August 29, 2010

Damn, I'm Pissed!

How ridiculous is the person who, after I post reviews at Amazon, immediately swings by to vote "not helpful?" I thought it was particularly hilarious this last time as the book won't even be released until next month, and given that it's among the launch books for a new fiction imprint for a publisher previously best known for the Chicken Soup books, it's not as though readers the world over have been holding their collective breath for reviews to surface.

Speaking of ridiculous, that's the term I'd apply to yesterday's Glenn Beck march. Beck chose the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s I Have a Dream speech to ask that his Tea Party followers "turn back to God," and focus on what we've accomplished in this country as opposed to our failures. Ironic much?

I was in a foul mood for most of yesterday, but it wasn't until dinner that I realized my mood was based on this march. Watching video clips of person upon person upon person decry how the U.S. has become socialist and that we need to "take back" this country, I wanted to shout at all of them, "You are nothing but a puppet on a string!"

How did we get to a place where so many people believe "We're socialist because Obama wants to spread the wealth"...ah, I think I understand now.

We can start with Rupert Murdock, who has used his Fox News Network (and I use the term very loosely), to promulgate his far-right agenda. I'm not name-calling here; I'm not particularly happy with anyone at end of the political spectrum. But even if you are not among those who believe the "news" they see on Fox is "fair and balanced," you may not know about the brothers Koch. Their combined wealth is surpassed only by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in the U.S., and they have quietly bankrolled the "grass-roots" effort of the Tea Party by spending $100,000,000 so far to convince people that our president wants to destroy our way of life. Their efforts are not benign, and they most assuredly are not out to help the "little guy," whose strings they are silently pulling. In other words, moneyed interests, once again, have somehow managed to set themselves up as the champion of the working class when their true agenda is more basic: It's my money, and I will do anything to keep it. I don't want you to have any of it, but I'll do whatever must be done to convince you that I'm out to protect your interests.

The Koch brothers are particularly dangerous in that they combine greed with down-right scary beliefs, such as the abolition of public schools, the FBI and CIA, federal regulatory agencies - such as the EPA - and Social Security. Why? Because funding any of this causes them to pay taxes...or limits their business profits. For instance, they are working to prevent the EPA from classifying one of their products - formaldehyde - as a "known carcinogen."

The view that government is the root of all evil and business is the natural protectorate of the people has gained a great deal of traction since George Bush became president. It's as though the world turned upside down and we forgot what led us into the financial crisis we see today.

The Koch brothers don't like paying taxes, they don't like government impinging on their bottom line, and they think government regulations and safety nets are for pussies. Who needs unemployment protection? If you give somebody unemployment protection, he'll stop looking for work. Public health? I pay my own way...why the hell shouldn't you, even if you earn a subsistence wage? Global warming? Believe us when we yell Poppycock...even though we're in the fossil-fuel business! And so on and so on.

People with such one-sided belief systems used to be known as the "fringe." Not so anymore, if you consider the popularity of Sarah Palin, Rand Paul, that nut-job Sharron Angle, not to mention the perpetually orange John Boehner, who once handed out money on the floor of the House from tobacco lobbyists. No spending because it'll increase the deficit...but by golly, let's cut taxes. No more money for the unemployed, even though the "official" unemployment rate stands at 10% and doesn't include those who have been unemployed so long they've given up looking for work, the bums! Hold BP accountable for the mess in the Gulf of Mexico? So sorry, I apologize for so much as thinking of it.

Were the Koch's to have their way, those such as the man directly implicated in the recent outbreak of salmonella poisoning, long considered a habitual violator and forced to pay fines in the millions of dollars over the years, would go blithely unchecked.

I can't wait to see what they'll come up with next...abolishing child labor laws, perhaps?

NYT columnist Frank Rich writes that the brothers Koch "must be laughing all the way to the bank knowing that working Americans are aiding and abetting their selfish interests." He doesn't let Murdoch get away unscathed, though. While his network lambastes the "Ground Zero Mosque" and points fingers at a Saudi Prince said to be contributing to it, that same prince is "not only the biggest non-Murdoch shareholder in Fox News' parent company (he owns 7 percent of News Corp.) and the recipient of Murdoch mammoth investments in Saudi Arabia but also the subject of lionization elsewhere on Fox." As I like to say:


Before I sign off, just one more depressing item in the news. The Republicans, who smell victory in November, are preparing to launch a series of investigations against the White House similar to those which occupied most of the Clinton presidency. An aide to one of the congressman overseeing the groundwork has already mentioned impeachment. In a nation where 41% of Republicans believe Obama was "probably or definitely born outside the country" and roughly one-third think that Obama is a Muslim (so what if he is, and I ask this as a Jew?), anything's possible.


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