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Faiths

Gee…it’s like there’s a common thread in different faiths eh?  Then what is one to make of a “God” which each faith says is native to their faith alone….(there’s a word for that)

“To be religious requires a practitioner to accept the tenets and dogma of that religion, and hold its corpus as Supreme, whereas being spiritual means the practitioner accepts the principle there is, or may be, an element in creation that is beyond human experience and comprehension which interconnects everything, everywhere, and one wishes to assert an affinity and a connection to that element.” – Richard @ Flexible Reality

Another one bites the dust

trump: Pro vs Con at Year Two

Rationales given for voting for or supporting Trump

*- A rage against downward social and economic conditions due to globalization

*- A backlash by WASP’s who fear losing power and prestige to immigrants, people of color, and social minorities

*- Because he is a successful businessman who will rescue the American economy

*- Because he is a disrupter who will restore white, male, paternal, Christian principles back onto center stage

*- He will lower taxes and encourage financial entrepreneurship and lower restrictions on capital

*- Because success depends on a business-oriented government

*- He will put a halt to the “feminization” of the country, and make sure women return to being dependent on male hegemony. 

*- He will resist movements toward “One World” socialism

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Rationales given for resisting and denying his legitimacy

*- Globalization is a creation of the business community, not Government, or private individuals

*- Most 1st World WASP Countries fertility rates among native-born citizens are not at replacement levels 

*- He has filed for bankruptcy four times, and businesses he started including casinos, airline, steaks, mortgages, and a university all failed and are no longer in business.

*- He has coddled up to murderous autocrats around the Globe including Putin, Duterte, Erdogan, and Mohammed bin Salman. He has aligned himself with leaders of the KKK, American Nazis, and White Nationalists. 

*- Governments cannot, should not, and do not function as business entities, and should never exist solely to make a profit.

*- He has repeatedly demonstrated his disdain for women, by conceiving five children with four different wives, and was unfaithful to each wife, plus engaged in several encounters with prostitutes while married. He frequently abuses women in person, and in online tweets.

*- Economically his actions and those of Republicans in the House have exalted private capital, lowered restrictions on wealth accumulation, and lowered taxes but only for the wealthy. Whereas for wage earners, Military personnel, Social Services Agencies, and Retirees the 2018 Tax Package distributed less than $100 to them, but it gave MILLIONS of dollars to the 1%’ers and some businesses.

*- He rewarded market manipulators, and those seeking to gain access to public land and resources for commercial gain.  His actions have blown a $1Tr hole in the budget and the beneficiaries of that money is only the monied interests, while the middle class gets stuck with the debt and paying interest on that debt.

*- He has consistently taken actions to benefit himself financially in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the US Constitution. He has appointed Federal Agency administrators who have no experience, training, or expertise in that realm other than making their fortunes by circumventing rules promulgated by the agency they were chosen to lead. 

*- He has displayed a shocking lack of interest in, or knowledge about Government operations, scientific findings, ethical lapses by members of his Administration, International law, diplomatic protocol, and public knowledge.

*- He has debased American involvement, prestige, and influence in International affairs and seems intent on creating “Fortress America” complete with walls, prisons, private militaries, and de-legitimization attempts against journalism, judicial oversight, and public sovereignty.

*- He has appointed administrators of many Federal Agencies who are on record as opposing the principles and actions of the Agency they were appointed to lead, and has failed to appoint ambassadors, diplomats and civil servants to existing posts, for example: America had no Ambassador in Germany, South Korea, and Egypt even after a year of his Administration. 

*- The private opinions of countless public citizens including cohorts and peers who have dealt with him are uniformly unflattering. He has displayed nasty, petty, vindictive, brutish, cruel, and belligerent talk and actions, and averages issuing more than 7 easily refuted lies daily.    

Simple things explained

We have to make changes if we hope to survive

“WIth 10 billion people on the planet and the majority being surplus labor to a capitalist system it seems obvious a different system will be necessary for our species to survive.” – Richard Pressl

“Feel-Good” Holiday Stories Are Actually Just a Symptom of a Crumbling Society

Sociopaths and Criminal behavior

Noted researcher Dr. Robert Hare wrote this in 2008 about sociopaths

https://www.fraud-magazine.com/article.aspx?id=404
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Question: “Do you believe that most fraudsters are psychopaths or do they just exhibit anti-social behavior?”

Hare: “There are many reasons why people engage in fraudulent behavior, some related to economic necessity, cultural, social, and peer pressures, special circumstances, opportunities, and so forth. Many of these people are small-time criminals just “doing their job,” and their victims are relatively few in number. Much more problematic are fraudsters whose activities reflect a virulent mix of personality traits and behaviors including grandiosity; sense of entitlement; a propensity to lie, deceive, cheat, and manipulate; a lack of empathy and remorse; an inability to develop deep emotional and social connections with others; and the view that others are merely resources to be exploited – callously and without regret.

These white-collar psychopaths often are heavily involved in obscenely lucrative scams of every sort. They lead lavish lifestyles while their victims lose their life savings, their dignity, and their health – a financial death penalty as one law enforcement officer put it. The public and the courts have difficulty in appreciating the enormity of the damage done by these social predators, and because their crimes often do not involve direct physical violence, they may receive comparatively light fines and sentences, and early parole. The money obtained from their depredations is seldom recovered, leaving the victims and the public bewildered and convinced that crime certainly does pay when committed by those whose charm, egocentricity, and deception disguise a flabby conscience.”

Character & Self-Respect

“Character — the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life — is the source from which self-respect springs,” Joan Didion wrote in her timeless essay on self-respect. And yet this willingness does not come naturally to the human animal. We glance left and right, we peer above and below, placing the responsibility for our suffering everywhere but at the center of our own being. We treat the unhandsome consequences of our actions as something that happens to us, at us, by some wretched external causality. In the process, the tick of our self-righteousness grows fatter and fatter on bloodthirsty blame.” – Maria Popova – Dec. 2018

Note: if you are not presently a reader of BrainPickings journal, here’s the link to check it out.

You have been warned…

Poem

I will say tree, not pine tree.
I will say flower, not forsythia.
I will see birds, many birds,
flying in four directions.

Then rock and cloud will be
lost. Spring will be lost.
And, most terribly,
your name will be lost.

I will revel in a world
no longer particular.
A world made vague,
as if by fog. But not fog.

Vaguely aware,
I will wander at will.
I will wade deeper
into wide water.

You’ll see me, there,
out by the horizon,
an old gray thing,
who finally knows

gray is the most beautiful color.

Top House Democrats join Elizabeth Warren’s push to fundamentally change American capitalism

Co-determination would transfer huge sums of wealth to the middle class.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

This past summer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) rolled out a big idea to challenge how we think about inequality and the fundamental structure of the economy. Thursday, a group of five House Democrats — critically including newly elected assistant leader Ben Ray Luján and Progressive Caucus Chair Mark Pocan along with Reps. Jan Schakowsky, Stephen Lynch, and Brendan Boyle — are joining her by co-sponsoring a House version of Warren’s Accountable Capitalism Act.

Pocan and Schakowsky are longtime progressive stalwarts, but Luján’s co-sponsorship is a bit more surprising. He ran the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during its very successfully 2018 cycle, and he’s now stepping up into the No. 4 spot in the Democratic hierarchy, setting himself up as a leading contender for speaker when newly adopted term limits take effect in 2022.

The proposal would have drastic consequences, redistributing trillions of dollars from rich executives and shareholders to the middle class — but without involving a penny in taxes.

The plan starts from the premise that corporations that claim the legal rights of personhood should be legally required to accept the moral obligations of personhood.

“Throughout our country’s history, the well-being of our workers has been directly linked to the prosperity we have achieved as a nation,” Luján says, but that’s changed somewhat in recent decades as corporate managers have had a singular devotion to enriching shareholders.

The core idea of the Accountable Capitalism Act is to alter that balance of interests in corporate decision-making. Luján argues that “Elevating the voices of workers in our corporate boardrooms will help restore balance in our economy.”

Much of the new energy on the left over the past several years has been about making government bigger and bolder, an ideal driven by a burgeoning movement toward democratic socialism. It’s inspired likely 2020 Democratic contenders to draw battle lines around how far they’d go to change the role of government in American life.

The interview process continues at the WH for a replacement Chief of Staff

“Why are we so angry?”

via The Atlantic Magazine – Jan/Feb 2019

by Charles Duhigg

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An Angry Little Town – soon after the snows of 1977 began to thaw, the residents of Greenfield, Massachusetts, received a strange questionnaire in the mail. “Try to recall the number of times you became annoyed and/or angry during the past week,” the survey instructed. “Describe the most angry of these experiences.” One woman knew her answer: Recently, her husband had bought a new car. Then he had driven it to his mistress’s house so she could admire the purchase. When the wife found out, she was livid. Furious. Her rage felt like an eruption she couldn’t control.

The survey was interested in the particulars of respondents’ anger. In its 14 pages, it sought an almost voyeuristic level of detail. It asked the woman to describe the stages of her fury, which words she had shouted, whether punches had been thrown. “In becoming angry, did you wish to get back at, or gain revenge?” the survey inquired. Afterward, did you feel “triumphant, confident and dominant” or “ashamed, embarrassed and guilty”? There were also questions for people like her husband, who had been on the receiving end: “Did the other person’s anger come as a surprise to you, or did you expect that it would occur?”

Greenfield, population 18,000, was an unusual place to plumb these depths. It was a middle-class town with a prosperous tool-and-die factory, where churches outnumbered bars two to one. Citizens were private and humble, and—except for a few recent letters to the editor lamenting that the high-school hockey team had been robbed in the playoffs—the town showed little evidence of widespread resentment. In fact, this very placidity was why Greenfield had been chosen for the study.

The author of the questionnaire was James Averill, a psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Averill was a gentle soul, the kind of man who had once returned to a grocery store to apologize to a cashier after becoming annoyed over miscounted change. But he was convinced that his academic colleagues misunderstood anger. He had attended many conferences where researchers had described it as a base instinct, a vestige from our savage past that served no useful purpose in contemporary life. “Everyone basically thought anger was something that mature people and societies ought to suppress,” Averill told me. “There was this attitude that if you were an angry person, you ought to be a bit embarrassed.” In journal articles and at symposia, academics described anger as a problem to be solved, an instinct with little social benefit. “But that didn’t really make any sense to me,” he said.

Despite his genial disposition, Averill had been known to mutter angrily when a driver cut him off. He felt bursts of indignation on a regular basis, as did everyone else he knew. And though he rarely acted on these impulses, he suspected that anger wouldn’t be lurking in his psyche unless it served some important purpose. “When something’s bad for us, we usually get rid of it through evolution or social codes. But anger has been a part of humanity for as long as we’ve been alive,” he said. “It’s in the Bible and novels and plays. It’s one of the most common emotions people say they feel.”

Averill decided that the best way to understand anger was to survey ordinary people—people who get upset at their co-workers, who yell during rush hour—about their experiences. He went looking for an average town and found Greenfield. He figured if he could show that its citizens, despite their contentedness, still experienced occasional bouts of fury, it would be a wake-up call to other researchers that more scrutiny of anger was due.

Averill’s expectations were modest. He assumed that most Greenfield residents would say they only infrequently lost their temper. He expected respondents to confess that they were embarrassed afterward, and that, in retrospect, their paroxysms had only made things worse. In fact, he figured most people would toss the questionnaire in the trash.

Then the survey from the aggrieved wife arrived. Other replies soon began flooding his mailbox, so many that Averill had trouble reading them all. “It was the best-performing survey I’ve ever conducted,” he told me. “Some people even attached thank-you notes. They were so pleased to talk about being angry.” The replies contained unanticipated responses: The betrayed wife, it turned out, wasn’t all that upset about the mistress—she had harbored suspicions for years, and to be frank, if another woman was willing to put up with her husband, more power (and sympathy) to her. But how dare he show her the new car first?

Other respondents described more mundane arguments, over who ought to take out the trash, or curfews for teenagers, or snappish tones at the dinner table. People were eager to talk about their daily indignations, in part because they felt angry so frequently. “Most people report becoming mildly to moderately angry anywhere from several times a day to several times a week,” Averill later wrote, summing up his research in American Psychologist.

Anger is one of the densest forms of communication. It conveys more information, more quickly, than almost any other type of emotion.

Continue reading “Why are we so angry?”

Wanna see 16 Minutes of an idiot being played?

A dystopian possibility

What President Trump Could Do If He Declares a State of Emergency
From seizing control of the internet to declaring martial law, President Trump may legally do all kinds of extraordinary things.

by ELIZABETH GOITEIN – JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019 ISSUE of THE ATLANTIC

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In the weeks leading up to the 2018 midterm elections, President Donald Trump reached deep into his arsenal to try to deliver votes to Republicans. Most of his weapons were rhetorical, featuring a mix of lies and false inducements—claims that every congressional Democrat had signed on to an “open borders” bill (none had), that liberals were fomenting violent “mobs” (they weren’t), that a 10 percent tax cut for the middle class would somehow pass while Congress was out of session (it didn’t). But a few involved the aggressive use—and threatened misuse—of presidential authority: He sent thousands of active-duty soldiers to the southern border to terrorize a distant caravan of desperate Central American migrants, announced plans to end the constitutional guarantee of birthright citizenship by executive order, and tweeted that law enforcement had been “strongly notified” to be on the lookout for “ILLEGAL VOTING.”

These measures failed to carry the day, and Trump will likely conclude that they were too timid. How much further might he go in 2020, when his own name is on the ballot—or sooner than that, if he’s facing impeachment by a House under Democratic control?

More is at stake here than the outcome of one or even two elections. Trump has long signaled his disdain for the concepts of limited presidential power and democratic rule. During his 2016 campaign, he praised murderous dictators. He declared that his opponent, Hillary Clinton, would be in jail if he were president, goading crowds into frenzied chants of “Lock her up.” He hinted that he might not accept an electoral loss. As democracies around the world slide into autocracy, and nationalism and anti-democratic sentiment are on vivid display among segments of the American populace, Trump’s evident hostility to key elements of liberal democracy cannot be dismissed as mere bluster.
Continue reading A dystopian possibility

Designs for an ad hoc revolution needed

Richard Wolff: There Are No Blueprints for Revolution

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Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He is currently a visiting professor in the Graduate Programs in International Affairs at the New School University in New York City. In this interview, Wolff discusses how the revolutions that overthrew feudalism laid the foundations for our current crisis of capitalism, why historical models of socialism put into practice failed, and what lessons we can learn from them in creating a new socialism.

Vaios Triantafyllou: Do you believe that there is a cure for capitalism from within? Is this something that we should be looking for merely in the short term, or is it possible in the long term, as well?

Richard Wolff: I don’t know where else a cure would come from other than within. Capitalism has become the dominant economic system in the world we live in. This is the culmination of several centuries, from the 17th century, when it begins to dominate in Great Britain and spreads from there to Western Europe, and North America, Japan, and the rest of the world. Karl Marx understood that very nicely in Das Kapital, and elsewhere too, where he writes about how capitalism is the kind of system that has to become worldwide. The very logic of accumulation, competition and so on, will make it become the world system.

Marx saw that in the middle of the 19th century. Now we have achieved that a century later, through the colonial period and all the rest. So, if there is going to be a change, and if it’s going to be on this planet, then it will come from capitalism itself. And that shouldn’t discourage anyone because that’s how these changes have always come.

Feudalism collapsed in on itself; slavery likewise. Even when slavery or feudalism was overthrown by something that was geographically distant, it was still part of a system that was weakened by its own internal contradictions. So, the very ability of “outsiders” to make much of a difference is always dependent on the internal strength and cohesion of the system. Continue reading Designs for an ad hoc revolution needed

The Dangerous Koch’s

You Want It Darker?

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 7th November 2018 – Posted: 09 Dec 2018 09:15 PM PST

The remarkable story of how the hard-right Koch brothers funded a Trotskyite splinter group.

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Dark money is among the greatest current threats to democracy. It means money spent below the public radar, that seeks to change political outcomes. It enables very rich people and corporations to influence politics without showing their hands.

Among the world’s biggest political spenders are Charles and David Koch, co-owners of Koch Industries, a vast private conglomerate of oil pipelines and refineries, chemicals, timber and paper companies, commodity trading firms and cattle ranches. If their two fortunes were rolled into one, Charles David Koch, with $120bn, would be the richest man on Earth.

In a rare public statement – an essay published in 1978 – Charles Koch explained his objective. “Our movement must destroy the prevalent statist paradigm.” As Jane Mayer records in her book Dark Money, the Kochs’ ideology – lower taxes and looser regulations – and their business interests “dovetailed so seamlessly it was difficult to distinguish one from the other.”

Over the years, she notes, “the company developed a stunning record of corporate malfeasance”. Koch Industries paid massive fines for oil spills, illegal benzene emissions and ammonia pollution. In 1999, a jury found that it had knowingly using a corroded pipeline to carry butane, which caused an explosion in which two people died. Company Town, a film released last year, tells the story of local people’s long fight against pollution from a huge papermill owned by the Koch brothers.

The Koch’s chief political lieutenant, Richard Fink, developed what he called a three-stage model of social change. Universities would produce “the intellectual raw materials”. Think tanks would transform them into “a more practical or useable form”. Then “citizen activist” groups would “press for the implementation of policy change.”

Continue reading The Dangerous Koch’s

Wingnuts try an assault on socialism using a dog metaphor…

This was in response to Junior’s post saying that real American’s like to walk their dog, while socialists like to eat theirs. 

We pay more, and get much less


Please note this is only the portion of health care expenditures in hospitals, it does NOT include the administrative costs at health care providers offices, testing facilities, pharmacies, logistic outlets, transportation, legal or government oversight, or accounting. Attempting to obtain a comprehensive cost for the net, net costs of all administrative functions in American health care is essentially a non-starter.

The portion of health care costs actually going to doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and technical skills personnel has been estimated at about 20% – https://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/NationalHealthExpendData/downloads/highlights.pdf

It’s not significantly different than paying $5 for a package of food-stuff, where the packaging, distribution, marketing, and selling costs make up $4 of the cost for the item. You might even say the only ones making money today are the “middle-men”, not the producers, workers, and systems that directly present the product.

the less than 1% segment

The Gift of Death

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 11th December 2012

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Pathological consumption has become so normalized that we scarcely notice it.

There’s nothing they need, nothing they don’t already own, nothing they even want. So you buy them a solar-powered waving queen; a belly button brush; a silver-plated ice cream tub holder; a “hilarious” inflatable zimmer frame; a confection of plastic and electronics called Terry the Swearing Turtle; or – and somehow I find this significant – a Scratch Off World wall map.

They seem amusing on the first day of Christmas, daft on the second, embarrassing on the third. By the twelfth, they’re in landfill. For thirty seconds of dubious entertainment or a hedonic stimulus that lasts no longer than a nicotine hit, we commission the use of materials whose impacts will ramify for generations.

Researching her film The Story of Stuff, Annie Leonard discovered that of the materials flowing through the consumer economy, only 1% remain in use six months after sale(1). Even the goods we might have expected to hold onto are soon condemned to destruction through either planned obsolescence (breaking quickly) or perceived obsolescence (becoming unfashionable).

But many of the products we buy, especially for Christmas, cannot become obsolescent. The term implies a loss of utility, but they had no utility in the first place. An electronic drum-machine t-shirt; a Darth Vader talking piggy bank; an ear-shaped i-phone case; an individual beer can chiller; an electronic wine breather; a sonic screwdriver remote control; bacon toothpaste; a dancing dog: no one is expected to use them, or even look at them, after Christmas Day. They are designed to elicit thanks, perhaps a snigger or two, and then be thrown away.

The fatuity of the products is matched by the profundity of the impacts. Rare materials, complex electronics, the energy needed for manufacture and transport are extracted and refined and combined into compounds of utter pointlessness. When you take account of the fossil fuels whose use we commission in other countries, manufacturing and consumption are responsible for more than half of our carbon dioxide production(2). We are screwing the planet to make solar-powered bath thermometers and desktop crazy golfers.
Continue reading the less than 1% segment