Let’s Fasten our Seatbelts. We live in interesting times

While Ronald Reagan slept through his second term as president, two very different groups, with virtually nothing in common, joined forces and engineered the take over of the political party that gave us the Emancipation Proclamation, freed the slaves, created the EPA, negotiated SALT treaties, and did much more good for the nation.

On one side, you had the Grover Nordquist types, virulent haters of government and labor who believed that taxes were inherently evil and that government was something to be cut, then drowned in a bathtub. They proclaimed two faux saints, Ronald Reagan (who increased taxes and ran away from Lebanon with his tail tucked between his legs) and Ayn Rand, a semi-entertaining writer who every 6th grader should read – once. As an example of how a bad idea could actually be made worse. They never met a regulation they liked, and they never ceased attacking America’s working social net and protections. But for Bush’s astounding ineptitude and penchant for starting wars, they would have destroyed Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, as well as most environmental protections by now.

On the other side, you had the worst hypocrites ever imagined, the Religious Right, led by the likes of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and other religious fringe lunatics. They were willing accept AynRandism so long as the tax cut Reaganuts accepted their position on abortion. Once they realized that Creationism was not be acceptable, even to the most conservative judges, they concocted Intelligent Design, which was anything but, they attacked science and rational thinking on many fronts, pushing their own into NASA in order to question the age and the beginning of the universe, stopped stem cell research, and forced us to accept abstinence as a global policy. Which increased the rate of teen pregnancies for the first time in a decade, along with the huge growth of STDs in high school. To counter those problems, they created federally assisted Purity Bowls, where daddy could claim ownership over his daughter’s vagina. Talk about perverts.

If you doubt their hypocrisy, I will provide you a list of reverends, ministers, and numerous GOP politicians, even the president of the College Republicans, for whom the Eleventh Commandment seems to be “Do as I sayeth, not as I do.” It is too long to include here.

Since the 1980s, together they planned and plotted, using billions from ultra-rich folks who accepted or endorsed either one or the other group. This collection of social misfits, religious freaks, and greedy thugs managed to root out moderates from the GOP over time, and forced those who survived their stalinist purges to move sharply to the right. (see generally, Arlen Spector).

As amusing as they were when they were a tiny minority, the damage they wrought since they actually held power is truly astounding. Every problem we face in today’s economy can be laid at their feet. (along with many toady democrats who could not find their spine if their lives depended on it). Their dream was nothing less than a completely free market economy, no government regulation or oversight, no taxes and no limits on their greed.

Like any short-sighted, irrational, experimental program, it was doomed to fail. The last time we tried this free-market experiment we earned the Crash of 1929, a result that we may soon view with envy. The biggest problem with “pure free market forces” is that we suffer the slings and arrows of “pure free market forces.” The rich become much richer, the poor lose their support nets, and the middle class is ground down as feed and fodder for the very, very top level robber barons and thieves.

No, this comparison is unfair. To robber barons. Even the McCormicks, Rockefellers, and Hearsts had a sense that their great wealth was something to be shared and invested back in society. They supported education, regulations, social investment, even progressive taxes – for the good of society. Not so, with today’s Wall Street thieves. To them, personal greed is all that matters, and to hell with the rest of country. To them, FEMA was something to profit from, to place in the unworthy hands of a horse lawyer, and to privatize. The predictable result? Katrina.

George W. Bush called them the ‘haves’ and the ‘have mores’ – his base. He cut their taxes, he stopped investigating their crimes, he protected them from regulations, and he gave them money. Billions. Tens of billions, even more. He even started a profitable war on their behalf.

The result? Middle class income stagnated and fell, in real terms, for eight straight years. Industrial deaths and injuries rose, despite the fact that Bush drove out millions of industrial jobs away from the States. Pollution increased, leading to lead in our toys and hormones, chemicals, and poisons in our food and water. The whole of our society seems to be on the edge of a cliff, ready to fall into an endless abyss. Our roads and bridges are collapsing and killing people, while our electrical supply depends on a design older than the average American. We produce less, except pollution, we import more, especially energy, and our future is murkier than a California mudslide.

This is the result of 20+ years of Republican rule and ruin. This is the result of pure free market idealism. This is the result of Bush, Cheney, Nordquist, Frist, Gingrich, Laffer and other pure free-marketers. Unfortunately, too many Americans again proved PT Barnum right, and bought into their tax cuts and faux dreams, much like a donkey is convinced to walk further because of the carrot always front of him, hanging from a pole.

Here are a few facts with which America needs to reacquaint itself.

1. Science, even for science’ sake, is good.
2. Religion and government must never mix. Religion has no business making government policy, and government has no business making religious decisions. Religions should be taxed, just like every other business.
3. Government regulations save lives, increase productivity, protect jobs, and work to benefit everyone.
4. National health care is a right everyone is entitled to.
5. If we help the unfortunate, we help ourselves.
6. Taxes, especially progressive taxes benefit all, while providing incentives for discovery and creation.
7. Our military should be for defense, not attack.
8. Labor is our friend. Labor is our future. Labor is us.
9. Living on credit is insane.
10. Multinational corporations that move US jobs abroad should be banned from selling any service or product within our borders.

Luckily, people are waking up to how badly we have been led and misled by the current GOP. Democrats won in 2006 (although it was hard to tell by their behavior. Impeachment’s OFF THE TABLE? The guy’s a criminal!) and won bigger in 2008. Now, if we could only replace Nancy Pelousy and Harry Reid with more capable, less corrupt and self-satisfied congresspersons, we might even have some measurable progress in President-Elect Obama’s first term.

People are also taking to the streets, which, in America, only happens when things are truly getting desperate.

Republic Windows and Doors, a Chicago manufacturer and installer, suddenly shut its plant, and because of Bank of America’s specific and direct orders, refused to honor its contract with its union, and refused to pay what it owed to its workers. Those workers now occupy Republic. I can’t wait for them to re-start production on their own. I suspect that they will find many buyers and supporters.

What is so ridiculous in this whole economic mess is that Bank of America received BILLIONS in tax payer dollars to prevent precisely this type of result. Instead, Bank of America continues to overpay its top execs and will provide them with huge bonuses this year. Bank of America continues to invest abroad, and Bank of America has done nothing to invest in the country where it was born, and from which it has greatly profited in the past.

Fried said the company can’t pay its 300 employees because its creditor, Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America, won’t let them. Crain’s Chicago Business reported that Republic Windows’ monthly sales had fallen to $2.9 million from $4 million during the past month. In a memo to the union, obtained by the business journal, Republic CEO Rich Gillman said the company had “no choice but to shut our doors.”

Bank of America received $25 billion from the government’s financial bailout package. The company said in a statement Saturday that it isn’t responsible for Republic’s financial obligations to its employees.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/12/06/laid-off-workers-refuse-t_n_148972.html

There is good grass roots news on the science front, too. Those ultra-religious idiots at the AFA and similar cults just had their faces slapped. Some moron at the Cincinnati Zoo decided that joining forces with a local Creationist Museum would be a great idea, allowing visitors at one location to visit the other.

The zoo pulled out of the deal Monday after receiving dozens of angry calls and e-mails about the partnership, which offered reduced prices to anyone who bought tickets to the zoo’s Festival of Lights and the museum’s Christmas celebration, Bethlehem’s Blessing.

Most of the protests echoed the same theme: the Creation Museum promotes a religious point of view that conflicts with the zoo’s scientific mission.

Some complained that the zoo, which receives public support through a tax levy, should not become involved with a private museum dedicated to the teachings of the Bible’s Book of Genesis. Others said a scientific institution shouldn’t link itself to a place that argues man once lived side by side with dinosaurs.

“They seem like diametrically opposed institutions,” said Dr. James Leach, a Cincinnati radiologist who e-mailed zoo officials about his concerns. “The Cincinnati Zoo is one of this city’s treasures. The Creation Museum is an international laughingstock.”

Zoo officials said they considered the promotion – dubbed “Two Great Attractions, One Great Deal” – a marketing deal no different than other cross-promotions they do with institutions like the Newport Aquarium or the Cincinnati Reds.

http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20081201/NEWS01/81201045

One might be tempted to ask what the Zoo officials were thinking, except that their organ in which most nonsexual thoughts originate seems to be atrophied or missing in action.

While the present is dreary, the future is limitless. But for us to survive that long, the people need to make themselves heard, after taking a cold, hard look at the religious cretins and greedy free-marketters who got us in this spot in the first place. Republic Windows, the Cincinnati Zoo, even Obama’s election – proof positive that we can do it. We simply need to demand some very serious changes. Oh, and as a condition for any federal loans or grants, let’s demand the immediate resignation of all CEOs and top execs in the Big Three Auto companies, Bank of America, CitiCorpse, and other Wall Street white collar crime organizations.

(An apology. Her name is not Pelousy. I promise never to deliberately use Pelousy in an article. I will refrain from calling her Pelousy in discussions. I will not succumb to such childish moves like identifying her as Pelousy. From this moment, when discussing Pelousy, I will spell her name correctly, and never again as Pelousy. Using Pelousy is simply wrong.)

16 Responses to "Let’s Fasten our Seatbelts. We live in interesting times"

  1. AustinRanter  December 9, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    DejaVuAllOver, with all due respect, I’m not finding where I posted anything related to the following:

    “And you’re not correct in saying that science deals only with the provable; theoretical physics, for example, deals in “thought experiments” using mathematics, with little, if any empirical data. All scientific questions started their “life” as philosophical ones. In time, the data came.”

    Not sure where you might have found comments as noted above in any of the seven points that I made? I think they are more to the opposite in which I believe that the goal in science is to find preponderance of evidence regarding any theory. There’s nothing set in concrete in all of our known knowledge about anything.

    I also believe that my seven points are pretty clear about the search for knowledge begins with a thought, or as you say…”as a philosophical idea”. How else could a hypothesis or prediction be created by a scientist to even begin to test or experiment?

    I don’t subscribe that anything is completely provable at this point in time…at least here on our planet. I don’t at all see that science is driven by mere provability. If that were so then knowledge as we know it would be extremely stifled. You know the old saying, “One thing leads to another”. Knowledge is an ongoing building process. So many times while we test and observe one experiment, we suddenly discover new things, ideas, knowledge that lead to other discoveries.

    I suggest that you carefully re-read the seven points that I made.

  2. DejaVuAllOver  December 9, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Austin, six of your seven points started with derivatives of the word creationism. Your seventh point is true, but represents about 30% (+/- about 70%) of the work scientists do.

    I think you have a lot to learn about science in general and the I.D. theory, specifically. I recommend starting with European and Japanese periodicals, as scientists of those cultures are better able to address true scientific questions without the dogma and baggage of either religious wackos or uneducated critics in the general public.

    Since this topic has strayed far from home, I’m done, now.

  3. AustinRanter  December 9, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    DejaVu..

    Touche’ on straying. I’ll not press the issue any farther myself. Perhaps we’ll have another time and place to continue.

    Sorry, Rob and other contributors, for drifting off.

  4. DejaVuAllOver  December 9, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Austin, I also forgot to add that I think we both agree about the irrationality of creationism and the harm it does to an intelligent and thoughtful quest for answers, which is what science SHOULD be about.

  5. AustinRanter  December 9, 2008 at 2:45 am

    The Dark Ages is alive and well.

    Huge population of humans seem to virtually seek out and cling to pseudo-politics, pseudo-sciences, and pseudo-religions in order to maintain some sense of comfort, security, and even for basic survival. All 3 social controls have historically been masqueraded by a few over oh-so-many as necessities for law, order, general welfare, logic, reason, and morality, which are professed to be the lifeline for the preservation of humanity.

    Maybe humanity needs those types guiding principles, axioms, rules…however, deciding whose version of the three categories listed above are going to be the ultimate definitive paradigms…will be the demise of all of humanity.

    Over the eons, humanity has been programmed with so much nonsense, superstitions, false idols…we’ll never survive our own ignorance.

    Indeed we live in interesting times. But doesn’t history show that since the dawn of humanity…it’s all been pretty interesting?

  6. woody188  December 9, 2008 at 2:23 am

    You forgot to blame Clinton for his part in signing all that Republican legislation from Gingrich and his cohorts. He turned that NAFTA sucking sound into the favored-nation Chinese trading gusher. But you did remember Pelosi and Reid, who should both go up on treason/torture charges with Bush et al. Both knew about the torture and spying before it was made public and both did nothing but help cover it up. Otherwise you are spot on.

  7. Rob Kezelis  December 9, 2008 at 7:57 am

    Bill was not my favorite president. His triangulation was little more than a precursor to 8 yrs of Bush. You are right that NAFTA, his refusal to regulate, or even investigate, the derivatives market, and his willingness to “lead by polling” (and I am not referencing Monica) did unnecessary damage to this country.

    My omission was unfortunate.

  8. DejaVuAllOver  December 9, 2008 at 2:56 am

    Great piece, Rob. I got one nit-pick, though. The Intelligent Design theory is a legitimate mathematical treatise that doesn’t dispute or argue against evolution. It does, however, say that the standard Darwinian mutation / natural selection is not the mechanism by which evolution proceeds. It argues for a force (call it life, God, consciousness, nature or whatever) which defies entropy, and not merely the inherent instability of DNA and genes to account for life’s adaptations and ever increasing complexity. There are quite a few heavyweight mathematicians and biologists who are not religious but who don’t buy the mutation / natural selection explanation. Unfortunately, this hasn’t stopped the creationist moonbats from hijacking the theory all the way to Hell. It’s also interesting to note that the court cases brought about by the morons that want religious creationism taught have not succeeded in convincing any judges. In the rulings I’ve read, the judge always says words to the effect of, “Intelligent Design, AS PRESENTED TO THIS COURT, is creationism…….” In other words, the wackos haven’t COMPLETELY destroyed the meaning and intent, but they’ve come damn close.

    Anyway, just thought I’d try to clarify. It breaks my heart to see what fundamentalism can destroy. The “Why are we here?” question included.

  9. AustinRanter  December 9, 2008 at 3:45 am

    DejaVuAllOver, if you don’t mind, I’d like to throw in my 2 cents worth on the topic of Intelligent Design as you’ve described its framework. We have some questions to ask ourselves when it comes to suggesting the I.D is even related in the smallest of ways to any form of science.

    Below I pose a number of concepts or ideas to ponder and to help us think through some questions that might help us decide about the relationship between I.D. and science.

    To deny that I.D., is in fact, the creationist’s concepts about the origin of the universe, life, meaning and purpose and beyond resulting from the aftermath of a creator or designer-builder’s spark of inspiration…would be completely diluting the truth. A duck is a duck is a duck. I.D. is a religious slide of hand to create an illustion of science of some kind.

    Think about the following:

    1 Creationism cannot offer a scientific hypothesis that is capable of being shown wrong.

    2 Creationism cannot describe a single possible experiment that could elucidate the mechanics of creation.

    3 Creationism cannot point to a single piece of scientific research that has provided evidence for any supernatural intervention into natural law.

    4 Creationism cannot point to a single prediction that has turned out to be right, and supports the creationist case.

    5 Creationism cannot offer a single instance of research that has followed the normal course of scientific inquiry, namely, independent testing and verification by skeptical researchers, because it has no research program, no hypotheses, and no predictions.

    6 Creationists can point to no source of their theory, no basis for their claims, other than the authority of the Bible.

    7 Science consists of posting testable, falsifiable hypotheses; making predictions about what is not yet known; performing critical experiments or observations that can disprove certain alternative hypotheses and lend credence to others; seeking explanations in natural rather than supernatural causes; trying to falsify hypotheses rather than to prove them; remaining skeptical until independent investigators are able to corroborate new claims; and subjecting one’s ideas and data to the merciless criticism of other scientists. Creationism has none of these qualifications.

    If we want to know HOW…let’s use science to discover how. If those who insist on searching out some reason of WHY…then they might turn to their religion and then use the dogma that makes the respective claims of related knowledge.

    In my humble opinion there is absolutely no relationship between Intelligent Design Theories (and I use the word “Theories” oh so very lightly)…and true science.

  10. Rob Kezelis  December 9, 2008 at 8:01 am

    Austin, the seemingly backwards approach that science uses to prove/disprove theories, should be the first thing taught in school. The ability to rationally define, then attack a theory, in the hopes of proving it wrong, is so fundamental to so many fields, that our schools’ failure to do so is a travesty. No wonder a minority of people are so much more willing to accept faith, rather than rational thinking.

    Well put!

  11. Ladywolf55  December 8, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Well said, Rob, well said! I do disagree on one thing, however. I’ve seen government regulations grow to the point where it’s bloated and over-controlling. I do not agree with over-controlling government agencies. Other than that, I totally agree with what you said in the article.

    Teresa

  12. Rob Kezelis  December 8, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    always a danger to avoid. I agree.

  13. Flapsaddle  December 8, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Sort of a duke’s mixture of fact and myth.

    The attempted fusion of the religious right with the GOP is a classic example of the terrible consequences of any formal alliance between the pulpit and politics. The same can be said for the open hostility of government toward religion and matters of individual conscience as manifested in the former Soviet empire and as presently exists in the PRC.

    As to your alleged “facts”:

    1. Agreed.

    2. Agreed.

    3. Not in every case.

    4. And exactly where is this so-called “right” to be found?

    5. See #3.

    6. Progressive taxes tend to be a disincentive.

    7. It should so be, even if it requires attacking someone or something.

    8. If you mean labor, yes; if you mean unions, no.

    9. That’s true, and both of our political parties have been demonstrably insane for the last 70+ years.

    10. As long as we reciprocate the practice for countries that pay substandard wages and allow substandard conditions for their own citizens.

    Most sincerely,

    T. J. Flapsaddle

  14. gazelle1929  December 8, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    We must also stop our practice of subsidizing religions at the federal and state level. I think it would be safe to say that at least 10 percent of church income is derived indirectly from the tax deductions that churchgoers take for having given money to churches of whatever persuasion.

    If you want to give to a church, fine. But please don’t increase MY taxes because you have reduced yours.

  15. RSW  December 8, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    “If you doubt their hypocrisy, I will provide you a list of reverends, ministers, and numerous GOP politicians, even the president of the College Republicans, for whom the Eleventh Commandment seems to be “Do as I sayeth, not as I do.” It is too long to include here.” (emphasis added)

    Too long indeed. Of the 1900 words you scripted, you should have dropped the last 1,500 and given us the list. Barring that, you should do it in the next essay. We don’t need explanations anymore. We’ve had too many to miss the point. Better that the names come out and questions be asked. And why stop with the GOP and the faux holy men/women?

    Oldernwiser

  16. DejaVuAllOver  December 9, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Austin, I agree with you, but I think you’re missing something. I.D. has nothing to do with creationism, although it has been used as evidence to support it by people who aren’t sophisticated enough to comprehend the theory. And you’re not correct in saying that science deals only with the provable; theoretical physics, for example, deals in “thought experiments” using mathematics, with little, if any empirical data. All scientific questions started their “life” as philosophical ones. In time, the data came.

    The legitimate point the I.D. raises is this: Is life the product of a decadent process, sometimes called entropy, mutation, etc. OR is it a consequence of a force (non decadent)called intelligence. I personally believe that intelligence IS a force, some call it the “life force”, but whether or not my personal beliefs prove to be true is irrelevant to science. There is, however, a LOT of (very recent) evidence to suggest that this may in fact be the case. Whether this force is external (God) or internal to living things, I.D. does not attempt to answer, and rightly so. The point I’m trying to make is that there is a degree of nuance here that is seldom addressed and that the question itself, is valid.

    As for the way science is taught in schools, I couldn’t agree more…..we got a LONG way to go…….!

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