The soul has greater need of the ideal than the real for it is by the real that we exist, it is by the ideal that we live

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Why then oh why can't I?

Well mostly you can't because if you live in Kansas and you're unemployed, you've been cut loose.  The state government doesn't care about you at ALL...AT ALL!

The following article demonstrates that though Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon  perhaps does care about is constituents, he's a bit misguided in his efforts.  Because not everyone is cut out for health care work.

It's long hours, sometimes longer.  It's dealing with people at their worst...when they're sick. And it's dealing with fluids and bodily functions that many people cannot deal with.

Personally, I found it enthralling, but after they started teaching my particular field at the Brown-Mackie College I decided I'd rather not be associated with it.  Besides my particular expertise was a young man's job. i.e. long periods of boredom, punctuated by short bursts of panic.

But at least Gov. Nixon is trying something.  Governor Brownback...well, he's trying stuff...he's trying to starve the state government so the Koch Brothers can take it over.


So without further ado, here's the article, and a picture I find priceless in it's stupidity.

from governor Nixon's own website-
September 26, 2011

Missouri community colleges receive major competitive grant, application efforts coordinated by Gov. Nixon's administration

Missouri community colleges to invest $20 million to train Missourians for health care careers, Gov. Nixon announces

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Gov. Jay Nixon announced today that Missouri community colleges will invest $20 million through MoHealthWINS, a statewide effort to educate 4,600 more Missourians for health care jobs and careers.  Under Gov. Nixon's leadership, Missouri's 12 community colleges and Linn State Technical College collaborated with the Missouri Department of Economic Development and the state's Workforce Investment Boards to apply for these federal funds to retrain unemployed Missourians for jobs and careers in growing health care fields.
The colleges estimate that MoHealthWINS will provide educational opportunities for approximately 4,600 additional Missourians.  The grant specifically targets unemployed adult learners who are seeking new career opportunities.
"From the moment I became Governor, we have worked closely with Missouri's outstanding community colleges to train more Missourians for the jobs and careers of tomorrow and to get folks back to work," Gov. Nixon said.  "Missouri's health care industry is growing quickly, and hospitals, clinics and other employers need more nurses, lab techs and other workers with the right education and skills today.  By expanding educational opportunities for Missourians in these fields, we'll open the door for employment for more folks and keep our economy growing.  This is a strategic investment in the growth of our economy and the future of our state."
Individual colleges will use these funds to develop or expand training programs in the health services and health sciences industry, which is a targeted industry under the Missouri Strategic Initiative for Economic Growth.  The application focused on this industry because it offers immediate and long-term employment opportunities and relatively high-wage jobs.  Training will target specific occupations within this industry, including:
  • Health information technologist
  • Information systems
  • Certified nursing aide
  • Certified medical technician
  • Licensed practical nurse
  • Associate nursing degree
  • Pharmacy technician
  • Hearing instrument technician
  • Medical lab technician
  • Phlebotomist
  • Radiologic technician
  • Maintenance technician
  • Mechanical technician
These competitive funds were made available under the U.S. Department of Labor's Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program.  When the grant process was announced, Gov. Nixon brought Missouri's community colleges together to submit a joint, comprehensive application.  In the application, the colleges looked for ways to develop collaborative and targeted programs that would capitalize on the unique resources of each college, avoid duplication, and save money.  Colleges will share equipment and faculty, emphasize online and distance learning and take other steps to expand access, improve efficiency and reduce redundancy.
Throughout the application process, senior leaders within Gov. Nixon's administration worked closely with community college and Workforce Investment Board leaders to develop and craft the grant application.  In April 2011, Gov. Nixon submitted a strong letter in support of the application, noting that this investment supplemented his "Big Goal" for higher education: Increasing the percentage of Missourians who hold a postsecondary credential from 37 percent to 60 percent by 2020.  Gov. Nixon also discussed the importance of this application directly with federal leaders, including Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
"This grant is a major step forward for our community colleges in our efforts to expand opportunities for adult students across this state," said Zora Mulligan, executive director of the Missouri Community College Association.  "Throughout this process, Gov. Nixon has been a steadfast partner, and his leadership was instrumental in making our application so successful.  We look forward to continuing to work closely with Gov. Nixon and with the state's Workforce Investment Boards to turn this grant into real learning opportunities for folks in every corner of Missouri."
Gov. Nixon will visit several community colleges in the coming days to detail specific programs that will be developed or expanded as a result of this grant.

And then there's this:

 Just in case no Americans have demonstrated to you how stupid they actually are today.

Quo Vadimus?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dear God

I don't know how to respond to this.  -ed

Leaving Kansas? Sam Brownback thinks income taxes are the reason why

Posted by David Martin on Wed, Sep 28, 2011 at 8:15 AM

When Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback thinks of a typical Kansan, he imagines somebody like Tiger Woods. Woods, a California kid, moved to Florida when he turned professional. Why would he leave one warm-weather state for another? Florida has no state income tax. Brownback seems to think regular people act like money-worshipping superstar athletes. The governor is of the mind that Kansas will be a bright prairie flower on the withering Plains if it lowers income taxes. “You’re going to see the middle of the country — our area will be the one that will grow,” he said last week at an annual dinner of the Kansas Policy Institute, a free-market think tank, according to The Wichita Eagle.
The notion that tax burdens have a big influence on migration patterns is far from settled, however. One study, for instance, looked at New Jersey after the state introduced a “millionaire tax” in 2004. The study, written by Cristobal Young of Stanford University and Charles Varner of Princeton University, found that tax had “minimal effect.”
The New Jersey study squared with other studies that indicate tax increases don’t cause people to put “for sale” signs in their yards. In an e-mail, Young says he hasn’t looked at tax decreases, which is what Brownback is contemplating. “But I can’t think of a compelling reason why people would be sensitive to a tax decrease when they are not sensitive to a tax increase,” he writes.
Still, don’t go waving your fancy university studies around the Brownback administration.
“Be careful when these theoretical guys, who haven’t been in the real world, start splitting hairs based on statistical databases,” cautions Steve Anderson, the governor’s budget director.
Anderson is a certified public accountant from Edmond, Oklahoma. Before he joined the administration, he worked as a consultant for Americans for Prosperity, a group bankrolled by the super-rich and ultraconservative Koch brothers. In 2009, he worked on a “model budget” for Kansas that, among other things, recommended higher tuition at public universities. “There is no reason to tax the majority in the state who do not have children attending a state institution in order to subsidize those who do, especially when there is evidence it is the more affluent citizens who are more likely to have children enrolled in higher education,” the document said.
To Anderson, the evidence is clear. Florida, Texas and other states that don’t tax income are growing. Therefore, tax cuts lead to growth. “What I have seen is that income taxes change behavior,” he tells The Pitch. “It’s just as clear as the nose on your face.”
Anderson likes things that are plain as noses. Because he doesn’t fully trust those college professors with their tweed jackets and standard deviations.
“There really is no punishment for them if they put something out that doesn’t really have any validity,” Anderson says.
He's a real-world guy. “My clients don’t pay me to take wild guesses," he says. "Which is why I’ve always thought that college professors that have never practiced should get out and practice awhile. They might be surprised what they’d learn in reality. Things are much different when you get off the college campus.”

Quo Vadimus?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Depersonalization

"I hope that individual is able to overcome his issues."

"The individual in question is in custody..."

"Apologies to that individual."

Those are just the incidences of depersonalization  I heard yesterday on the radio, and I doubt I was paying enough attention to notice them all.

The power of language is seldom recognized.  We use language as a tool to communicate, but we seldom take the time to think about the impact of the words we speak.

Language effects us emotionally, mentally, and ultimately physically.  It's the music of language that makes it so effective I think.

But this colloquial fad of referring to each other as "individuals" is a symptom of the rampant narcissism in America. It's robbing us of our dignity as well.

"What I want is the most important thing in the world right now and I'm going to get it."  Is the attitude of most Americans today.

This malaise is reflected in the existence of the Tea Party as well.  Holding victim assistance as hostage to their desire to slash governamnt spending is unconscionable, yet their constituents elected them to do that very thing.  Unless, of course, they're the ones need ing the assistance.  Case in point, Billy Long of Missouri. 

Representative Long is a freshman member of the House, and he represents the fast growing Tea Party movement in the United States.  His platform was reform.  Then the tornado struck.

Mr. Long instantly became a cheerleader for  FEMA. 

via NPR:

Billy Long is a Tea Party stalwart who ran for Congress as a man fed up with Washington.
Long won in a landslide and now represents Joplin, Mo., where he fired up a Tea Party crowd in April pretending to auction off the national debt.
Five weeks later, Long was back in Joplin, this time in the dark and rain, surveying the aftermath of an apocalyptic tornado. And this time, the federal government was his friend.
"FEMA called as soon as I got there and said, 'Congressman Long, we're on the way. We'll have boots on the ground in an hour or two,' " he says. "And I said, 'No you won't; they're already here.' "
What followed, Long says, has been a superb relief effort.
"The president came in, he was great. [Homeland Security Secretary] Janet Napolitano came in, she's been great," he says. "[House Minority] Leader Pelosi came up to me on the floor, hugged me and said, 'Billy, anything the people of Joplin need they'll have.' "
And that's just what they've gotten: FEMA has spent close to $100 million on the cleanup, and an additional $19 million plus on rent and home repairs. Napolitano was back in Joplin on Thursday, praising Joplin's "can-do attitude" and Long.
"He's worked well with our office, with our shop," she said. "When he was asked about FEMA, to rank it shortly after the fact, on a scale of 1 to 10, he said he'd give it a 12."
Doing It Locally
This kind of talk doesn't square with some of Long's constituents. Bloggers say he's "shredding his Tea Party stripes," drinking the "Potomac Kool-Aid." He's portrayed as just another politician bellying up to the trough.
Perhaps surprisingly, some of this grief for helping tornado-ravaged Joplin has come from ... Joplin.
"Joplin would be, some people would use the phrase, 'the buckle of the Bible Belt,' " says John Putnam, who leads a Tea Party group here. "It's very conservative. I think the bottom line for most of us is that we can do it locally."
Putnam says volunteers, local folks hit by the tornado and tens of thousands of people streaming in from across the country — many evangelical Christians with ties to Joplin's numerous churches — have done most of the work. But Putnam, unlike some in the blogosphere, is willing to give Long a pass.
"I think this is the system we operate under, and as long as we're under this system, it's fine for him to try to maximize FEMA's contribution," he says.
A Sense Of Priority
At a gas station just outside the destruction zone in Joplin, Ed Cryts, a local contractor, says he's grateful for the help and mightily impressed with FEMA, but not with the rest of the government.
"As far as helping people, FEMA has done a good job, but as far as what the people at the top are doing, I'm not too happy," he says.
Long insists the tornado hasn't altered his views, either.
"Budgeting is about priorities," he says, "and you certainly have to prioritize for situations like this."
Long says he's confident that whatever tough choices may have to be made, Uncle Sam's not going to skimp on helping people laid low by a natural disaster.
As for the government, there are still a lot of things Long aims to change, but it's less likely you'll hear him complaining any more about being "fed up."

A lesson in the need for dignity shouldn't be so hard.  But as has been said, "if history has taught us anything, it's that we learn nothing from history."

And so it goes.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

True Courage

I'll let Airman Phillips do the talking. He's good at it. And so it goes.

When will we make this stop?

This young man is dead. He took his own life because he was bullied to death. Who is going to make this stop? Where are you? When will you come forward and help these kids? His name was Jamey Rodemeyer. And so it goes.

The younger take on Social Security

 It's amazing what has been accomplished by the GOP in one generation.  They've controlled the conversation for so long that people no longer think their government is secure.  I agree with quite a bit of what this guy says, but I find it amazing that the thinking is so radically different. 

Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for, was named Journalist of the Year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN The Magazine and and a 2010 nominee and the 2009 winner of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation award for online journalism. Follow him on Twitter at @locs_n_laughs. Watch him on CNN Newsroom Tuesdays at 9 a.m. ET.
Grand Rapids, Michigan (CNN) -- I think I stopped trusting the U.S. government right after learning that for 40 years, instead of treating a small group of poor, uneducated people officials had identified as having syphilis, officials not only withheld the diagnosis from them, but the cure as well, just to see what would happen if the disease went untreated.
This was done even if what would happen was eventually death, which is why burial insurance was given to the unsuspecting victims as if the government was doing them a favor.
And this didn't happen a very long time ago either.
LZ Granderson
LZ Granderson
In fact, the first wave of Gen Xers were out of diapers while the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment was still going on.
Once you see how hard Uncle Sam sucker punches people he identifies as expendable, you learn to keep your guard up whenever he comes around.
It is for this reason that Social Security is nowhere in my retirement plans.

Call me crazy, but the idea of trusting the government to take care of me, to provide me with "security" when I'm old and frail is far more frightening than the thought of me trying to make it on my own.
I'm not yet 40, so theoretically I still have plenty of time to have my own plan in place. Yes, I've paid into Social Security. No, I don't expect to benefit from it, at least not at the level those who are currently collecting are benefiting. And I don't know anyone in any line of work my age or younger who does.
We are not as mad about this switcheroo as much as we are mad that the reform can keeps getting kicked down a road that's getting shorter and shorter by a bunch of politicians who know better but are too afraid of losing voters who won't be around when the money's all gone anyway.
Anybody with a high school diploma and a calculator can see how entitlement programs are damaging the economy and that some sort of reform is necessary to ensure their long-term solvency. And yet during budget and debt ceiling talks, Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid responded as if the Republicans wanted to sell voters' first-born babies into slavery.
On Monday, President Barack Obama introduced another plan without touching Social Security. The Democrats won't even support the modest changes recommended by the president's own debt commission, including phasing in a two-year increase in the retirement age over the next 65 years and raising the ceiling on payroll taxes. They keep mocking us with talk of protecting the middle class when in reality protecting the middle class would have been passing a budget and introducing entitlement reforms before the extras from "King of the Hill" got into Congress.
But just as GOP presidential candidates are saying whatever they can to appease their base (except for Jon Huntsman, which is why he is in last place), the Democrats are just as guilty of pandering to the home crowd, even if the desires of that crowd aren't nearly as much to blame for the economic trouble the country finds itself in as the Bush tax cuts and relaxed Wall Street regulations.
It's all a game, and election after election, we keep getting played.
Remember Obama didn't say he and the members of Congress might not get paid if the debt ceiling wasn't raised, but that Social Security and military checks may not go out. And he's the one being accused of being a socialist. Can you imagine what the rhetoric of a good ol' fashion free-market capitalist would sound like?
Here's a hint: Rewatch the video from the CNN/Tea Party Republican Debate last week in which Wolf Blitzer asked if society should let an injured 30-year-old man without health insurance die. Much was made about the cheers that could be heard coming from some of the crowd, but I was far more disturbed by the lack of chastising that came from the stage immediately after the cheers. You mean to tell me the possible next leader of the free world doesn't have an instant rebuke to people who cheer at the mention of uninsured Americans dying?
And I'm supposed to trust that person to have my best interest at heart when I'm at my most vulnerable?
The Great Depression gave birth to Social Security.
The Greatest Generation fed it and made it strong.
Today the sheer number of the baby boomers is slowly strangling it to death.
And because politicians continue to use Social Security as one of its many chess pieces to manipulate people to vote a certain way, one day we'll speak of it much in the same way we speak of dial-up Internet access. Only instead of laughing at how long it used to take to log on, we'll be shaking our heads, reminiscing back to the time when government actually cared.
Except for me.
As I hinted earlier, my faith in government went out the door the moment I found out it was controlled by people.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.

And so it goes:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

This guy isn't altogether wrong.


via bbc news magazine-

A Point of View: The revolution of capitalism

Plastic bust sculpture of Karl Marx
Karl Marx may have been wrong about communism but he was right about much of capitalism, John Gray writes.
As a side-effect of the financial crisis, more and more people are starting to think Karl Marx was right. The great 19th Century German philosopher, economist and revolutionary believed that capitalism was radically unstable.
It had a built-in tendency to produce ever larger booms and busts, and over the longer term it was bound to destroy itself.
Marx welcomed capitalism's self-destruction. He was confident that a popular revolution would occur and bring a communist system into being that would be more productive and far more humane.
Marx was wrong about communism. Where he was prophetically right was in his grasp of the revolution of capitalism. It's not just capitalism's endemic instability that he understood, though in this regard he was far more perceptive than most economists in his day and ours.

Find out more

John Gray
  • A Point of View is on Fridays on Radio 4 at 20:50 BST and repeated Sundays, 08:50 BST
  • John Gray is a political philosopher and author of False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism
More profoundly, Marx understood how capitalism destroys its own social base - the middle-class way of life. The Marxist terminology of bourgeois and proletarian has an archaic ring.
But when he argued that capitalism would plunge the middle classes into something like the precarious existence of the hard-pressed workers of his time, Marx anticipated a change in the way we live that we're only now struggling to cope with.
He viewed capitalism as the most revolutionary economic system in history, and there can be no doubt that it differs radically from those of previous times.
Hunter-gatherers persisted in their way of life for thousands of years, slave cultures for almost as long and feudal societies for many centuries. In contrast, capitalism transforms everything it touches.
It's not just brands that are constantly changing. Companies and industries are created and destroyed in an incessant stream of innovation, while human relationships are dissolved and reinvented in novel forms.
Capitalism has been described as a process of creative destruction, and no-one can deny that it has been prodigiously productive. Practically anyone who is alive in Britain today has a higher real income than they would have had if capitalism had never existed.
Negative return The trouble is that among the things that have been destroyed in the process is the way of life on which capitalism in the past depended.
Defenders of capitalism argue that it offers to everyone the benefits that in Marx's time were enjoyed only by the bourgeoisie, the settled middle class that owned capital and had a reasonable level of security and freedom in their lives.
Karl Marx Marx co-authored The Communist Manifesto with Friedrich Engels
In 19th Century capitalism most people had nothing. They lived by selling their labour and when markets turned down they faced hard times. But as capitalism evolves, its defenders say, an increasing number of people will be able to benefit from it.
Fulfilling careers will no longer be the prerogative of a few. No more will people struggle from month to month to live on an insecure wage. Protected by savings, a house they own and a decent pension, they will be able to plan their lives without fear. With the growth of democracy and the spread of wealth, no-one need be shut out from the bourgeois life. Everybody can be middle class.
In fact, in Britain, the US and many other developed countries over the past 20 or 30 years, the opposite has been happening. Job security doesn't exist, the trades and professions of the past have largely gone and life-long careers are barely memories.
If people have any wealth it's in their houses, but house prices don't always increase. When credit is tight as it is now, they can be stagnant for years. A dwindling minority can count on a pension on which they could comfortably live, and not many have significant savings.
More and more people live from day to day, with little idea of what the future may bring. Middle-class people used to think their lives unfolded in an orderly progression. But it's no longer possible to look at life as a succession of stages in which each is a step up from the last.
In the process of creative destruction the ladder has been kicked away and for increasing numbers of people a middle-class existence is no longer even an aspiration.
Risk takers As capitalism has advanced it has returned most people to a new version of the precarious existence of Marx's proles. Our incomes are far higher and in some degree we're cushioned against shocks by what remains of the post-war welfare state.
But we have very little effective control over the course of our lives, and the uncertainty in which we must live is being worsened by policies devised to deal with the financial crisis. Zero interest rates alongside rising prices means you're getting a negative return on your money and over time your capital is being eroded.
The situation of many younger people is even worse. In order to acquire the skills you need, you'll have to go into debt. Since at some point you'll have to retrain you should try to save, but if you're indebted from the start that's the last thing you'll be able to do. Whatever their age, the prospect facing most people today is a lifetime of insecurity.
Trader in France Markets are a volatile business
At the same time as it has stripped people of the security of bourgeois life, capitalism has made the type of person that lived the bourgeois life obsolete. In the 1980s there was much talk of Victorian values, and promoters of the free market used to argue that it would bring us back to the wholesome virtues of the past.
For many, women and the poor for example, these Victorian values could be pretty stultifying in their effects. But the larger fact is that the free market works to undermine the virtues that maintain the bourgeois life.
When savings are melting away being thrifty can be the road to ruin. It's the person who borrows heavily and isn't afraid to declare bankruptcy that survives and goes on to prosper.
When the labour market is highly mobile it's not those who stick dutifully to their task that succeed, it's people who are always ready to try something new that looks more promising.
In a society that is being continuously transformed by market forces, traditional values are dysfunctional and anyone who tries to live by them risks ending up on the scrapheap.
Vast wealth
Looking to a future in which the market permeates every corner of life, Marx wrote in The Communist Manifesto: "Everything that is solid melts into air". For someone living in early Victorian England - the Manifesto was published in 1848 - it was an astonishingly far-seeing observation.
At the time nothing seemed more solid than the society on the margins of which Marx lived. A century and a half later we find ourselves in the world he anticipated, where everyone's life is experimental and provisional, and sudden ruin can happen at any time.
A tiny few have accumulated vast wealth but even that has an evanescent, almost ghostly quality. In Victorian times the seriously rich could afford to relax provided they were conservative in how they invested their money. When the heroes of Dickens' novels finally come into their inheritance, they do nothing forever after.
Today there is no haven of security. The gyrations of the market are such that no-one can know what will have value even a few years ahead.
A protester faces a riot policeman in front of the Greek Parliament on 29 June 2011 in Athens Austerity measures to reduce Greece's debt have sparked riots
This state of perpetual unrest is the permanent revolution of capitalism and I think it's going to be with us in any future that's realistically imaginable. We're only part of the way through a financial crisis that will turn many more things upside down.
Currencies and governments are likely to go under, along with parts of the financial system we believed had been made safe. The risks that threatened to freeze the world economy only three years ago haven't been dealt with. They've simply been shifted to states.
Whatever politicians may tell us about the need to curb the deficit, debts on the scale that have been run up can't be repaid. Almost certainly they will be inflated away - a process that is bound to be painful and impoverishing for many.
The result can only be further upheaval, on an even bigger scale. But it won't be the end of the world, or even of capitalism. Whatever happens, we're still going to have to learn to live with the mercurial energy that the market has released.
Capitalism has led to a revolution but not the one that Marx expected. The fiery German thinker hated the bourgeois life and looked to communism to destroy it. And just as he predicted, the bourgeois world has been destroyed.
But it wasn't communism that did the deed. It's capitalism that has killed off the bourgeoisie.

and so it goes:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Jimmy Stewart Lives!

This morning, while driving to work completely frustrated because the alarm on my phone apparently doesnt work and I woke up ten minutes before I had to be there, I happened to hear Mitch McConnell making the suggestion that if Warren Buffet feels guilty about paing lower tax rates he should send in a check.

I just spent a fair amount of time trying to upload the sound file to this blog and it doesn't work, so if you want to hear the reincarnation of Jimmy Stewart go here to listen:

The complete preposterous-ness (is that a word) of his suggestion is beyond ridicule.  The GOP's favorite line right now is that we "shouldn't tax job creators."

What job creators?  I've personally been looking for a job for over two years and I'm still on the breadlines.  If companies are making money right now, and prices  and CEO salaries indicate that they're doing pretty damn good, they're keeping it to themselves!!!  And the people who can no longer afford to support the rest of the country, i.e. the middle class are getting squeezed from both directions they can't find jobs, and they can no longer afford to pay the prices that things cost. 

Either the conservatives don't hear what they're saying and for reasons completely passing human understanding can't see what's happening out there, which in their case is entirely possible, or there's a plan to eliminate the middle class and make us all serfs again. 

It has to be one or the other, else we're being led to the slaughter by incompetents in which case we can all just throw up our hands and surrender.

On an entertainment note, I also heard this morning  on NPR that Steven Levitan co-creator of Modern Family  had an encounter with a gay couple who congratulated him on "making the world more tolerant."

I have mixed reactions to this statement, because he follows it with a hilarious tag, but if it's true I say  hang  that gay couple from the highest tree, because tolerance is the last thing I want from this world.  I barely tolerate most people I'd never ask them to "tolerate" me.  It's just insulting to think that someone would have to tolerate my gayness.  I long ago past the age of needing the approval of anyone, and I cannot see the need to increase tolerance.  Acceptance, understanding, recognition, perhaps, but tolerance, no thank you.  It implies there's something wrong with us and that we need to be tolerated because we're different.  Well I am different and that's not to be tolerated, it's to be celebrated.

BTW Levitan's tag to the statement was:
 "we are showing the world that there's absolutely nothing wrong in a relationship between an old man and a hot young woman. Looking around this room, I see many of you agree."

So kudos to him for making a mockery of such a ridiculous idea as tolerance.

And so it goes:

thanks to Polt's Palace for the photo, no idea where he gets them but he's good at it, I hope he appreciates the homage.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

a eulogy long overdue

My adoptive father was not physically abusive, he was not an alcoholic, he was not a drug abuser, He was by all accounts a man who did what was right by his family and saw to it that to the best of his ability his family was provided for.
But in thousands of ways, big and small, he was an abuser. He tore us down verbally, mentally and emotionally. He was distant, he was dismissive of our emotional needs, and through what I will call sins of omission he taught us nothing about how to live. We never got the birds and the bees discussion. We had no concept of what money was nor how to handle it,. When I was 12 I solicited a few neighbors for lawn mowing jobs. When he got wind of this development Daddy sat m e down and said, "Son, you're going to have to go to work one day and for the rest of your life. So don;t start any sooner than you have to. If you need money just come to me."
We were informed as often as possible that we would never amount to anything, and often we lived down to those expectations. Did he do this intentionally, no. Did he do this out of some inveterate need to keep us under his thumb, no. Did he do it because he was unable to express feelings, to help us understand our own, and out of a complete lack of understanding that what we would need most in this world is self-confidence? Yes, I believe that to be the case.
In my particular case I believe it to have been a case in which he was of the opinion that he had two children, a boy and a girl, and that his child rearing years were getting close to being behind him. Then the girl next door to his in laws got pregnant when she was 16. And his wife decided that since she was unable, she was going to adopt that child. Me.
He raised his two biological children very differently from my experience. There was a bit of a iron fist policy where they were concerned. Not so for me. There was direct and physical punishment for their transgressions. Not so for me. There were familial expectations. Not so for me.
From what little I was able to glean from the stories when those in the know were alive, he was told early on that I was not to be physically abused (i.e. spanked). That I was not to be told to sit quietly on the floor and speak only when spoken to. His reactions to such demands were seldom meek. It seemed that early on after my arrival there was a sort of armed truce between them that very infrequently boiled over, but was noticeable none the less.
We're settling his estate this month and all these things have been discussed in the process. He could have been considered by most to be "well-off", and though that's true, he wasn't rich in the things that matter most.
He wasn't rich in love, he wasn't rich in healthy emotional experiences, which is where our discussions ultimately end. We don;t sit around and talk about that the time that Dad did this or that, or about our time playing catch in the backyard, (never) and sadly we don't have fond memories to carry with us and give to those we will leave behind one day.
I will come away from my experience with my adoptive family with all the material things I always expected. I will have a comfortable retirement. I will have a home and likely a vacation home. I will want for none of the worldly possessions that seem to matter in our culture.
But I will always have a certain envy for those whose father's who put forth an effort no matter how big or small to share at least part of themselves with their children.
Don't hold your children at arm's length, hold them in your arms. Teach them who you are and allow them to learn and grow at their own pace. But without fail, no matter what they do, want to do, or what they think, remind them daily that they are loved and that they are a valuable part of your life.
Those of us who have no experience with such things highly recommend it.
And so it goes.

Crazy is as crazy does

Bobby Jindal, he of the louisiana governorship, is endorsing Rick Perry.

He of the "Government response to Hurricane Katrina was atrocious" response to Obama's first state of the union address.

Rachel Maddow's response is hilarious: This is the guy who's endorsing the GOP front runner. I wouldn't want this guy endorsing me for dog catcher. But here we go, the Presidential race is getting underway. Email Share (Newser) – Tim Pawlenty might think Mitt Romney's the guy for the job, but Rick Perry just scored a key endorsement of his own in his quest to be president: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is headed to tonight's Tea Party Republican Debate to give Perry his blessing, reports CNN. Jindal will be Perry's guest, and is expected to make the announcement prior to the debate. Quo Vadimus?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Being a teacher

I have held over 100 jobs in my lifetime. I have worked as a janitor, a fry cook, a soda jerk, V.P. of an executive search firm, theatrical producer, actor, customer service specialist, compliance officer for a brokerage firm, and most importantly...a teacher.

I came to teaching because I had good teachers. I came to adulthood knowing and interacting with people who I admired because of their need of and their respect for learning. From Sister Imelda, my first grade teacher who inspired confidence I never knew I had, to Mrs. Patty Busenbark, who though she felt sorry for me in adolescence, and who doesn't need a little sympathy through that horror, taught me that I had worth, and that holding my head high would serve me better than almost anything I'd learn from a book.
There was Colette Denihan, who taught me that music and art nourish the soul, and the ubiquitous Buddy Zimmer, to whom I owe a debt of gratitude for sharing with me his love of the theater, and for being my friend and traveling companion for more than 20 years.
Jan Sheeran who saw that not only did I have the willingness to do the work necessary to be an actor, but thoroughly enjoyed watching me learn the process. Chuck Gorden who saw in me the intelligence and talent that at that moment (and many times since) I couldn't see.
There are many more, who have helped me on this journey to teaching. I thank each and every one of them.
Had I known how much I was to love teaching I'd have skipped all that other stuff and gone directly there. But I think I had to learn some things about life before I was ready.
The intelligence of my decision came to me one day quite by accident. I was working with an actor who was having a difficult time with a character in a play I was directing. What I said I don't remember, but at that moment a light came into his eyes, and a smile to his face. He understood and his character took on a fullness and a life of its own he should be proud of, I hope he is anyway. That was when a chill ran down my spine, and I knew I was where I needed to be.
As we discuss the methodology we intend to employ to begin the massive task of repairing our terribly broken education system let us remember that we need to help people develop their entire intellect, not just the side of their brain that processes facts and figures. And here on the 10th anniversary of the most personal attack on our shores, let us remember that eventus stultorum magister.


Why liberal arts matter

By Michael S. Roth, Special to CNN
May 21, 2011 12:26 p.m. EDT
  • Michael S. Roth says his parents sent him to a liberal arts school to broaden his world
  • He says postwar America valued well-rounded citizens to create vibrant culture, economy
  • Now many make mistake of narrowing focus to science, engineering for competitive edge
  • Roth: Education helps develop new skills, connections, ability to seize opportunities

Editor's note: Michael S. Roth is president of Wesleyan University. He is a historian, curator and author. His latest book, "Trauma, Memory and History: Essays on Living With the Past" (Columbia University Press), will be published in the fall. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he is in the first generation of his family to attend college. CNN's"Don't Fail Me: Education in America" Video examines the crisis in the public education system. It airs at 8 ET Saturday night.
(CNN) -- When my parents arrived at Wesleyan for my graduation, they were very proud -- of themselves and of me. They hadn't known much about college when they had first sent me off to school. My father (like his father) was a furrier, and my mother had given up big band singing to raise a family. She sold clothes from our suburban basement to help make ends meet.
Sending me to a prominent liberal arts school meant something special to them because it represented access to opportunity. This wasn't only economic opportunity, but the chance to choose work, make friends and participate in a community based on educated interests rather than just social and ethnic origins.
Since I am now president of Wesleyan University, I guess we all got more than we bargained for.
My parents were part of a wave of Americans after World War II whose confidence in the future and belief in education helped create the greatest university sector in the world. Students from all walks of life began to have the chance to acquire a well-rounded education, and it was on this basis that Americans created a vibrant culture, a dynamic economy and a political system that (after many struggles) strove to make equality before the law a fundamental feature of public life.
A well-rounded education gave graduates more tools with which to solve problems, broader perspectives through which to see opportunities and a deeper capacity to build a more humane society.
In recent years university leaders in Asia, the Mideast and even Europe have sought to organize curricula more like those of our liberal art schools. How, they want to know, can we combine rigorous expectations of learning with the development of critical thinking and creativity that are the hallmarks of the best American colleges?
But in our own land we are running away from the promise of liberal education. We are frightened by economic competition, and many seem to have lost confidence in our ability to draw from the resources of a broadly based education. Instead, they hope that technical training or professional expertise on their own will somehow invigorate our culture and society.
Many seem to think that by narrowing our focus to just science and engineering, we will become more competitive. This is a serious mistake.
Our leaders in government, industry and academia should realize that they don't have to make a choice between the sciences and the rest of the liberal arts. Indeed, the sciences are a vital part of the liberal arts.
The key to our success in the future will be an integrative education that doesn't isolate the sciences from other parts of the curriculum, and that doesn't shield the so-called creative and interpretive fields from a vigorous understanding of the problems addressed by scientists.
Already at liberal arts schools across the country there is increasing interest in the sciences from students who are also studying history, political science, literature and the arts. At Wesleyan, neuroscience and behavior is one of our fastest growing majors, and programs linking the sciences, arts and humanities have been areas of intense creative work.
Students and professors aren't crossing departmental boundaries to be fashionably interdisciplinary. They join forces to address specific problems or in pursuit of particular opportunities.
Dr. Joseph J. Fins, a history-literature-philosophy major at Wesleyan, is now the E. William Davis, M.D., Jr. Professor of Medical Ethics and chief of the Division of Medical Ethics at Weill Cornell Medical College.
Joshua Boger, a philosophy and chemistry major at Wesleyan, founded the biotech chemistry company, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, to "transform the way serious diseases are treated."
Diana Farrell, an interdisciplinary social science major at Wesleyan, helped restructure the U.S. auto industry as a deputy director of the National Economic Council.
Government officials and academic administrators should realize that innovation in technology companies, automobile design, medicine or food production will not come only from isolated work in technical disciplines. Effective vaccine delivery programs, for example, require technical expertise, but they also require cultural understanding, economic planning and ethical reasoning.
Similarly, scholars in the humanities must recognize that some of the most interesting work in history, art and philosophy now involves the active participation of scientists. The growing field of animal studies, for example, brings together interpretative and analytic skills along with contemporary scientific research.
A pragmatic, broadly based education that encourages bold inquiry and regular self-reflection recognizes the increasingly porous borders among disciplines and departments.
We should look at education not as a specific training program for a limited range of mental muscles but as a process through which one will generate some of the most important features in one's life. It makes no sense to train people as narrowly as possible in a world going through cataclysmic changes, for you are building specific strengths that leave you merely muscle-bound, not stronger and more flexible.
We should think of education as a kind of intellectual cross-training that leads to many more things than at any one moment you could possibly know would be useful. The most powerful education generates further curiosity, new needs, experiences to meet those needs, more curiosity and so on.
Education isn't just an object that you use to get started in a career; education is a catalytic resource that continues to energize and shape your life. Education enhances your ability to develop new skills and capacities for connectivity that allow you to solve problems and seize opportunities.
I hope that parents across the country can still believe in this form of education as they attend graduation ceremonies across the country. America should not retreat to a narrow, technical education in hopes that it will make us tougher in global competition.
We should have confidence, as my parents did, that a broadly based, liberal education will help our young people lead lives of creative productivity, lives in which they can make meaning from and contribute to the world around them.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Michael S. Roth.

And so it goes

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011

and kansans censor free speech again...

A Kansas high school teacher is apologizing after parents complained because she stepped on an American flag while discussing free speech rights in her class.Officials at Circle High School in Towanda said Jennifer McKinsey, a U.S. government and history teacher, stepped on the flag this week while discussing controversial behaviors that are protected by the First Amendment.

Cherie Davis, a parent of a Circle student, complained to school officials.Circle principal Todd Dreifort said McKinsey has apologized for offending anyone. She has used the lesson in the past but Dreifort said it will no longer be allowed.The Wichita Eagle reported that Davis said she didn't want McKinsey to be fired but did want her to understand that the lesson would offend many people.


it's a shame that America no longer exists, and that our citizens are too ignorant to know that.  Now we have to start all over making a whole new one, and morons will be involved.


Qou Vadimus? 


Thursday, September 8, 2011

There's only two things I don't like about Rick Perry...his face.

Last night Rick Perry called for the U. S. Government to respond quicker to the needs of Texas citizens who have been affected by the recent wildfires. 

Exactly what makes them more important than residents of Louisiana, Missouri, ppl who need health care, seniors who count on social security and Medicaid? Exactly the people Perry would deny ANY help.

Am I mistaken, or didn't he just send back a bunch of money the feds gave Texas to spend on health care.

It seems to me that Texas wants to be the decider of what it can do under states rights until they decide they should get to stick their snouts in the federal trough.

Perry is the worst kind of special interest representative we could ever hope to see. 

Qou Vadimus?

And so it goes:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Let's get more stupid!

Michele Bachmann ponders some tough questions. Obviously she's clueless that her husband is a big Nelly, and it's also apparent that she has no problem using government services like Medicaid, and Fanie Mae, since her husband accepts medicaid at his clinic, and apparently  she financed her house through Fannie Mae.  AND she seems to have no problem with her son joining Americorps. 

It's just when the rest of us want to get medical care and have no money, and buy a house and obain a mortgage, or go out and work with organizations that help people, of Gods forbid be one of those that needs help. 

So when she asks today's question I am not a bit surprised. 

I mean really, why would we want educated people in this country considering the fact that if we had them she'd have been laughed off the national stage long ago. 

So here you have it:

Bachmann: Why is there a Department of Education?

By: CNN's Ed Hornick
(CNN) - Painting herself as a "constitutional conservative" Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann told Sen. Jim DeMint's forum Monday that if elected president she would look to get rid of the Department of Education, among other things.
"Because the Constitution does not specifically enumerate nor does it give to the federal government the role and duty to superintend over education that historically has been held by the parents and by local communities and by state governments," she said, responding to a question by DeMint, a popular figure among the tea party movement.

Another item on the chopping block: The Affordable Care Act.
People "see that the current government is acting outside the bounds of the Constitution. Probably the most obvious would be this, Obamacare and the individual mandate that is unconstitutional and is currently contained in Obamacare," she said.
Throughout the question and answer, Bachmann highlighted her understanding of the Constitution and the need to return to a limited federal government.
"And when I'm working with the Congress of the United States, my guiding principle will be that the government works best when it acts within the limitations of the Constitution," she said. "The current president of the United States has failed to demonstrate an understanding."
When asked about her jobs program, Bachmann pointed to her past as a tax litigation attorney and small business owner.
"(I) believe in profit and actually believe profit is a good thing and that we should encourage that in this country," she said. Bachmann called for a restructuring of tax rates for businesses – highlighting her experience in that area.
When asked if she would try and overturn Roe v. Wade, which gives women the right to an abortion, Bachmann said she would put forth a human life amendment and do everything in her power to restrict abortions. 

So let's celebrate stupid.  Without it Michele Bachmann would actually have to go out and get a real job and n ot be living off the dole like she apparently does.  

Quo Vadimus?

And so it goes:

I'm stuck in Folsom Prison..

I think this is amusing, but not really. I;m certain this idea has been kicked around.

‘Get Back To Work Camps’ Are The Linchpin Of Rick Perry’s New Jobs Program

Rick Perry, Texas governor and GOP Presidential contender, announced the linchpin of his jobs program today.  “Get Back To Work Camps,” he said, “will assure food and shelter for all our citizens, regardless of economic standing.”  Under Perry’s plan, debt would become a criminal offense, much as it was in Victorian England.

Those convicted of the crime of being in default on debt could, if employed, work out a repayment plan suitable to the courts and their creditors.  The defendant’s paychecks would be rendered directly to the court, with payments being made to creditors first.  Defendants would be allowed to keep 25 percent of their pay, after taxes.  However, those convicted of default without sufficient income would be sentenced to “Get Back To Work Camps.”  Here, various private companies will set up shop to utilize the labor.  Debtors might be assigned to an on-site factory or might be assigned to offsite work crews.

The private contractors will keep the camps open, providing each debtor with adequate food and shelter.  Debtor’s will be paid at minimum wage, with the costs of food and housing deducted from their pay.  The remaining money will go to pay off their debt.
Once the debt is satisfied, debtors will be free to join society with a clean financial slate.
Perry also announced that, under a Perry Presidency, personal bankruptcy would be outlawed.  Only corporations would be able to restructure debt.

Take a look at Paul Krugman's latest treatise on the economy too:

Op-Ed Columnist

The Fatal Distraction


Friday brought two numbers that should have everyone in Washington saying, “My God, what have we done?”
One of these numbers was zero — the number of jobs created in August. The other was two — the interest rate on 10-year U.S. bonds, almost as low as this rate has ever gone. Taken together, these numbers almost scream that the inside-the-Beltway crowd has been worrying about the wrong things, and inflicting grievous harm as a result.
Ever since the acute phase of the financial crisis ended, policy discussion in Washington has been dominated not by unemployment, but by the alleged dangers posed by budget deficits. Pundits and media organizations insisted that the biggest risk facing America was the threat that investors would pull the plug on U.S. debt. For example, in May 2009 The Wall Street Journal declared that the “bond vigilantes” were “returning with a vengeance,” telling readers that the Obama administration’s “epic spending spree” would send interest rates soaring.
The interest rate when that editorial was published was 3.7 percent. As of Friday, as I’ve already mentioned, it was only 2 percent.
I don’t mean to dismiss concerns about the long-run U.S. budget picture. If you look at fiscal prospects over, say, the next 20 years, they are indeed deeply worrying, largely because of rising health-care costs. But the experience of the past two years has overwhelmingly confirmed what some of us tried to argue from the beginning: The deficits we’re running right now — deficits we should be running, because deficit spending helps support a depressed economy — are no threat at all.
And by obsessing over a nonexistent threat, Washington has been making the real problem — mass unemployment, which is eating away at the foundations of our nation — much worse.
Although you’d never know it listening to the ranters, the past year has actually been a pretty good test of the theory that slashing government spending actually creates jobs. The deficit obsession has blocked a much-needed second round of federal stimulus, and with stimulus spending, such as it was, fading out, we’re experiencing de facto fiscal austerity. State and local governments, in particular, faced with the loss of federal aid, have been sharply cutting many programs and have been laying off a lot of workers, mostly schoolteachers.
And somehow the private sector hasn’t responded to these layoffs by rejoicing at the sight of a shrinking government and embarking on a hiring spree.
O.K., I know what the usual suspects will say — namely, that fears of regulation and higher taxes are holding businesses back. But this is just a right-wing fantasy. Multiple surveys have shown that lack of demand — a lack that is being exacerbated by government cutbacks — is the overwhelming problem businesses face, with regulation and taxes barely even in the picture.
For example, when McClatchy Newspapers recently canvassed a random selection of small-business owners to find out what was hurting them, not a single one complained about regulation of his or her industry, and few complained much about taxes. And did I mention that profits after taxes, as a share of national income, are at record levels?
So short-run deficits aren’t a problem; lack of demand is, and spending cuts are making things much worse. Maybe it’s time to change course?
Which brings me to President Obama’s planned speech on the economy.
I find it useful to think in terms of three questions: What should we be doing to create jobs? What will Republicans in Congress agree to? And given that political reality, what should the president propose?
The answer to the first question is that we should have a lot of job-creating spending on the part of the federal government, largely in the form of much-needed spending to repair and upgrade the nation’s infrastructure. Oh, and we need more aid to state and local governments, so that they can stop laying off schoolteachers.
But what will Republicans agree to? That’s easy: nothing. They will oppose anything Mr. Obama proposes, even if it would clearly help the economy — or maybe I should say, especially if it would help the economy, since high unemployment helps them politically.
This reality makes the third question — what the president should propose — hard to answer, since nothing he proposes will actually happen anytime soon. So I’m personally prepared to cut Mr. Obama a lot of slack on the specifics of his proposal, as long as it’s big and bold. For what he mostly needs to do now is to change the conversation — to get Washington talking again about jobs and how the government can help create them.
For the sake of the nation, and especially for millions of unemployed Americans who see little prospect of finding another job, I hope he pulls it off.

Is there any question now that we're under attack?  And not from terrorists without, but the corporate terrorists from within!  We must speak out, and we must not stop until our voices are heard.  America is being systematically dismantled by those who would sell it off for the value of its parts including its people and not what it stands for, and what it means to everyone in the world. 

Will we continue to not only allow this behavior, but to encourage it by not challenging it?

Quo Vadimus?

And so it goes:

Monday, September 5, 2011

Quo Vadimus?

Quo Vadimus dear readers? Personally I don't know, but all the signs point to a trend I don't want to think about. The defections have begun.

From Nom defector Louis Marinelli, to today's guest commentator Mike Lofgren via people of conscience, people with at least one scruple, are abandoning the GOP, and I have to wonder what the results will be. Lofgren is right, both parties suck. They're both addicted to the flow of money necessary to get elected to political office in this country today. I have to wonder if it's even possible anymore for a candidate to get elected without it. Wouldn't that be a miraculous occurrence?

To live long enough to either see a candidate get elected without corporate support, or see one who was supported fully by responsible corporations who donated and then kept their hands off the process.

What a dream.

But here's a little taste of the nightmare we're really living:  
 Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult Saturday 3 September 2011 by: Mike Lofgren, Truthout | News Analysis (Photo: Carolyn Tiry / Flickr) 
Barbara Stanwyck: "We're both rotten!" 
Fred MacMurray: "Yeah - only you're a little more rotten." -"Double Indemnity" (1944) Those lines of dialogue from a classic film noir sum up the state of the two political parties in contemporary America. Both parties are rotten - how could they not be, given the complete infestation of the political system by corporate money on a scale that now requires a presidential candidate to raise upwards of a billion dollars to be competitive in the general election? Both parties are captives to corporate loot. The main reason the Democrats' health care bill will be a budget buster once it fully phases in is the Democrats' rank capitulation to corporate interests - no single-payer system, in order to mollify the insurers; and no negotiation of drug prices, a craven surrender to Big Pharma. But both parties are not rotten in quite the same way. The Democrats have their share of machine politicians, careerists, corporate bagmen, egomaniacs and kooks. Nothing, however, quite matches the modern GOP. To those millions of Americans who have finally begun paying attention to politics and watched with exasperation the tragicomedy of the debt ceiling extension, it may have come as a shock that the Republican Party is so full of lunatics. To be sure, the party, like any political party on earth, has always had its share of crackpots, like Robert K. Dornan or William E. Dannemeyer. But the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today: Steve King, Michele Bachman (now a leading presidential candidate as well), Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, Allen West. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy. It was this cast of characters and the pernicious ideas they represent that impelled me to end a nearly 30-year career as a professional staff member on Capitol Hill. A couple of months ago, I retired; but I could see as early as last November that the Republican Party would use the debt limit vote, an otherwise routine legislative procedure that has been used 87 times since the end of World War II, in order to concoct an entirely artificial fiscal crisis. Then, they would use that fiscal crisis to get what they wanted, by literally holding the US and global economies as hostages. The debt ceiling extension is not the only example of this sort of political terrorism. Republicans were willing to lay off 4,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employees, 70,000 private construction workers and let FAA safety inspectors work without pay, in fact, forcing them to pay for their own work-related travel - how prudent is that? - in order to strong arm some union-busting provisions into the FAA reauthorization. Everyone knows that in a hostage situation, the reckless and amoral actor has the negotiating upper hand over the cautious and responsible actor because the latter is actually concerned about the life of the hostage, while the former does not care. This fact, which ought to be obvious, has nevertheless caused confusion among the professional pundit class, which is mostly still stuck in the Bob Dole era in terms of its orientation. For instance, Ezra Klein wrote of his puzzlement over the fact that while House Republicans essentially won the debt ceiling fight, enough of them were sufficiently dissatisfied that they might still scuttle the deal. Of course they might - the attitude of many freshman Republicans to national default was "bring it on!" It should have been evident to clear-eyed observers that the Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult, or one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe. This trend has several implications, none of them pleasant. In his "Manual of Parliamentary Practice," Thomas Jefferson wrote that it is less important that every rule and custom of a legislature be absolutely justifiable in a theoretical sense, than that they should be generally acknowledged and honored by all parties. These include unwritten rules, customs and courtesies that lubricate the legislative machinery and keep governance a relatively civilized procedure. The US Senate has more complex procedural rules than any other legislative body in the world; many of these rules are contradictory, and on any given day, the Senate parliamentarian may issue a ruling that contradicts earlier rulings on analogous cases. The only thing that can keep the Senate functioning is collegiality and good faith. During periods of political consensus, for instance, the World War II and early post-war eras, the Senate was a "high functioning" institution: filibusters were rare and the body was legislatively productive. Now, one can no more picture the current Senate producing the original Medicare Act than the old Supreme Soviet having legislated the Bill of Rights. Far from being a rarity, virtually every bill, every nominee for Senate confirmation and every routine procedural motion is now subject to a Republican filibuster. Under the circumstances, it is no wonder that Washington is gridlocked: legislating has now become war minus the shooting, something one could have observed 80 years ago in the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic. As Hannah Arendt observed, a disciplined minority of totalitarians can use the instruments of democratic government to undermine democracy itself. John P. Judis sums up the modern GOP this way: "Over the last four decades, the Republican Party has transformed from a loyal opposition into an insurrectionary party that flouts the law when it is in the majority and threatens disorder when it is the minority. It is the party of Watergate and Iran-Contra, but also of the government shutdown in 1995 and the impeachment trial of 1999. If there is an earlier American precedent for today's Republican Party, it is the antebellum Southern Democrats of John Calhoun who threatened to nullify, or disregard, federal legislation they objected to and who later led the fight to secede from the union over slavery." A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress's generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner. A deeply cynical tactic, to be sure, but a psychologically insightful one that plays on the weaknesses both of the voting public and the news media. There are tens of millions of low-information voters who hardly know which party controls which branch of government, let alone which party is pursuing a particular legislative tactic. These voters' confusion over who did what allows them to form the conclusion that "they are all crooks," and that "government is no good," further leading them to think, "a plague on both your houses" and "the parties are like two kids in a school yard." This ill-informed public cynicism, in its turn, further intensifies the long-term decline in public trust in government that has been taking place since the early 1960s - a distrust that has been stoked by Republican rhetoric at every turn ("Government is the problem," declared Ronald Reagan in 1980). The media are also complicit in this phenomenon. Ever since the bifurcation of electronic media into a more or less respectable "hard news" segment and a rabidly ideological talk radio and cable TV political propaganda arm, the "respectable" media have been terrified of any criticism for perceived bias. Hence, they hew to the practice of false evenhandedness. Paul Krugman has skewered this tactic as being the "centrist cop-out." "I joked long ago," he says, "that if one party declared that the earth was flat, the headlines would read 'Views Differ on Shape of Planet.'" Inside-the-Beltway wise guy Chris Cillizza merely proves Krugman right in his Washington Post analysis of "winners and losers" in the debt ceiling impasse. He wrote that the institution of Congress was a big loser in the fracas, which is, of course, correct, but then he opined: "Lawmakers - bless their hearts - seem entirely unaware of just how bad they looked during this fight and will almost certainly spend the next few weeks (or months) congratulating themselves on their tremendous magnanimity." Note how the pundit's ironic deprecation falls like the rain on the just and unjust alike, on those who precipitated the needless crisis and those who despaired of it. He seems oblivious that one side - or a sizable faction of one side - has deliberately attempted to damage the reputation of Congress to achieve its political objectives. This constant drizzle of "there the two parties go again!" stories out of the news bureaus, combined with the hazy confusion of low-information voters, means that the long-term Republican strategy of undermining confidence in our democratic institutions has reaped electoral dividends. The United States has nearly the lowest voter participation among Western democracies; this, again, is a consequence of the decline of trust in government institutions - if government is a racket and both parties are the same, why vote? And if the uninvolved middle declines to vote, it increases the electoral clout of a minority that is constantly being whipped into a lather by three hours daily of Rush Limbaugh or Fox News. There were only 44 million Republican voters in the 2010 mid-term elections, but they effectively canceled the political results of the election of President Obama by 69 million voters. This tactic of inducing public distrust of government is not only cynical, it is schizophrenic. For people who profess to revere the Constitution, it is strange that they so caustically denigrate the very federal government that is the material expression of the principles embodied in that document. This is not to say that there is not some theoretical limit to the size or intrusiveness of government; I would be the first to say there are such limits, both fiscal and Constitutional. But most Republican officeholders seem strangely uninterested in the effective repeal of Fourth Amendment protections by the Patriot Act, the weakening of habeas corpus and self-incrimination protections in the public hysteria following 9/11 or the unpalatable fact that the United States has the largest incarcerated population of any country on earth. If anything, they would probably opt for more incarcerated persons, as imprisonment is a profit center for the prison privatization industry, which is itself a growth center for political contributions to these same politicians.[1] Instead, they prefer to rail against those government programs that actually help people. And when a program is too popular to attack directly, like Medicare or Social Security, they prefer to undermine it by feigning an agonized concern about the deficit. That concern, as we shall see, is largely fictitious. Undermining Americans' belief in their own institutions of self-government remains a prime GOP electoral strategy. But if this technique falls short of producing Karl Rove's dream of 30 years of unchallengeable one-party rule (as all such techniques always fall short of achieving the angry and embittered true believer's New Jerusalem), there are other even less savory techniques upon which to fall back. Ever since Republicans captured the majority in a number of state legislatures last November, they have systematically attempted to make it more difficult to vote: by onerous voter ID requirements (in Wisconsin, Republicans have legislated photo IDs while simultaneously shutting Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices in Democratic constituencies while at the same time lengthening the hours of operation of DMV offices in GOP constituencies); by narrowing registration periods; and by residency requirements that may disenfranchise university students. This legislative assault is moving in a diametrically opposed direction to 200 years of American history, when the arrow of progress pointed toward more political participation by more citizens. Republicans are among the most shrill in self-righteously lecturing other countries about the wonders of democracy; exporting democracy (albeit at the barrel of a gun) to the Middle East was a signature policy of the Bush administration. But domestically, they don't want those people voting. You can probably guess who those people are. Above all, anyone not likely to vote Republican. As Sarah Palin would imply, the people who are not Real Americans. Racial minorities. Immigrants. Muslims. Gays. Intellectuals. Basically, anyone who doesn't look, think, or talk like the GOP base. This must account, at least to some degree, for their extraordinarily vitriolic hatred of President Obama. I have joked in the past that the main administration policy that Republicans object to is Obama's policy of being black.[2] Among the GOP base, there is constant harping about somebody else, some "other," who is deliberately, assiduously and with malice aforethought subverting the Good, the True and the Beautiful: Subversives. Commies. Socialists. Ragheads. Secular humanists. Blacks. Fags. Feminazis. The list may change with the political needs of the moment, but they always seem to need a scapegoat to hate and fear. It is not clear to me how many GOP officeholders believe this reactionary and paranoid claptrap. I would bet that most do not. But they cynically feed the worst instincts of their fearful and angry low-information political base with a nod and a wink. During the disgraceful circus of the "birther" issue, Republican politicians subtly stoked the fires of paranoia by being suggestively equivocal - "I take the president at his word" - while never unambiguously slapping down the myth. John Huntsman was the first major GOP figure forthrightly to refute the birther calumny - albeit after release of the birth certificate. I do not mean to place too much emphasis on racial animus in the GOP. While it surely exists, it is also a fact that Republicans think that no Democratic president could conceivably be legitimate. Republicans also regarded Bill Clinton as somehow, in some manner, twice fraudulently elected (well do I remember the elaborate conspiracy theories that Republicans traded among themselves). Had it been Hillary Clinton, rather than Barack Obama, who had been elected in 2008, I am certain we would now be hearing, in lieu of the birther myths, conspiracy theories about Vince Foster's alleged murder. The reader may think that I am attributing Svengali-like powers to GOP operatives able to manipulate a zombie base to do their bidding. It is more complicated than that. Historical circumstances produced the raw material: the deindustrialization and financialization of America since about 1970 has spawned an increasingly downscale white middle class - without job security (or even without jobs), with pensions and health benefits evaporating and with their principal asset deflating in the collapse of the housing bubble. Their fears are not imaginary; their standard of living is shrinking. What do the Democrats offer these people? Essentially nothing. Democratic Leadership Council-style "centrist" Democrats were among the biggest promoters of disastrous trade deals in the 1990s that outsourced jobs abroad: NAFTA, World Trade Organization, permanent most-favored-nation status for China. At the same time, the identity politics/lifestyle wing of the Democratic Party was seen as a too illegal immigrant-friendly by downscaled and outsourced whites.[3] While Democrats temporized, or even dismissed the fears of the white working class as racist or nativist, Republicans went to work. To be sure, the business wing of the Republican Party consists of the most energetic outsourcers, wage cutters and hirers of sub-minimum wage immigrant labor to be found anywhere on the globe. But the faux-populist wing of the party, knowing the mental compartmentalization that occurs in most low-information voters, played on the fears of that same white working class to focus their anger on scapegoats that do no damage to corporations' bottom lines: instead of raising the minimum wage, let's build a wall on the Southern border (then hire a defense contractor to incompetently manage it). Instead of predatory bankers, it's evil Muslims. Or evil gays. Or evil abortionists. How do they manage to do this? Because Democrats ceded the field. Above all, they do not understand language. Their initiatives are posed in impenetrable policy-speak: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The what? - can anyone even remember it? No wonder the pejorative "Obamacare" won out. Contrast that with the Republicans' Patriot Act. You're a patriot, aren't you? Does anyone at the GED level have a clue what a Stimulus Bill is supposed to be? Why didn't the White House call it the Jobs Bill and keep pounding on that theme? You know that Social Security and Medicare are in jeopardy when even Democrats refer to them as entitlements. "Entitlement" has a negative sound in colloquial English: somebody who is "entitled" selfishly claims something he doesn't really deserve. Why not call them "earned benefits," which is what they are because we all contribute payroll taxes to fund them? That would never occur to the Democrats. Republicans don't make that mistake; they are relentlessly on message: it is never the "estate tax," it is the "death tax." Heaven forbid that the Walton family should give up one penny of its $86-billion fortune. All of that lucre is necessary to ensure that unions be kept out of Wal-Mart, that women employees not be promoted and that politicians be kept on a short leash. It was not always thus. It would have been hard to find an uneducated farmer during the depression of the 1890s who did not have a very accurate idea about exactly which economic interests were shafting him. An unemployed worker in a breadline in 1932 would have felt little gratitude to the Rockefellers or the Mellons. But that is not the case in the present economic crisis. After a riot of unbridled greed such as the world has not seen since the conquistadors' looting expeditions and after an unprecedented broad and rapid transfer of wealth upward by Wall Street and its corporate satellites, where is the popular anger directed, at least as depicted in the media? At "Washington spending" - which has increased primarily to provide unemployment compensation, food stamps and Medicaid to those economically damaged by the previous decade's corporate saturnalia. Or the popular rage is harmlessly diverted against pseudo-issues: death panels, birtherism, gay marriage, abortion, and so on, none of which stands to dent the corporate bottom line in the slightest. Thus far, I have concentrated on Republican tactics, rather than Republican beliefs, but the tactics themselves are important indicators of an absolutist, authoritarian mindset that is increasingly hostile to the democratic values of reason, compromise and conciliation. Rather, this mindset seeks polarizing division (Karl Rove has been very explicit that this is his principal campaign strategy), conflict and the crushing of opposition. As for what they really believe, the Republican Party of 2011 believes in three principal tenets I have laid out below. The rest of their platform one may safely dismiss as window dressing: 1. The GOP cares solely and exclusively about its rich contributors. The party has built a whole catechism on the protection and further enrichment of America's plutocracy. Their caterwauling about deficit and debt is so much eyewash to con the public. Whatever else President Obama has accomplished (and many of his purported accomplishments are highly suspect), his $4-trillion deficit reduction package did perform the useful service of smoking out Republican hypocrisy. The GOP refused, because it could not abide so much as a one-tenth of one percent increase on the tax rates of the Walton family or the Koch brothers, much less a repeal of the carried interest rule that permits billionaire hedge fund managers to pay income tax at a lower effective rate than cops or nurses. Republicans finally settled on a deal that had far less deficit reduction - and even less spending reduction! - than Obama's offer, because of their iron resolution to protect at all costs our society's overclass. Republicans have attempted to camouflage their amorous solicitude for billionaires with a fog of misleading rhetoric. John Boehner is fond of saying, "we won't raise anyone's taxes," as if the take-home pay of an Olive Garden waitress were inextricably bound up with whether Warren Buffett pays his capital gains as ordinary income or at a lower rate. Another chestnut is that millionaires and billionaires are "job creators." US corporations have just had their most profitable quarters in history; Apple, for one, is sitting on $76 billion in cash, more than the GDP of most countries. So, where are the jobs? Another smokescreen is the "small business" meme, since standing up for Mom's and Pop's corner store is politically more attractive than to be seen shilling for a megacorporation. Raising taxes on the wealthy will kill small business' ability to hire; that is the GOP dirge every time Bernie Sanders or some Democrat offers an amendment to increase taxes on incomes above $1 million. But the number of small businesses that have a net annual income over a million dollars is de minimis, if not by definition impossible (as they would no longer be small businesses). And as data from the Center for Economic and Policy Research have shown, small businesses account for only 7.2 percent of total US employment, a significantly smaller share of total employment than in most Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. Likewise, Republicans have assiduously spread the myth that Americans are conspicuously overtaxed. But compared to other OECD countries, the effective rates of US taxation are among the lowest. In particular, they point to the top corporate income rate of 35 percent as being confiscatory Bolshevism. But again, the effective rate is much lower. Did GE pay 35 percent on 2010 profits of $14 billion? No, it paid zero. When pressed, Republicans make up misleading statistics to "prove" that the America's fiscal burden is being borne by the rich and the rest of us are just freeloaders who don't appreciate that fact. "Half of Americans don't pay taxes" is a perennial meme. But what they leave out is that that statement refers to federal income taxes. There are millions of people who don't pay income taxes, but do contribute payroll taxes - among the most regressive forms of taxation. But according to GOP fiscal theology, payroll taxes don't count. Somehow, they have convinced themselves that since payroll taxes go into trust funds, they're not real taxes. Likewise, state and local sales taxes apparently don't count, although their effect on a poor person buying necessities like foodstuffs is far more regressive than on a millionaire. All of these half truths and outright lies have seeped into popular culture via the corporate-owned business press. Just listen to CNBC for a few hours and you will hear most of them in one form or another. More important politically, Republicans' myths about taxation have been internalized by millions of economically downscale "values voters," who may have been attracted to the GOP for other reasons (which I will explain later), but who now accept this misinformation as dogma. And when misinformation isn't enough to sustain popular support for the GOP's agenda, concealment is needed. One fairly innocuous provision in the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill requires public companies to make a more transparent disclosure of CEO compensation, including bonuses. Note that it would not limit the compensation, only require full disclosure. Republicans are hell-bent on repealing this provision. Of course; it would not serve Wall Street interests if the public took an unhealthy interest in the disparity of their own incomes as against that of a bank CEO. As Spencer Bachus, the Republican chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, says, "In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks." 2. They worship at the altar of Mars. While the me-too Democrats have set a horrible example of keeping up with the Joneses with respect to waging wars, they can never match GOP stalwarts such as John McCain or Lindsey Graham in their sheer, libidinous enthusiasm for invading other countries. McCain wanted to mix it up with Russia - a nuclear-armed state - during the latter's conflict with Georgia in 2008 (remember? - "we are all Georgians now," a slogan that did not, fortunately, catch on), while Graham has been persistently agitating for attacks on Iran and intervention in Syria. And these are not fringe elements of the party; they are the leading "defense experts," who always get tapped for the Sunday talk shows. About a month before Republicans began holding a gun to the head of the credit markets to get trillions of dollars of cuts, these same Republicans passed a defense appropriations bill that increased spending by $17 billion over the prior year's defense appropriation. To borrow Chris Hedges' formulation, war is the force that gives meaning to their lives. A cynic might conclude that this militaristic enthusiasm is no more complicated than the fact that Pentagon contractors spread a lot of bribery money around Capitol Hill. That is true, but there is more to it than that. It is not necessarily even the fact that members of Congress feel they are protecting constituents' jobs. The wildly uneven concentration of defense contracts and military bases nationally means that some areas, like Washington, DC, and San Diego, are heavily dependent on Department of Defense (DOD) spending. But there are many more areas of the country whose net balance is negative: the citizenry pays more in taxes to support the Pentagon than it receives back in local contracts. And the economic justification for Pentagon spending is even more fallacious when one considers that the $700 billion annual DOD budget creates comparatively few jobs. The days of Rosie the Riveter are long gone; most weapons projects now require very little touch labor. Instead, a disproportionate share is siphoned off into high-cost research and development (from which the civilian economy benefits little); exorbitant management expenditures, overhead and out-and-out padding; and, of course, the money that flows back into the coffers of political campaigns. A million dollars appropriated for highway construction would create two to three times as many jobs as a million dollars appropriated for Pentagon weapons procurement, so the jobs argument is ultimately specious. Take away the cash nexus and there still remains a psychological predisposition toward war and militarism on the part of the GOP. This undoubtedly arises from a neurotic need to demonstrate toughness and dovetails perfectly with the belligerent tough-guy pose one constantly hears on right-wing talk radio. Militarism springs from the same psychological deficit that requires an endless series of enemies, both foreign and domestic. The results of the last decade of unbridled militarism and the Democrats' cowardly refusal to reverse it[4], have been disastrous both strategically and fiscally. It has made the United States less prosperous, less secure and less free. Unfortunately, the militarism and the promiscuous intervention it gives rise to are only likely to abate when the Treasury is exhausted, just as it happened to the Dutch Republic and the British Empire. 3. Give me that old time religion. Pandering to fundamentalism is a full-time vocation in the GOP. Beginning in the 1970s, religious cranks ceased simply to be a minor public nuisance in this country and grew into the major element of the Republican rank and file. Pat Robertson's strong showing in the 1988 Iowa Caucus signaled the gradual merger of politics and religion in the party. The results are all around us: if the American people poll more like Iranians or Nigerians than Europeans or Canadians on questions of evolution versus creationism, scriptural inerrancy, the existence of angels and demons, and so forth, that result is due to the rise of the religious right, its insertion into the public sphere by the Republican Party and the consequent normalizing of formerly reactionary or quaint beliefs. Also around us is a prevailing anti-intellectualism and hostility to science; it is this group that defines "low-information voter" - or, perhaps, "misinformation voter." The Constitution to the contrary notwithstanding, there is now a de facto religious test for the presidency: major candidates are encouraged (or coerced) to "share their feelings" about their "faith" in a revelatory speech; or, some televangelist like Rick Warren dragoons the candidates (as he did with Obama and McCain in 2008) to debate the finer points of Christology, with Warren himself, of course, as the arbiter. Politicized religion is also the sheet anchor of the culture wars. But how did the whole toxic stew of GOP beliefs - economic royalism, militarism and culture wars cum fundamentalism - come completely to displace an erstwhile civilized Eisenhower Republicanism? It is my view that the rise of politicized religious fundamentalism (which is a subset of the decline of rational problem solving in America) may have been the key ingredient of the takeover of the Republican Party. For politicized religion provides a substrate of beliefs that rationalizes - at least in the minds of followers - all three of the GOP's main tenets. Televangelists have long espoused the health-and-wealth/name-it-and-claim it gospel. If you are wealthy, it is a sign of God's favor. If not, too bad! But don't forget to tithe in any case. This rationale may explain why some economically downscale whites defend the prerogatives of billionaires. The GOP's fascination with war is also connected with the fundamentalist mindset. The Old Testament abounds in tales of slaughter - God ordering the killing of the Midianite male infants and enslavement of the balance of the population, the divinely-inspired genocide of the Canaanites, the slaying of various miscreants with the jawbone of an ass - and since American religious fundamentalist seem to prefer the Old Testament to the New (particularly that portion of the New Testament known as the Sermon on the Mount), it is but a short step to approving war as a divinely inspired mission. This sort of thinking has led, inexorably, to such phenomena as Jerry Falwell once writing that God is Pro-War. It is the apocalyptic frame of reference of fundamentalists, their belief in an imminent Armageddon, that psychologically conditions them to steer this country into conflict, not only on foreign fields (some evangelicals thought Saddam was the Antichrist and therefore a suitable target for cruise missiles), but also in the realm of domestic political controversy. It is hardly surprising that the most adamant proponent of the view that there was no debt ceiling problem was Michele Bachmann, the darling of the fundamentalist right. What does it matter, anyway, if the country defaults? - we shall presently abide in the bosom of the Lord. Some liberal writers have opined that the different socio-economic perspectives separating the "business" wing of the GOP and the religious right make it an unstable coalition that could crack. I am not so sure. There is no fundamental disagreement on which direction the two factions want to take the country, merely how far in that direction they want to take it. The plutocrats would drag us back to the Gilded Age, the theocrats to the Salem witch trials. In any case, those consummate plutocrats, the Koch brothers, are pumping large sums of money into Michele Bachman's presidential campaign, so one ought not make too much of a potential plutocrat-theocrat split. Thus, the modern GOP; it hardly seems conceivable that a Republican could have written the following: "Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid." (That was President Eisenhower, writing to his brother Edgar in 1954.) It is this broad and ever-widening gulf between the traditional Republicanism of an Eisenhower and the quasi-totalitarian cult of a Michele Bachmann that impelled my departure from Capitol Hill. It is not in my pragmatic nature to make a heroic gesture of self-immolation, or to make lurid revelations of personal martyrdom in the manner of David Brock. And I will leave a more detailed dissection of failed Republican economic policies to my fellow apostate Bruce Bartlett. I left because I was appalled at the headlong rush of Republicans, like Gadarene swine, to embrace policies that are deeply damaging to this country's future; and contemptuous of the feckless, craven incompetence of Democrats in their half-hearted attempts to stop them. And, in truth, I left as an act of rational self-interest. Having gutted private-sector pensions and health benefits as a result of their embrace of outsourcing, union busting and "shareholder value," the GOP now thinks it is only fair that public-sector workers give up their pensions and benefits, too. Hence the intensification of the GOP's decades-long campaign of scorn against government workers. Under the circumstances, it is simply safer to be a current retiree rather than a prospective one. If you think Paul Ryan and his Ayn Rand-worshipping colleagues aren't after your Social Security and Medicare, I am here to disabuse you of your naiveté.[5] They will move heaven and earth to force through tax cuts that will so starve the government of revenue that they will be "forced" to make "hard choices" - and that doesn't mean repealing those very same tax cuts, it means cutting the benefits for which you worked. During the week that this piece was written, the debt ceiling fiasco reached its conclusion. The economy was already weak, but the GOP's disgraceful game of chicken roiled the markets even further. Foreigners could hardly believe it: Americans' own crazy political actions were destabilizing the safe-haven status of the dollar. Accordingly, during that same week, over one trillion dollars worth of assets evaporated on financial markets. Russia and China have stepped up their advocating that the dollar be replaced as the global reserve currency - a move as consequential and disastrous for US interests as any that can be imagined. If Republicans have perfected a new form of politics that is successful electorally at the same time that it unleashes major policy disasters, it means twilight both for the democratic process and America's status as the world's leading power. Footnotes: [1] I am not exaggerating for effect. A law passed in 2010 by the Arizona legislature mandating arrest and incarceration of suspected illegal aliens was actually drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative business front group that drafts "model" legislation on behalf of its corporate sponsors. The draft legislation in question was written for the private prison lobby, which sensed a growth opportunity in imprisoning more people. [2] I am not a supporter of Obama and object to a number of his foreign and domestic policies. But when he took office amid the greatest financial collapse in 80 years, I wanted him to succeed, so that the country I served did not fail. But already in 2009, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, declared that his greatest legislative priority was - jobs for Americans? Rescuing the financial system? Solving the housing collapse? - no, none of those things. His top priority was to ensure that Obama should be a one-term president. Evidently Senator McConnell hates Obama more than he loves his country. Note that the mainstream media have lately been hailing McConnell as "the adult in the room," presumably because he is less visibly unstable than the Tea Party freshmen [3] This is not a venue for immigrant bashing. It remains a fact that outsourcing jobs overseas, while insourcing sub-minimum wage immigrant labor, will exert downward pressure on US wages. The consequence will be popular anger, and failure to address that anger will result in a downward wage spiral and a breech of the social compact, not to mention a rise in nativism and other reactionary impulses. It does no good to claim that these economic consequences are an inevitable result of globalization; Germany has somehow managed to maintain a high-wage economy and a vigorous industrial base. [4] The cowardice is not merely political. During the past ten years, I have observed that Democrats are actually growing afraid of Republicans. In a quirky and flawed, but insightful, little book, "Democracy and Populism: Fear and Hatred," John Lukacs concludes that the left fears, the right hates. [5] The GOP cult of Ayn Rand is both revealing and mystifying. On the one hand, Rand's tough guy, every-man-for-himself posturing is a natural fit because it puts a philosophical gloss on the latent sociopathy so prevalent among the hard right. On the other, Rand exclaimed at every opportunity that she was a militant atheist who felt nothing but contempt for Christianity. Apparently, the ignorance of most fundamentalist "values voters" means that GOP candidates who enthuse over Rand at the same time they thump their Bibles never have to explain this stark contradiction. And I imagine a Democratic officeholder would have a harder time explaining why he named his offspring "Marx" than a GOP incumbent would in rationalizing naming his kid "Rand."

I do not fear for just our country, I fear for our future.

Quo Vadimus my friends?

And so it goes: