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America: You Keep Using That Word

This pretty much sums it all up:

This is a post by Jim Wright, US Retired Navy Chief Warrant Officer.

Enjoy! I did, I bet you will too!

http://www.stonekettle.com/2011/03/america-you-keeping-using-that-word.html

After the Feast…

The last few days have been really, really depressing. I mean downright bad. Everywhere I’ve been on the Internet, blogs, Facebook, Twitter accounts, online news media, any social network, everywhere, I have found people to be just downright nasty, angry and grumpy.

I first thought maybe it was a full moon, but no, I checked and it isn’t. Then I thought maybe it was because Mother’s Day was approaching. But why would that be such a bummer for people? Well, unless people just get bummed out because they don’t have a good relationship with their mother, or, well, maybe because their mother is deceased. So, well, that could be a valid reason. But, really, are there THAT many people who fit into those two categories? Wow.

But then I began thinking about what had just happened that would have affected people on a worldwide scale just this last week; the announcement that Osama Bin Laden had been assassinated by the U.S. Navy Seals 6 Team. And then I began thinking about this on a deeper level.

The announcement really hadn’t affected me all that much, after all, I am one of those “Truthers” every one whispers about. I believe Osama’s been dead for almost 10 years now…lol.  So when the announcement came across the T.V., I just shrugged my shoulders and said, “Oh, they’re finally getting around to announcing it, huh?”

But then I saw how people started taking to the streets and virtually began jumping up and down for joy and shouting “USA!, USA!, USA!” and I realized just HOW MUCH people had been waiting for this guy to be wacked! Wow!  I have to tell you, this caught me by somewhat of a surprise.  I mean I knew that people wanted Bin Laden captured and brought to justice with a big capitol “J”, but really, are we really THAT blood thirsty? What does this say about our society as a whole? Do we really gain any justice by joyously celebrating the bloody assassination of another person? Don’t get me wrong, Law allows us to bring criminals to justice, and I support any law that has been set in place. But honestly, celebrating death?

Finally, I realized why people were so grumpy these last few days…they were hung over from the bloody feast. When everyone should be experiencing a feeling of plump satisfaction and idle contentment, they are, in fact, arriving at a sense of realization…So where did killing Bin Laden get us? Did revenge get us anywhere? Do any of us really feel any better? Do any us have that all illusive “closure” we were longing for? Do we feel any more powerful and supreme? Did his assassination put an end to terror for all time? Are we going to be able to go back to living our lives pre-911 without all of the safety checks at the airports, train stations, ball parks, and all other social gathering places?  Are the wars in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and more importantly, the possibility of increased insurgence in the Middle East, going to decrease? In reality Bin Laden’s death didn’t change anything and I think all of the grumpiness this week is the result of that reality setting in.

I really don’t think we have very much to celebrate. And I personally believe that “closure” is very illusive for those who have lost the lives of those they love.  Furthermore I personally don’t celebrate the death of any human, no matter who they are, even if they were responsible for the death of someone I love. (And yes, I know that feeling.) Yep, you read that right. No matter who they are, I don’t celebrate their death unless they are dying of a terminal illness and already physically suffering and they want to die.  I don’t think Bin Laden fit into that category. I do believe he needed to be brought to justice of the Law though. And if assassinating him was the only way to do that, then so be it. I wasn’t there at the time to personally decide if he needed to be shot, so I wasn’t the one who could make the decision whether to pull the trigger. I cannot judge the person who did pull the trigger. But I will give my opinion and say that his death should not be celebrated.

If anything can be celebrated it is that one more person who brings terror to the World is no longer in the World, regardless of when he died. Now that is a concept I can get on board with. So I have to wrap my head around that concept in order to understand all of the people in the street whooping and hollering about Bin Laden’s death.

My hope, as it always my hope, is that the people of this World can somehow, someday, move beyond war in order to obtain peace. When will we learn that we can’t “fight fire with fire”?  But that we must spread peace in order to obtain more peace. Peaceful resistance is the more substantial way to move forward and beyond any hateful and evil movement that would seek to destroy its own kind. The only time humans should use war-like means is in self-defense, we should never be the side to strike first, and we should not retaliate with a means that brings death if at all possible.

If we live by the sword, we will surely die by the sword.

I would much rather leave a legacy of peace to the future generations.

Adopting When Your Sexual Identity Is Involved…Or Standing for Any Rights for That Matter

I always say, “Follow the money”, and in the case of adopting a child, in my opinion, that statement rings just as true…

There are many States that have the issue of same-sex adoption on the table as of the date of this post.

If we let one human right get eaten away, then another, soon we will have none. None of us have the luxury of picking and choosing which right we will stand for and which we will not, we must stand for all rights if we want any.

Please visit Selah’s Opinion (click) to read the entire article.

April Fool’s for Broad Class Action Suits, Mainly Women…This Time

The heavily armed, right-winged U.S. Supreme Court has to remain true to their nature; they can’t deviate from their character. In a 5 to 4 ruling, only two days after hearing the argument, in the Walmart vs. Duke possible class action lawsuit involving female employees and their alleged discrimination by said employer, an Opinion was written by Justice Alito, who’s birthday is the same day of giving his opinion on the matter, braving the flag for major corporations across the U.S. Land, women beware, you will not be allowed to bring a class action lawsuit against the corporation you are employed by.

According to Alito, Walmart’s treatment of its (female) employees is “typical of the entire American work force” and therefore should be immune from a Title 7 claim under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which protects workers from racial, sex and age discrimination among a long laundry list of other types of discrimination. And evidently four other Justices agree with Alito because the Opinion was given only two days after hearing the argument, one of the quickest decisions in history made by the Supreme Court. Alito argues that class action lawsuits for discrimination are not available “absent a written statement promoting a purely discriminatory hiring policy.” Your employer must already have in place a detailed discrimination policy outlined in their employee handbook, regardless of our U.S. 1964 Civil Rights Act, Title 7 or no Title 7. In other words, if you don’t have a note from your employer that explicitly says that you have been discriminated against in your workplace; you cannot sue the very corporation who discriminated against you!

This just completely blows out of the water all kinds of lawsuits based on discrimination for people all across America. It sets precedence. Women are clearly the majority of employees at Walmart, comprising about 80% of Walmart’s employees nationwide.  Now they cannot bring a class action suit against their employer; what does that say about a “minority’s” power overall in any case versus a major corporation now that the Citizen’s United case has passed the U.S. Supreme Court?

Again, I see this as a war on the Middle Class of America. This speaks volumes to me. This is not just a case of Male vs. Female, but Corporations vs. Middle Class. This is a kind of bigotry we have not experienced in this volume of power before now. I’m not saying this kind of bigotry hasn’t existed; it has, just not in this volume of power. It has been sitting in the background carefully plotting its game, making sure that all of us have viewed our competition as male against female, black against white, heterosexual against homosexual, and so on and so forth. But now that Citizens’ United has passed, major Corporations have no reasons to keep their agenda in the obscure, they can be bold and brazen, and they are.

Unfortunately this U.S. Supreme Court Opinion has far-reaching tentacles into many sectors of our communities. This will affect not only women in the workforce who may find it necessary to bring class action lawsuits in the future, but also those who are discriminated against based on race, religion, sexual orientation and age. All a corporate employer will need to do is scream “typical American workforce policy” and “absent of written discriminatory hiring policy”! As long as a corporation stays in line, remains in keeping the precedents that have been set, with all of their “brother” corporations regarding hiring and management policies, and as long as they never have a clearly written discriminatory hiring policy, said corporation will be safe from all future class action law suits by virtually any “minority” based on discrimination, even taking into consideration Title 7 of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The only sector of employees any corporation would need to beware of would be, basically the male sector, primarily the white male, and even that sector is quickly vanishing and becoming a minority with the occurrence of the Great Recession, how convenient.

It remains quite clear that for every step we take forward, our nation still seems to take two steps back. Our U.S. Supreme Court was never supposed to be an “activist” court. It was intended to be as pure of a court as could possibly be, based on pure Law with no partisanship or religious or emotional bias by the Justices who reside thereon. It has become so obviously clear that corruption has crept into the last and final place where Americans thought they could find sanctity, a place of equality and hope. Our only hope now is that somehow we can get Justices residing who “are on our political side”. Right now we have a 5-4 court. Five Republicans and four Democrats sit in the Supreme Court and that’s why we see the Supreme Court ruling the way they do right now. Our only hope is that in the future we see a change where we have a switch in the way the court is weighed.

For another related article read: Yes, Walmart Is Too Big To Sue

Libyan War, What’s Next?

So it’s happened, the U.S. is officially involved in the Libyan revolt. Although our administration has not gone out on the limb yet and called our involvement in a “war”, for all intensive purposes, we are at war.

I mean what else do you call it when our military is launching strikes with ground to air missiles and aircraft missiles as well? If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and sounds like a duck; don’t you call it a duck? I think so.

At the time of writing this post, so far the U.S. has managed to bomb one of Gadaffi’s compounds. Supposedly we didn’t intentionally bomb his compound, it just “happened to be where the bomb landed”. Right, I really believe that.  Our missiles are equipped with such high-tech pinpoint accuracy that they can be targeted for a mouse’s nose and hit it.

As I stated in my previous post about predicting there would be a Libyan War, no one asked me or my Congressperson who represents me, if I wanted this war, no one. And I don’t want this war. Don’t get me wrong, I am strongly behind the people of Libya who ache for their freedom and want to be unleashed from the oppressive dictatorship of their autocratic government. I am all for rights and equality. Anyone who doubts this can read my blog at www.SelahsOpinion.wordpress.com and you will quickly understand the a-political, peace-loving side of my nature. But yes, there is a “but” coming here. And it’s this, the new Libyan War is not about the Libyan people gaining their freedom, they are being used as pawns for the Oligarch’s and Plutocracies in the World to amass more wealth and power over the very people they tout to be helping. And this absolutely disgusts me.

European leaders have joined together and literally chanted in our President’s ear to join them in their coalition to take Gadaffi down to protect their Oil interests. Yes, this is what is going on behind the scenes. Supposedly Gadaffi contributed loads of funds to Sarkozy for his 2007 presidential campaign according to Saif Gadaffi, Muammar Gadaffi’s son. This isn’t the first time Sarkozy has been accused, or found guilty in receiving illegal funds for his own presidential campaign. And David Cameron, the Prime Minister of British Columbia was in the crowd, no doubt representing his country’s interests for BP Oil. These leaders don’t want to be beholden to Gadaffi for anything so the easiest way to relieve themselves of their real or perceived debt is to simply take him out of the way. Yes, this is a very simplistic explanation, but this is my opinion, nonetheless.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Libya only produces 5% of the world’s oil, and of that 5% the U.S. only consumes 2% of that. So why are we so involved in this attack on the Libyan government? Is it to protect the Libyan people? Really? Or are we protecting the interests of our allies? I suspect the latter. And my suspicion is that we are particularly protecting BP Oil in specific.  Wow. Imagine that. To be such a powerful corporation that literally Nations would come together in a coalition to protect your financial interests.

But that’s what’s happening in our world of corporatocracy, mixing in a good dose of oligarchy (royalty, wealth, family ties, corporate, or military control)  and plutocracy (wealthy, or power provided by wealth) until the two are so immersed in one another’s business that we eventually have a plutarchy.  Unfortunately, if “we, the people”, stand by and don’t do anything about it, this is what we will be left with, a plutarchy. It’s well on its way.  Our leaders are ignoring our Constitution and placing our military in acts of war without putting their proposals before Congress and legitimately declaring war. And it’s legal. This has been going on for years and years and thus a precedent has been set. In law, if a precedent has been set, typically it will stand in a court of law. This makes it more difficult to prove a reason why the precedent should be broken or changed. But the one thing we have going for us is that the precedent that is currently being established regarding our Presidents taking our military into war is that previously written into our Constitution is that they are not allowed to declare war without permission from our Congress, so it is our Presidents who are walking the tight rope of breaking the law and attempting to establish a new precedent. The longer we, as the people of the U.S. allow them to get away with their actions, the stronger the new precedent builds their case to change the Constitution, in other words, builds a case to actually amend it. We need to begin petitioning our Congress to enact the Constitution (Article 1, Section 8 ) as it is written and require our President to obtain permission before declaring war, or implementing any act that even looks like war, including “authorizations of force”.

But what about The War Powers Act of 1973? In my opinion this Act needs to be completely overturned and thrown out because it was the beginning of giving license to our Presidents to engage our military in “acts of war” and “authorizations of force” without obtaining permission from Congress, the very people you and I vote into office to represent us. Unfortunately there is a caveat in Section 4 (a). If our President doesn’t actually “declare war” then he is not required to obtain permission from Congress to send our Military into action. It seems that this is what he has done in the case of the No-Fly-Zone in Libya. But like I said above, “If it looks like a duck…” then what do you call it? What happened to using restraint by our President and his abusing his Executive powers?  And why does the War Powers Act of 1973 share the same number as the UN Resolution 1973 to establish a No-Fly-Zone over Libya? Is it because the War Powers Act establishes a precedent for our Presidents to engage in military action without actually declaring war, and without obtaining permission from Congress, and now our Executive Branch has used that Act of 1973 in Coalition with the UN in a collaborated project in a “warlike” manner? In other words, because the U.S. didn’t act alone, our Executive Branch purposely, to protect themselves legally, had to incorporate the use of the War Powers Act within the UN Resolution so as not to be seen as engaging in “declaring war” along with the other foreign constituents of the resolution? I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall in that room where the resolution was being debated! I bet that was a dance to be seen before the final resolution was finally drafted and signed! -I can’t help but think that eventually our Executive branch of our own U.S. government will be permanently establishing our current and future President’s authority, based on precedent of “actions similar to declaring war”, at any given time, without the permission of Congress, totally eradicating the approval of Congress for all time, both present and future. It’s almost come to that point anyway. Since the day of President Roosevelt Congress hasn’t been involved in making any decisions about our military being sent into war. Face it, it’s just one decision Congress doesn’t really want anyway, it’s too controversial with the American public. Why not let the President take all of the blame?

So this is why we keep hearing over and over again that the U.S. is merely supplying the means, the capabilities, the information technology, etc., necessary for our allies to carry out the actual fighting, because, legally, according to The War Powers Act of 1973, “the U.S. is not at war”. Because if we were at war, our President would be legally bound to propose the request to Congress and receive their permission to continue. Interestingly enough though, we are making strikes of our own, the envelope is being pushed and nothing is being done about it, and no one is stopping the action. But as long as the Executive Branch reports to Congress once every 6 months then, hey, legally, according to The War Powers Acts of 1973, everything is A-okay and good to go.

I’m a pragmatic realist most of the time. Let’s face it, war is expensive. But who pays for it? It’s always on the back of the American citizens when we go into a war. It’s paid for through the loss of the lives of our loved ones and our financial resources. Can we really afford it right now? We are still emotionally and financially paying for two wars that we couldn’t afford in the first place, Iraq and Afghanistan.  No one asked us if we wanted to go into those wars either. And we lost big in those wars, both in lives and in financial resources. And we aren’t even out of Afghanistan yet. And we have troops located literally all over the World in order “to fight the war on terror”.

But war makes money too. At least that’s what our leaders will tell us. They will tell us that they will put people to work making the “tools of war”. And they will tell us that’s good for America, especially right now when the jobs numbers are down. But what our leaders will not tell us is that the war will make money for the big wigs. Lots and lots of money. Again, corporate interests at stake. So to a big extent, our leaders want to keep us at war, it keeps a good cash flow in their pockets.

But for the rest of us, these are the questions on our minds:

What are ALL of the reasons for going in?

How long will this war last?

What is the exit plan?

Who will be in power once the mission is complete?

What type of government will remain once the new power is implemented?

How will the new government interact with the UN?

Was this really the only way to accomplish a peaceful resolve?

Does it really require an act of war for peace? Isn’t that an oxymoron?

Lots of questions. So few answers. In the meantime, lots of risk for a lot of people.

But my big question is this, “What’s next?” I know it’s on the minds of most Americans. We really don’t expect this to end soon, none of our wars do. Hey, I will be full of joy if it does! But I don’t expect it to. In fact, I expect it to escalate into something much larger. This is the Middle East, after all. And I keep hearing “them” say, this is our 3rd war. I don’t like the sound of that. It just rubs me the wrong way. And I know Israel is sitting on the edge wanting assurance from us that we will protect their interests no matter what goes down.  There is just too much unrest in the Middle East right now, too many people revolting against their governments for their freedom, all at the same time.

But what happens if this does turn into a Middle East war of apocalypse proportion? What would be the basis for that? What would be the prime motivating factor? Would it be the radicals of religion? Would it be the East against the West?

I shudder to even think of what a massive Middle East war would be like, look like for all of us. Just when all of us are looking forward to beginning to draw down our troops from Afghanistan, here we are entering Libya and the Middle East. We just can’t stay out of war, can we? The drums of war just have to be kept beating.  All of us are just tired, so tired. We just want some time to stop and take a deep breath and catch up. It’s been one thing after another every since September 11, 2011. When does the World get a chance to exhale?

Libyan War Brings On a Sickening Feeling

I’ve been waking up every morning this week with a stomach ache, a sickening feeling that lingers with me all day long. I go to bed with it every night. I keep wondering what I’m eating that’s making me feel this way, but I can’t come to any one thing I’m eating that could be making me feel this way. I don’t have the flu and I’m not running a temperature, so I have come to a conclusion that it’s a deep feeling of dread, a feeling that I have no control of what may be about to happen, and it’s big, really, really big.

War.

Again, war. Once again, our “fearless” leaders are strongly considering going to war. And once again they are using the same old argument, just in a different twist. If it’s not about “terrorism”, then it’s about “democracy”. But this time it’s about someone else’s democracy, not ours at home, in America. This time it’s about the rebels in Libya. Okay, I get that; I can digest that idea, that policy, that logic, that philosophy. And I’m fully on board, behind it, and I will even tout it from the highest mountain tops…the rights of the Libyan people to have a democratic nation, just like ours.

Wait.

Just like ours? No one asked me, personally, if I wanted us to go to war for the Libyan people. No one even asked my Congress, who represents me, if my Military should go to war for the Libyan people. What’s democratic about that? Nothing. I am hearing that my President, on the advice of his Foreign Relations Committee is making this decision to go to war for the Libyan people, all on his own. This is not a democratic way of doing things; this is a unilateral decision, akin to what former President Bush enacted in the Iraq War. This kind of decision is becoming too frequent in our society and is getting awfully close to our Presidents acting on occasion as autocrats when it suits their corporate convenience and plutocratic interests. How does this arm-twisting behavior differ from the very governments we are rushing in to help “dissolve” in favor of the democracy-seeking rebels of foreign countries?  It doesn’t. It’s just so shadowed that, as the mild-mannered Americans we have become, we allow our “leaders” to get away with their strong-arming behavior, all the while believing they really are acting on our best behalf, knowing what really is in our finest interests. But it isn’t. It’s all about them.

Who gained during the economic downfall? (I just can’t call it a “downturn” any more; it was an all out downfall for the American people.) It was Wall Street (Have you seen how Wall St has bounced back, and the American people have not?), the Big Banks (Yes, Americans bailed them out, but who is bailing us out of our home foreclosures?), Major Corporations (the Citizens United case is just one way the corporations won), and the Oil Companies (Americans pay over 4 Billion a year in subsidies to oil companies) who came out on top of the suffering backs of the American people.  Who lost? The American people. We lost jobs, retirement packages, savings accounts, homes, health insurance…SECURITY.

Let’s get real. This going into Libya to help the people fight for democracy isn’t for the people, it’s not about democracy. If we go to war in Libya it will be on the backs of the American people, once more, just like it was on our backs for the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War, and the Economic Downfall. Why would any government allow its own people to lose their own sense of security and spend millions of dollars, possibly billions, if we ultimately engage in a possibly long and dedicated Middle East war?

It’s about the Oil.

We may even be told, somewhere along the line of engaging in the new Libyan War, that it is, in fact, about the Oil, if the story of the “democracy for the Libyan people” wears old and thin. But the twist on the new story “for the Oil” will be something like, “We haven’t explored our new energy sources enough yet so we have to protect our oil resources, for you, the American people.”

But no matter how you spin it, it’s about the Corporate Interests and the Plutocrats of the World who want, need, to maintain their power and wealth. It’s not about people; it’s not about the freedom or the security of the people. It’s all about the few who hold the wealth and thus the power.

These wars for wealth and power have to be fought at crucial moments, at times when uproar presents itself, at times of unrest among the people, when people just can’t take the “strong-arming” any longer from their governments, when people want more out of life and they think they have an opening to go after it. We are seeing it happen across the globe, and we are seeing it happen in our own hometowns. We are witnessing peaceful resistance in many uprisings, but we will undoubtedly see brutality in a lot of the uprisings as well. It is the latter kinds of uprisings we have to caution ourselves to turn away from and dismiss our involvement from. We have seen what peaceful resistance brings, resolution. We have also seen what brutality brings, war, never-ending war, and along with it, casualties of war too numerous to describe that last long after the immediacy of any one war.

We must watch how unrest begins, and then we must watch how it progresses. If it progresses into violent rage in which government tempts us to engage in a war-like manner, we must resist at all costs because war brings no resolve and ultimately costs us, the people, our own people as well as our own financial and material assets. It is peaceful resistance that brings true resolve. It is only when our own body, or the body of our immediate neighbor, is at risk of harm do we allow ourselves the right of protection. But we do not allow the reigning force of government to tempt us into war. And I surmise that this is exactly what is happening in the case of the “no-fly-zone” aspect of the Libya situation. We are being tempted into war “as if” we are doing this for the sake of the democracy of the people of Libya against the autocratic government. But it’s not the true reason, it’s the Oil.

Already, as of the date of this post, the U.S. has deployed the USS Kearsarge, equipped to carry V-22 Osprey vertical takeoff and landing aircraft and MH-53E Super Stallion helicopter­s, the largest and heaviest helicopter­s in the U.S. military arsenal, and the USS Ponce is on its way to the Libyan Coast. Obviously our government means big business. Do we really need this much firing power to convince the Libyan Military to stop attacking the wee little people who are revolting against their autocratic government?

It seems to me that the sickening feeling I have been carrying around in my stomach isn’t for no reason at all. After hearing on the news, day after day now, I have known in my gut that the U.S. is most likely heading into still another war, not for democracy’s sake, but for Oil. We will be told it will be for democracy for the people of Libya, but it will be for the Oil. We will be told that we are going in for the short term, but we will end up being “there”, the Middle East, for a very long time. A nation doesn’t just casually go in to the Middle East for a short fly over and then quickly exit. THIS IS THE MIDDLE EAST FOR GOD’S SAKE!

I hope I’m wrong, I really, really do.

Saving Our Future

It just occurred to me as I was posting to a popular website blogosphere regarding saving our future by raising our U.S. debt ceiling that paying off our debt first was not the easy solution that the right-wing wants us to believe it is.

One blogger just casually said, “We need to “invest” in our debt, and by default will invest in our future.” I had to have a good chuckle at that statement. “Invest in our debt”, I thought to myself. “What kind of statement is that?

I had previously just posted on the same blog, “I just wonder how much the debt ceiling would have to be raised IF: 1) Tax extensions for the rich would not have been granted. 2) The wars would have been ended. 3) Major outsourcin­g would have been ceased.
Yes, I know these ideas seem like simple solutions to a terrifical­ly difficult problem, but I’m just saying…i­f these ideas would have been implemente­d a long time ago…just saying
.”

I quickly realized that both of us were basically saying the same thing, only on opposite ends of the spectrum. This other person, obviously a right-wing follower, and you can tell by their Username that they are, honestly believes that if the U.S. pays off their real debt to other countries then we will automatically be investing in our future because we will be free of our encumbrances to other Nations. What they don’t seem to understand is that some amount of debt to other countries is what makes the World go ‘round. It actually creates good will with other countries and the world in general. We want good relations with the world and other countries in specific and being in debt with specific countries allows us those good relations.

It’s like personal debt, you see. When you go to the bank and ask for a loan, they ask you if you have a history of credit. If you say “no”, they kind of raise their eyebrows at you. They begin to suspect you and wonder why you don’t have a credit history. If you have some amount of credit history it becomes easier to acquire a loan and develop a relationship with that bank, especially if you have a good history of paying on loans, not necessarily if you have a good history of paying off your loans, but paying on those loans. They want you to pay on your loans because that’s when they make money on you through the interest applied to your loans. And that’s how countries want the U.S. to do business with them. They want us to make payments on our loans, not pay them off. They want to make money on us; they don’t want us to pay off our loans. It is through those kinds of actions that we establish good relations with the countries we borrow money from. But for some odd reason right-wing people just don’t understand this simple principal.

Furthermore, I see this from quite the opposite point of view when it comes to “investing in our future” by “paying off our debt”. I see our real and tangible debt as those who really keep sucking off of the “system”, the rich, the wealthy, and the privileged. They are those who can obviously afford their gross lifestyles without anyone helping them to pay for the lives they lead. Yet they are the very people who receive help to keep living the way they do. All of their tax cut extensions, the wars they make sure never end and all of the major outsourcing of manufactured products that should be made here in the U.S.A., keep money in their corporate pockets and their greedy little hands and help them to maintain their lavish lifestyles while basic social programs for the impoverished lower class are being chipped away. Now the middle class is beginning to suffer for the benefit of the privileged wealthy class as well. An all out attack on our public jobs is being waged as the Unions are fighting for their right to collective bargain for their working conditions and their health and retirement benefits. Forget about their wages, they just have to understand and accept that a freeze has been put on all wages. In fact, all of us, Union and non-union alike, have to acknowledge freezes on our wages even when a freeze isn’t warranted. We are being told that COLA (cost of living allowances) aren’t needed because prices aren’t going up! This is no more than a fabricated lie!

(The truth is products are being packaged in smaller packages and in many cases extra air is being blown into those packages to make them appear larger. In cases where air cannot be blown, the product is whipped to fill up extra space. And still in other products the package is smaller and the price remains the same as the larger package and the customer thinks they are still purchasing the same size package. The FDA doesn’t care about package size; they only care about the price when they are doing the price check in figuring the COLA’s. That’s how the government comes to the cost of living increases or decreases in order to calculate whether to raise the minimum wages and the Social Security allowances. I have simplified the process to some extent, but basically that’s how it goes).

Getting back to the real debt issue, tax cut extensions for the privileged wealthy class, wars that never end and major outsourcing of our manufactured products all have to end to get us out of our debt crisis. It’s time that the rich stop sucking off of the middle class and the poor. It’s the backs of the middle class who pay for the rich to remain wealthy. Who do they think are going to pay their way once the middle class has been taxed all we can be taxed and our jobs have been stolen away from us through outsourcing and we no longer have jobs to pay taxes? Are all of us to become slave laborers? Don’t laugh; there may be more truth in that question than you think if we don’t begin standing up for ourselves now. And how about all of the money being spent on war, is it really the money being spent directly on war, or is it the money being spent on the tools of war that is draining our budget dry? It’s the tools. The rich are getting richer on manufacturing the tools of war, that’s why they want to keep war alive. Wake up America! We aren’t in war to keep Americans safe; we are in war to make money for the wealthy!

How do we reduce the U.S. debt? We begin by reducing the amount of money the privileged wealthy class sucks off of the middle class in America. And they are sucking plenty of it off of each and every one of us who work hard for our daily living. They are sucking it right off of the top of our wages by skimming their tax cut extensions off before we get our tax cuts, they are outsourcing our manufacturing jobs leaving us to scramble for any old job we can find, many times leaving us to work a job we are not trained for, and they are spending our Nation’s money, money we worked for, on the tools of war, wars we don’t need to keep America safe; we need to have our troops at home in case we are attacked right here within our own borders. And the way it’s going, we may very well be in a war, and the enemy may be our own. We may be like Egypt and need our military to defend our own middle class.

The Disembodiment of the Middle Class

First the middle class was beheaded. Part by part we are being disembodied. The loss of our retirement funds was only the beginning of this bloody mess.  Along with our retirement funds, millions of jobs were lost. We were told all of this was due to corporate losses and big bank downturns and we, the American people had to “bail out” so that our entire National economy wouldn’t collapse. Soon to follow we learned that Unemployment Insurance, that all of us pay in to with each and every paycheck, would soon “run out” and many of us would find ourselves on the “99ers” list unable to continue to collect our unemployment insurance. Simply put, “we are out of luck”. Millions of us were out of a job and were not going to receive any help from the insurance funds we legitimately paid into for time such as these. As a result of being jobless, we had the choice of paying for the high costing COBRA health insurance, which realistically no one can afford if they have no job, or take the alternative, realistic choice of no health insurance at all. Then for those who are fortunate to still have a job, healthcare insurance costs soared and it is still soaring each and every year. Finally, millions of us lost our homes, some due to the fact that we lost our jobs, but many, many more due to improper, illegal mortgages.

Then the body of the middle class had its guts sucked right out it by the passing of the Citizen’s United case by the activist 5-4, Republican-Democratic, Supreme Court. We are now learning that both Scalia and Thomas had attended “secret political strategy retreats hosted by Koch Industries, the second largest U.S. corporation and multi-million dollar supporter of conservative causes”(Ref: Change.org). Koch Industries were slated to gain big corporate advantages if the Supreme Court ruled in the favor of corporations in the case of Citizen’s United. Both of these Justices should have recused themselves of the Supreme Court decision regarding Citizen’s United, but neither of them did. Our Supreme Court is not supposed to have “activist” Justices seated on the bench. Throughout the history of the Supreme Court it has been understood that Justices are to be neutral in their decisions, always ruling according to law and on the behalf of what is right and equal, not on the behalf of who is paying them off. It seems that dirty politics have even made it to the highest court of our Nation. And in doing so has now sucked the guts out of the body of the middle class of America. It is no longer one-person-one-vote where corporations are concerned. Oh, it is for the individual people of the United States, we only have one vote to each person. But the corporations have collective bargaining power, the same thing the middle class is fighting tooth and nail for in regards to their daily jobs. The corporations can now bring all of their conglomerate power together, even their foreign holders, to make laws on their behalf, even if that means the individual citizens of the United States get bull-dozed. The guts of the voting power in the U.S. have been sucked out of our Constitutional rights. And all of the arguments for this new law that stomped on a law that dated back to 1947 that restricted corporate spending on elections was guised under “freedom of speech” laws! They suckered us into thinking this was all about freedom of speech! Corporations now have unlimited power to spend as much as they wish on electing their candidate into public office, no restrictions. And they don’t even have to disclose themselves to the public in doing so! In other words, they can literally buy their candidate of choice. So much for the measly one-person-one-vote for all of us individual Americans, how much power and money do you think all of us bring to the ballot box against the major billion dollar corporations?

Now the feet of the middle class are about to be torn off too, more jobs, and the jobs of the public service working class are being attacked. Why do I call these jobs the “feet” of the middle class? Because if we lose these key jobs we will begin to see our neighborhoods literally fall to shambles and all of us will begin to see our wages dramatically drop as well. These public sector jobs keep our Nation moving in all sorts of ways that we take for granted. They keep our highways flowing, our freight trains delivering, our sewers flushing, our trash dumped, and our children going to school, our fires put out, and our criminals out of our homes and businesses and on and on. These jobs also keep our own wages aligned with the standard of wages across the Nation. History proves this fact. Look at the States who employ the “right-to-work” act versus States who don’t. The States with the right-to-work act have significantly lower minimum wages than the States who don’t employ that act. The right-to-work act severely makes it known to Unions that “we don’t like you” and “we will do everything we can to keep you out of our State”. As a result, wages in those States are much, much lower. Plain and simple, there is no collective bargaining power in right-to-work States, I know, I live in one. On average, a person can earn $2.00 more per hour in a State that protects collective bargaining over a right-to-work State.

If all of us don’t stand together, and that means the private sector standing with the public sector, then soon you will see the arms of the middle class ripped right off too. Who are the arms of the middle class? The private sector jobs are the arms. Those jobs are even more disposable than the public sector jobs. Yes, I know, they have already been attacked once, at the very beginning of the economic downturn. But don’t think for one minute that those jobs are done being attacked. It was just the beginning. It was a warning signal. If you think the government has no heart when it comes to layoffs, wait and see how much heart the corporations don’t have. Remember, they are the entity behind the Citizen’s United case. Their CEO’s are the people with the original idea behind plutocracy. (Information on Plutocracy) Corporations will operate on skeleton crews and will over work and under pay their workers holding their worker’s jobs over their heads all the while taking more and more benefits away. Yes, they will get away with these actions IF we let them get pass base one, the destruction of the collective bargaining process of the public worker, the feet of the American middle class.

As I have mentioned in a previous blog, this is not about right or left, Democrat or Republican. This is about Middle Class. And politicians and CEO’s don’t mind playing all of the people in American against each other to get what they want, plutocracy. It’s time all Americans look at our National situation for what it really is, a war for our independence as free Americans. None of us want to be owned like slaves. But that’s what we are slowly becoming. And we are becoming slaves because we are buying into the argument. We are buying into the argument fueled by those who want a plutocracy. If they can keep us believing that this is a “left against right”, or “democrat against republican”, or a “public sector worker against a private sector worker” or even one religion against another religion, then we have lost as Americans. The bottom line is that all of us are Americans. We are Americans who work for a living. We are Americans who have families to feed and house. When it comes right down to it, what does it matter if one of us is democrat or republican? We all have to eat and have a roof over our heads.  We should not give anyone the ability to take away our inalienable right to earn a living for our family. No one should have that much power over our lives. No one should have that much power for no reason, even for the reason of politics. All politics aside, we are all humans with the same equal rights to earn a good living so we can provide our families with food, housing and healthcare. We can win this “war” they have called us to engage in. We can win by resisting their call to poverty. We don’t need guns and other weaponry. Like the people of Egypt, we can win with our sheer numbers in outcry protesting what they are proposing. We don’t have to take their offer. Private sector workers need to stand by and with their fellow public sector working Americans in unity, protecting their jobs, wages and benefits. Then when it comes time for private sector jobs and benefits to be protected, the public sector workers will stand with the private sector workers. Unity is what this Nation was built on, and that’s what this country will stand on.  “United we stand, divided we fall.” Plutocracy is depending that we will divide. And they are making sure of it by keeping us at each other’s throat through politics. Let’s fool them. They are depending on “divide and conquer”. Let’s show them that we are eternally UNITED. Let’s show them that our allegiance goes beyond our politics. Let’s show them that we stand next to our neighbor when it comes to basic human dignity and the ability to earn a living as a middle class citizen regardless of our political party.

Americans Are Losing

What are Americans giving up to live in the greatest country on the planet?

We really need to stop and think deeply about that question before we quickly answer because the very reasons our country was founded are slowly, but surely, on a fast pace forward, being lost.

Americans are a resilient bunch of people. Our very DNA dictates that we have in our past the ability to withstand great forces against everything we stand for. But we have the sheer will to battle those forces and prevail.

Today the battles that rage are within our own camp and often we don’t even know who the real enemies are. The days of shaking hands on a deal and promising to defend one another with words rolling off of our lips are over. Even written contracts aren’t worth the ink and the paper they are written on. If a person, or a group has enough money to “lawyer up”, then most likely they will win the battle. Battles are no longer won by the sheer will of the people any longer; they are won by the amount of money behind the movement.

Unfortunately in today’s times we are beginning to see a sharp separation of class once more. History repeats itself. And where class exists, money, or lack of it, will be found as well. Most of us have lived with a predominately middle class all of our lives. We know no other way to live. Yes, we have always co-existed with a higher class as well as a lower class, but the middle class has always been the largest of the classes in the United States for our entire lives. It would only make perfect sense that is where the bulk of the money would lay; and because of that, the power. The middle class had a strong and powerful voice, until now.

Gradually, and in a very calculating way, the upper class has been, and is, emasculating the middle class. And this is not happening by accident. As stated, it is happening in a calculated manner. Just how our leaders have led us down this road of self-destruction is very involved and would take a manuscript three inches thick to outline in detail. But in short take a look at the last few years. Our banking institutions have failed and then been bailed out while the American people have lost their homes in record numbers and have not received any credible help to keep their mortgages. Wall Street has jubilantly bounced back out of near destitution while countless Americans have lost their jobs and many are still out of work or underemployed and can no longer receive Unemployment Insurance; they are left destitute. CEO’s of large corporations are still employed, or at minimum left their companies with huge severance packages retiring in the lap of luxury while many, many Americans no longer have any retirement benefits or health insurance and many are too young to begin collecting the all-too-unstable Social Security benefits they have paid into all of their lives. Our Congress persons are shouting out to reduce public jobs and then to reduce the benefits for the public jobs that remain while they, themselves, maintain all of their benefits that are associated with their own public jobs. And finally, maybe the most shocking slap in the face of all is the Citizens United case passed by the U.S. Supreme Court (View Opinion), which utterly destroys our independent, one-person-one-vote, election process. This new process, whereby “supreme corporations” can vote in a collective manner “as if” they are living, breathing human beings, who can also raise huge funds through their corporations to support their chosen candidate who they can persuade, again through their generous monetary donations, to vote in the manner these corporations want them to vote, on the behalf, and to the benefit of their corporate affairs.

All of this is happening while all Americans, no matter what political party we belong to, are being told by our leaders of both major political parties that a movement is on to rebuild America. Words are cheap. But in reality none of us see an increase in jobs. What we see is a decrease in public jobs, a steady hold on all private sector jobs, and nothing but a decrease in the percentage of unemployment figures only due to the fact that unemployed people are giving up looking for jobs all together. All of this is going on while all Americans are being told by our political leaders that both political parties are doing all they can to reduce government spending. But the reduced spending is coming on the backs of the American people by taking away benefits that help all of us, regardless of our political party affiliation. Medicaid is being stripped from many States. This is medical assistance that helps all people regardless of their political affiliation. Public education is taking a major hit. Other public services such as our security forces in the way of fire departments and police departments are cutting back. This affects all people, regardless of their political affiliation.

These drastic cut backs affect all of us, not just one political party or the other. A police officer doesn’t stop and ask what political party you belong to before attempting to save your life. Neither does a fireperson. A teacher doesn’t ask your child what political party a child’s parent is affiliated with before attempting to teach your child math or language. These cut backs affect all of us. This is an attack on all of us. If we live in the USA, we are affected. And we can’t think we are safe just because we have a job today. Life has a way of changing on a dime, in a flash, in the blink of an eye. It can change because you or your spouse gets hurt on the job, or is in a traffic accident on the way home from work, or contracts a serious illness, or gets laid off of work because the company has decided to downsize, or because it’s a public job and the government has decided to slash a number of jobs and give the pink slip. None of us are immune. None of us are immune, if we fortunate enough to be defined as “middle class”, because that’s where the attack is now. That is where the war is now. The war is at home. It’s at our own front door.

This is a different kind of war. We may call it a war for democracy. We may call it a war for freedom. We may call it a war for equal rights that we have earned and paid a high price for. Whatever we call it, it is a war for the survival of our middle class. Our country was built on the literal backs of the middle class. Now our political leaders are attempting to down play the importance of the middle class and its ability to flourish. We are being made to think we are no longer important to the sustainability of the United States. What we are being told, by the passing of the Citizens United case, is that Corporations are more important than the living, breathing human backs of the middle class who run the factories. We are being told by the actions of ever-increasing outsourcing of manufacturing to other countries that we, the humans, are no longer important to the prosperity of the burgeoning plutocracy. We are even being told that what our soldiers have fought and died for really don’t amount to what we thought their efforts did. After all, if our soldiers fought for freedom, whose freedom did they fight for if we are losing ours at home?

How do we fight this war? Do we bring out our guns and other weapons of destruction? No; emphatically NO. We resist. We resist by our sheer power in number. We put aside our differences in religion and political party and realize that when it comes right down to it, all Americans are on the same side, the American side. If our political leaders can keep us separated by religion and political party they have won the war. If they can keep us separated by keeping “unrest” among us by religious discord, or political discord, then they have won. Our plight goes far beyond any religious or political boundaries; it is one of human equality. This is about basic human rights and equality. In America the middle class became so large because the majority of people believed in basic human rights and equality for all. No, not all people in American reached the status of middle class, but it has always been the goal of the true American to make living in the USA better for each person who worked hard at bettering themselves. It was possible to “make something out of yourself” in American if you tried. America provided that dream. Today that dream is quickly fading away, if it has not already faded away completely. It’s up to us, as a collective people, to bring it back by peaceful resistance. It’s up to us, the dwindling middle class to bring that dream back by resisting what the plutocracy is attempting to do to us. They may have the money, but we have the power in number. We don’t have to bow to their every whim and whimper. We don’t have to do what they tell us to do. We don’t have to move their mountains.

The winds of change are blowing. Whether you believe it or not, the winds are blowing into your town soon. You may see it begin with a small company that manufactures parts for a government product, or you may see a seemingly insignificant public school close, or a slight reduction in your local police force or fire department, or you may see that your roads are not being kept in good repair. But make no mistake about it, you, or someone you know, will be affected in some way.  History repeats itself, but it does look a little different each time it repeats. This time, because hindsight is 20/20, the fight for freedom and rights will give us a new America with new safeguards from plutocracy against total demolishment and genocide of the middle class protecting all cross-sections including all races, religions, males, females, political parties and more. If we all put aside our invisible boundaries and come together for the common causes that benefit each of us mutually, then all of us will gain. Rather than looking at the differences that could separate us, we need to begin engaging in the actions that bind us.

If We Could Turn Back Time

Well, it’s finally happened. A member of Congress has been shot, and along with her, many innocent bystanders.

Gabrielle Giffords spoke out, in the recent past, against the political rhetoric that has been bubbling just below the surface of composure in our Nation’s emotional security. After all, her District 8, located in southern Arizona, had been targeted by the cross-hairs on Sarah Palin’s map of the congress persons who, in her opinion, needed to be dealt with, in a swift and powerful manner, for their stand on the Obama Healthcare Bill, what Palin claimed to have clauses containing “death panels”. Interestingly enough though, the real death panels would come along soon enough from one of the beloved darlings of the Republican Party, Jan Brewer, who decided, on her very own strength, to reduce the funding for Medicaid in Arizona thereby cutting off funding for 99 Arizonans who needed life-saving transplants.  As of the date of this blog, two of the 99 have already died waiting for funds for their transplants. When the Medicaid for Arizona was reduced, Federal funding was lost as well, to the tune of millions of dollars, which would have aided hundreds of thousands of Arizonans. The real shot-in-the-back, the real cross-hairs was on the entire State of Arizona, and the residents thereof, and the ever-increasing budget deficit due to the mis-management of funds, not on Gabrielle Giffords. But unfortunately “Gabby” was the person who took the gunshot wound to the head for all of us that placed her in ICU fighting for her life. She took a stand for healthcare that would help save the lives of millions of people, and she almost lost her life for the stand she took. But those who decided to let the people of Arizona die still walk the streets today with no remorse or shame in their hearts, or on their minds. I wonder if they could turn back time if they would change their minds and change their stand on the Obama Healthcare Bill, AHCCCS, Arizona’s Medicaid program, or would their pride still take them down the road that led to Gabby’s fatal day?

If we could turn back time; would we have all of the people who were shot that fatal day on January 8, 2011, back as fully functioning people of society, going about doing their business? Would all 19 victims still be living their lives normally? Six people were killed that day, Gabe Zimmerman, Christina Taylor-Green, Judge John Roll, Dorwan Stoddard, Phyllis Schneck, and Dorothy Morris. But for the 13 who live, their lives will forever be changed, and so will the lives of their family and friends. Most, if not all of those people, will suffer Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and many will wonder why they lived while the others did not, and for some even a sense of guilt for surviving, when the others did not, may set in.

If we could turn back time; would all of the political rhetoric of the last year, all of the vitriol between the political parties tone down their puffed up words and actions? All of us are guilty, from the extreme right Republican party, all of the way to the extreme left Democratic party, and, yes, the new Tea Party. Who will be the first voice-of-reason? Where will it start? Will it begin at all? Or will this event just be another new news story and then calmly fade away until the next new news story takes the headlines?

If we could turn back time, Gabby wouldn’t be laying there in ICU right now, she wouldn’t have a bullet hole in her head, she wouldn’t be battling for her very own life. All of us should be ashamed for what we have done to Gabby. Every one of us is guilty for her state of health, every one of us. There is not one of us who can say with an absolutely clear mind that at some point this last year that we didn’t “buy” into one or two of the vitriolic statements we heard. And that for a moment we were somewhat persuaded by what we heard to the point that we wanted some little amount of revenge. Well, here we have it. Here we have our revenge. And to what end? We now have a fellow human being laying in ICU with a bullet hole in her head. A loving human being who wanted nothing more than to serve her country in the best way she knew how, to the best of her ability. Perfect? No, but to the best of her ability. And we have six other fellow human beings dead. And to what end? What has this senseless act accomplished?

Gabby will forever, now, be the poster-child for extreme heated political rhetoric that got out of control in a Nation that, until recently, has been known for debate where people could “agree to disagree”. But alas, we have become a Nation where people have grown to spread hate, even to the extent of unnecessarily toting and brandishing guns to and at public events. We are no longer a consortium of people who believe in the words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty;

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

It is with great sadness and distress that I say this, but with someone so courageous and brave as Gabby, and with hope beyond hope that she will not only survive this grave mortal mutilation, but that she will strongly thrive. I pray that she will rebound with a loud and sounding voice against the hate, bitterness, injustice and vitriolic speech and actions that have replaced brotherly love in our country, and that she is the beginning of a new movement for a revitalization of peace, understanding, compassion and brotherly love. Every time each of us look upon Gabby’s face, and I hope it is often, I desire that we see her face posted everywhere, on billboards, on T.V., in newspapers and in books and in pamphlets, I solemnly hope we are reminded of our past “free speech” and actions. I hope we begin to realize that our “free speech” isn’t free at all when it affects even one individual the way it has affected Gabby, and all of the victims of the shooting on 1.8.2011.

Would Gabby want us to turn back time? I think only if we could turn it back far enough to stop the vitriolic hatred before it even first began. But in light of what has happened now, and in light of what I have heard so many people say about her and how she is a bright light in a dark room and how she is a “glass-half-full” kind of gal, I think she will take this “hit” as an opportunity to fight the vitriolic hatred that has already embedded itself in our country. I don’t know this for sure about Gabby, but this is my speculation about her; I think Gabby will begin a movement against hatred and thus begin a movement towards peace. What a novel thought; a country without hatred, a country with brotherly love. It would almost be like turning back time.

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