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The Pencil is Mightier Than the Pen

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Science writes in pencil. As it progresses, it joyfully keeps handy an eraser. Religious dogma is written in pen, as indelible as it is lacking in relevance.

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The Iraqi War and The Amateur President. Did You Forget Already?

When we invaded Iraq, it was not, as the Repubs are currently trying to convince us, that everyone believed they had WMD. Some Washington politicians may have believed it. Bill Clinton may have believed it (but, interestingly, not enough to take us to war over it). Hillary Clinton may have believed it, (or was just stupid enough to believe inaccurate intelligence). All the Repubs may have believed it. But the millions who protested, round the world, for months before the invasion didn’t believe it, mainly because it seemed ever so convenient that right after 9/11 Bush came to the miraculous conclusion that Iraq was such an imminent threat and needed to be invaded immediately. Not a peep out of him before 9/11 though.

No one I know believed it. We all thought it was to avenge his father, whom Saddam allegedly threatened to kill. I’m not sure if I’ve stopped believing that yet, but, moving on…

The issue about Saddam Hussein being such a horrible mass murderer, killer of his people, etc, didn’t seem to be as much of an problem for Bush’s daddy, G.H.W. Bush, or Ronald Reagan during the time he was actually gassing the Kurds, in 1983. The video of Donald Rumsfeld visiting and shaking hands with Saddam in 1983 is HERE Yes, this video was taken when we were supplying weapons to Saddam, which is the exact time he was actually gassing the Kurds. Seems like brutally killing your own people was not such a problem at the time, ay?

Most people I knew said the same thing: Saddam, badass that he was, at least kept the Middle East in check. Iran was not the powerhouse they are today because Saddam crushed them during their war. Libya, Syria and Yemen were not nearly so powerful when Saddam was in power, since he had the 4th largest army in the world and the largest, by far, in the Middle East. It was the invasion of Iraq, and subsequent imbecilic disbanding of their army by Paul Brenner (Bush’s man in Iraq), which caused an enormous power vacuum, creating what was then known at the Insurgency, which was made up of the officers of the Iraqi army, who revolted against the regime that Bush had put into place. That group of people, those exact people, are now senior members of ISIS. That, my friends, is where ISIS came from, and no place else.

Remember John McCain running around the country telling anyone who’d listen that “the surge worked”. He was referring to the military surge that he championed and which drove the insurgency out of Iraq, mainly into Syria, where they formed ISIS. (The meaning of the letters of ISIS are Islamic State In Syria).

Yes, the current ISIS threat which Repubs are desperately trying to blame on Obama for pulling out of Iraq too early was formed by those military leaders who were fired by Paul Brenner and run out of Iraq by John McCain’s “surge”. That was the genesis of ISIS.

Folks, don’t let the Repubs selective memories persuade you differently. Remember how the country and the world reacted to our invasion of Iraq and how horribly botched it was. Remember the world-wide protests, the Million Fist March in Washington. Remember that we lost over 4000 soldiers and $2 Trillion, turning the surplus economy that Bush inherited into the worst recession in 50 years and two wars that he left for the next President to figure out.

Remember the bumbling Vice President who, to this day, denies that he said Saddam definitely had WMD, even when confronted with the video tape of him saying exactly that. Here is a very enlightening video that I’m sure not a single Repub will watch.

Don’t let them distort the truth. Don’t let this horrible, horrible family and their advisors take back the Whitehouse and put us back in the same ditch we’ve spent the last seven years digging out of. Don’t vote for anyone, Repub or Democrat, who doesn’t have the courage to say that Iraq was one of the biggest foreign-policy mistakes in the history of the country, and that, if he could do it over, would not.

They are relying on our stupidity being as profound as theirs. Please don’t make that true.
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Marco Rubio’s Tax Plan-The Poor Must Pay More! The Rich, Not So Much…

For all my Repub friends who like to claim to know what they like to call “facts”, I just got finished reading a big one. Yup, I read Marco Rubio’s tax plan. No, not an article about Marco Rubio’s tax plan. The actual tax plan. For all of my friends on the Repub side I’ll give you the link so that you can duly ignore it:

Here is Marco Rubio’s Tax Plan

It’s actually a strange document, full of commentary about our broken tax system. You’d think that a bill that is to be proposed to Congress would avoid Fox “News” types of editorializing, platitudes and cliche’s and just get to the point, but, et, voila…

It goes on to discuss all the problems with our tax system including its complexity as if that is the fault of someone other than the exact Congress who claims to want to fix it, but alas…

The important parts are as follows.

1. It lets corporations avoid income “repatriation” and continue to hide money overseas for the purpose of paying lower taxes. Amazing that Repubs, who love to refer to themselves as Patriots, would want to avoid something called “repatriation of income”. Sounds ironic, but not surprising.

2. It stops what corporations like to call double taxation. Once to the corporation, then again to the shareholder in the form of capital gains taxes. This means, to those of my readers who are working stiffs and will never have any substantial equity holdings in large corporations, that Mitt Romney will no longer pay the taxes on any of his investments. This further means that investment will not be taxable to anyone, but what you do every day, you know, work, will be. Let that sink in. If you work 40 hours in a job that wears you out and keeps you from your family all day and make, say, $40,000 per year, according to Rubio, you must be taxed. If you’re Mitt Romney or Donald Trump, and you make your money by investing other people’s money and do nothing else, you will be tax-free. Got it?

3. It does offer a few tax decreases for middle-income people, but it has some glaringly interesting added benefits and drawbacks. Currently, if you’re married and make $18,000 per year, (which is about one person earns on minimum wage) you pay 10% income tax. Under Rubio, you will pay 15%! So, McDonalds workers take heart! Marco thinks you’re not paying enough taxes and wants to increase them by 50%. He thinks the poorest of Americans are getting too much of a free ride! Oh, and before you bring up the Earned Income Credit, he says he wants to “reform” that, but doesn’t say how. Can’t imagine that means he wants to increase it, can you?

4. Oh, and he didn’t forget his richest Repub friends either. Currently, if you earn say, over $464,000 per year, you pay 39.6% income tax, which is much, much, much lower than almost all developed countries, even those who don’t support the largest military that has ever existed on the face of the earth. Well friends and neighbors, under Marco’s plan, you will only pay 35%! That’s right! Marco, in contrast to his plans for McDonalds workers paying more, thinks that the CEO of McDonalds should be paying less! I shit you not! To expand that out a bit, outgoing McDonalds CEO Don Thompson will earn about $40 million this year, so, under Marco’s plan Mr Thompson will save $1,840.000 in taxes this year alone! That’s a shitload of Big Macs, ay Mr. Thompson? Especially if he orders off the Dollar Menu!

Marco Rubio will save Don Thomspon, on taxes alone, the equivalent of 1000 times the entire yearly earnings of the McDonalds worker! One thousand workers could be hired, at minimum wage, on this single person’s tax savings alone! But do you think Mr. Thompson will be so generous as to do so? Get back to me when you figure it out…

I know that most people aren’t nerdy enough to actually read the tax proposals of Senators who want to be President. I consider it a service to all my friends who, although they like to brag just how informed they are, rarely look past the TV and a couple of websites for what they so adorably call “information”.

Well, here is it for you. No charge.

The Courage of Liberals

From Websters: (with no embellishment on my part)

Conservative:
Believing in the value of established and traditional practices in politics and society: relating to or supporting political conservatism. Not liking or accepting changes or new ideas.

Liberal:
Believing that government should be active in supporting social and political change: relating to or supporting political liberalism. Not opposed to new ideas or ways of behaving that are not traditional or widely accepted.

When it comes to opinions about current affairs, it would benefit those who expound the loudest to consider one thing:

If your opinions for or against something benefit you directly, then you aren’t courageous or insightful. You’re selfish, self-centered and cowardly. You don’t care about others and consider your own needs before those of others. For example:

If you’re a gun owner and you’re pro-gun, that’s not a courageous stance. It’s transparently self-serving.

If you’re straight and make anti-gay comments, that’s benefitting no one but yourself. It doesn’t make you a tough guy.

If you’re white and are constantly harping about all the bad things that blacks do, you’re being banal and predictable, not “politically incorrect”, insightful or smart.

If you’re a man and you think, in your heart of hearts without ever saying so, that women aren’t as smart as you, or that men haven’t oppressed them for centuries, that’s not a carefully thought out belief, that’s just you being a self-important idiot.

If you’re a Christian and think that your so-called religious freedom entitles you to tell others how to live, you are truly lacking in the gift of original thought and apparently think that you are positioned at the top of the morality food chain.

It takes no brains whatsoever to try to protect your own side. It takes no healthy objectivity to believe that your way of doing things is the best way. That’s what morons and farm animals do. Doltish lack of introspection leading to self-preservation is the default position of anything that has the capacity to breath.

If your opinions benefit someone other than yourself, you can call yourself patriotic, courageous and willing to buck the trend. If you’re willing to consider someone’s feelings other than those of yourself, you’re someone who will be remembered for having the nerve to stand up to those whose entire purpose in life is to maintain the status quo, regardless the cost to their fellow human beings.

By definition, Conservatives.

My Problem With Tough-Guy Cops. A Personal Story

For anyone who wonders why a middle-aged white guy with no criminal record would be so up-in-arms about police brutality, I’ve got a personal story for you.

The year was 2002 in a town in the Florida Keys named Key Colony Beach. It was a sunny Sunday morning when my wife, our two-year-old daughter and I were going to an outdoor Sunday brunch put on by a local charity.

I pulled into a spot in the parking lot where the event was taking place, exited the car and walked around to the other side to get my daughter out of her car seat. As I bent over into the back seat and pulled her out of the car, I felt a powerful hand reach into the back of my shirt collar and pull me, quite forcefully, out of the car, my baby daughter almost falling from my grasp. I whipped around, still holding her, expecting to have to punch whomever was grabbing at me to make him release me when I noticed that it was a cop, with one hand tightly holding my collar and the other on his gun in its holster. To properly set the scene here, remember…A Sunday morning with a 45 year old white man, his wife, their baby and a 4-door family sedan with hundreds of other people around. Not exactly a dark alley with a black teenager and a hoodie. But I digress…

When I saw the look on this guy’s face and the size of him (easily 4 inches taller and 50 lbs heavier than me) I handed my baby to my wife, still practically bent over backward from him pulling on my collar.

As he screamed at me to move back from the car I realized that there was something terribly wrong here and that he was in control for the moment. He dragged me about 20 feet, backward, to the middle of the parking lot, where everyone else came to a halt to see what the commotion was about. He spun me around and screamed at me like a Marine Seargent (more on that later), and accused me of having driven too fast when I came into the parking lot. When I protested that I had done nothing of the kind he put his nose against my nose and yelled “shut up until I tell you to talk”. My wife stood about 20 feet away in disbelief and fear of what was going to happen next. As I stood there, also in disbelief, as hundreds of other people stopped what they were doing to watch me get accosted by the cop, he proceeded to demand my license and registration. I took them both out of my wallet, silent as I realized that this guy was going to explode if I said another word. I gave him what he asked for as another police car came up and stopped behind us. Another cop, apparently a supervisor, stepped out and called him to the car. As I stood there, like a criminal, as my friends and neighbors looked on, he and the supervisor had a conversation that took about 2 minutes. After what seemed like forever, as I wondered if I was about to get arrested for the first time in my life, the supervisor came over to me, gave me my license and registration and told me that I was free to go. What?

I asked the supervisor what I had been stopped for and his response was that the cop felt that I’d pulled into the parking lot too quickly but that all was now Ok and I was free to go!

By this time we were no longer in the mood for brunch, so we got back in the car and left, incredulous at what had just happened. I spent the rest of the day reliving this embarrassing event over and over, trying to figure out what I had done wrong. I was humiliated in front of hundreds of people, many of whom I knew, and this guy was basically saying, “oh, never mind”!

The next day, Monday, I went to see my lawyer to tell him what had happened (yes, contrary to the situation facing many inner city youth, I could afford a lawyer) to ask him what my rights were regarding this bizarre sequence of events. He called me some days later with some interesting news.

It turns out that our Neanderthal friend was an ex-Marine (see reference above. No surprise there) and had a history of violence. He had been brought up on charges of use of excessive force before, apparently having slammed someone’s head on the roof on his patrol car when he wouldn’t answer the officer’s questions. He also had been caught laughing as he kicked a drunk who was laying on the ground outside a local bar for no other reason than he thought it might be fun. I assumed that with this guy’s history as well as the hundreds of witnesses who saw the entire thing that we would easily nail this guy. I told my lawyer to press charges, whatever the cost (note, again, I could afford to say things like that. How many inner-city black kids can do the same?)

About week later my lawyer called me and advised me to drop the entire thing! What!?!

It turns out that this guy had been forgiven his professional indiscretions repeatedly since his union defended every one of these accusations. He had never been suspended, paid any penalty or lost a single day of work as a result of his malfeasance. My lawyer told me quite bluntly that if I sued him, I could expect to be stopped and accosted EVERY TIME I DROVE INTO KEY COLONY BEACH and that his union, with millions in their war chest, would fight me until I ran out of money.

So, I gave in. On the advice of my attorney. And that piece of shit is still a cop. Who knows how many others have suffered from his delusions of superiority. I was humiliated, dragged by the back of my collar, in front of hundreds of acquaintances, my wife and my daughter, for what amounted to a traffic stop, all because this loser needed anger management classes. And I couldn’t do a damned thing about it.

I’m a middle-aged white guy with no criminal record. What do you think would have happened if the unfortunate guy who drove into that parking lot with his wife and baby that sunny Sunday morning just happened to be a young black guy, driving a beat-up car, who chose to wear a hoodie.

Go ahead. Explain it to me…

My Favorite Conservative

Here are two of my favorite quotes from one of the few conservatives I’ve ever seen who I believe to be of superior intelligence. I disagreed with a lot of what he said, but sometimes he was just too smart to argue with. I haven’t seen one like him in a long time. Other than George Will, (who doesn’t quite rise to this level), I don’t know of anyone else who can use the English language so well to convey his message, even one that opposes mine.

To wit:

“Conservatives pride themselves on resisting change, which is as it should be. But intelligent deference to tradition and stability can evolve into intellectual sloth and moral fanaticism, as when conservatives simply decline to look up from dogma because the effort to raise their heads and reconsider is too great.”

and

“A conservative is someone who stands athwart history, yelling stop.”

Both are from William F Buckley.

Climate Change. OK, Let’s Say It’s All Fake…

I’m not going to try to convince you that climate change is real. Nope, if you haven’t figured it out by now, even after the Pentagon released their extensive plan to avoid it interfering with their future operations, then nothing I say is going to convince you otherwise. But I’m going to ask some questions that I’m hoping will make you question why it would be so bad to acknowledge that climate change is in fact true. Follow me for a minute here and let’s discuss.

If climate change is real, and we act to stop contributing to it, here is what will happen, regarding our economic well-being, in the near future:

1. We will discover, and utilize, newer more renewable sources of energy. Is this good or bad?

2. We will create new industries where none existed before, creating jobs and new forms of wealth. Good or bad?

3. We will have cleaner air. I’m not going to argue how much cleaner or how much of an impact it will have on climate change, but can anyone argue that the DON’T want cleaner air? Good or bad?

4. We will lessen, and or eliminate, our dependence on foreign sources of oil, for which we mollycoddle the Arabs, causing disruptions to our friendship with Israel and causing us to appease other oil suppliers such as Venezuela and Nigeria oppress their people through dictatorships. Good thing or bad?

5. We can offer to sell our energy to other countries which are currently dependent on Russia and other countries to sell them oil and natural gas, thereby increasing exports to these countries, which improves our balance of trade and assists them in reducing pollution. Good thing or bad?

Forget climate change for a minute. Let’s just say that ending our use of fossil fuels will simply improve our economy and allow us to rule the world economically. With our financial resources, our ability to innovate, and the fact that we are the largest consumers of energy in the world, we could dominate the world supply of renewable energy, much as Saudi Arabia has dominated the supply of oil and Russia has dominated the supply of coal.

I’m not asking you to believe the US Geological survey’s photographs of melting glaciers. I’m not asking you to believe NASA’s graphs that show huge increases in global temperatures in the last 100, 50, 20 and 10 years. I’m not asking you to believe in anything. I’m asking what you believe to be the downside to the world if we act as if it’s all true.

I’m listening…

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