy collapse, and provoke unrest & revolution? The only siginicant choice the election provides is between a party that holds the line on cuts for the poor and middle class, and one that slashes the safety net and provokes outrage. Either way, we are toast if the PTB get their way, but Romney/Ryan would grease the wheels for a faster plunge over the cliff.

Now doesn't this just motivate you to become more engaged in the political process? The "Audacity of Hope" becomes "just hope we can survive". Don't forget to vote :)


Monday, August 6, 2012

No to MN Marriage Amendment

The Republicorp right wing in Minnesota has placed a number of initiatives on the November ballot. In addition to an ill-considered "Voter Id" measure designed to inhibit voting participation by the underclass, they want to enshrine a moralistic definition of marriage in the state constitution. This is a bad idea for several reasons:

1. Religious morality has no place in the state constitution. Although some non-religious individuals may oppose gay marriage, it's rather obvious that the majority of support for the amendment comes from religious groups. Their reasons originate from their biblical interpretation that God ordained traditional marriage. They are free to believe whatever they want, but imposing religious values onto secular law amounts to theocracy. They are free to project homophobic views on their version of God, but this shouldn't be used to affect public policy.

I recall that when Pat Robertson was campaigning for president in 1988, he promoted a number of policy issues that were based on Christian doctrine. This led me to wonder why he didn't sit down with the Muslim mullahs of Iran and compare notes; it seemed that the Iranian system should serve a an excellent model for the type of government that Robertson prefers. What's not to like? Laws are based on religious teaching, sinners are punished publicly, all governmental institutions serve religious ideals and objectives. Simply replace The Prophet Muhammed with Jesus, and you would think guys like Robertson would be all over that.

2. The institution of marriage evolved to serve a useful purpose in society. The major reason gays and lesbians have been traditionally excluded is that they were largely invisible until relatively recently. This isn't because homosexuality is a "lifestyle choice" that is increasing in popularity; all available evidence suggests that the incidence has been about the same throughout history. Due to repression in most time periods, it generally was not noticed, let alone accepted until recently

I grew up in the 60's in a white, protestant section of society where I was not even aware that homosexuality existed until high school, where there were always one or two students that were bullied as "queer". I also did not know that blacks had grievances, and when the ghettos exploded in rage, I accepted the conservative view that outside agitators must be stirring things up. When I saw Martin Luther King leading demonstrations on TV, I couldn't imagine what all the fuss was about. Why didn't those Memphis garbage collectors just go back to work and stop making trouble? Only after escaping my insulated childhood enclave did I begin to see more dimensions to the world around me. Being white and heterosexual, it was difficult to see how others could encounter problems with things I took for granted.

I knew since grade school that I was attracted to girls, well before sexual desire had anything to do with it. I had no sympathy or understanding for those attracted to same gender until I heard gays and lesbians describing a similar attraction since grade school, only to the same gender. I used to be troubled with the concept of same-sex attraction, but later had to admit that we don't really know what causes heterosexual attraction, for that matter. Perhaps someone with asexual orientation would be put off by the idea of intimate contact with anyone of either gender. What causes attraction in any case? Christians will cite natural selection and procreation & survival of the species without realizing the obvious contradiction in that they don't believe in evolution.

My present understanding of the human psyche explains that our behavior is heavily influenced by the long history of countless lives that our souls have lived. We sometimes change genders from life to life, so it's easy to imagine some confusion if we are accustomed to relating as one gender and then incarnate as the other. Human behavior is complex and shrouded in mystery; at this point in life I'm inclined to take a "live and let live" approach to those who see and do things differently than I.

Those defending traditional marriage will no doubt inject the issue of schools teaching "inclusive values" regarding same-sex relationships. While this is no reason to vote for the amendment, they may have somewhat of a valid point there. I'm wary of schools pushing social values on kids. Explaining why Danny has two dads might have it's place, but why not just let them observe life and develop their own values? Alternative lifestyles do not need promotion in school. The lyrics by Pink Floyd come to mind...

We don't need no education
We don't need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
All in all it's just another brick in the wall.

It may be that in 50 years, marriage will have evolved into something far different or even disapeared. In Conversations with God, Neil Donald Walsch speculates that the traditional system of child rearing is less than optimum. Young adults, while at their peak age for child bearing, are not well suited for the task of raising children. Grandparents posess more patience and wisdom for teaching children, but have less physical stamina. Perhaps a different formula will be worked out at some point.

Well, this has been quite a digression. The bottom line is that people should be free to do as they choose, and what they choose shouldn't threaten anyone who chooses differently. The religious right's agenda to impose their version of morality on society should be strenuously opposed. Fortunately, failure to vote on an ammendment in Minnesota is taken as a NO vote, so if you're unsure about the issue, just abstain! Leave the ballot blank on that question.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Beating The War Drums

OMG! The mainstream press finally prints a picture of Amadinejad that doesn't catch him with his eyes blinking shut or otherwise looking like a homeless person living under a bridge. 

The associated article, in the Jerusalem Post, also highlights his call to "annihilate Israel" and liberate Palestine from Zionist rule.

So the mainstream press would lead us to think "Bad Iran", for wanting to attack and annihilate poor Israel, that paragon of peace and democracy in the Mideast.

Of course, a few factoids are always left out...of these two nations, which one has attacked neighbors to enlarge its territory? Umm, the correct answer would not include Iran, at least in modern history. (Israel did). Concerned about renegade nukes, are we? Ok, which nation has an active nuclear arsenal, featuring at least 500 warheads? Again, not Iran? And of course Israel played by the rules of the non-proliferation treaty? What, you mean they didn't???

So let's get this straight: The rogue state that built a huge nuclear arsenal under secrecy and flipped off the international nuclear watchdog agencies in the process, that would be correctly identified as Israel? WTF? So why are we picking on Iran? Looks like we are fingering the wrong culprit here.

Does anyone really believe that Iran poses a threat to Israel? Like they are going to patch together a crude nuke from their centrifuges, and lob it toward Tel Aviv? Everyone realizes that any such provocation would result in Tehran and other major Iranian cities being quickly reduced to smoldering, radioactive rubble. Perceived Muslim fanaticism notwithstanding, no Iranian leader is going to make a rash decision like that, when the odds are stacked so overwhelmingly against them.

Some of the Iranian rhetoric actually rings with truth, insofar as Zionism is depicted as a center of evil in the world. As always, let me make it clear that this is NOT a slur against any religious or ethnic group. Many Israelis and Jews around the world are less than enthused by the prospect of an aggressive, Zionist regime oppressing Palestinians at gunpoint and maintaining a constant warlike posture. There is some support among Israelis for an inclusive, secular state that makes peace with its neighbors.

Not to pile it on Zionism as the source of all evil, they are but a tool of the global PTB, City of London Banksters, Council of Foreign Relations, et al. These folks seem determined to beat the war drums until a major conflagration erupts, which will take the average citizen's mind off the economy and incipient Great Depression II. Hopefully more people will begin asking, "why war, why now?" Neither Obama nor Romney seem inclined to halt the rush to war, but perhaps Ron Paul can inject pertinent questions into the political debate this fall.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Unstable Timelines?

It would seem that the stable space/time and linear timelines we once enjoyed are a thing of the past. I don't have another explanation at hand, other than the possibility that I'm going completely insane.

I suspect that shifting timelines have been around for a while, though most often we are able to rationalize and explain them away as mere forgetfulness. Isn't John Lennon still alive? Didn't Ringo Starr die of cancer? Nelson Mandela died under South African captivity? Could have sworn.

A funny thing happens, however, when we choose to become more awake and aware of the present moment: Those little space/time slips become more noticeable, and more difficult to rationalize away. Sometimes the subconscious vaguely recalls a different line of events. After all, there quite likely are a number of parallel timelines, containing various versions of reality. The only one we generally are aware of is the one we are in at the present moment, and apparently we do switch between on occasion.

My wife Marie and I both shared a couple of slips beginning last year. The first involved a Valentine's Day dinner for couples put on by a regional park. It books up early, so we registered as soon as the announcement was mailed. Marie is a stickler for scheduling dates, and I clearly recall her mentioning "February 13" as she marked the calendar and sent in the registration. That is her recollection as well, and she normally never gets a date wrong.

When we arrived at the park building at the appointed hour on the 13th, we were stunned to find the place locked up and dark. We asked someone walking her dog nearby, who told us she thought the dinner had been held on the 12th. We went home and checked the emails and printed material, and sure enough - it said dinner on the 12th. Looked at the calendar, which now was marked on the 12th. Marie called the park office on the following Monday to register her confusion and disapointment, since we had paid in advance, and was told that for some bizarre reason, several others had also missed the dinner by thinking it was scheduled for the 13th.

Ok, mere forgetfulness could be at work here, but given that others also "forgot" lends credence to my theory of a time slip. When the timelines shift, all tangible evidence also shifts to support the alternate reality. The conscious mind attempts to adjust and make sense of the change by pretending that the current reality has been in effect all along. Underneath, a nagging awareness may persist that the reality really did change, and this is more pronounced in those possessing greater psychic sensitivity.

A more strange event occurred during the past winter: We have an automatic thermostat that cranks up the heat 45 minutes or so before our wakeup time of 6:00. Sometimes the furnace running and increasing temperature arouses me before the alarm goes off, as happened on this particular occasion. I got up and walked into the kitchen, and noted that the clock said 6:10. Must have slept through the alarm, I thought. Returned to the bedroom and started getting dressed as Marie sleepily asked "What time is it, anyway?".

"6:10" I replied.

She consulted her cell phone, which reported the time as 2:13 am. I checked mine, and it said the same.

"Verizon must be having a server outage", I suggested, but then I inspected the thermostat once again. The furnace had stopped running, and the set point stood at 59, which it normally would be at 2:13 am. The actual temperature was closer to 68, however, which confirmed that the set point had really been 68 as I had noticed when I first got up. Back to the kitchen, the clock now said 2:15 am.

Sure, a sleepy-eyed person can misread the time at 2:10 in the morning. Automatic thermostats do not misread the time, however, and the furnace clearly had been running. The actual temperature would have been closer to 59 if the automatic setting had not been increased to 68 for at least 30 minutes. Later, when I finally did wake up at 6:00, it felt like I had slept longer than usual. Perhaps something like 4 hours longer than usual.

The most recent timeline slip incident affected only me, which made it more confusing and infuriating than ever: I drove past the Penny George Institute in Minneapolis a few days ago, and this reminded me that I had seen an ad for a remote viewing class to be held there. I casually mentioned it to Marie afterward, and she surprised me by saying "That's right! Don't you remember that I had wanted to take that class, but you were dead set against it?"

I didn't recall any such thing, and had only noticed the ad a few days earlier. She continued to remind me how she had approached me several times over the preceding month, and that I had uncharacteristically been against her taking the class. She had thought that was a bit strange for me, but had let it go. Normally I am very supportive of her endeavors, and remote viewing was one topic in particular that I had previously encouraged her to try due to her natural psychic ability. The suggestion that I would have opposed it was unthinkable.

We are both quite busy, and forgetting one conversation would be understandable. Given that, her version of events, wherein she approached me about the class several times over a period of weeks, could surely not be totally forgotten by me. Even following this discussion, I cannot locate even a vague recollection of her discussing the class with me. I had no idea she was interested in taking a class on remote viewing.

This sort of anomaly causes me to feel stranded out in left field somewhere. Marie couldn't understand my confusion, since her version of events was clearly etched in her mind. She was still a bit sore at my apparent role in arguing against her taking the class, and now the registration deadline had passed. But who was that person she should feel sore at? Could another version of me in another timeline have had a different attitude? He sounds like a real jerk.

Another phenomena consists of objects moving and appearing from nowhere in our living space. I have written before on this, but recently this activity has been increasing once again. More on this later...