Saturday, December 29, 2012

Check Out the "Jon Swift Memorial Roundup 2012"


My February 9, 2012 article, "How Ronald Reagan Unwittingly Laid the Groundwork for the Death of Capitalism," was featured in Vagabond Scholar's "Jon Swift Memorial Roundup 2012." If you haven't already, be sure to check out this roundup, which offers a lot of great articles from many of the Web's top progressive blogs. And also, be sure to check out Vagabond Scholar itself, which is one of our favorite Liberal blogs. Here's to a great 2013 for all progressive bloggers everywhere.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Great GOP Moments: Craig T. Nelson Sums Up Today's Republican Mindset in One Sentence



A few years ago, actor Craig T. Nelson was being interviewed by creepy GOP nutcase Glenn Beck and he made a comment that was widely ridiculed (see video above).

"I've been on food stamps and welfare, did anyone help me out? No." Nelson said.

Nelson was praising the virtues of America's "capitalistic" society. Many commentators pointed out the contradiction of Nelson's praise of a dog-eat-dog capitalist system and his admission of collecting welfare while bizarrely claiming that nobody had ever helped him out.

What many of these commentators missed though was that there really wasn't any contradiction in Nelson's comments---at least in the minds of today's Republicans.

I've talked to many Republicans over the years. The vast majority of them claim to be hard-core capitalists, who support a vicious dog-eat-dog, survival of the fittest, Ayn Rand/wet dream type society. In a nutshell, they all are strongly in favor of shutting down all government programs with the exception of the Pentagon.

Oh, and almost without exception, all of these Republicans themselves have benefited handsomely from various government programs. They've always been the first in line to claim their food stamps, jobless benefits, Medicare, and various other government programs. In fact, many of them actually work for the government. They pull down lavish taxpayer-funded paychecks and enjoy amazing benefits and pensions that are light years beyond anything that any private sector employee gets.

The latter type of Republican is well represented by the likes of extreme Far-Right radio talker Mark Levin. Levin worked as a highly paid government employee for years, pulling down a huge taxpayer-funded salary back in the 1980s. Today, this hypocritical asswipe advocates shutting down everything in the government, except for the Pentagon. (It's nice to see Levin supporting the military now, considering that this chickenhawk never served).

Actually, there's no contradiction here, at least in the minds of the Republicans themselves.

Republicans claim to be fiscal conservatives and they ferociously oppose the government helping anyone out. But that only applies to other people. Certainly not themselves.

If many of the Republicans I talk to could remake Medicare to only benefit themselves and nobody else, they'd do it in a heartbeat.

The fact is, the Republicans I've talked to are in favor of lavish, generous government spending---as long as ALL the money goes directly into their pockets---and theirs alone.

The Republicans only throw a hissy fit if anybody else is benefiting from any government program.

The fact is, Nelson's comments neatly sum up the modern GOP mindset.

Friday, December 21, 2012

NRA's Absurd Scapegoating of Violent Movies, Video Games Doesn't Hold Up to Scrutiny


For five days after the horrific bloodbath at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the National Rifle Association went eerily silent. They slithered under a rock and nobody heard a peep from them until Friday. The cowards even temporarily took down their Facebook page.

Finally, the NRA's head ghoul Wayne LaPierre spoke up. And in his idiotic, error-filled statement, LaPierre fell back on the one of the gun lobby's oldest scapegoating tactics. He blamed Hollywood for its violent movies, as well as video game makers. He called them "a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and sows violence against its own people."

Like all the NRA's claims, though, this one doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

As film director Oliver Stone noted, Hollywood movies are viewed all over the world. And violent video games are played worldwide.

If one takes a look at Japan's culture and society, one begins to realize how idiotic LaPierre's argument is.

After all, a large percentage of the world's most popular (and violent) video games originate in Japan. So does the often hyper-violent content of Japanese manga comic books and anime cartoons. Some of the later are so blood-soaked and violent, they could never be marketed in the U.S.

Japan also has a robust film industry. And as a long-time fan of Japanese cinema, I can safely say that many of the most violent movies ever made are from Japan. A good example is the ultra-violent movie Tokyo Gore Police from 2008.

Tokyo Gore Police may well be the most violent film ever made. A jaw-dropping, astonishingly blood-soaked and hyper-violent movie, Tokyo Gore Police makes the films of controversial "bad boy" director Quentin Tarantino look tame by comparison.

In fact, as fans of Asian horror/thriller/slasher films know, many of Tarantino's films are nothing more than watered down pale imitations of the best of Asian "extreme" cinema. Tarantino rips off many of his ideas from the best of Japanese cinema and waters it all down for an American audience that, in most cases, has never been exposed to the real deal. (Films like Tokyo Gore Police, as well as the hyper-violent Japanese masterpiece Battle Royale from 2000 sadly, rarely even get a U.S. theatrical release).

Despite its sometimes hyper-violent cinema and video game industry, Japan has astonishingly little real-world violent gun crime. For example, in the year 2006, there were a grand total of two gun murders in all of Japan.


In fact, most years, gun murders in Japan range from around 10 to 20. (This, in a nation of over 126 million people). When the number hit 22 in 2007, it caused a lot of national hand-wringing about the "soaring" gun murder rate. To put that into context, though, during that same year, there were 587 Americans were killed just by guns that had discharged accidentally.

Of course, Japan does have strong gun regulations. Unlike in the U.S., in Japan, violent and mentally ill people can't just waltz into their local Wal-Mart and buy all the guns they want. Japan even screens potential gun buyers to make sure they're not crazy (gasp! what a radical idea!).

The bottom line is that LaPierre's claim that the problem is violent movies and not sensible gun laws ignores what's going on in the real world.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thanks, NRA Cowards, For The Connecticut Bloodbath



Thanks, NRA, for fighting any meaningful regulations that could help keep guns out of the hands of the violent and mentally ill. Thanks to you, guns can be bought in America as easily as a loaf of bread.

We also appreciate your work on ferociously opposing the Brady Bill (which Ronald Reagan, by the way, supported). Rest assured, though, despite your crazy, paranoid fantasies, NO meaningful action will be taken on guns in the aftermath of this latest horrible bloodbath.

Thanks to you, dozens, if not hundreds of more children will be brutally slaughtered in the decades to come.

The NRA truly is a cowardly organization. For example, they cowered under a rock and waited nearly five days to offer any kind of response to the Connecticut bloodbath. How chickensh*t is that? If they had the courage of their convictions, they would have spoken up sooner.

If you're sick of the slaughter, consider boycotting the companies that are affiliated with the NRA.

And consider signing this petition which aims to pressure the Obama Administration to produce legislation that limits access to guns.

How easy is it to get a gun in today's America? Consider this (as noted by columnist William Rivers Pitt):

"Facts: Colorado, Oregon and Wisconsin allow guns on college campuses. Mississippi likewise allows guns on college campuses, as well as in secondary schools, polling places, churches, passenger terminals at airports, and bars. Tennessee, Arizona, Georgia, Virginia and Ohio also allow guns in bars. You can shoot a gun in Missouri when you're drunk, and as long as it's considered to be in "self-defense," you're within your rights. In Vermont, you can sell a pistol to a 16-year old kid. Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Utah, Arizona, Tennessee and Alaska have all passed laws saying that guns made in-state are not subject to federal regulations. The Florida "Stand Your Ground" law has gotten a lot of attention after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, but 24 other states besides Florida have enacted similar laws.

A violent felon in Minnesota can regain their gun ownership rights if they successfully petition the court about having "good cause." In Ohio, a violent felon can retain their gun rights if they prove to a court that they have led a "law-abiding life." You can get your guns back in Georgia and Nebraska even if you've committed manslaughter and armed robbery, and in Montana, your guns will be returned to you if you didn't use a gun when you committed your crime. That seems to fly in the face of the old saw that says, "If you make guns criminal, only criminals will have guns."

Friday, December 14, 2012

Connecticut School Massacre: More Blood on the NRA's Hands


In the aftermath of the deadly shooting that killed 27, including 18 children, at a Connecticut elementary school, there's one theme you can expect the mainstream media to repeat over and over in the coming days.

That is: How could this tragedy possibly happen?

Actually, there's no mystery at all.

The problem is that America has practically zero meaningful regulations on guns, thanks to the assholes at the National Rifle Association, an organization that has had great success in pushing its extremist agenda on America over the past 30 years.

The NRA's vast power is the main reason that America today has far weaker gun restrictions than it did a century ago. For example, in my state of Texas, in the 1890s, it was illegal to carry a concealed gun, unlike today. Which raises a question: how, exactly, did Texans manage to get by back in the 1890s with gun laws that were more restrictive than what we have now?

One issue that I never hear discussed when there is a tragedy like this is (ironically enough) the Second Amendment's actual text. Oh, sure, the gun nuts regularly talk about the Second Amendment in a general sense. But nobody ever actually cites the actual wording of the amendment.

There's a good reason for this. Despite what the gun nuts would have us believe, the wording of the Second Amendment is very convoluted and vague.

Here is the text of Second Amendment:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Yes, it does contain the text, "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms." But the gun nuts tend to overlook the inconvenient words that precede the latter.

"Well regulated"?

Gasp! Who wrote this? Nancy Pelosi?

Needless to say, the gun nuts quietly tiptoe away from this part of the amendment.

So what, exactly, does the Second Amendment mean? Does it mean that the government can pass absolutely no restrictions on guns whatsoever (as the NRA would have us believe)?

I'm sure the gun nuts would emphatically say "Yes!"

The problem is the Second Amendment's actual wording itself. I don't claim to be an expert on the Bill of the Rights. But in reading the Second Amendment, with its reference to a "well regulated militia," I just don't see that the amendment forbids any and all restrictions on arms, despite what the NRA would have us believe.

I'd suspect that most Americans would agree with me on this point. In fact, if more Americans were aware of the actual wording of the Second Amendment, I'd suspect even more people would agree with me.

Amazingly, even most gun nuts seem to be unaware of the actual text of their beloved Second Amendment. Here in Texas over the years, I've had countless conversations with gun nuts. Without exception, every time I've asked them to quote the Second Amendment's actual wording, they've been unable to do it. And it's not like I'm asking them to quote a lengthy passage. We're only talking about one sentence.

It's interesting to note that, before the massive wealth of the NRA helped that group achieve its iron-grip on American politics, starting around 30 years ago, gun restrictions were not even that controversial in America.

The fact is, even in the Old West, gun control was accepted as necessary. The f*cking Old West!

The Hollywood image of the Old West, where everyone is walking around with gun holsters is pure fiction. We live in truly surreal times when even the Old West had stricter gun laws that we have today.

Incidentally, a predictable argument of the gun nuts is always "This shooter would have been able to get a gun regardless of any gun control laws." It's an absurd argument. It raises a question: then why have any laws at all in America, if there are always some people out there who won't obey them?

Yes, a determined shooter could get a gun, regardless of any gun laws. But in the real world, a few sensible gun laws can and will reduce easy availability to guns. The entire rest of the industrialized world is my "Exhibit A" on this point.

A determined shooter could get a gun in a nation like England or Japan, regardless of those nations' strict anti-gun laws. But in the real world, few shooters do, and as a result those nations (like the entire rest of the First World) has a fraction of the violent gun crime that the U.S. has.

Note: when I've pointed this out to the gun nuts over the years, it's always their predictable cue to bring up the race card. "But those countries don't have as many blacks as we do," they say.

In fact, in my debates with the gun nuts over the years on the various woes afflicting U.S. society, they always bring up this point as a last resort. "But America, unlike Europe and Japan, has black people!" they always claim.

This last point confirms my belief about a lot of these NRA/GOP types. They're racists, pure and simple. They prefer to scapegoat other people for all of America's problems. It's always amusing listening to them vehemently deny that they're racist. I mean, these are the same people who pollute their minds with Rush Limbaugh's racist filth, day after day and then claim that they don't see anything racist about Rush.

OK, I will concede one point. Yes, it is true that, for various reason, per capita, black people do more gun-related crime than white people do in the U.S. But if you do the math, this still doesn't account for the staggering disparity in violent gun crime rates between the U.S. and the rest of the First World.

So my message to the NRA gun nuts is this: take your extremism and ram it up your ass. (And do the same with your racism).

Oh, and despite what you retards believe, Rush Limbaugh is in fact a racist piece of sh*t. So is any gun nut who claims that America's shockingly high gun violence rates are mainly because of black people.

Thank you, NRA. The blood of these children is on your hands.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Five Lingering Unsolved Mysteries From the JFK Assassination



It has now been 49 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Since then, thousands of books have been written about what is probably the single biggest unsolved mystery of the 20th century. After nearly half a century, it's becoming increasingly clear that we may never fully understand what happened that day.

I myself have long harbored doubts about the government's own seriously flawed version of what happened in Dealey Plaza. The 1964 Warren Commission Report has rightfully been criticized over the years for the inaccuracies and flawed information it contained.

The vast majority of Kennedy assassination books over the decades have concluded that there was a conspiracy to kill JFK. However, many conspiracy theories themselves have been debunked over the years. In fact, sloppy work by conspiracy writers has, in my view, damaged the quest for truth in the case.

Authors like Gerald Posner, who have worked to debunk conspiracies, have in turn been harshly criticized by the pro-conspiracy community. Posner's book, Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK was once praised as a solid rebuttal to the conspiracy writers. But in recent years, Posner has increasingly come under fire and his reputation has taken a beating (even among those who believe Oswald acted alone).

One problem that plagues works like Posner's book (as well as pro-conspiracy works like Oliver Stone's JFK film) is that the case is simply too vast and complex to be adequately addressed in a single work.

After reading numerous JFK assassination books over the years, both pro and con, I still keep an open mind about the case. I'm not 100 percent convinced, either way, although I do lean toward the theory that Oswald did not act alone.

In any case, there are still unresolved mysteries surrounding the JFK Assassination that haven't been adequately explained to this day. Here are five of them.

1. What happened to Mary Moorman's missing fifth photo in Dealey Plaza? Moorman is known for her famous Polaroid photo that captures the JFK assassination at nearly the precise instant the head shot occurred. What is less well-known, though, is that Moorman took other photos that day. One photo she took moments before the assassination reportedly depicted the sixth-floor window of the Texas School Book Depository. The photo was reportedly turned over to Secret Service agents shortly after the assassination and vanished from sight. It has never been published and it remains missing to this day.

2. Why was Oswald's handwritten note to FBI agent James Hosty destroyed? Oswald wrote a note to Hosty a week or two before the assassination. Within hours of Oswald's death on Nov. 24, 1963, the note was torn up and flushed down the toilet by Hosty. Hosty had claimed his superior, Gordon Shanklin, had ordered him to destroy the note. However, Shanklin denied this. The lingering mystery, though, is exactly what the contents of Oswald's note were and why the note was destroyed in the first place.

3. Whatever happened to the mysterious "Babushka Lady," who was seen in the Zapruder film of the assassination? Zapruder's film depicts a woman wearing a head scarf who in turn is filming the JFK motorcade at the moment of the assassination. Given that the Babushka Lady is very close to the motorcade, her film would offer invaluable evidence if it could be located today. The problem is, shortly after the assassination, the Babushka Lady and her film vanished from history. In 1970, a woman named Beverly Oliver came forward and claimed she was the Babushka Lady and that her film was confiscated by the FBI. But her story has never been confirmed.

4. What happened in the mysterious death of Oswald's friend, George de Mohrenschildt? A noted member of the Russian emigre community in Dallas, De Mohrenschildt became an unlikely friend of Oswald in 1962. He testified at length before the Warren Commission in 1964. In later years, he became increasingly depressed and distraught and believed the CIA was persecuting him. On March 29, 1977, de Mohrenschildt was contacted by an investigator with the House Select Committee on Assassinations, asking for an interview. That same day, de Mohrenschildt was found dead from a gunshot wound. De Mohrenschildt's death has been called a suicide, but its timing does seem mysterious.

5. Did Joseph Milteer have foreknowledge of the assassination? 13 days before the assassination, right-wing extremist Milteer gave tape-recorded comments to a Miami police informant that eerily predicted key details of the JFK assassination. Milteer claimed that a conspiracy to kill Kennedy was in the works and described a scenario in which the president would be shot "from an office building with a high-powered rifle." Milteer also predicted that, in the aftermath of the assassination, the police would arrest a patsy "to throw the public off." Amazingly, the Warren Commission gave very little attention to Milteer's interview. Milteer remains a shadowy and mysterious figure to this day. His 1963 tape-recorded remarks can be heard in the video above.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tea Party Played Key Role in Romney's Defeat


Shell-shocked Republicans are continuing to do a post-mortem on why Mitt Romney's bid for the White House was a flop. But in trying to understand their defeat, they really need to point the finger of blame at a section of the GOP itself: the Tea Party.

Since it sprang into action a few years ago, the Tea Party has prided itself on "re-energizing" the GOP base and returning the party to its core principles. And indeed, the Tea Party did inspire a lot of Conservatives who had been dismayed by the likes of big-spending George W. Bush (even though the Tea Party only started making a big fuss when President Obama entered the White House).

The Tea Party made itself into a force to be reckoned within the GOP. It was a force that could no longer be ignored by party leaders. Which meant that the "moderate" Romney was obligated to pick a Tea Party favorite as his VP selection.

Paul Ryan may have delighted the Tea Partiers. But his hard-line extremism scared the hell out of the rest of us. Far from enhancing the Romney ticket, it's clear that Ryan was a liability from Day One.

Ryan's presence on the ticket demonstrates that the GOP still hasn't grasped one of the cardinal rules of U.S. politics. That is: you don't screw with Medicare. No matter how much lipstick the GOP tried to put on Ryan's "voucher" pig, most non-Fox News-watching voters saw it for what it was: the first step toward ending Medicare entirely.

Frankly, the Tea Party should take much of the blame for Romney's failed White House bid. Yes, the movement did inspire a segment of the GOP. But in doing so, it poisoned the overall GOP brand.

In keeping Tea Party figures like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann out of the spotlight during the GOP convention, the GOP tried to downplay the extremist crazies in the party that scared middle-of-the-road voters. Oddly, though, the GOP didn't grasp that it'd be a problem if a Tea Party extremist was given the VP nod.

Tea Partiers have long claimed that they're working to "save" America and return the GOP to its roots. But really, all the movement has accomplished is to damage the Republican brand and to make average voters wary of an increasingly extreme GOP.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Obama Wins Re-election: Eat It, Citizens United


I'm not sure how on earth President Obama prevailed over the array of powerful and sinister forces arrayed against him. But he did---and he's now going to be our president for the next four years.

It's quite an impressive accomplishment. Consider all the obstacles Obama faced:

1. "Citizens United" which pretty much handed over to rich & powerful corporations the right to buy elections in America. Obama somehow overcame the vast sums of money that the likes of ExxonMobil and Walmart and the Koch brothers were able to throw into Romney's campaign. I'm not sure how Obama prevailed. And I'm certain that, despite this victory, the threat to American democracy that Citizens United poses remains very real and ongoing. "Citizens United" will continue to threaten American democracy until it is repealed.

2. The vast GOP propaganda apparatus of Fox "News," Drudge, Limbaugh and the rest of hatewing radio. Despite their vicious and relentless attacks on Obama, somehow the truth prevailed.

3. Romney's constant flipflops and outrageous lies. Romney is the biggest liar to ever pursue the office of president. Considering that the mainstream media rarely even bothered to counter his lies, it's astonishing that more people weren't deluded into supporting him.

4. Various GOP dirty tricks. From the shenanigans involving voting machines in Ohio to the GOP's suppression of the voting rights of minorities, things turned out infinitely better than what a lot of us progressives had dared to hope for.

Congratulations to President Obama. Here's to another four years.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Fighting Back Against the GOP's Suppression of the Black Vote



The GOP's suppression of the African-American vote is increasing with every election. It could well tip the balance of tomorrow's election to Mitt Romney.

As usual, the site is documenting this sad fact of modern day American life. As the site notes:

"We're making a strong push to mobilize Black voters and our allies leading up to Election Day on November 6. We need people across the country to hear this message, and we need your help to spread the word. Help us get out the vote by sharing this powerful video demonstrating how our community has stood up against suppression efforts decade after decade, election after election."

Click here to get updates from's efforts to fight back against the GOP's suppression of the African-American vote. is also teaming up with Video the Vote to find volunteers to help document voting irregularities on Election Day.

As the site notes: "By recording activity at polling places, you’ll help keep groups like True the Vote and their right-wing allies in check, and provide evidence in case they cross the line."

Go here to sign up.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

How Can Obama Be Bad For Business If Corporate Profits Are at All-Time High?


It's a sign of our nation's bizarre, surreal political discourse these days that most of the most persistent GOP attacks on Obama are not only misleading, they have zero connection to the real world.

One of the GOP's most common attacks on Obama is that he's a "socialist." We also often hear that he's somehow bad for business or hostile to capitalism and free markets.

Here in the Real World, such charges are absurd. The fact is, any candidate for president who was even in the slightest bit "socialist" would never in a million years get anywhere near the White House.

What's equally bizarre is that the Democrats' responses to these GOP attacks are usually pretty feeble. Again and again, the Democrats let the GOP paint them and Obama as "socialist" and the Dems rarely have any kind of forceful response to counter this charge.

There is one major, compelling statistic that completely demolishes the argument that Obama is "socialist" (or even bad for business in the slightest bit).

Consider this: under Obama, corporate profits are at an all time high. Not just merely good. But an all-time high. Oh, and that statistic takes into account the effects of inflation. Corporate profits today comprise the highest share of the national economy that they've ever been (just as workers' wages are the lowest they've ever been, in terms of GDP share).

It's an astonishing statistic. And it just goes to show that, under Obama, nothing has really changed in terms of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. The latter has been the most profound and significant aspect of American society for the past three decades. And yet, incredibly, most Americans are blissfully unaware of this momentous change in our nation.

Of course, all of this is (as usual) a lose-lose proposition for us progressives. Not only do we look on as the nation becomes increasingly economically polarized. But we also watch, perplexed, as the GOP hammers Obama as a "socialist." And the Dems, armed with an incredibly strong argument to demolish this claim, sit around and refuse to fight fire with fire. I don't think I've seen a Democratic politician yet who stood up and threw the "Obama is a socialist" argument back in the GOP's face.

Of course, I'm not raising this issue as any kind of endorsement of Romney. The fact is, it's clear that under President Gordon Gekko, the economic polarization would continue (and even intensify).

It's understandable that Democrats wouldn't be eager to remind Americans of how, under Obama, corporate profits are at an all-time high, while wages are at an all-time low. But still, this is an important statistic that the Dems need to dust off from time to time to forcefully counter the GOP's absurd argument that Obama is somehow a "socialist."

Friday, November 02, 2012

Benghazi Attack "Scandal" Blows Up In the Face of Fox "News"


If you ever frequent the likes of Fox News or the Drudge Report, you'll notice that these "news" outlets, along with the rest of the right-wing noise machine, have been going batsh*t crazy lately with their Benghazi "scandal" coverage. Fox "News" has devoted Watergate-level saturation coverage to this "scandal" daily. And Drudge has linked to every right-wing nutcase site that had a new Benghazi conspiracy "story."

Well, it now turns out that (surprise, surprise!) this "scandal" is totally bogus and nothing more than a figment of the wingnuts' imagination. (Just like other bogus scandals that the wingnuts have invented to try to tarnish President Obama, such as the "Fast & Furious" and the birth certificate "stories").

ThinkProgress is among the sites that are debunking the Benghazi "scandal" today. As the site notes:

A slew of new reporting this morning debunks Fox News reports claiming that the Obama administration withheld assistance during the Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya. With these revelations, the combined conservative narrative as led by Fox News — that the Obama administration failed to respond adequately during the attack and that mainstream media has not covered Benghazi enough — is in further disarray.

The Los Angeles Times’ version of the CIA’s role focuses the most heavily on pushing back on Fox’s spin:

“At every level in the chain of command, from the senior officers in Libya to the most senior officials in Washington, everyone was fully engaged in trying to provide whatever help they could,” a senior intelligence official said in a statement. “There were no orders to anybody to stand down in providing support.”

Fox reporter Jennifer Griffin claimed in an “exclusive” report last week that the CIA denied Tyrone Woods, one of the four Americans killed in the attack, permission to help repel the assault. Griffin’s reporting spun off into a bevy of conspiracy theories on the far right. The Pentagon, White House, and CIA had all previously denied refusing requests for support.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Why GOP Voters Don't Care If Romney Lies


"Because people hate the truth, you know; they need a pack of lies."
---From Viva Dead Ponies by The Fatima Mansions, 1990.

Mitt Romney is a brazen liar. But if Obama supporters think this is a barrier to Romney's White House prospects, they are sadly mistaken.

The fact is, Americans love a liar in the White House. Well, maybe not all Americans, but enough to count.

Americans would rather have a brazen liar like Ronald Reagan offering them "feel-good" platitudes about "America standing tall" than the bitter medicine of truth from the likes of a Jimmy Carter telling us that we needed to tighten our belts, live within our means, and become energy self-sufficient.

In the 1980s, America was in no mood to hear the painful truth. Rather, Americans wanted to feel warm and fuzzy about themselves. They preferred Reagan's carefully scripted feel-good platitudes.

Never mind that much of what Reagan told us was utter bullsh*t. He claimed his massive tax cuts would not only boost the economy, but they'd somehow balance the budget as well. Reagan was our first "Santa Claus" president, offering something for nothing for the child-like masses.

In reality, the Reagan economy was mediocre at best. During Reagan's two terms, some 18 million jobs were created in the U.S. That might sound good, until you consider than 10 million jobs were created in one term under President Carter.

So much for Reagan supposedly bringing a new era of prosperity to the nation. The fact is, only the very wealthy really ever prospered under Reagan. During the 1980s, the once Great America Middle Class came under siege and it has been gradually vanishing ever since.

Reagan urged America to not worry and be happy. The soaring deficit? Don't worry. The annihilation of America's once world-beating manufacturing base? Don't worry. The loss of good middle class jobs? Don't worry.

Romney, of course, has embraced the Reagan approach. He knows Reagan's platitudes about America's "greatness" always play well with much of the electorate. Americans don't want to be told to sacrifice. They don't want to be told that a hefty round of tax hikes on the rich is in order to stave off America's financial ruin and the coming collapse of the dollar. They don't want America to ever apologize for anything. (Actually, Obama has never "apologized" for America---but try telling that to the average low-information GOP voter).

Like Reagan, Romney can claim that he can cut tax rates sharply without increasing the deficit. Although that is demonstrably false, the average low-information GOP voter couldn't care less about that---any more than they care about any of Romney's other blatant lies.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New Film Takes a Look at Mysterious Death of Senator Paul Wellstone


"Authorizing the pre-emptive, go-it-alone use of force now, right in the midst of continuing efforts to enlist the world community to back a tough new disarmament resolution on Iraq, could be a costly mistake for our country."
--Sen. Paul Wellstone, in October, 2002, speaking against the resolution to authorize the Iraq War

Something has always bothered me about the tragic 2002 death of the great Paul Wellstone. And the more I read about Wellstone's death in a supposedly "accidental" small plane crash, the more doubts I have about the official story.

Now, a new documentary examines Wellstone and aims to raise funds for a new investigation. Wellstone: They Killed Him raises troubling questions about Wellstone's death that have never been properly explained.

At this site you can watch a fascinating 15-minute preview of this film. You can order order a copy of the DVD at the site.

As the site notes, on Oct. 25, 2002:

"At 10:18, the plane is disabled, seven miles from the airport. The King Air A-100 turbo prop flies treetop level over shocked witnesses, five miles out: no lights, crabbed cockeyed, engines spooling down, so low witnesses are amazed it stays airborn. Three more miles and the plane stalls, dropping into the woods, killing all eight on board: Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Mn), his wife Sheila, daughter Marcia, aides Mary McEvoy, Tom Lapic, Will McLaughlin, pilot Richard Conry and co-pilot Michael Guess. How to account for the experienced pilots' behavior, unless they had been disabled? But why would anyone go to such trouble to so publicly kill the senior senator from Minnesota? Cui bono? Who benefits? That’s the question VFW veterans in Willmar, Minnesota have. They heard the Senator tell of the threat Vice President Cheney made to Wellstone shortly after the Senator's No vote on the Iraq War. ‘Go along with the program, if you know what’s good for you and Minnesota. Stop sticking your nose into 9/11.’

Intimidation was one tactic used by the FBI on witnesses who had been directed to the FBI (local cops were frozen out) which then suppressed their testimony, just as the FBI sanitized the crash site eight hours before the NTSB came on the scene. The national media began the cover-up right away: bad weather, icing; that scenario didn’t work so the NTSB blamed it on the pilots. Though a high profile crash that many in Minnesota were skeptical about, the NTSB couldn’t afford to hold a public hearing; the truth would quickly become evident. This film, begun the day after the crash, gives voice to the people of the Iron Range: witnesses, first-responders, citizens, assassination experts such as Prof. James Fetzer and Four Arrows."

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Progressive Music Classics. "Major Malfunction" by Keith LeBlanc



Welcome to another edition of Progressive Music Classics.

The tragic explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger inspired many touching speeches, books and works of art, which paid tribute to the lives of the astronauts who died in that disaster in 1986.

But one work of art that took a different approach to the tragedy was Major Malfunction by the great Keith LeBlanc, who has often been associated with Britain's experimental/sound collage/dub label On-U Sound.

"Major Malfunction" was released not long after the Challenger tragedy. A major theme of On-U Sound productions is the scary implications of rampant, out-of-control technology. And although I may be wrong, my interpretation of this piece is that LeBlanc saw something in the Challenger disaster that was very sinister and yet undefined at that early date.

As it turns out, LeBlanc was correct in following his instincts. There was something very sinister about the Challenger disaster. However, it took many more years for the truth to start to emerge.

Although there is still a great deal we don't know about the Challenger disaster, it has since emerged that the Reagan administration had pushed to militarize the space shuttle program, with the result that NASA began to downplay safety issues.

That was the startling conclusion reached in the 2007 book, Challenger Revealed: An Insider's Account of How the Reagan Administration Caused the Greatest Tragedy of the Space Age by Richard C. Cook.

In the book, Cook reveals the bombshell that Reagan wanted Challenger to be launched against the experts' recommendations so he could speak with teacher Christine McAuliffe live during his State of the Union speech.

And who is Cook, you might ask? Is he some left-wing, conspiracy-pushing author with an axe to grind? No, actually, he was a respected lead resource analyst for NASA.

To me, the Challenger disaster sums up a great deal of the problems with the extremist modern-day Republican party. The modern-day GOP after all, despises all government programs, with the exception of "military" spending. While they're not championing massive trillion-dollar budgets for fat, greedy "defense" contractors, they're busy slashing budgets elsewhere.

In short, if it's not part of "military" spending, the GOP has no use for it.

And, additionally, since the GOP has so much contempt for non-military spending, they seek to slash all non-Pentagon spending to the bone. Note that this approach means that most budget-starved government programs tend to perform poorly under GOP rule. And the GOP even reaps a bonus from all this, as it confirms their self-fulfilling philosophy that "government is inefficient."

It's a win-win situation for the GOP and it's a sad characteristic of the American empire in decline.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

GOP Exists in Alternate Universe at Bizarre, Lie-Filled Convention


Recently, I had a political discussion with a right-wing acquaintance. Sometimes I wonder why I bother. During the argument, my acquaintance called Obama an "idiot." When I asked for some proof of this, he replied, "Well, Obama said 'Internets' in an interview. He thinks it's called 'Internets.' That's really stupid."

Having grown weary of the discussion, I didn't even bother to challenge my acquaintance's contention. I did, though, think it was a bit odd. After all, the use of the term "Internets" was a well-known Bush blunder. Bush made the blunder during a debate with Al Gore, in 2000. Amazingly, Bush made the mistake again in 2004, during a debate with John Kerry. It was the second screwup that was widely ridiculed in the media.

"Was Rush now trying to somehow make the claim to his audience that this was in fact Obama's mistake?" I wondered.

Doing a little research on the Internet revealed that Obama once indeed did say "Internets." However, there was a big, big difference between the screwups made by Obama and Bush.

After all, when Obama said "Internets" he quickly corrected himself a few words later in the same sentence.

Obama is one of the most eloquent and intelligent speakers I've ever heard. But the fact is, like all modern U.S. presidents, he has an array of video cameras recording his words for hours every day. Given the grueling demands of his job and the stress that comes with it, it really shouldn't be surprising that he (or any president) might have an occasional verbal stumble. I mean, the only reason we don't have evidence of verbal stumbles by the likes of Washington and Jefferson is that there were no video cameras around in the 18th century.

Anyway, this whole episode got me to thinking. The Right-Wing in this country has built up such a formidable propaganda network that wingnuts can happily dwell within it and never be exposed to the Real World of actual facts, science, logic, reason and truth. It's clear that my right-wing acquaintance got his "Obama said 'Internets'" quote from the likes of Drudge and he has never even heard about Bush's far more famous (and uncorrected) blunder.

So Obama must be stupid, right? After all, Rush says so.

Such is the mind of the Right-Winger these days.

Which brings me to my main point. Politicians in America have historically never been the most honest class of people in the nation. But today's Republicans has set a new record for outrageous and blatant lies. It's gotten so bad that even the drowsy mainstream media has awoken from its usual slumber and started pointing out these outrageous lies.

For example, at the GOP convention, Paul Ryan trotted out his outrageous lie that Obama had supposedly promised to save a Wisconsin GM plant that later closed. Ryan no doubt thought that this latest lie wouldn't be scrutinized by a media that has allowed so many other GOP lies to pass unchallenged.

No doubt, Ryan was stunned when numerous mainstream media outlets across the nation picked apart his GM fable and exposed it for the lie that it was. (As it turns out, the Wisconsin GM plant closed before Obama even took office).

Other GOP convention lies were similarly exposed by the media ("Obama has slashed Medicare!" "Obama is responsible for the U.S. credit downgrade!")

I'm sure that the GOP is stunned by the recent fact-checking by a newly vigilant media. (And frankly, I'm as stunned as the GOP is, after watching the media let Republicans lie through their teeth for many years).

I guess the question now is this: why, in this election cycle, does the GOP have such contempt for the truth (especially when it can no longer get away with it?)

The answer to that question is simple. Because the GOP knows that, in fact, it can get away with it. This article's opening anecdote is proof positive of that. As that anecdote demonstrated, there are still many, many right-wingers out who get all of their news and info from the Fox/Drudge/Rush GOP Propaganda Network.

My right-wing acquaintance has never even heard that it was in fact Bush who made a fool of himself with his infamous "Internets" remarks. And my right-wing acquaintance will never even hear the mainstream media's debunking of Ryan's claims about the Wisconsin GM plant's closure. After all, he sure as hell isn't going to ever hear about it on Rush's show.

Such is the power of today's Great Right-Wing Propaganda Network. It is all-powerful, it is massive, it is everywhere, and it is 24 hours a day. If you are a wingnut getting your "news" from it, you'll never even feel the need to venture out in the Real World and expose yourself to any other news outlet. And you'll happily continue to live in an alternate universe, where Obama will always be a Socialist Muslim Kenyan whose birth certificate is a fraud.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Progressive Music Classics. "When The Revolution Comes" by The Last Poets



Welcome to another edition of Progressive Music Classics.

Today's "controversial" hip hop artists like to think that they're somehow dangerous. But most of these artists wouldn't know "dangerous" if it ran over them on the highway. (Memo to all the "original gangstas" out there: using the "F" word a lot, singing lyrics demeaning to women, and bragging about all your bling-bling is hardly revolutionary).

And speaking of revolutionary, the radical band The Last Poets really were dangerous. In 1968, the band emerged from Harlem with their powerful music (which has often been cited as a prototype for today's rap).

Just how radical were The Last Poets? Well, their 1971 album, This Is Madness was listed by COINTELPRO during the Nixon administration. And any artist who was an enemy of Nixon's goons is a friend to Progressive Music Classics.

In contrast to The Last Poets, it's depressing how apolitical much of today's African-American music is. But given the stranglehold that large media corporations have over today's popular music, it's clear that a band like The Last Poets wouldn't be given the time of day were they to emerge today. Today's music executives want the airwaves to be safe, sanitized, and corporate-friendly.

Hence, corporate-soft-drink-shilling musical mediocrities like Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston get all the big record contracts. Black music never sounded so safe and bland. Yes, there are the occasional "controversies" like 2 Live Crew's sexually graphic songs. (Of course, that's just the sort of "controversy" that Corporate America prefers: lots of sex to shift product).

The Last Poets didn't do Pepsi commercials. What they did deliver was red-hot rage and anger, taking on topics like the oppression of African-American people, as well as detailing the many crimes of the U.S. government. Hardly the sort of lyrics that Corporate America wanted young people to be exposed to.

"When The Revolution Comes" is one of The Last Poets' most powerful statements. It is fiercely intelligent, angry poetry at its best, and it spares no targets (including apolitical African-Americans). I only wish today's rappers (with their juvenile lyrics and adolescent-level sexual maturity) were as similarly inspired to comment on the Decline and Fall of the American Empire.

Whatever happened to radical, dangerous, risk-taking music that aimed to inspire, rather than shift lots of units?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Real Reason the U.S. Doesn't Have Sensible Gun Laws


Let's get real: the true reason the U.S. doesn't have sensible gun laws has nothing to do with the Second Amendment. Instead, it has everything to do with our broken political system and our "cash & carry" legislative process, in which our politicians whore themselves out to the highest bidder.

Does the Second Amendment really forbid any and all restrictions on guns? It's a silly argument that only extremist crazies like National Rifle Association members make. But does it hold up to scrutiny?

Americans of previous generations didn't believe in unlimited gun rights. In fact, during the so-called "Wild West" era of the 1800s, many areas had stricter gun control than what we have today.

I was at a right-wing acquaintance's house recently and I noticed that he had a magnet on his refrigerator that purported to list the Bill of Rights. It included the Second Amendment---or rather a paraphrasing of it. It read: "The Second Amendment guarantees the Right to Bear Arms."

I wondered why the text didn't simply include actual wording of the Second Amendment itself. After all, the latter is only one sentence.

The Second Amendment reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

It's a convoluted, vague sentence that frankly defies any easy explanation.

To me, the words "well regulated" indicate that the Second Amendment does not give a blank check to unlimited gun rights. And the word "militia" indicates that maybe we're talking about gun rights for a militia, not ordinary individuals.

One thing I do find amusing, though, is the gun crowd's tendency to tip-toe away from the actual wording of their beloved Second Amendment. I've had a number of debates with gun lovers over the years and, invariably, I'll ask them to quote the Second Amendment. Without exception, they're stumped when I ask them to quote the Second Amendment, word for word. (This, despite the fact that they claim to know for certain exactly what it means).

Many so-called "experts" have debated how the Founding Fathers really felt about gun rights. But they're missing the real issue.

A "gun" to the Founding Fathers was nothing like the devices we call "guns" today. To the Founding Fathers, guns were bulky, unreliable, crude, primitive, often-inaccurate, contraptions that fired only one shot. They had virtually nothing in common with a modern high-precision lethal killing instrument like a Glock.

I think it's entirely misleading and idiotic to debate what the Founding Fathers thought about "guns" when the weapons of their century were so completely different from today's guns. After all, one person armed with an modern day assault rifle, fitted with a high-capacity magazine, could easily and quickly have taken out dozens of armed soldiers from the era of the Founding Fathers.

What would the Founding Fathers have thought about an AK-47? We really have no idea.

In fact, the Second Amendment doesn't even mention the word "guns." Personally, I think one way progressives could fight back against the NRA is to beat them at their own game.

If the NRA really believes there should be zero restrictions on arms, then we need to call their bluff. We need to start pushing for everyone's unlimited right to hand grenades, plastic explosives, rocket launchers and shoulder-fired missiles. We need to back the NRA into a corner and force them to finally admit that there has to be at least some limits to the ownership of arms.

Despite former Congressman Anthony Weiner's flaws, there was one thing he did that was brilliant: his 2009 amendment to repeal Medicare. Weiner's move revealed the GOP to be the hypocrites that they are, when they refused to support his amendment, despite their stated hostility toward Medicare. (True, the mainstream media didn't give this story the attention it deserved---but if progressives started using this tactic more often, we could go a long ways toward exposing the hypocrisy of the Republican Party).

Of course, all of this would require the Democrats to finally grow a backbone---and, there's little chance of that ever happening. Outside of a few tough-as-nails progressives, like Alan Grayson, today's Democrats are a bunch of wimps who are afraid of their own shadow.

In fact, on the gun control issue, we progressives get screwed in numerous ways. First, the NRA has won every battle, to the point where it has a tough time coming up with new targets to rally its base. Second, the Democrats refuse to stand up to the NRA. And third, despite the latter, the Conservatives have successfully painted the Dems as "the party that wants to take away your guns," when, in fact, the Dems have no intention of ever standing up to the NRA.

Meanwhile, the horrific massacres go on and on---as America continues to suffer from by far the highest violent crime rates of any First World nation.

Since Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were killed in 1968, an astonishing one million Americans have been shot dead with guns. For all the attention the media has given the Aurora massacre, it's important to remember that on any given day in America, many people are shot dead with guns. And we can expect the bloodshed to continue for a long, long time, thanks to our broken and corrupt political system.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Progressive Music Classics. "Privatise the Air" by Gary Clail & On U-Sound



Welcome to another edition of Progressive Music Classics.

Today's Republican Party has become so extreme that it's actually become difficult to parody their positions.

As an example, a while back, I was considering writing an article about the GOP being so ferociously opposed to President Obama that they'd even oppose a proposal by Obama to cut taxes. And sure enough, the GOP did oppose just such a proposal (Obama's payroll tax cut).

What's alarming is that the GOP is continuing to move further and further to the right. We've come a long ways since the likes of Richard Nixon set up the EPA. These days, the GOP is fighting to abolish the EPA. And I'd bet money that not one in ten thousand Republicans even knows that Nixon set it up in the first place.

Republicans have moved the U.S. so far rightward that they're actually running out of targets these days. So, in order to continue rallying the base, the GOP has to simply invent targets. "Obamacare" is a good example. The GOP would have us believe that it's "socialism" when in fact Obamacare's mandate was originally conceived by the Heritage Foundation and supported by top Republicans in the 1990s.

In 1989, the great U.K. experimental dub-master Gary Clail released End of the Century Party. On this classic album, Clail set his sights on the rampant privatization schemes that were hatched by the Thatcher government.

Thatcher succeeded in shredding Britain's social safety net, just as the GOP has gutted what remains of America's social safety net. Of course, in the U.S., the process has been more extreme. In contrast to Britain, in the U.S., there wasn't much of a social safety net in the first place.

The Republicans have succeeded in gutting America's programs for the poor and the working class. Now, they're set their sights on Medicare, via the Ryan plan. I have no doubt they'll succeed in privatizing that program, as well, (which will eliminate Medicare as we know it).

How much longer before they privatize the air, too?

Thursday, July 05, 2012

For Cost of One Month of Iraq War, 'God Particle' Could Have Been U.S. Triumph


Note: on July 10, 2012, this article ran on, which is a "daily news website of, for and by the 99% and the direct descendant of the Daily Worker."

The discovery of the Higgs boson subatomic particle, announced this week, is one of the biggest triumphs in the history of science. The discovery was announced by scientists at the CERN, the research center in Switzerland that operates the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the massive particle accelerator that detected the Higgs boson.

Once upon a time, most big scientific breakthroughs like this were made in the U.S. But in an era of declining science budgets and fewer science degrees awarded, America is increasingly no longer the leader in cutting-edge science.

The Large Hadron Collider cost around $8 billion. Although that sounds like a steep price tag, it's important to keep this figure in perspective. After all, during the Iraq War, the U.S. was typically spending $8 billion every month in that disastrous and unnecessary conflict.

For that same $8 billion that we pissed away every month in the Iraq War, the U.S. could have built its own Large Hadron Collider. And the amazing Higgs boson scientific breakthrough could well have been a U.S., not a European, triumph.

It's also important to remember that, for their $8 billion, the Europeans will almost certainly be enjoying many other benefits in the years to come, via the LHC. Who knows what other major unforeseen scientific breakthroughs the LHC will make possible? (If you doubt this, consider that the World Wide Web itself was originally invented at CERN, as a means of sharing computer data, before it went on to conquer the world).

Yes, the $8 billion spent on the LHC will likely pay benefits to Europe for decades to come.

By contrast, what, exactly, did the U.S. get for spending $8 billion per month in Iraq? We didn't get anything in return, except to draw out that disastrous war yet another bloody month.

Even today, nearly a decade after George W. Bush ordered the invasion, Iraq remains a shambles. It is still one of the most dangerous and unstable nations on earth. And Iraq must be the only nation in world history where on a given day, car bombs can kill 100 people and the world's media outlets no longer consider such a tragedy front page news.

Indeed, Iraq remains a broken, bloodied state and a shattered society, abandoned by the West. Outside of the nation's large oil reserves, the U.S. simply doesn't care about Iraq, much less its people.

The Iraq War remains one of the great tragedies of human history, with hundreds of thousands (if not a million) needless deaths. And, of course, the fiscal cost was tremendous, as well, with the U.S. sinking well over $1 trillion into the quagmire.

And for the cost of only one month of the Iraq War, the U.S. could have enjoyed one of the great scientific triumphs of history.

But that's really the story of modern day America: a nation that has increasingly gutted budgets for essentials like science and education, while lavishing trillions of dollars for death, destruction, and greedy, pampered defense contractors.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Obamacare Victory: GOP Spin Doctors Have Their Work Cut Out For Them


I must admit, I've quite stunned by the Supreme Court's upholding of "Obamacare." I've never really been a fan of Obamacare, as I would prefer a European style single-payer system.

But still, I hugely enjoyed the High Court's decision today. It will be immensely entertaining to see GOP Nazi pigs like Limbaugh and Levin desperately try to spin this news to their deluded Kool-Aid-drinking base.

The Great GOP Propaganda Noise Machine usually prevails when it targets a specific issue. (i.e. "Reagan Won the Cold War" "Obamacare is Socialism" "Obama's Birth Certificate is bogus" etc. etc.) I get the feeling that the GOP Propaganda Noise Machine will eventually find an angle to exploit and will work hard to try to diminish Obama's victory. (And, as they usually do, the GOP Noise Machine will get the mainstream media to take the bait).

Speaking of the mainstream media, CNN really had a spectacular failure today in initially screwing up the story. I originally got a CNN alert that claimed the Supreme Court had struck down the mandate. I was quite stunned when I turned on my PC a few minutes later and saw the news that the mandate had in fact been upheld.

After months of hearing smug GOP partisans claiming that "Obamacare" would be overturned, it's an enormously enjoyable feeling knowing that today, all these people are sitting around shell-shocked and depressed. I normally don't take pleasure in other people's pain. But today I will make an exception.

Hey, Pig-Man Rush----How are you going to spin this one?


Monday, June 25, 2012

Will U.S. Media Ever Admit Al Gore Was Right About Global Warming?


If any public leader in U.S. history has ever been vindicated on the biggest issue of the era, it'd have to be Al Gore. He has been repeatedly vindicated on global warming. But millions of Americans remain unaware of this. And the corporate U.S. MSM seems reluctant to give him credit.

It's not the first time Gore has been vindicated. After all, he was an early champion of the Internet, long before anyone else in Congress was even aware of its possibilities.

But instead of giving Gore some credit, the MSM took the GOP's bait and ran with the false story that Gore had supposedly arrogantly claimed to have "invented the Internet." What should have been a big positive for Gore in the 2000 race quickly turned into a negative.

In his 2004 book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, Al Franken wrote about how the so-called "liberal" media gave Gore a raw deal in the 2000 presidential campaign. The MSM's coverage was much more positive about Bush than Gore (this, according to a comprehensive study by the respected Pew Charitable Trusts).

As Franken wrote, during the 2000 campaign, "the media just hated Al Gore."

"Somewhere along the line, the pack decided that Al Gore was a sanctimonious, graspy exaggerator running against a likeable if dim-witted goof-off."

Gore must feel like Rodney Dangerfield. Amazingly, to this day, Gore gets no respect. The U.S. mainstream media has yet to give Gore proper credit for being right all along about global warming, another issue he embraced early on.

Consider this: back in 1997 Gore helped broker the Kyoto Protocol, which was aimed at fighting global warming. (Of course, the Bush administration later withdrew from the treaty).

Since 2000, nine of the 10 warmest years in the modern meteorological record have occurred, according to NASA. (Note that the modern record-keeping era dates back to the 1880s).

Consider this: what if during those years, the world had experienced normal or cooler-than-average temperatures? What do you think the GOP and Rush would have done with that?

They would have had a field day.

We would have constantly heard about "Al Gore the Fraud" each and every day. I have no doubt that the Great GOP Propaganda Noise Machine would have hammered this message home constantly. And sooner or later, the corporate media would have taken the bait (just as they did with the bogus "I invented the Internet story").

But no: as it turns out, instead, 2000-2010 was the warmest decade in the modern era. And what do we hear from the GOP (or, for that matter, from the corporate MSM?) Nothing.

It just goes to show you how completely the Rich & Powerful and the Corporations control the flow of information in this country.

Heads, these corporate pigs win. And tails, they also win.

Meanwhile, the planet goes to hell.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Progressive Music Classics. "The Day John Kennedy Died" by Lou Reed



Welcome to another edition of Progressive Music Classics.

Today's selection is Lou Reed's heartbreaking "The Day John Kennedy Died," which appeared on Reed's 1982 masterpiece album, The Blue Mask.

A lot of cultural and social critics have written that America lost its innocence on November 22, 1963. That may be the case. In this song, Reed seems to be saying that we lost our idealism as well, as a nation and as a people.

Like many of us, Reed yearns for the ability to somehow turn back the clock and reverse the horror of JFK's death: a watershed moment from which America never really recovered. (And frankly, it's pretty much been all downhill for the U.S. since then).

I realize that it's easy to romanticize Camelot and to build Kennedy up as this mythic Progressive Hero. But if you think that's naive, consider that Kennedy was very likely killed by the Military Industrial Complex. He made some very powerful enemies, so clearly, he must have been doing something right.

Of course, these days, America's Rich & Powerful no longer have to resort to assassinating our leaders. They simply make sure that whoever wins the White House is bought and paid for long before the oath of office is ever administered.

Friday, May 25, 2012

How Right-Wingers Took Over Wikipedia


Wikipedia is one of the most useful sites on the Web. It's a fantastic reference source that provides an incredible wealth of data on an endless variety of topics.

A big strength of Wikipedia is that anyone can edit any article. If, for example, an expert on quantum mechanics happens to notice a small factual error in the Wikipedia article on that topic, he or she can easily fix it on the spot. By harnessing the power of the knowledge of millions of people, Wikipedia has grown into the world's biggest reference resource.

However, Wikipedia's strength is also its biggest flaw. The very fact that anyone can edit an article means that errors, spin and bias can easily creep into the Wikipedia database.

If you're looking to read up on millions of disparate topics, from aardvarks to Frank Zappa, Wikipedia can offer you an enormous amount of helpful info that is reasonably free of bias.

But there's one big exception: articles on current political figures and topics.

Here, Wikipedia falls woefully short in its goal of providing a "neutral point of view."

Increasingly over the years, literally thousands of Wikipedia's political articles have gradually and quietly been given a right-wing spin. And thousands of articles on political figures ranging from Ronald Reagan to Glenn Beck have been either sanitized, or given a pro-GOP slant.

Normally, the open nature of Wikipedia prevents such mischief. Typically, if someone introduces biased, or incorrect information into an article, it is quickly corrected by other visitors.

But this process has clearly failed on Wikipedia when it comes to thousands of articles on current political topics.

The reason is obvious: the right-wing "contributors" are ferociously tenacious. They will go in and sanitize and slant an article over and over until it reads the way they want it to. These people are well-organized, ruthless and determined and they usually eventually get their way, via sheer blunt force. In this respect, they're much like Fox "News" and right-wing talk radio in that they believe if they simply repeat something over and over, it becomes "fact."

To be sure, from my experience with Wikipedia over the years, I've seen some of this behavior from progressives as well on Wikipedia---but it is nickel-dime, compared to the massive, sweeping efforts made by right-wingers to bend reality to suit their point of view.

I first started noticing Wikipedia's right-wing spin in 2008 when I accessed the main article on George W. Bush. I was looking for some quick info about Valerie Plame. I was surprised to find zero mentions of Plame in the Bush article.

I then tried to raise this issue on the article's "Discussions" page and I found that merely typing in the word "Plame" triggered a text robot that blocked any posts from mentioning Plame on that article. Clearly, a Bush-friendly editor was very determined to sanitize the article of any and all mentions about Plame.

I found this truly astonishing. Whatever one thinks of the Plame affair, it's incredible that Wikipedia main article about Bush would contain zero mentions about this case. It were as though Karl Rove himself had edited the article and had carefully airbrushed out anything that could possibly have a hint of negativity about his boss.

By contrast, the Wikipedia articles on various Democrats could have been written by Rush Limbaugh himself.

For example, at the same time Wikipedia was blocking any mentions of the Plame affair from the Bush article, the main Wikipedia article on Bill Clinton included a massive, seven-part "Controversies" section. This section rounded up every single right-wing nutcase allegation ever made against Clinton (quite an impressive feat when you consider all the crazed conspiracy theories that swirled around Clinton in the 1990s).

By contrast, at the time, no "Controversies" section existed in the Bush article (although there was a modest two-part "Criticism and public perception" section).

Of course, Wikipedia's contest is dynamic and fluid and a lot of what I found in 2008 has now changed. For example, there is now a very brief mention of Plame in the Bush article.

But it's clear that the ongoing right-wing spin process continues to contaminate Wikipedia articles.

A recent example is the Wikipedia article on Glenn Beck.

Do you remember Beck's controversy from May 17, 2005? That was the day Beck made astonishing and chilling remarks about killing Michael Moore. His exact words were: "I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I'm wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. No, I think I could."

Beck's remarks (understandably) created a firestorm of controversy. Moore even opened his 2011 book, Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life with the Beck quote, as an example of the crazy, violent rhetoric that he has faced over the years from the wingnut crowd.

It's important to note that at no time did Beck ever claim he was joking, or making the comment in jest. And Beck never apologized or faced any consequences for his remark.

No doubt, after a while, Beck just wanted the whole issue to go away. And today, it's clear that he's gotten his wish. In fact, seven years later, it's as though the incident never occurred.

If you read the Wikipedia article on Beck, there is absolutely nothing about Beck's comments about killing Michael Moore. Not one word. In fact, the article is largely sanitized of Beck's long history of making inflammatory, crazy remarks.

For example, do you remember Beck's controversial 2010 Tides Foundation remarks? That episode too, has been completed omitted from the Wikipedia article on Beck. In fact, the article reads like a big, wet sloppy kiss and a Valentine to Beck.

Of course, the article on Beck is hardly the only slanted article on Wikipedia. A casual scan of topics ranging from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton also shows a heavy right-wing spin.

One of the very few exceptions is the Wikipedia article on global warming. After a long, ferocious back-and-forth struggle over the years, Wikipedia's editors finally locked down that article to prevent tampering from the wingnut climate change deniers.

On that article, one currently finds a detailed FAQ on the discussions page that answers all the questions that weary Wikipedia editors have had to answer, over and over, in disputing the Rush Limbaugh crowd. As a result of this policy, the "global warming" article is one of the few major Wikipedia articles that hasn't been subjected to right-wing spin.

The problem is, thousands of other Wikipedia articles are open to editing by anyone---and as a result, virtually every article on a right-wing figure has been carefully sanitized. At the same time, most Wikipedia articles on Democratic figures tend to read like they were edited by Fox News.

The Wikipedia articles on everyone from Bill and Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama round up every single nutcase right-wing allegation ever made against these people. And if the likes of progressive commentators from Ed Schultz to Michael Moore ever did or said anything in the least bit controversial, you can be sure to read about it in detail on Wikipedia.

One quick example to prove my point: at different times in their careers, both Schultz and Beck have gotten into trouble for using the word "slut." But while the Wikipedia article on Schultz details the controversy his comment created, the Wikipedia article on Beck completely avoids any mention of the time Beck called Cindy Sheehan a "slut." As ever, the double standard on Wikipedia is blatant and sickening.

Of course, since Wikipedia's content is fluid and dynamic, the situation may have changed by the time you read this. But if that's the case, you can be assured that such content won't survive long on Wikipedia before it is eventually deleted or altered by right-wingers.

As I said, the right-wingers are tenacious and determined. They'll do whatever it takes to bend Wikipedia to suit their reality.

Today's right-wingers know exactly what they want. And they'll play hardball to do whatever it takes to win. For example, we saw this in the 2000 elections, when the GOP brownshirt thugs staged riots and intimidated the Florida voter counters, while Al Gore's people just sat around politely waiting for the phone to ring.

The right-wingers may not have the facts on their side. But they do have the determination and will to get what they want by brute force. And as a result, Wikipedia, the world's largest and most popular reference site, now has a right-wing slant on thousands of its articles.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Viva la France: Socialist Hollande Wins Presidency


I've really enjoyed following the recent French elections. I must admit, I feel envious of the French in many ways. One thing I greatly admire is their election system. There, voters have a choice of numerous candidates, from the far left to the far right. (I should note that, in France, the "far right" refers to a candidate that is in many ways far to the left of most U.S. Democratic politicians---a fact that is rarely mentioned in the mainstream media). I also like the run-off aspect of the French election system. There, one would never see a debacle like "Bush v. Gore," which made a mockery of democracy in the U.S.

On Sunday, Socialist Francois Hollande won the French presidency. And unlike America's wimpy Dems, Hollande doesn't shy away from his strong Progressive convictions. He has pledged a 75 percent tax on those making over $1 million a year.

I notice that the U.S. and U.K. corporate media have tried to portray this as an extremist stance that will harm France's economy. Strangely enough, the same articles usually go on to claim that this tax policy won't raise much money anyway. But if that's the case, then why the fierce opposition to it by the corporate media?

In any case, claims that Hollande is an "extremist" are wildly off the mark. He is, after all, popular with most of the French people. And, in fact, his popularity really started to soar after he announced the 75 percent tax on the rich. Publications like "The Economist" and "The Wall Street Journal," which have tried to portray Hollande as a dangerous extremist and as bad for French democracy are laughable. The fact is, it's the corporate media itself that is contemptuous of democracy. The People, after all, have spoken. And to ridicule the will of The People is to show how the corporate media really despises democracy.

I see a lot of misinformation and outright lies about France in the U.S. corporate media. Generally, the image portrayed of France is that of a nation that is suffering from a horrible economy, where the people are gloomy and miserable and, if France would only "see the light" and deregulate its economy, U.S.-style, it'd prosper.

This, of course, is all a crock. I know this, because I've been to France and I've seen it first-hand. OK, the economy does have its problems. But in France, I saw none of the extreme, bottom-of-the barrel poverty that is increasingly common in the U.S.

France, of course, is not a utopia. But it is a nation that where the gap between rich and poor is much less extreme than the U.S. In France, even the poor have a substantial social safety net. And the French health-care system is one of the best in the world (in fact, it was ranked No. 2, after Italy, in a recent World Health Organization ranking).

I mentioned this fact to a few right-wing friends of mine and they disputed it, claiming that the World Health Organization is a "Liberal" group. When I asked them if they had any evidence that contradicts the WHO, one of them said, "I sure do!" We continued debating for a few minutes and then finally he named his source: Rush Limbaugh. I pointed out to this person that even the "Wall Street Journal" recently did an in-depth investigation into the French health-care system and praised it as one of the best in the world. "Well, that must be a Liberal publication, too," my right-wing friend said. Somewhere, Rupert Murdoch's ears must have been burning.

Anyway, during my visit, the French people I saw seemed happy and content with their lives. I visited during August and I found that during that month, virtually the entire nation takes the whole month off. (In France, every worker gets a minimum of 5 weeks paid vacation, as well as loads of holidays and sick days).

The latter was something that really impressed me. After all, I've worked jobs in the past that offered zero sick days. I once tried to call in sick when I had the full-blown flu and was told that I'd be fired if I didn't come into work. I tried to explain that, if I came in, not only would I not be productive, but I'd wind up spreading the virus all over the workplace. "I don't care," my boss said. "You need to come in anyway." (Note that in my five years with this company, I had never even tried to take a single sick day).

I've tried to explain this to my European friends and, without exception, they're stunned that American workers put up with this sort of crap. "People would take to the streets if employers tried to do that here," one French acquaintance told me.

Besides blasting France and making up lies about what its like to live there, I notice a lot of my right-wing acquaintances are constantly mocking and ridiculing the French as "surrender monkeys" and "weaklings."

I recall the "surrender monkey" insults that were flying around before the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003. But frankly, to continue to mock and insult the French even today, in the aftermath of that disastrous war, is just frankly bizarre. I recall telling one right-winger, "But the French look pretty smart to have not participated in that godawful war---after all, no WMDs were ever found!" My right-wing acquaintance looked at me and then said, "Have you Libs already forgotten 9/11?" I then stopped the debate, realizing it was pointless.

As far as the other charge the wingnuts level against the French---that they're weaklings and cowards---well, who are the real weaklings these days? French workers, after all, don't take any sh*t from the rich and powerful. If workers there see their rights under threat, they'll immediately take to the streets and fight for their rights.

Here, in America, workers are timid and scared to stand up for their rights. Very rarely do workers here take to the streets. Instead we politely bend over and spread our ass cheeks so we can get f*cked by the Rich and Powerful, again and again. This is why we have zero government-mandated vacation days or sick days (which makes America unique in this regard among First World nations). Even the likes of India and China require some vacation days and holidays for workers these days.

So who are the real cowards? It sure as hell ain't the French.

Monday, April 30, 2012

My Challenge To Rush Limbaugh: Why Don't You Insult A Union Worker To His Face?


Just as he despises women and minorities, Rush Limbaugh really has it in for labor unions. He is constantly bashing them (as Media Matters and other watchdog sites have noted over the years). Like most Republicans, Limbaugh is convinced that union workers are lazy, pampered, overpaid and leeches on society. He has even called union members "thugs" and questioned their patriotism.

I find it really rich that Limbaugh would consider union workers pampered and overpaid. This, coming from a mega-millionaire whose idea of "work" is to sit on his fat ass in his air-conditioned studio, spewing lies into a microphone for a few hours a day. No wonder Limbaugh pulls down hundreds of millions of dollars from anti-union corporate America.

Memo to Limbaugh: you don't have a f*cking clue as to what real work is. I'm talking about the sort of physically demanding work done every day by millions of ordinary blue collar union workers across America.

Maybe if Limbaugh had ever actually done any real physical work in his life, he wouldn't have the bloated physique of Jabba the Hutt.

I myself know a thing or two about physical labor, having worked in grueling blue collar jobs much of my life, often for little pay and crappy benefits. I once had a job leveling foundations, where I had to crawl underneath houses, lugging heavy equipment. I don't which was worse: the stifling heat, the claustrophobic conditions---or the snake that once slithered over my face while I was lying on my back underneath a house.

In later years, I worked on factory assembly lines--but the work wasn't much easier. I once worked at a factory gate assembly job, where the razor-sharp gate components often sliced my fingers. At the end of a shift, my uniform was often so blood-splattered that anyone who saw me likely assumed I worked as a butcher.

Of course, I'm hardly alone in my experiences as a blue collar worker. Tens of millions of us toil away every day and we find that it's increasingly difficult to earn a living, no matter how hard we work.

There's only one way to know what it's like to struggle as a working-class person these days--and that's to live the life first-hand. I suspect that people like Limbaugh (who came from a wealthy background) thinks he understands what it's like to be struggling and working-class in America. And if that's the case, he's even more delusional that his radio ramblings would indicate.

It really galls me when I hear this fat piece of sh*t Limbaugh spew out his anti-worker, anti-union diatribes. Limbaugh wouldn't know real work if it bit him on the ass. For that matter, people in Limbaugh's elite social circles never have ANY real face-to-face contact with ordinary working Americans. (It's laughable that Limbaugh claims to be a fan of Walmart---does anyone really think he shops there?)

Which brings me to my challenge for Limbaugh.

Limbaugh: I challenge you to go to any factory in any mean, down-on-its-luck Rust Belt city. I challenge you to walk up to the assembly line and tell the union workers to their face that they're pampered, overpaid and that they're "thugs" and not patriotic.

Oh, and be sure to bring along a lot of OxyContin---because when you insult these union workers, you're going to be in a lot of pain after they beat the sh*t out of you.

Of course, being the chickensh*t coward that you are, I'm sure that you'll never take me up on this challenge.

Instead, you'll continue to sit in one of your lavish mega-million-dollar mansions, smoking your fancy $200 cigars and drinking your $1,000 bottles of fine French wine. You'll continue to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars for spewing your lies into a microphone and attacking ordinary people who do real work for a living.

Enjoy your lavish lifestyle while you can, Limbaugh. Someday it's all going to come crashing down on your head. History shows what happens in nations where millions of people grow increasingly hungry and desperate, while a pampered leech class rakes in obscene amounts of money, while presiding over (and controlling) a corrupt and out-of-touch political system. Just ask Marie Antoinette.

You can ignore my challenge, Limbaugh. But you're not going to be able to ignore the angry cries of the hungry mob when it comes crashing through your front gate some day.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Do You Want To Know How To Reduce Your Taxes? Simple: Become Rich


Tax season is here again. Would you like to know a sure-fire way of reducing your tax bill?

Simple. Become rich. The richer, the better.

Example: let's say your wealth puts you in the top 1/100th of 1 percent of all Americans. That's about 28,000 people in the U.S. These people, on average, make around $2 million every five days, which is what the average American earns over the course of a lifetime.

The tax burden for these super-rich people has been steadily falling for years. For example, in 1993, they paid 30 cents of every dollar into federal income tax. In 2000, that had fallen to 22 cents. These days, it has fallen to 18 cents.

In his book Perfectly Legal, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston details an outrageously unfair tax system that screws the poor and working class. It's a tax system that has been increasing shifting the burden away from the rich and onto lower-income taxpayers for years, a phenomenon that's gotten little coverage in the mainstream media.

Not only do the rich avoid paying taxes, but they also usually avoid tax audits. Johnston points out that working class people are eight times more likely to face an audit than the wealthy.

Johnston is only one of a number of high-profile investigative journalists who've detailed America's unfair tax system over the years.

In 1994, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Donald Barlett and James Steele published an eye-opening account of America's unfair tax system in their book, America: Who Really Pays the Taxes?

Barlett and Steele painted a gloomy picture of a beleaguered middle- and working class that is soaking up more and more of the nation's tax burden. They also detail how the tax burden is quietly shifting in other ways.

For example, the tax burden in the U.S. over the years has been shifting from corporations to individual taxpayers. In the 1950s, corporations paid around half of all taxes. Today, their burden has shrunk to less than 10 percent. In fact, today, 60 percent of all U.S. corporations pay zero income tax.

Johnston, Bartlett and Steele point out numerous cases in which wealthy individuals don't even bother to file a tax return.

Johnston cites the example of two billionaires, Alec and Jocelyn Wildenstein, who admitted under oath that for 30 years, they never even filed a tax return---and faced no consequences as a result.

In their book, Barlett and Steele point out that in 1989, there were 1,081 people earning over $200,000 who paid zero income tax.

The situation has hardly improved in recent years. According to a recently released IRS report, almost 1,500 of America's 230,000 millionaires avoided paying ANY federal income tax in 2009.

In the interviews they conducted to research their books, Barlett, Steele and Johnston describe ordinary taxpayers' seething anger and frustration with the unfairness of the tax code.

Johnston, in particular, seems pessimistic that the U.S. tax system will ever be fixed. He considers open revolt and social disruption a possibility in the future.

For their part, Barlett and Steele, offer modest proposals for making the tax system more equitable, such as closing all loopholes. However, the odds of real change to make the tax system more fair in today's Citizens United America seem remote indeed.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Why Bill Maher Is Wrong About Rush Limbaugh


I never thought the day would come when I disagreed with Bill Maher over a free speech issue. I've been a big admirer of Maher for years and I feel he speaks brave truths that can often be heard nowhere else in America.

But I think Maher is wrong to oppose the ongoing efforts to remove Limbaugh's program from the airwaves.

On his Real Time with Bill Maher program on HBO, Maher said he is no fan of Limbaugh, who he called a "stupid fat f*ck." But he decried efforts to silence Limbaugh.

"I don’t like it that people are made to disappear when they say something, or people try to make them disappear when they say something you don't like. That's America. Sometimes you're made to feel uncomfortable, okay?"

In a way, it's understandable that Maher would defend Limbaugh over a free speech issue. After all, Maher's previous program, Politically Incorrect was canceled over controversial comments Maher made after 9/11. Free speech is an issue near and dear to Maher's heart.

But on this issue, I disagree with Maher. I strongly support efforts to remove Limbaugh's program from the airwaves.

The problem that we progressives have always had with Limbaugh has little to do with his politics. In fact, our main gripe with him isn't even the sexist, bigoted, racist remarks that he regularly spews on the nation's airwaves.

Rather, our opposition to Limbaugh is that he is a serial liar, who routinely poisons the nation's airwaves with his outrageous falsehoods.

Personally, I never have understand how Limbaugh can spew out his toxic filth year after year and not get slammed by a libel lawsuit. I worked as a reporter for newspapers for years, and I recall how we all walked on eggshells and lived in constant fear that anything we wrote might attract a libel lawsuit. Libel lawsuits, after all, have shut down many newspapers in the U.S. and ended the careers of many journalists.

But Limbaugh is able to spew out his toxic lies and nonsense and viciously attack and smear people, day after day--and bizarrely, he's able to somehow escape libel lawsuits. I don't claim to be a libel law expert. But frankly, I can't understand how Limbaugh doesn't regularly get sued. Perhaps would-be suers are intimidated by the powerful corporate broadcasting interests behind Limbaugh.

I fully agree with Maher that in a true democracy, we need a wide range of viewpoints. Everyone needs to be able to speak their minds. In fact, I believe the U.S. political spectrum is actually way too narrow. There are a lot of viewpoints that Americans never get exposed to: including actual, real progressive viewpoints. (On the other hand, we do get constantly exposed to the Crazy, Extreme Far Right that is the today's Republican party).

My own opposition to Limbaugh has nothing to do with his political views, or the fact he's a "Conservative." It has to do with the fact that he is a f*cking liar. He routinely makes up lies to promote the Republicans and he routinely makes up lies to viciously smear the Democrats.

He is not a political commentator. He is a liar.

He is not even a "Conservative." He is a Republican party hack.

Political viewpoints from a range of sources belong on our nation's airwaves. But bald-faced outrageous lies do not. As Maher himself has said in the past, democracy simply doesn't work when people vote against their own interests. And nobody has conned the working class in this country to vote against their own interests than Limbaugh. (And it's not because he has any great oratory skills, or powers of persuasion---it's simply because he's a f*cking liar who gets away with it).

As far as I'm concerned, this is much more serious an issue than simply a bunch of gullible, working-class half-wits being conned into voting for the party of billionaires. It is an issue no less serious than the resulting decline and fall of America itself.

As long a fascist pigs like Limbaugh get to spew their lies, the increasingly extremist GOP will control more and more aspects of American life. This hurts America in numerous ways: from the decline of science and education standards to our nation's crumbling infrastructure to endless budget-busting tax breaks for billionaires to the endless insane trillion-dollar wars that the GOP keeps launching.

As far as I'm concerned, this is not a "free speech" issue. It's a Truth vs. Lies issue.

If you're fed up with Limbaugh and the daily toxic nonsense he spews on the nation's public airwaves, I urge you to take action.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Progressive Music Classics. "Outside the Trains Don't Run on Time" by The Gang of Four



Welcome to another edition of Progressive Music Classics.

The mighty post-punk band, The Gang of Four, emerged from Leeds in the late 1970s. Their debut album, Entertainment! was a ferocious blast of raw anger and musical energy.

The band's bass player Dave Allen and drummer Hugo Burnham formed a phenomenal rhythm section, laying down a Parliament-fueled funk groove, over which Andy Gill sliced and diced his guitar to create lethal shards of sound. On top of this combustible mix, the band sang about topics that ranged from Marxist theory to capitalist marketing to consumerism. In short, the band created a perfect soundtrack for a cold, heartless era in which multinational corporations took over the world.

Today, in many ways, things are even worse than they were 30 years ago. Three decades of eroding workers' rights and union-busting have impoverished many millions of workers around the world. And today's Top One Percent owns a much bigger share of national wealth than they did 30 years ago.

We could really use bands like The Gang of Four today. But instead, we get dogshit like Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears.

Although Entertainment! was The Gang of Four's high-water mark, the band continued to make powerful music for years to come. Indeed, the band remains a going concern to this day (the excellent album, Content was released last year).

Solid Gold, The Gang of Four's highly anticipated followup to Entertainment! was released in 1981 and including the classic track, "Outside the Trains Don't Run on Time" (featured in the above video). A scorching track with a driving groove, this is a song that comes to mind every time I think of a misogynist bigot like Rush Limbaugh.

A lyric that particularly comes to mind is, "He wants his wife to run--and fetch."

It perfectly sums up the attitude of sexist bigots like Limbaugh, who want to put women "back in their place." Limbaugh has been railing against "uppity" African-Americans for years and now, with his "slut" comments, he is taking aim at women, as well.

Clearly, people like Limbaugh feel threatened by a world in which the traditional power structure of Rich White Males is threatened by "others," including minorities and women. It's a scary new world for dinosaurs like Limbaugh and his followers. It's clearly a world in which, in their view: Outside the Trains Don't Run on Time.

Of course, the irony is that, for all of Limbaugh's fears and paranoia, the old Rich White Male power structure is still very much in place. And it's not going away any time soon.

Of course, Limbaugh's deluded listeners don't know that. And so, in drinking the Limbaugh Kool-Aid, they continue to direct their anger and fury at the wrong targets. Instead of blaming soulless, greedy multinational corporations like Halliburton (and their stooges in Congress) for their misery, the Limbaugh crowd take out their anger on African-Americans, women, immigrants, gays, and other scapegoats.

It's a win-win situation for Limbaugh and the rest of the fascists on talk radio. Not only does Limbaugh achieve his mission of distracting his deluded base from ever correctly identifying the cause of their woes, he also gets paid handsomely for his efforts.

Meanwhile, multinational corporations get to rape and pillage the world at their pleasure and they, along with the crooks on Wall Street, get to loot the U.S. Treasury and pocket hundreds of billions in corporate welfare.