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Monthly Archives: November 2009

Tonight’s blog has to with media demagogue Glenn Beck, his followers—whom many call “Beckerheads”, blatant sexism and a blossoming Fascist movement.

During the past week, Mr. Beck, who is currently promoting his new book Arguing With Idiots, when he isn’t slandering United States Senators in a blatantly sexist manner—more on that later—announced he is moving into the political arena.
According to Beck, he plans to exploit the civil war within the Republican party by becoming a “community organizer” and “changing the course of America.

It is obvious that by “changing the course of America” as a “community organizer”, Beck means that he will bootstrap, gerrymander and bullshit his “tea-party” movement into a political party, eviscerating the GOP, much as that party did when it formed from the better members of the Whig party.

Beck, apparently taking this change stuff—and himself—too seriously, announced that he had a “100-year plan” for the United States.

When you see the cover of Beck’s book, the words “100-year plan” sound entirely too much like “1000-year Reich”.

During a weekend rally in Orlando, Florida, Beck also told a mass of admirers, “America, we cannot wait for a leader anymore. The people must leader, and the leader will follow”.

On Monday’s radio-show, Beck ratcheted the rhetoric up a notch, adding, “I’m going to teach you how to be a community organizer next year, oh, because two can play at that game. It’s time to find our teeth and sharpen our teeth, and we’re going to do it”.

Let’s remember that Hitler’s first attempt to take over Germany arose from a gathering at a beer-hall, and that upon his release from prison, he amassed an impressive number of SA, commonly known as “Brown-Shirts”.

Mussolini also arose from similar beginnings. He and the original Fascists rose to power by pandering to rural and ignorant Italians, rather than Romans, Milanese And Venetians, promising to return Italy to “its past glory” and “crack down on crime”. Impatient, he and his brethren in the National Fascist Party didn’t wait for this strategy to finish bringing them to power, and simply marched on Rome in a coup d’état.
Whenever someone was dumb enough to question Il Duce, one common reply was that “he made the trains run on time”.

Returning to Beck’s remarks about sharpened teeth, one might wonder whether he found inspiration in a 1928 speech by Mussolini, the most famous line of which is, “Let us have a dagger between our teeth, a bomb in our hands, and an infinite scorn in our hearts”.

You know? With the exception of the bomb, I can hear Beck, O’Reilly or Limbaugh saying that. Creepy.

In a similar display of mass stupidity, the “Beckerheads” gather round Beck’s tour-bus, wherever he may appear, fawning over him. In fact, while being interviewed by a TV network, one even called him a saviour.

Saviour of what? (I’m thinking the name of The Saviour, as I type this.)
This is the sort of slavish, mindless devotion from which Fascist movements are crafted. Like bread and biscuits, we need only wait for the germinating movement to rise. Actually, I think it’s already starting to rise. I’ll bet the dough-bowl is already a little warm.

As for Glenn Beck’s hypocritical sexism, it takes the form of what Keith Olbermann called “a bout of verbal diarrhea”.

On Saturday night, Mary Landrieu, the senior U.S. Senator from Louisiana—a state with many uninsured and underinsured residents—had the temerity to vote in favor of bringing the health-care reform bill to the Senate floor for debate.

Beck wasted no time, throwing two consecutive “below the belt” verbal punches against the conscientious Senator.
Yesterday, he called her a prostitute on his show.
Today, he reiterated his appalling appellation, remarking, “we know you’re hooking, but I guess you’re not cheap”.

(****sound of crickets chirping****)
That’s what we’re hearing from the GOP and other right-wingers, despite the blatant sexism of the remarks.

Do you know what would have happened, had Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann called Sarah Palin a hooker, remarked upon her “Pretty Woman” attire, her simpering—and limited—vocal style.

This is not over..

We cannot hold one side to a different standard than the other.

Likewise, we cannot blindly allow a broadcast personality—who may or may not be mentally-ill, depending upon your opinion—to lead us down a garden-path which may end in a poppy-field, tar-pit or briar-patch.

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Imagine an old car which has been sitting in a meadow for long that a tree has grown, tall and thick, in the space occupied decades ago by its missing engine and hood.

Everyone agrees that it would be nice to restore the car.
Everyone has intended to do so, for as long as some of them have been alive, but no one has ever done it.

Finally, you decide to do it. You’re going to restore the car. After all, it’s sitting on your late grandfather’s land, and it is still a great car, despite the rust, opaque windows and hub-high sediment which has accumulated around it.

After talking about your plans at the neighborhood bar, you drive up beside the car, an aluminum ladder, fifteen metres of rope, a double-bit axe, twenty-litre can of gasoline and chainsaw in the bed of your pick-up.

As you get out of the pick-up, you notice a group of your neighbors—the ones who talked for decades about how the car should be restored, but turned not a tap—standing around three other pick-ups, drinking beer.

They immediately begin hectoring you: You haven’t brought enough gasoline. The chainsaw isn’t long enough. The ladder isn’t sturdy enough. That rope isn’t going to work. Your axe is dull.

Worse still, the group of loudmouths steals or hides each tool as you unload it., but after a protracted fight involving a few friends you call with your cell-phone, you manage to regain your tools.

Your neighbors continue to mercilessly hurl insults as you remove the tree, piece by piece, until the engine compartment is finally clear.
They wait until you slide under the car to attach tow-chains to the frame, and then begin kicking you in the balls as others in the group bounce on the rear-bumper, trying to break your ribs.

Luckily, they are all too drunk, you remembered to wear a cup and because it’s an old car, the ground-clearance is high enough that you only emerge with bruises.

After a protracted bout of fighting—you once again phone your friends—you manage to hook the chains to your pick-up’s trailer-hitch, inflate the ragged tires with a bottle of nitrogen and pull the car free.

You take the fine, but battered old car to a friend’s shop, where you will carry out the task of a frame-off restoration. You will bring this car back to its former glory.

The entire time you are working on the car, you have to contend with these “expert” neighbors, few of whom have ever done more than fill their cars’ gas-tanks and drive.

They throw rocks through the shop’s windows. They leave flaming paper-bags full of dog-crap on the driveway. On a few occasions, they even cut the lock on the breaker-box and turn the electricity off.

Despite their best—or worst—efforts, you eventually complete the restoration.
It hasn’t been easy, though. You had to rig a spray-booth inside the shop. Your friends had to bring you the parts as you purchased them, including the upholstery.

It’s been worth it, though. For the past few days, the group outside has grown progressively quieter and the car that formerly provided a home for a tree now looks as if it just rolled off of an assembly-line.

Misjudging your neighbors’ quietude for acquiescence to the reality that you’ve finally restored the car which everyone wanted to someday drive, but no one wanted to expend any effort upon, you roll open the shop’s main door and ease the car forward onto the driveway.

As you step out of the car to admire it in the sunlight, you suddenly realise that the group has simply been hiding along both sides of the shop.

One of them—a brash, ignorant man who had been particularly vituperative when you were cutting away the tree–shoots you in the chest with a large-caliber pistol, and everyone piles into the gleaming car.

Your vision begins to dim and you feel the heat draining from your body as the lazy thieves pull away with the product of your hard work.

The last thing you see is Kenworth truck destroying the car and killing everyone inside it.

For the thieves were so eager to escape with what was not theirs—that in which they had invested no real effort—that they blundered ahead, indifferent to the consequences.

They cared only about their short-term gain.

The car in this allegory is the United States, the protagonist is Barack Obama and the friends are the Democrats.

The heckling, drunken mob that ultimately resorts to thievery and kills the hardworking agent of restoration is the ultra-right.

I don’t just mean the GOP, but the “tea-baggers”, “birthers”, “death-panelists” and all those who would throw common decency and compassion under the bus for political gain.

When did it become patriotic to oppose the President because he is black, liberal, Democratic or whatever else he may be?
When did it become Christian to other Christians to pray for Obama’s death, for “his wife to be a widow and his children fatherless”?

When did it become Christian, patriotic or even acceptable to condemn society’s most vulnerable—children, the poor and the elderly—to lives of pain and misery, and deaths from preventable illnesses, in the name of “fiscal conservatism”?

The latest numbers show that the proposed health plan will lower our deficit during the next decade. It will increase productivity.

More importantly, what does it say about us as a nation, if we’re willing to do this?

On 26 September, I watched as more than two-thousand ill and fearful people crowded Houston’s Reliant Center, not for an exhibition of new technology or a chance to win a car, but the chance to see a doctor.

I saw natural-born U.S. citizens—most of whom were born in this very city—being treated in exam areas fashioned from curtains and cloth panels.

It was like being in a third-world nation, yet it was less than thirty kilometers from my parents’ house.

People received dental work, cardiac evaluations, treatment for diabetes and its related wounds. Some even received the news that it was too late; their cancers and cardiac disease could have been detected and treated with routine medical exams, but not now.

This scene has played out in other major cities, and has been funded by donations from a variety of organizations, including MSNBC.

During the past several months, I’ve noticed two things about the blistering, withering and increasingly deceptive criticism of the proposed health-care reform plan:

1—Those who yell the loudest tend to be well-insured. They tend to have stable employment, enjoy access to doctors, upon request and have nothing to lose from the health-care plan. I repeat…they have nothing to lose from the health-care plan.
We are trying to establish a two-tier system, not “socialized” medicine. These same scatologically fallacious arguments were used to oppose Medicare until it finally passed in the 1960’s

2—The Representatives, Senators and media pundits who criticize the plan the loudest haven’t anything constructive to say.
It’s easy enough to stand on the sidelines, beer in hand, and scream at players about their mother’s sexual prowness or their incestuous proclivities. Drunken football and baseball fans do this with depressing regularity.
It’s quite a different thing to say “no, that isn’t right…let’s do it this way”.
The right has offered no plan, no ideas to modify the proposed plan, other than attaching an amendment effectively banning abortions.

I welcome any criticism which my friends on the right may feel to be relevant, but it must be constructive criticism.

I do not want to hear:
1—The gospel according to Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly or Rush Limbaugh.
2—Anything Orly Taitz, Andrea Mackris, Representative Virginia Foxx, Sarah Palin or Representative Michele Bachmann have to say.
3—Anything from an Astroturf organization. (FreedomWorks and the 60 Plus Association are notable examples of this U.S. political subspecies.)

In short, I want a factual refutation of the plan, and by that, I mean you must have an alternative for every detail to which you object.

Think of this as a term-paper.

In fact, I don’t care if your response is lengthy enough that it requires a blog-entry.

Just send me the link to the blog, keep it open so that I may reply, and expect me to repost my reply on my blog.

While driving my mother home from using her Kohl’s gift-card, a red Nissan 370Z passed me going 20 km/h over the speed-limit.

Despite the driver’s haste, that wasn’t what caught my attention about the car.
It had no license-plates, either front or back, nor did it have a dealer’s tag in the window.

I watched in stunned amazement as the red Nissan pulled slightly ahead of a Harris County Deputy Sheriff and cut over into his lane with less than a metre to spare…and there were no lights.

No lights. No siren. The deputy just let him go on his merry way.

My curiosity piqued, and the speed-limit and licensing of automobiles apparently being in abeyance, I accelerated and followed the car, wanting to see just how far this asshole would get. It was on my way home, anyway, so what the hell?

I followed that guy for 20 km, until I finally had to turn off toward my house, and the strangest thing was that about 2 km before the turn-off, I saw a rapidly approaching black 370Z in my side mirror.

That car also had no front license-plate, but I didn’t get to see whether the back plate was also absent.

I’m from New Mexico, so I don’t really believe in front-plates. NM hasn’t used them since 1970, and it gives people a chance to have personalized plates. Mine used to say something I can’t repeat in a blog.

That aside; the absence of license-plates in Texas isn’t a rarity.
Beginning in 2008, I noticed an abundance of hand-lettered—the expiry date—paper-tags with “untitled vehicle” stenciled across the top.

I immediately had three questions:
1—If it’s not your vehicle, why are you driving it?
2—If it’s not your vehicle, who is carrying the insurance? (You cannot insure a vehicle, unless it’s in your name.)
3—If it’s not that person’s vehicle, how the hell do the police know it isn’t stolen?

So, here’s how the scam works:
1—Buy a vehicle from a “pay-by-the-week” dealership. (A real hit with the unlicensed, uninsured crowd.)
2—Pay for the abovementioned tag.
3—When that tag expires, pay for another, ad infinitum.

I’ve never actually been in a jurisdiction which allows untitled, uninsured vehicles on the road.
In NM, any vehicle found to be on the roads without valid title, registration or insurance is subject to immediate impoundment.

Thing is, I have an idea. It’s same one used by the UK, but with a twist.

We’ve all seen these bright, clear signs, which have the ability to display different messages, haven’t we?
The pixels in those are LEDS, the same sort used in the taillights of high-end luxury-cars.

Let’s shift registration of automobiles to the US-DOT, much as the registration of aircraft is under the FAA.

All vehicles, beginning with the 2012 model year, should be required to have a 75cm by 20cm LED screen incorporated into the location normally occupied by the license-plate and powered by the wiring which would normally go to the plate-light.

The front-screen could be wired into the DRLs.

Upon arriving at the dealership—for domestically manufactured vehicles—or a North American port—for foreign-manufactured vehicles—a SIM card would be inserted into a port under the dashboard of each vehicle, the door to which would be glued shut, and the removal of which would be a second-degree felony.

The registration would be renewed each year, when the emissions-control people plugged into the vehicle during the annual inspection, and you would be offered the option of renewing for a period of one to four years.

Such vehicles would also have the same cellular communications capability found in such offerings as GM’s “On-Star”, allowing the car to receive “update” signals from each state or province’s department or ministry of transportation.

The result of this would be that the LED screens would revert to a purple field and flashing yellow text reading “UNINSURED”, within twelve-hours after the lapse or cancellation of any policy covering the vehicle.

The screens would only display the unique license-number within the SIM card, upon payment of any premiums or fines.

The SIM card would go with the car, from owner to owner, until the car was crushed and shredded.

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