June 2010

So Some May Profit

I’ve been traveling for the past week and I’ve missed what the crazies are saying about the General McChrystal debacle. By crazies I mean Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Sean Hannity et al. I imagine the spin being put on McChrystral’s insubordination by such minds, “The General was just calling a spade a shovel. He was simply speaking truth to power.” The kind of rhetoric that stirs the blood of true American patriots. Aging whiteboys (and their unimaginative and equally dull-minded spouses) who vacillate between the vacuous simplicity of the Republican Party and the insipidness of Palin Tea-Partyism.

What I desire is military leader who might just once say to a President, “What? Are you nuts? We have no business putting American servicemen in peril for such a questionable mission!” And then resigns in protest when America invades yet another nation.

It’ll never happen. Obama is another American President, in a long line of weak men who talk peace but wage war. Since the 1848 Mexican-American War, our nation has been in one unjustified military conflict after another. Since WWII (the only morally defensible conflict of the 20th century from a US involvement perspective) America’s military establishment (the military hierarchy and colluding industries or should that be the other way around?) has rolled the nation into a perpetual state of fear and warfare.

I was sitting in a New Hampshire B&B recently, talking over breakfast to a German couple. I asked them if they considered Russia’s Putin “a thug?” They both laughed and in as much as said to me, “Look who’s calling the kettle black.” They referenced America’s mindless invasion of Iraq. Point taken. I tried to elaborate on the various degrees of “thuggery” and that President Bush was more the proselytizing fool than thug but sensibly gave up.

America has become “a thug state.” We’re attacked (9-11). And we then invade and occupy a nation that had nothing to do with it. How stupid are we as a people? We allow our elections to be manipulated into debates over goofy social values, over issues best left to the individual (birth control, gay marriage, etc.) when we should be debating why America is constantly at war, why we’ve spent trillions of dollars on two wars that have left us less secure and financially broke.

We will not survive as a democracy if we do not change course. We do not need nor can we afford the military establishment that has grown cancer like over the body and soul of America. Such promise Walt Whitman saw in America. He would weep at what our nation has become. We are a country of fools, easy marks for those who profit in/from fear and war.

General McChrystal is a non-issue, folks. A general’s lack of restraint and respect is the least of America’s problems. He’s a spectacle. That takes our eye off the fact that America is forever at war. And our boys die only so some may profit. And have for decades.

On Snakes & Republicans And Bubbling Crude.

My gawd, I just love Republicans. That they remain bootlicks for corporate welfare should surprise no one. A snake recently killed a little chickie I was raising. I came across this distressing scene as a yellow rat snake was just finishing squeezing the life out of it. Folks asked did I kill the snake? I debated doing just that but quickly determined, no, it was just being a snake, doing what snakes do.

So too, Republicans. I had to laugh out loud when Texas Congressman, Joe Barton got down on his knees, genuflected hat in hand and coughed out an apology to BP’s CEO Tony Hayword. Ol’Bootlick Barton said, “I think it’s a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown.” Not content with just burying his nose half way in, Barton finished with, “I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong and is subject to some sort of political pressure that is, again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown. So I apologize.”

Hah-hah! An American shakedown. Too funny. Republicans apologize for holding an environmentally irresponsible foreign corporation accountable for the worst incident of pollution in American history. How dastardly un-American, how “cheeky” of President Obama to ask for $20 billion from BP to get the ball rolling on clean-up expenses and to compensate Gulf businesses for lost income.

So is anyone surprised by Rep. Bootlick Barton’s Republican observations that holding a corporation responsible for its actions is un-American? That is what Republicans stand for. Corporate protection and corporate welfare. Rather Tony Soprano mob-like in philosophy and practice.

I’m of two minds when it comes to business. I greatly admire the self-starting entrepreneur who comes up with a new idea, risks all, invests her time and energy, sacrifices his life to “Git-R-Done” and creates something grand out of hard work, ingenuity and perseverance. Nearly every imaginable corporation has its roots in such stories.

And over time, if the stars align, the little concern metastasizes into a corporate behemoth that requires bootlicking politicians to ensure its quarterly profit statements (and margins) are an uninterrupted stairway to a fiscal heaven of preference and privilege. It’s not peculiar to America or capitalism. It’s “the system.” It’s timeless. It’s a fact.

And what is factual is that all “moneyed interests” will seek out and identify politicians who are 1.) already of that class and/or perspective, or 2.) easily seduced (wined & dined & bought); politicians who put their fingers on the scales (and their hands in the pot), precious little toadies and officious little bootlicks who do the bidding of their corporate masters over the interests of, hmmm, uh, yes, over the interests of the “small people” as Tony Hayword so endearingly described “us.”

It helps to know whose interests our Congressmen are working. A snake is inevitably a snake. Sadly, so too, our elected toadies.

Yo Dumb!

On a scale of one to ten, how dumb are you? Can you walk? Can you chew gum? Together? Can you balance your checkbook? Do you feel entitled to park in handicap parking because you are a Republican? I kid the Republicans. Can you read? Sentences? Do you believe the earth is flat? Are their pedophiles in the priesthood? Is democracy good for you? For the community? Can there be too much democracy? Is that even possible? Too much democracy?

The moneyed interests in the state say you are too dumb to understand what is good for you. That is the crux of their argument. Really. It is. No getting around it. As a citizen of Florida, you are incapable of intelligently deciding what kind of community you want to experience for your family.

This coming November 2nd, Floridians will vote on state constitutional Amendment Four that will require voter approval of any changes to local comprehensive land use plans.

The amendment is an attempt to balance the disproportionate power of developers with the interests of local residents. Each municipality in Florida has a development plan that describes what land will be developed and how. Right now, on the books, already approved, are plans that would allow developments for nearly 100,000,000 more Floridians. Of course, that’s a joke. Florida cannot sustain even 5% of that number. We already rank among the lowest nationally in health care, education and transportation. We rival Mississippi, our competitor to the bottom.

But the crux of the issue is two-fold. Should citizens have the right to approve or disapprove of what elected officials approve (changes in the local land use plan)? In other words, should citizens have a say in how their communities are developed, what they will look like, density levels, and how much in additional services (taxes) will be required to sustain said development?

Oh, it is argued, our local elected officials are looking out for “our” interests. Besides, the issues are too complicated for you, a layperson, to genuinely grasp and understand. We’ve elected local councilmen and women as well as county commissioners to study these “complex” issues and make informed decisions that look out for the long-term interests of the “people.”

Except. But, one example. Remember when Orange County Mayor Richard Crotty got a sweetheart deal with Orange County developer Daryl Carter. Yes, he was invited into a “deal” in South Florida and he more than doubled his money in a year. This very same developer had projects that came before the Orange County Commission. You tell me whether or not making money (Or campaign contributions, See: Mildred Fernandez) with “a” buddy could “possibly” impact how you vote.

The well-funded opponents of Amendment Four claim the sky will fall (economic disaster) if it passes. They claim we already have elected officials to do the job (see above on Crotty). They imply that you are too dumb to intelligently vote your interests. That remains to be seen.

The vote is still out on that question.

I Wouldn’t Either!

I didn’t think it remotely possible. That Republicans could run a candidate for Governor worse than Bill McCollum. But out of the corporate mud of infamy comes the shiny, beady-eyed dome (visualize: “ The Terminator’s” Evil Robot Head) of Rick Scott, the “Sergeant Schultz” candidate to be Florida’s Governor.

You remember Sergeant Schultz? He was that good-natured numbskull on Hogan’s Heroes, a TV show from the 1960s. He played a German prison camp guard who always said, “I know NOTHING!” Rick Scott is the “I Know NOTHING” Republican candidate for governor.

Oh, Rick Scott knows something about illegal immigrants. He knows enough to ape the Arizona governor and her recent push for “IDing” little brown people who just might be here illegally. You know, folks from “South” of the border who do our roofs, clip our grass and clean your “alzheimeric” grandma’s bedpan at the nursing home.

Yes, and Rick Scott is a businessman. He tells you exactly that in his TV ads where he lambasts McCollum for being such a liberal weenie on immigration reform. McCollum, a candidate of righteous virtue is beginning to see the light and he too may now want to round up Florida’s little brown people to see if they all have their papers in order.

Lest we forget, Rick Scott is a successful businessman. He understands how the corporate world works. He does actually. You see, Rick Scott ran Columbia/HCA, a hospital corporation that in 2003 was fined $1.7 billion for Medicare and Medicaid fraud. That’s $1.7 billion for F-R-A-U-D!

Rick Scott was President of HCA but he knew nothing. “I know NOTHING,” said Rick Scott, ur, Sergeant Schultz. Scott knew nothing of what was going on in “HIS” billing department!! But he can run Florida! Scott had already been forced out of his job (by 2003) but unfortunately (for us) he settled in South Florida with a reported $300 million golden parachute severance.

Let’s get personal. True story follows. At one point in his career Rick Scott administered Winter Park Memorial Hospital as part of the HCA chain. Suffice it to say the quality of healthcare service WPMH had built its reputation on had evaporated. A longtime, socially prominent Winter Park resident was hospitalized with a life-threatening condition. The care was relentlessly deplorable and the spouse went directly to Rick Scott’s first floor hospital office to register disgust at the appalling level of service.

Did Rick Scott register remorse, concern or shame over how a longtime hospital benefactor (when it was a nonprofit hospital), now a patient had been treated? NO! Did Rick Scott inquire into the current status of the patient? NO! Did Rick Scott show contrition or present an attitude of “We’ll do better!” NO!

The dismayed spouse finally said, “We’ll never set foot in WPMH again.”

Rick “I Know NOTHING” Scott said, “I wouldn’t either.”

“I wouldn’t either!?!”

Even consider Scott as a tarball collector for Florida’s Panhandle beaches, let alone a gubernatorial nominee. But then, I’ve not the high standards of the Republican Party.