Ideology is a Mind Killer

Ideology is a Mind Killer

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Have the Dems Banished Bernie? Or: How to Commit Political Party Suicide



By Mel Carriere

I have to admit I wasn't much of a Bernie Sanders supporter at first.  Yes, I will confess that the ugly "socialist" tag did scare me away, I suppose because we Americans are programmed since grade school to shudder, cringe, and run to our Mommies every time we hear that ugly 'S' word.  But then I saw the way that Hillary was ducking and dodging the public and the media, acting like the mighty Queen Bee that has an inalienable right to the nomination simply because it is "her turn."  Meanwhile, over there among the sweating masses I beheld Bernie mingling with the little guy, putting his own luggage into the overhead bin compartment as he flew coach, going down into the heartland of America where he harangued against the evils of trade agreements and generally became a thorn in the side of the political establishment.  I enjoy thorns; I have a somewhat sadomasochistic fetish for them when it comes to my personal politics.  And now that I see Bernie's own party trying to reduce him to irrelevance I like the guy double, because whenever media establishments marching in lock step with established political party agendas try to force feed me a candidate I always spew that candidate back up and make a really ugly mess over that nanny bib they are trying to put around me.

The good news is that the world has moved on from the days when media conglomerates were King and Queen makers.  Now we have social media, which admittedly has turned a lot of us into narcissistic zombies who can't separate our smart phones from our anatomy, but has also given us the power to choose our own leaders, if we choose to accept it.  We can either use Facebook and Twitter exclusively for our cat photos and drunken semi-nude selfies, which I don't necessarily object to unless you are a 300 pound flabby dude in a thong, or else take a break from this unhealthy self-absorption to let our political views be expressed there as well.  For the first time in American History, I contend, we the working stiffs have the power to nominate the people we think we will serve us, not the people that the corporate controlled establishment is trying to convince us will defend our interests.

There is no better example of this powerful sociological tectonic force reshaping the political landscape than Bernie Sanders.  This even though the mainstream media still treats the guy like a fringe candidate, essentially ignoring the polls that show he has 30 percent of the vote in Iowa.  Being in the heart of the conservative Bible belt, I think these Iowa results are significant, and I would bet Bernie is polling even better in places where heretical socialism is not regularly denounced on Sunday mornings by pulpit pounding toadies for the conservative agenda.  But that kind of news about Bernie is hard to come by, because even so-called progressive-friendly media outlets are doing their best to reduce him to insignificance.

For instance, Friday afternoon I was listening to National Public Radio drone on about Hillary ad nauseam, until for fairness and balance they threw in some news about Joe Biden too.  The Democrats are so desperate to appease their squirming corporate backers who wake up with soaking night sweats after "feel the Bern" nightmares that they are making a frenzied effort to get more acceptable Joe Biden to run so he can deflect votes away from Bernie.  Finally, at the itchy ass end of the show, Bernie got about a ten second mention in the wacko slot usually reserved for Deez Nuts and Rick Perry, who actually trails Mr. Nuts in the polls, I believe.  30 percent of the vote in Iowa, breathing down Hillary's neck harder and more insistently than William Jefferson ever did or would, and Bernie still gets dismissed as an afterthought by the self-appointed King and Queen making pundits.

That's okay though, because now we have Facebook, and I think its a gimme that these days people spend more time scrolling through their Facebook feeds than they do listening to their Moms and Dads' boring news talk radio shows.  The good news is that on Facebook Hillary is virtually non existent.  She got off to a good start early in the campaigning season, but slowly began to fizzle into irrelevance as Bernie made his impact felt, not through slick focus group prepared media ads but by actually going down into the sweltering summers in the heartland of America and greeting people face to face with sweaty handshakes.  Yes, campaigns can still be won by the stump speeches of yesterday, and when these stump speeches ignite a social media frenzy it starts a fire that cannot be contained no matter how hard Hillary tries to incorporate Bernie's platform into her own platform, which up until now has basically been "vote for Hillary because I'm smarter and better than you and it's my turn."

The question is, when does the Bernie smear campaign begin in earnest?  When are the reports about unpaid parking tickets and all the times he didn't tip the waiter or farted in an elevator going to start to roll in?  The ruling oligarchy does not want this man to be elected, because he says too many things we like to hear, and they will move heaven and earth to keep him from the nomination.  And I'm not talking about Republican side of the oligarchy - the Republicans are ignoring Bernie right now as they focus on ways to get their own thorn in the side Donald Trump out of the public favor.  I'm talking about the party faithful Democrats, who even right now are bugging Bernie's hotel room to see if he lets any offensive Gentile jokes slip.

By the way, I really hope that Trump gets the Republican nomination, because Bernie will smoke him.


Check out Mel's latest on Hub Pages about "Gilded State" California Corruption


 The combustible mixture used in The Truth Bomb includes a generous portion of java from Starbucks and other evil corporate coffee conglomerates, and none of this is cheap.  Therefore, unless the ads to the right and below completely annoy and offend you, please investigate what my sponsors there have to say.

Image attributed to:   "Bernie Sanders 1991" by US Government Printing Office - Congressional Pictorial Directory, 104th US Congress, p. 137. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bernie_Sanders_1991.jpg#/media/File:Bernie_Sanders_1991.jpg







Sunday, July 26, 2015

What does it Matter if I Matter? A Perfect Storm of #Hashtags





 By Mel Carriere

The dictionary says that matter is something that occupies space.  If I occupy space, and I do occupy a lot of space, that means I am composed of matter, but it doesn't necessarily mean that I matter. Nowadays trying to convince people that you matter requires putting mind over matter, and this can get you shouted down in a crowded room, especially if you put a smug hashtag in front of your matter.  Lately, people think that slapping a hashtag in front of a word or group of words gives them exclusive ownership to it, so you have to tread lightly, as matter of form.  Hashtags are no trivial matter.

I don't think it's a matter of life or death that we settle this controversy about whose lives really matter, whether all lives matter or just the lives of a select few, but it's important just the same.  No matter how much we argue about it, no matter how much logic, philosophy, or dogma we apply to the situation there are still some of you who are going to say, sure you matter, but you just don't matter enough to get a hashtag attached to your matter.  I was a little glum about this, so my wife asked me "what's the matter?"  I thought it was a trick question, and because I was tired and frustrated from getting shouted down in packed town hall meetings, no matter what I say, I declined to respond.

Hashtags are no laughing matter, and they are not just a matter of taste either, according to some.  If you say #alllivesmatter, for instance, that is considered an inflammatory statement that you better apologize for, and real quickly.  I think it's a matter of public record that, despite all of these belligerent hashtags flying around, all of us matter very little to our elected overlords, but they whip up these hashtag wars into a frenzy to very cleverly get us to unfocus on the real matter at hand, which is that we have crappy jobs, no real democracy, and for that matter, no much hope on the horizon for getting any of those things.  It boggles my gray matter.

As a matter of fact, last night I had a dream that I was trapped in one of these perfect storms of hashtags.  The hashtags from #mylifematters drifted languidly but heavily across the plains from the humid south, and violently clashed with the hashtags from #yourlifematters that were pushing down fiercely from the polar north.  Of course, #yourmatter and #mymatter cannot coexist peacefully, so there were particles of matter swirling dangerously about everywhere.  Hashtags have hazardous pointed edges, in case you have not noticed, and when they get sucked up in a powerful vortex like this it becomes a matter of survival to get yourself to a storm shelter as quickly as possible.

Off to one side of my dream, safely away from the deadly effects of the storm, of course, I saw Scott Walker and Mike Huckabee high-fiving each other, as if it didn't matter to them at all who lived or died after the #hashtag storm came raging through.  A few minutes later the entire GOP caucus then came out and held a giant group hug, on the same spot where all of us little people had been swept away by the horrible hashtag vortex in a matter of seconds.

Maybe part of the problem why we can't agree if you matter or I matter is that scientists cannot even agree on the definition of matter.  There is observable matter, then there is dark matter, and we even have anti-matter, for that matter.  All these forms of matter go straight to the root of the matter and do not claim any proprietary rights to hashtags, from what I have read.  On the other side of the matter, some lady on the radio the other day was complaining that they hijacked her hashtag.  In matters of public policy hashtag hijacking has become a far worse crime than taking your high paying job in the hashtag factory away and giving it to some wage slave guy in Vietnam, or bombing a village of mud huts into microscopic bits of matter because a fellow wearing a turban rode through on a camel a week ago, or exposing the insidious exploits of corporate lobbyists who, as a matter of course, pay off Congressmen and women to keep your wages low.

But still we sit here, incessantly debating the matter of whether I matter more or you matter more, which does not get to the crux of the matter.  Perhaps the only possible solution is to consult the nihilist philosophers, who insist that nothing matters.  Or maybe let's take matters into our own hands and talk about the real matter at hand, which is why the 1% up there matter while we 99% toiling away down here do not matter.  In the meantime, I think we just better put this whole my #hashtag is better than your #hashtag matter to rest, as a matter of principle.


Watch everything that matters on TV, instantly


Make Your Voice Matter - Read About the Wonders of Civil Disobedience here 


 The combustible mixture used in The Truth Bomb includes a generous portion of java from Starbucks and other evil corporate coffee conglomerates, and none of this is cheap.  Therefore, unless the ads to the right and below completely annoy and offend you, please investigate what my sponsors have to say.





Saturday, July 4, 2015

Political WIndow Dressing - Distractions from the Trump Confederacy



By Mel Carriere

Before you go into your usual self righteous snit let me just start off by reassuring you that the Confederate battle flag is a racist emblem, and Donald Trump is a douche bag.  I got into a lively discussion on Facebook recently over the proper spelling of the term "douche bag," by the way.  Someone spelled it "dusch," which set off the sirens at spelling police headquarters immediately, because even if a word is not acceptable in polite society you still better darn well spell it right.  Somebody else spelled it "deutsch" bag, which might be something your sweet German GroƟmutter carries her groceries home in, but is definitely not a feminine hygienic device.  Crap - I'm already doing what I'm trying to warn you about here, which is creating a distraction.  No matter how you spell it, Donald Trump is a douche bag, and let's leave it at that.

I've decided to join these two popular distractions together and just refer to it collectively as the Trump Confederacy. I know it's pathetically laughable, but I'm sure there is an army of deluded devotees of an incoherently babbling billionaire that call themselves something like the "Trump Nation," and another doltish assemblage of tobacco-chewing, white hood wearing, third grade dropouts who like to get together and pretend that the Confederacy was something other than a desperate attempt to preserve the institution of slavery in this country (no offense to tobacco chewers, I've found that some of them are actually really smart).  So why not just save time, join the two groups together, and call this unholy alliance of mentally deficient misfits and girlfriendless neckbeards The Trump Confederacy?  What the hell - they've got a lot of the same people in both groups anyway.

Now that I've settled your self righteous fury down with my smug disclaimer, here's the part that you are probably not going to like, because I know you have been wearing yourself out carrying signs and climbing flagpoles outside of the South Carolina statehouse and shouting out basta! at the foot of Trump Towers.  The fact is I'm really truly proud of you for getting out there, not being complacent, and protesting something.  But in reality you are only protesting the distractions, the window dressing, and in doing so you are playing right into the hands of the corporate elite that, whether they deliberately create these distractions or whether just take advantage of them after they happen, are quite pleased that you do so because, in focusing on the distractions you ignore the real issues.

Some Latino advocate I heard on NPR was just full of self righteous piss and vinegar about how Latinos have been insulted by Donald Trump, a billionaire tycoon who, in case you live in your Mom's basement and there's no TV or Internet connection down there, in a recent speech referred to Mexican immigrants as "criminals, rapists, and drug dealers," just to sum it up.  Yes this was most definitely an egregious insult, but since I'm referee of the entire Universe here on this blog I throw the sticks and stones flag.  The sticks and stones rule states that words are not supposed to hurt us, but there are definitely sticks and stones being launched against the Latino community that can most definitely hurt these fine people, and have been hurting them, mostly in quiet secrecy, while they gather impressively there at the foot of Trump Tower in Manhattan, shouting out colorful bilingual epitaphs in hope that the sequestered, pampered billionaire can actually hear them dozens of stories up.

Here's something that NPR Latino activist should really be up in arms about.  While the national unemployment rate stands at about 5.3 percent, the Latino unemployment rate is 6.6 percent.  Census data for the year 2012 shows that the median income for Hispanic households was roughly $39,000, which is roughly $12,000 under the national average.  This gross, unjustifiable disparity is something that the NPR Latino activist should really be getting upset about, instead of wasting time rattling sabers at Donald Trump - who is, at best, just a loathsome billionaire moron who unfortunately has the best soap box money can buy to spew his idiotic diatribes from.

If you are one of the South Carolina flagpole climbers, the numbers are even worse.  In that same distressing 2012 year the median income for African American families was $31,000, a full $20,000 under the national average.  The current unemployment rate for African Americans is an abysmal 9.4%.  Instead of climbing flagpoles and sending the Duke Boys down to Earl Scheibs to get that nasty ornament on the hood of the General Lee painted over, maybe you should be gathering in front of Capitol Hill and shaking your fist angrily at Congressmen, demanding to know why, when nearly 10% of your brothers and sisters are unemployed they are sending even more jobs out of the country with the TPP trade agreement.

The Trump Confederacy is just window dressing people, and it is window dressing that Congress finds very convenient during a time when they seek to enrich their corporate backers behind your back while you get to keep working at McDonalds and Wal Mart for $9 dollars an hour, if you "lucky" enough to even get that.  Good news on the economic front by the way - while your nice manufacturing job is about to be outsourced to Vietnam, I heard a news update today that Wal Mart is getting ready to hire thousands of new greeters!

Corporations feel very relieved when you get mad at the window dressing and not at the store in general, because window dressing is very easy to take out of the window.  Amazon can ban the sale of products bearing the image of the Confederate flag, Univision can cancel the Miss Universe beauty pageant that Trump owns, Macys can abolish its Donald Trump menswear line, and Ricky Martin can go play golf at a course not owned by Donald. It actually turns out to be a positive PR spin for these corporations, which ultimately helps the bottom line that you don't get to share.

Here's another thing about all this Trump Confederacy window dressing.  While you were standing out there on the sidewalk, being angrily distracted by that distasteful window dressing, the store owner snuck up behind you and picked your pocket.


Kendrick has something to say that's not just window dressing: 


Desperation on the Doorstep - More on the Unholy Alliance Between Government and Corporations, on Hub Pages

The combustible mixture used in The Truth Bomb includes a generous portion of java from Starbucks and other evil corporate coffee conglomerates, and none of this is cheap.  Therefore, unless the ads to the right and below completely annoy and offend you, please investigate what my sponsors have to say.






Image composite by carlofabyss

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Magic Kindom Mischief and Melodies - Songs to Celebrate Disney H1-B Layoffs





By Mel Carriere

Oh the joys of the Magic Kingdom!  Oh to be a child again and marvel at the wonders of Mainstreet, USA; to absorb the awe inspiring sights, sounds and smells brought to us by the immortal Walt Disney and his successors that so enrich and invigorate our otherwise colorless lives.

Wait a minute, there is a catch.  In order to keep life interesting for the rest of us pathetic street urchins; to make sure that the parks, the movies, and the toys continue to enhance our dull existences and keep the stodgy, overstuffed members of the Disney board room fat and happy at the same time, certain sacrifices have to be made.  Perish the thought that Disney employees expecting reasonable wages should get in the way of your Magic Kingdom Miracles, so every now and then the bottom line must be swept clean of pricey American employees and replaced by less demanding, more desperate foreign workers imported into the country via H-1B visas.

 In 2014 approximately 250 Disney employees were laid off and replaced by foreign H-1B workers, who, to add insult to injury, were forced to train these newbies before being given the heave-ho.  Disney made this tough move so that you can continue to high five and hug Mickey Mouse and Goofy as they make annoyed faces at you behind their stuffy costumes - and so that sweet Disney-dedicated mothers who wish they had given birth to girls can continue to traumatize their male offspring by having their pictures made with virtual Tinkerbells landing in their unwilling hands while Cinderella's girlish castle looms in the background; photos these boys pray their friends will never see but Mom will make sure to hang in a prominent place in the living room forever.

In honor of Disney's executives making these terrible, hand-wringing decisions so that you and the oversized goons on your Rugby team can continue to try and sink the tiny Small World boat on an annual basis, I have rewritten the words of a few legendary Disney songs for the occasion.  I hope my tribute will linger as sweetly in your memories as the originals did.  Here's hopin'!:

Sing this one to the tune of When you Wish Upon a Star as you think lovingly back upon that day when Rishi first appeared in your cubicle and told you to shove off - Oh, but could you please teach him everything you knew first, in slow, broken English please.

When you wish upon a star
You will soon live in your car
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams get screwed

Indians on H-1B
Have turned up with your office key
Your next stop is the EDD
Just train them first

Hindus, Sikhs in funny hats
Punjabi with prayer mats
Make room for our cricket bats!
Get out, you're through!

When you wish upon a star
Your replacement comes from lands afar
When you wish upon a star
You'll eat cat food!

Remember those jolly old seven dwarfs?  They certainly never griped about low wages and bad working conditions.  Here's a rendition of the jaunty "Heigh-ho" from Snow White that honors their commitment to toil away in the tunnels so that already filthy rich people can play golf all day.  Note:  I have replaced the dwarf whistles with words so adjust the tune accordingly.

Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho
It's off to work we go
Got a H-1B, I work practically free
Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho
Heigh-ho

Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho
American workers move too slow
They want crazy pay to sit on their butts all day
Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho
Heigh-ho

Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho
My pay is scary low
But in a hole I live with 6 cute relatives
Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho
Heigh-ho 


I think you get the point now - if you don't I'm not sure I really want you to, so I will spare you any more of my sophmoric attempts at verse.  If you are one of those unfortunate former Disney employees replaced by an H-1B, however, I will offer a few comforting words in closing, if that's any consolation.  Maybe all you really need is just a Mary Poppins "Spoonful of Sugar" to help that bitter medicine go down; you should probably get used to living on the "Bear Necessities," and if you do have a complaint you feel you really need to voice, thinking your Congressman might care, perhaps you are better off to do like Elsa did and just "Let it Go."


More on unsavory Disney practices at Amazon:




The Latest by Mel on Hub Pages About the Denver Airport Conspiracy

The combustible mixture used in The Truth Bomb includes a generous portion of java from Starbucks and other evil corporate coffee conglomerates, and none of this is cheap.  Therefore, unless the ads to the right and below completely annoy and offend you, please investigate what my sponsors have to say.




Photo by:  Veryhuman, licensed under  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  Located at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Disney_Orlando_castle_at_night.JPG


Sunday, May 31, 2015

More Ayn Rand Rants - Who are the Real "Second Handers?"




 By Mel Carriere


Sometimes when I am bathing I achieve some real epiphanies of inspiration.  I actually wrote an article on Hub Pages explaining the theoretical mechanics of brainstorming in the shower, which is an appropriate term for it, don't you think, because there really is water falling down all around you, as in a real storm.  I get my best ideas in the shower, and with soap dripping from my shaggy mane and puddles accumulating on the carpet I have to rush out so I can tell somebody quickly.  That last part is not exactly true; I always finish my shower first, but significant thinkers throughout history sometimes did not.  The Greek Philosopher and Mathematician Archimedes, for example, came up with his best idea in the bath and emerged from the water naked, running and shouting "Eureka!" through the streets of Syracuse (Sicily, not New York). This probably did not prevent his wife from whacking him with a broom and herding him back into the bathroom to dry off, like mine would.

Archimedes was constantly getting badgered by a tyrannical king named King Hiero, who bullied Archimedes into putting his considerable mathematical and engineering talents to some whimsical use that was way beneath him, like the construction of a bigger and better pleasure barge, or inventing a giant grappling hook for destroying the ships of Hiero's enemies.  Of course, nobody remembers King Hiero.  This talentless thug died in obscurity as he should have, while Archimedes is remembered affectionately by everyone.

This example of Archimedes in ancient Greece has some appropriate analogies in the modern world, but instead of fat, talentless tyrants wearing crowns we now have fat, talentless tyrants wearing silk suits sitting in corporate boardrooms.  But just like the clueless tyrants Archimedes contended with, the modern corporate tyrants are also fond of stealing the ideas of geniuses and expropriating these innovations in order to enrich themselves.  Meanwhile, the brilliant inventor, engineer, or mathematician might make a decent living, but doesn't accumulate the double digit millions in his bank account that the incompetent corporate boardroom thief did by stealing his idea.

What the hell does this have to do with Ayn Rand, you are already asking yourself.  I apologize profusely, but somehow Archimedes sidetracked me from Ayn Rand, and I will now get back on task.

As a youth I remained brainwashed by the ideas of Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy for many years, and even now I have a hard time shaking them off.  On March 21st I wrote another article in this venue on the subject, and I will post a link to it here so you can go take a gander.  This Objectivist crap is still embedded deeply in my mental framework, and I realize now (now meaning these days, not literally now - I don't take my laptop into the bath), as I meditate on such ideas in shower, that on some fundamental level some of what Ayn Rand said made sense.  She just had the villains wrong.

In Ayn Rand's most famous work, a cumbersome, interminable novel entitled Atlas Shrugged, the rather humdrum, cookie cutter protagonists were a group of towering intellects she referred to as "The Men of the Mind."  These heroes basically got tired of being pushed around by tyrants, like Archimedes did, so they basically say screw the world, withdraw their considerable talents from the service of the human race, and go off to live in a hidden mountain valley deep in the Rockies, from where they smugly watch civilization degenerate into chaos without them around to fix stuff.

In Atlas Shrugged, the villains who become parasites on the accomplishments of these Men of the Mind are described as the left wing agents of the proletariat; hired goons of the working class who set out to steal the ideas of the brilliant individualists for the benefit of people who are incapable of producing them for themselves. These working stiffs expecting a fair cut of the wealth their labor helped to produce are portrayed as selfish and greedy "looters," for whom justice would be served by having them go back to 17 hour working days and living in squalid, crowded tenement houses.  Ayn Rand never actually says the last part, but she suggests openly that the enlightened entrepreneurs who are the Men of the Mind will pay the working classes a fair wage out of the goodness of their hearts, an assumption which almost every student of history and human nature realizes is either pure science fiction or straight out fantasy.

 Despite Rand's false assertion that laissez-faire capitalism will correct all of society's ills, she is correct in her fundamental notion that there is a class of parasites preying upon the ideas of the brilliant intellects throughout history.  Like King Hiero buggering Archimedes in the solitude of his bath to get the philosopher to hurry up and figure out if his golden crown is a forgery, there are parasites robbing the life's blood of the modern, so-called Men of the Mind.  Since we no longer have kings, these blood suckers have been replaced by the inept boardroom thugs of Corporate America.

An example of this in modern life occurred to me while thinking about the founding of the mighty Apple Inc. corporation.  Apple was started by the legendary two Steves, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.  Steve Wozniak was a brilliant engineer who designed the Apple I and Apple II computers that revolutionized the information industry and our lives in the process.  The very fact that I am writing this blog on my personal computer has a whole lot to do with Steve Wozniak.  On the other hand Apple's second Steve, Steve Jobs, was pretty much just a slick snake oil salesman.  He did not have the skill or ingenuity to produce a revolutionary computer, his abilities lay in bullying people into accepting his ideas, and in shamelessly stealing from others; as he did in the case of robbing the idea of desktop icons from Xerox.

There is no doubt that snake oil selling jerks like Steve Jobs are needed to succeed in corporate America, but do they deserve to be ridiculously overpaid and overly revered, while true geniuses like Steve Wozniak get pushed into relative obscurity on the sidelines during their own lifetimes? From these neglected shadows the Wozniaks of the world often serve as the voice of the voiceless, fighting for things like free Internet for the masses, while stockholder-serving fat cats like Jobs fight to keep the price of their products beyond the reach of the average working man.

So Ayn Rand had her villains mixed up.  She pegged the working people as being the parasites that feast upon the talents of the Men of the Mind, while it is truly the scheming, thieving, cigar smoking, double chinned, silk suited corporate chair polishers that do this.  It is downright criminal that uninspired suits too often get credit for things that they did not, and could not make.  This happens because the real geniuses of the world do not lust after the limelight, but choose to toil away behind the scenes, working on the ideas that they love; most of the time shunning public attention.  Sometimes the true genius's lack of narcissistic tendencies is a good thing, especially in the case of Steve Wozniak.  He is a pretty hefty dude now, and certainly nobody wants to see him running naked through the streets, shouting "Eureka!"

Read about Ayn Rand's influence on American society:


The combustible mixture used in The Truth Bomb includes a generous portion of java from Starbucks and other evil corporate coffee conglomerates, and none of this is cheap.  Therefore, unless the ads to the right and below completely annoy and offend you, please investigate what my sponsors have to say.

Thoughts on shower-time inspiration on Mel's Hub Pages account

Find out how I let Ayn Rand f*** up my life




Image from: http://align4profit.com/2013/08/26/eureka-stop-trying-so-hard/

Friday, May 15, 2015

The "Smart" Bush Speaks - Malaprops, Freudian Slips, or Comedy Hi Jinx?






By Mel Carriere

For years now we have been told that Jeb Bush is actually the smart Bush.  The two Georges were basically elected by accident. Party animal W wasn't even supposed to be allowed on the White House lawn, much less inside the oval office, but through some crazy electoral glitch involving the unforeseen intervention of hanging chads, in what was probably the biggest frat boy practical joke ever perpetrated George Jr arose woke up from a hangover to find himself president of the United States of America.

Even George Sr. had to laugh and throw his hands up in amazement when he saw the poll returns. Like some twisted, zany episode of The Brady Bunch where Jan gets elected homecoming queen over the ever more popular and beautiful Marsha after their dog Tiger eats the contents of the ballot box, we all sat at home in our living rooms and laughed until the day after the election,  when with somber,  sunken faces we read the newspaper and realuzed that it was not just some bad sitcom rerun we had been watching,  but the truth!

So now here comes Jeb finally riding down the presidential trail to claim his due, his birthright, his legitimate inheritance as the superior member of the Bush dynasty.  And what happens?  Almost right out of the gate the comedy hi jinx start all over again.

I guess Jeb forgot that he was supposed to be the smart one.  Either that or his Daddy neglected to remind him that presidential candidates are supposed to lie through their teeth about their real intentions. Remember read my lips, no new taxes?  But I suppose since Jeb is assumed to be the best Bush, Daddy never coached him up.  No hitting grounders to him in the back yard, no changing the spark plugs in the old Chevy, and no lessons about doublespeak. W was the dumb one, so W got all the attention, and Daddy made damn sure there was already somebody there to whisper in W's ear whenever he forgot his lines.

 Big mistake, letting Jeb speak for himself just because he's supposed to be the smart one. The first lesson, well actually the second lesson of fathering is make sure your boy knows exactly what to say when you send him to the teacher to lie about the sick uncle in Albuquerque so you can sneak off to Vegas on Friday morning and beat the traffic.  The first lesson, of course, is to belittle your child's every achievement great and small to keep them humble, but that's a bit of a digression.  These are the lessons I have learned in a quarter century of fathering, at least.  George Sr. slipped.  He forgot the rules.

So Daddy sends Jeb to the teacher with strict orders to say that he would not have gone into Iraq knowing what we know now, but Jeb makes a fatal gaffe and leaves out the word not.  Could have been just an innocent slip of the tongue, or could have been a nice gesture on his part to let the rest of the GOP pack catch up, just to make the coronation party appear legitimate.  He is a Bush, after all, and there are powerful puppet masters pulling the strings.  W committed a blooper reel of verbal faux pas during his two terms as President and kept getting reelected.  There's no amount of screwing up you can do and still get elected, if you are lucky enough to be born with the last name of Bush.
Still, Daddy should have been more careful...

One thing George Sr. did do correctly was to teach young Jeb how to ride a bike.  Taught the kid how to ride it forwards and backwards too, because now this so called "smart" Bush is backpeddling like crazy.





More by Mel about W and other villainous politicians on Hub Pages

The combustible mixture used in The Truth Bomb includes a generous portion of java from Starbucks and other evil corporate coffee conglomerates, and none of this is cheap.  Therefore, unless the ads to the right and below completely annoy and offend you, please investigate what my sponsors have to say.
Image courtesy of Twitchy.com

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Moonbeam Jerry Brown Raves About Drought for One Million Hours - "Single Fonts" Laugh and Applaud




By Mel Carriere

Did California Governor Jerry Brown get his nickname "Moonbeam" when he still had hair?  I decided to investigate this important public policy issue, because when Jerry scowls down at me from the top of his lofty ivory tower I get the full lunar shine from the top of his bald dome.  Therefore, I definitely can understand how the nickname applies today. Question is, did the folks who gave him the moniker back in 1978 do so because of his follicle impairment, or for other reasons?

Questions like this need answering, if we're ever going to get out of this damn drought.

Moonbeam is not amused.  He is never amused.  He is damned pissed off.  The drought is pissing him off, and the fact that people who are obviously not as intelligent as he is and haven't spent "a million hours" studying the drought like he has (Jerry's own words), dare criticize him on his drought policy pisses him off too.  I understand.

Wait a minute.  I brought a calculator.  One million hours is 41,667 days.  41,667 days is 114 years.  Jerry Brown has been thinking about the drought since 1901.  This makes sense, because when Moonbeam was born in 1901 his shiny baby bald head had reason to start thinking about the drought immediately upon exiting the birth canal.  That year, it turns out, San Francisco, California, the city where Jerry was born, had a total rainfall about 2 inches lower than average.  No wonder Jerry is governor and I'm not.  He hasn't stopped thinking about the drought, ever, and sometimes I stop to think about other stuff.  I'm easily distracted, he's not.

For this reason I can perfectly understand why Jerry got a little bit peevish with the critics of his plan to build giant tunnels around the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta and to flip the giant bird at the bird advocates who are upset he reneged on his promise to set aside 100,000 acres for wetlands in exchange for the tunnels, instead handing over a mere 30,000 acres.  With a very prissy, frustrated frown that you can see on the Internet, Jerry Brown told these impertinent, insufferable rabble rousers who expect politicians to keep their promises "...until critics have studied the problem for a million hours they should shut up, because you don't know what the hell you're talking about."

One thing the governor neglected to explain is whether each critic has to think about, or study the drought one million hours individually, or whether several critics can study it collectively and add up their hours together to equal one million.  For instance, is it possible, and I'm just asking, please don't yell at me to shut the hell up Governor because I have a tender psyche - could maybe 1,000 critics think about the drought 1,000 hours apiece?  This is an important point to clarify, because I know a lot of critics are already racing along with their drought thoughts right now on their way to 1,000,000 hours, and there's no way they are going to get there before those darn tunnels get built.

Instead of yelling back at the governor when he told the people to "shut the hell up," I was kind of surprised that he actually got a round of applause and a lot of lols from the audience.  Obviously there were no critics in that crowd.  None of those silly delta bird huggers in attendance.  I was actually a little mad myself that there the Governor was, speaking down to us like we were subjects, not citizens, and when I started off with this blog I intended to write a raging, indignant manifesto criticizing Governor Jerry Brown and all of those fawning sycophants in attendance upon him.  Then two things happened:

First of all, like I told you before, I did the math.  Doing the math I figured out that if Jerry Brown was born in 1901, like he claims to have been, it is theoretically possible that he really has been studying the drought for one million hours.

Secondly, when I reached for my phone to make a note and spoke the words "Too many arrogant politicians and too many fawning sycophants is the problem with politics"  into the voice transcriber I got strange results.  The term "fawning sycophants" was changed by my phone to "bonding single fonts."

"Bonding single fonts" could indeed be the problem with politics, and here we have been missing this simple truth all along.  The reason is because Moonbeam has spent every single hour of his life since his 1901 birth thinking about the drought, and hasn't had any time left over at all to consider the issue of "bonding single fonts."  It's pretty easy to see that's why we're all in trouble, and we're all still damn thirsty.



Read more about Moonbeam in Mel's fantastic 2015 Voter Apathy Guide


The combustible mixture used in The Truth Bomb includes a generous portion of java from Starbucks and other evil corporate coffee conglomerates, and none of this is cheap.  Therefore, unless the ads to the right and below completely annoy and offend you, please investigate what my sponsors have to say.

Image from:  http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2015/05/06/jerry-brown-tells-water-plan-critics-to-shut-up-because-you-dont-know-what-the-hell-youre-talking-about/

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Soap Opera of Mexican Politics - What does it Mean for America?






By Mel Carriere

My wife has an extremely nifty smartphone, a Google Nexus 6, that makes me seethe with envy every time I see her with it.  But I know I am not worthy so I suffer along with my very proletariat low end Samsung.

It always takes my wife a while to get the hang of any new gadget.  She is reluctant to punch any buttons on the device, out of fear that it will explode in a mushroom cloud of malicious computer viruses that will affect not only her phone, but all the electronic devices in the house and possibly even wriggle their way into her cerebral cortex.  It is amusing to watch her index finger orbit in tight circles above an icon for half a minute before she finally has the nerve to press it.

But once she gets it, she gets it good and is reluctant to give the darn thing a rest.  She stays up late at night watching You Tube videos on the Nexus's extremely large screen, which is actually bigger than that of a portable TV I used to carry with me.  Lately her curiosity has been piqued by the scandal occurring in her native Mexico surrounding The President of Mexico, his first lady, and a majestic 7 million dollar residence in an exclusive place called Lomas de Chapultepec, overlooking Mexico City.  My wife can't get enough of this controversy, and her tired phone has been working overtime.

The scandal that Mexico finds itself embroiled in is of Soap Opera-ish proportions, which is appropriate because the First Lady of the Republic, Angelica Rivera, who you see above frolicking in the agave fields with a husky Tequila magnate, was a famous Soap Opera star before forswearing cheap theatricals in favor of the fame, prestige, and allegedly obscene wealth associated with being the wife of the Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.  Although some complain the first lady's qualifications are beneath those required for her lofty position, her husband's intelligence and educational level are well below the standards typically associated with being the leader of a country of 122 million.  He was recently quoted as saying that the battle of Puebla, which occurred on the fifth of May, 1862, and featured musket-wielding dragoons dispatched by the Emperor of the French Napoleon III, actually took place in the year 1995.  Apparently the honorable President was never invited to a Cinco de Mayo party before 1995, hence the confusion.  That's okay, we here in the US can't boast about the intellectual achievements of our Presidents either, having endured George W. Bush's mumbled malaprops for 8 years.

Anyhow, the scandal threatening to dethrone the President of Mexico surrounds the 7 million dollar Chapultepec mansion, which was probably gifted to him by a conglomerate called Grupo Higa, to whom he awarded a cushy 652 million dollar contract while serving as the governor of the state of Mexico.  In a crude and misguided attempt to dispel the scandal, Pena Nieto had his wife Angelica Rivera appear on television to read a very arrogant Marie Antoinette inspired "Let the peasants eat cake" style speech in which she claimed the mansion was purchased with her hard earned Soap Opera bucks and was, therefore, not anybody's business.  Nobody believes her, and now the Pena Nieto presidency may be on the verge of collapse.

Meanwhile, over here on the North side of the Rio Grande, the average American doesn't seem to care or even be aware of the tumultuous political climate in Mexico.  Could it be that we Yanquis are being deliberately kept in the dark over events that threaten to disrupt our south of the border neighbor so that we will continue to assume the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of 1994 (one year before the Battle of Puebla, per Pena Nieto) was a complete success and an economic boon for all signatories; these being The United States, Canada, and Mexico?  Is the ominous reality behind the potentially explosive political and economic situation in Mexico perhaps being played down to dampen criticism of another trade agreement; the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) we are about to enter into with the big economic players of the Pacific Rim?

Some of you following the progress of the TPP at home might find it about as hard to swallow as the wild, raving assertions of a sultry Mexican Cinderella Soap Opera star turned Queen of a kingdom by the wave of a magic wand who now fumbles and fidgets desperately on camera as the stroke of midnight arrives and the carriage is about to turn back into a pumpkin.  At least one potential US Presidential candidate, who might very well know the correct years of his country's major battles, shares your doubts.  This is former Maryland Governor Democrat Martin O'Malley, a definite dark horse underdog in the 2016 Presidential contest, a man whose candidacy appears to be lost in the irrepressible onslaught of the hordes of Hillary hashtaggers.  We all know his opponent Ms. Clinton had a Soap Opera-ish spouse as well; this being her husband Bill, whose romps with Monica Lewinsky seem to have been pulled right out of a Mexican telenovela; featuring long, sticky cigars instead of tequila, of course.  But before we get carried away trying to mimic Mexico by mailing in our Hillary-stamped ballots right now, perhaps we should consider what this intelligent, articulate man O'Malley had to say on a recent National Public Radio interview about free trade agreements in general and the TPP in particular.  I don't hear Hillary expressing concerns over this treaty, and it makes me think that we, like the Mexican electorate, are being hypnotized by the melodramatic glamour of our Soap Opera politicians.

The Martin O'Malley NPR Interview




For Enrique


The combustible mixture used in The Truth Bomb includes a generous portion of java from Starbucks and other evil corporate coffee conglomerates, and none of this is cheap.  Therefore, unless the ads to the right and below completely annoy and offend you, please investigate what my sponsors have to say.


Image from:  http://www.coveralia.com/caratulas/BSO-Destilando-Amor--Interior-Frontal.php

Battle of Puebla from:  "Batalla del 5 de mayo de 1862" by Anonymous - http://www.inehrm.gob.mx/Portal/PtMain.php?pagina=exp-ignacio-zaragoza-galeria. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Batalla_del_5_de_mayo_de_1862.jpg#/media/File:Batalla_del_5_de_mayo_de_1862.jpg

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Is the War on Terror a Cover for the War on the Working Man?



By Mel Carriere

No I haven't turned food blogger.  Even if I was a food blogger I could certainly find something more appetizing to write about than these disgusting smoked fish a la Euro that the English like to scarf down with their afternoon tea and crumpets.

No, the reason I included this pic of a Red Herring is because a blogging friend of mine recently wrote a post about the origin of the term "Red Herring" where it refers to "...something that misleads or distracts from an important issue (Oxford English Dictionary)."  Nobody is really sure where the term comes from.  I'm not sure that many people outside of a handful of Asperger's linguistically obsessed neckbeards like me really care, but the expression has become embedded in our language, and it rears its smelly smoked head at times to point to an insidious, equally smelly smokescreen that politicians and corporate goons use to hide something even more dangerous and malignant behind.

The Red Herring once again flopped out of its fine kettle of fish recently during the nuclear negotiations with Iran.  The politicians that oppose a peace deal with Iran are desperate to preserve this particular Red Herring they use to cover up their agenda to cut the pay, remove the jobs, and destroy the rights of working people and remove them far away from their luxurious Rhode Island mansions and into festering tenement houses a la 19th century, where perhaps the only thing the peasants will be able to afford to eat are these obnoxiously distasteful red herrings.

While we were busy fighting the Red Herring War on Terror the unemployment rate went up as more and more jobs were exported to Bangladesh and more and more engineers were imported from Bangladesh to design things on the cheap.  While we were busy fighting the war on terror wages went down, increasing the income disparity between the rich and poor to the highest level in recent history.  While we were busy fighting the war on terror Americans were convinced that Unions were part of the problem instead of the solution, so we allowed their power to slowly wither away as part and parcel of the plot to bomb Baghdad into oblivion several times over, because those darned Ay-rabs are obviously hiding boogeymen in every basement that will pop out of the shadows and somehow swim with all their goats across thousands of miles of ocean to destroy our freedoms if we let them.

The Corporate plot to destroy the working man doesn't work without a good boogeyman.  The boogeyman keeps children scared and makes them turn their complete focus to distant, unrealistic fears that really have nothing to do with the task on hand.  "If you don't clean your room the boogeyman will get you," we warn them.  "If you keep asking me to up your allowance the boogeyman will sneak out from under your bed in the middle of the night and grab you."  "If you don't keep your focus on Iraq, Iran and Taliban those boogeyman they will sneak out of your closet when you're not looking and trample your family values."  Meanwhile those boogeyman-baiters are the ones who sneak into our closets in the middle of the night and steal our stuff because they've got us all afraid to poke our heads in there to see what that strange noise bumping around in the middle of the night really is.

Enough of this smelly, smoky red herring.  I want a real piece of meat, but at $9 an hour who can afford it?  Let's round up the real boogeymen and let them eat their disgusting canned fish for lunch.



Image from:  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Red_Herring.png

Here is the link to my friend Linda Crampton's article on the origin of the term Red Herring

The combustible mixture used in The Truth Bomb includes a generous portion of java from Starbucks and other evil corporate coffee conglomerates, and none of this is cheap.  Therefore, unless the ads to the right and below completely annoy and offend you, please investigate what my sponsors have to say.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Five Point Five Jive - Thoughts from the Hopelessly Unemployed



By Mel Carriere

I warned you on my Twitter account that I would speak heresy from time to time, and that moment has now arrived.  Although my commitment to the fight for the working man remains passionate and unwavering, my commitment to the party that has been elected into the highest office in the land to fight for the working man is lukewarm at best.   So all of you doctrinally pure #Uniteblue hashtag clones might want to plug your ears for a while because I'm not exactly going to be preaching the party line here.

My mailman travels probably give me a cross section of Americana better than any other occupation.  I cross paths with people in all different statuses of employment; from the gainfully employed to the marginally employed to the retired to the temporarily unemployed to the hopelessly unemployed.  I think my job helps me keep my finger on the pulse of what Americans think about our government - and this thinking runs the gamut from the Rush Limbaugh brainwashed Tea Party hacks to the George Noory disciple conspiracy theorists to the radical leftist revolutionaries.

Surprisingly enough, the ranks of the unemployed do not line up neatly behind the politicians we expect them to, and this is a disturbing trend.  An encounter with an unemployed gentleman on my route today pointed out to me very clearly that President Obama does not exactly enjoy religious cult devotion status among the people who have been out of work so long that their employment benefits have expired and they are out of money and out of hope.

I should make it clear that this man I spoke to today didn't look like the type who sits on his hands waiting for manna from heaven or from Jerry Brown or wherever it is manna falls from these days. When I spoke to him he wasn't crashing on the couch in his cigarette burned underwear watching TV, like other chronically unemployed people I have come across since this recession started.  He was tidily dressed and groomed and was out in the yard energetically taking care of whatever duties he had to do around the house.  He didn't appear to be someone who lounges about doing nothing except blaming the government for his woes.

I don't exactly remember what started our conversation about the government, but I think it was a reference to the California drought I made while he was signing for a certified letter.  One thing led to another, and before long he related to me the woeful fact that he has been unemployed so long that he can no longer collect unemployment benefits.  He added that when he goes to apply for a job he is typically in competition with no less than 850 other candidates.  Furthermore, he expressed his belief that President Obama's chest thumping assertion that the unemployment rate has now dipped to 5.5 percent is a complete fraud.  Whether this is propaganda he got from right wing talk show hosts I don't know, but he thinks Obama is the first President not to include people whose unemployment benefits have expired, like him, within the ranks of the unemployed, which of course turns the unemployment rate into a highly inaccurate measure of how the economy is doing.

I don't know if what he told me is true. I certainly do not accept Tea Party inspired fantasies as fact, but I can share some admittedly anecdotal evidence that indicates maybe the economy is not pumping along as steadily as the President would have us believe it is.  Yesterday, for example, I intended to take my wife to Easter Sunday dinner at Sizzlers, where she enjoys the salad bar, only to find that the Sizzler was sadly, distressingly fenced in and shut down.  A few weeks ago I went to Pat and Oscars Restaurant to buy some bread sticks to complement our spaghetti dinner, only to discover that our local Pat and Oscars had sadly, distressingly shut down.  If the economy is really booming, why are all these landmark local businesses that have been institutions here in Southern California for decades now closing their doors?

Like this customer on my route, I am not exactly a passionate fire-breathing advocate for President Obama either.  At best I support him as the lesser of two evils, but in my opinion his fight to improve the lot for working people has been of the too little too late variety.  When he had  a majority in Congress he did nothing to push for increasing the minimum wage, and has only taken up this crusade now that he has a hostile Congress that isn't going to pass anything he proposes.  It seems to me that Obama is more concerned with maintaining the illusion that he supports working people than he is with actually doing anything useful for them, like perhaps stopping American Corporations from exporting living wage factory jobs to third world countries.

Both major parties are steeped in institutionalized corruption and cronyism.  Jackasses and Pachyderms alike desire to keep their hands on the privileges and benefits of power and not much else.  Republicans want to keep people poor because their pimp corporations want a readily available pool of cheap labor, and Democrats want to keep people poor because once people get a little bit of money in their pockets they start voting Republican because they want low taxes.

There, I have said it!  I have spoken heresy, and I sure do feel better.  I will add, in closing, that it is time to take the advice the rock band Rage Against the Machine was dishing out in their song Guerrilla Radio, released on the eve of the 2000 Bush vs Gore Presidential election contest:

More for Gore or the son of a drug lord?

None of the above

F*** it cut the chord!

Rage was right, I think.  The time has indeed come to cut the chord and try something else.


The combustible mixture used in The Truth Bomb includes a generous portion of java from Starbucks and other corporate coffee conglomerates, and none of this is cheap.  Therefore, unless the ads to the right and below completely annoy and offend you, please investigate what my sponsors have to say.


Image from:  "Unemployed men queued outside a depression soup kitchen opened in Chicago by Al Capone, 02-1931 - NARA - 541927" by Unknown or not provided - U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Unemployed_men_queued_outside_a_depression_soup_kitchen_opened_in_Chicago_by_Al_Capone,_02-1931_-_NARA_-_541927.jpg#/media/File:Unemployed_men_queued_outside_a_depression_soup_kitchen_opened_in_Chicago_by_Al_Capone,_02-1931_-_NARA_-_541927.jpg

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

When will Russia Join the 21st Century, or At Least the 20th?


By Mel Carriere

The Russians are a mighty people, and a proud people, and an intelligent people with an unparalleled intellectual and cultural history.  I spend my half hour lunch break reading The Brothers Karamazov these days and I recognize Dostoevsky as a giant in a country that has produced uncountable literary giants including Leo Tolstoy, another of my personal favorites.  I love the Russians, the few I've met and the few whose works I have read, and if I sound like I'm sucking up to the Russians to soften a stinging critique of the incomprehensible, peculiarly anachronistic behavior of this country's officially sanctioned institutions, well then you guessed right.  Russia is a strangely bi-polar place, alternating back and forth between revolutionary ideas so shocking they scare the hell out of the rest of the world and then sinking back into ideas so medieval and reactionary that they scare the hell out of the rest of the world.  With Russia there does not seem to be any happy, tranquil, untroubled place in the middle.

What prompted me to write about Russia was a story I heard on National Public Radio regarding the staging of Wagner's opera Tannhauser at the Novosibirsk Theater in that country, a production which was reinterpreted by the director to depict Jesus Christ enduring temptations of a probable sexual nature, since the poster advertising the opera depicts Christ in crucifixion pose between a nude woman's spread legs.  There was a widespread outrage over this show fanned by the Russian Orthodox Church, and the director of the opera was fired by the Russian government's cultural minister because of the "unprecedented public reaction," which was probably completely orchestrated.

You can say what you want about the poor taste and lack of respect for Christianity demonstrated by depicting Christ in provocative poses, and I must confess that my sensibilities probably would have been offended by this as well.  But when I am offended, as I was by the 1987 "artistic" photograph "Piss Christ," depicting a crucifix submerged in a glass of urine, I turn the page or turn off the TV or close that particular offending window in my browser.  I don't take part in rounding up the pitchfork wielding peasants and marching off on a witch hunt just because certain artists have a different interpretation of religion than I do.

I think my particular attitude seems to be the legalized norm in the majority of industrialized countries, except Russia.  Yes we do have book burners and other would be moral watchdogs here in the United States, but these folks have no legal standing and every time they get a little bit out of control the courts shut them down under the Constitutional protections of freedom of speech, which are interpreted very liberally.  At the present time we are embroiled in one such freedom of expression controversy in the state of Indiana, where opponents of a new religious freedom law claim it threatens the right to same sex marriages, while its supporters claim it protects their right not to have same sex marriages conducted by their religious institutions.  The point in this case is that everybody thinks their freedoms are being trampled upon, and the real proposition on trial is whether or not the government has a right to legislate anybody's personal liberties at all.

In Russia, however, the government appears to have absolutely no compunction about deciding which religion is best for everyone, or deciding whether or not there should be any religion, period.  It wasn't that long ago that the Soviet Union predating modern Russia made the elimination of religion its stated objective.  Orthodox churches were vandalized and destroyed under Soviet rule.  Josef Stalin marched nearly all of the country's clergymen off to labor camps.

But now in the post Soviet era the wildly bi-polar Russian pendulum has swung completely the other direction, and the country finds itself in a situation where the Russian Orthodox Church is allied with the government and basically serves as a ready, willing, and able propaganda machine to shore up President Vladimir Putin's rule.  Critics of the regime, such as the punk band Pussy Riot, are jailed under "religious hooliganism" laws, and Pontius Putin washes his hands of "dictator" charges by letting the bishops lead the charge against his enemies.  Later, however, Vlad shows who his true friends are by handing out state medals to the religious leaders of these witch hunt campaigns.

Even more astounding to me is the situation in the Russian occupied areas of the Ukraine, where rebels have declared the Russian Orthodox Church to be the official religion, resulting in other Christian groups being forced to either flee to Ukraine controlled territory or to go underground.

These sorts of persecutions were also pretty common in the West at once time, but for the most part we have generally succeeded over the last two centuries of purging our society of religious intolerance.  People of all denominations and religions can preach on street corners; Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons proselytize their way down my block at least once a week, and my Facebook friend suggestion list is filled with wannabe friends who proudly display their "curlicue A orbited by atoms" banner on their profile pages.  None of the adherents of these various religions are being persecuted, and none of them have been incarcerated under "religious hooliganism" laws, as far as I know.

So my question for today is, when will the Russian Orthodox Bear cease alternating between these angry ravenous rages where it wants to consume everything, followed by the catatonic fits where it rolls up into a ball and lies comatose in the corner for several decades.  It would be nice to have a reasonably sedate partner in Eastern Europe that wasn't as moody as my wife at the low ebb of her estrogen cycle, but the incomprehensibly bi-polar character of Russia, symbolized to me by Tolstoy's piercing stare shooting out from behind that uncompromising beard, tells me that a great deal more political upheaval must be endured by everybody before any kind of real reconciliation between West and East can occur.






Photo attributed to: "83AS5017" by Alexandergusev - alexandergusev.com. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:83AS5017.jpg#/media/File:83AS5017.jpg

Leo comes from:  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:L.N.Tolstoy_Prokudin-Gorsky.jpg







Sunday, March 29, 2015

Why Ted Cruz and his Minions Scare the Crap out of me - Thoughts on Theocracy



By Mel Carriere

If part of your left wing revolution includes gathering all the Bibles together onto a bier and setting it aflame, or, as some of the more frighteningly extreme among you have suggested, gathering the Christians together onto a bier and setting them aflame, then you can count me out.  Even though it most certainly contradicts my blog's slogan that ideology is mental murder, my irrational monkey mind still clings to the comfort of religion, and I proudly profess to be a Catholic Christian.  Therefore, if your quest is to bring back the good old days of Diocletian feeding his hungry kittens with Christian cat chow I'm afraid you scare me just as much as the wacko Puritan witch-hunters on the right do.

"Courageous Conservative," the tag applied to Ted Cruz to help him psychologically manipulate puzzled voters into choosing him for president, is a concept that is equally terrifying to me as religious terror, or as anti-religious terror.  The truth is, if you are a part of white bread America like I am, you don't have to be courageous to be a conservative at all.  If I were to start spouting off about how I love Obama when I go to my family reunion in July, those good people are liable to take me out for a ride in a pickup truck on the dry juniper flats and you might not ever hear from me again.  So when they use the term "Courageous Conservative" to describe Ted Cruz, it is Orwellian Newspeak to a dangerous extreme, containing sinister portents of something dark and dirty beneath.

Ted Cruz announced his candidacy for President of the United States at Liberty University, the Grand Inquisitor mill created by the late Reverend Jerry Falwell.  Falwell was the man who advocated that public schools should be taken over by churches and have Christians running them.  He blamed 9-11 on the pagans and everybody else who was trying to secularize America.  He said that labor unions should read the Bible instead of asking for more money because the Bible will help its members work harder when they get right with God.  All of this said with a perfectly straight, albeit pudgy face.

I'm sure that Ted Cruz announcing his candidacy at this institution is not coincidental, but sends a clear signal about what he is all about, and what his people are all about.  Despite my Catholic convictions I am, and always will be, passionately committed to the separation of church and state, because I personally don't want fat bags of wind like Ted Cruz and his mentor Jerry Falwell commanding me to keep my kids away from the Teletubbies on TV because Tinky-Winky is supposedly a symbol of gay pride.

Shockingly enough, there are plenty of Americans who do not share my views about the inimical relationship of church and state, but would seem to welcome a government controlled by Conservative Christians, a sort of Inquisitorial oligarchy that decides what is good for me to read and what is proper for me to watch on TV.  A few years ago I actually had a conversation on this subject with a coworker who is also an ordained minister.

"How can you call yourself a Christian," he asked me, "and say you don't want to be governed by a Theocracy?"

"The only way I would support a Theocracy," I told him, "Is if Christ were the one in charge of it.  Any other human at the head of such a government would become corrupt and would promote their own personal agenda under the banner of God and the Bible."

A couple of coworkers listening to this largely friendly debate were cheering me on, because this mailman slash part-time preacher was fond of bullying people with the Bible, and wasn't used to being contradicted.  Which is another reason why this "Courageous Conservative" label is misleading, because most people just sort of meekly roll over to these loudmouths.

As perhaps also misquoted at one time by Ted Cruz, former President and Constitution Father James Madison said that "if angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary." The problem with theocracy, however, is that angels are not governing men.  Men are governing men and men can be corrupt, autocratic, devious, cheating little monkeys.  Speaking about man in Killer Angels, his novel about the Battle of Gettysburg, author Michael Shaara says "Well boy, if he's an angel, he's sure a murderin' angel." No matter how you try to suppress it, in our worldly bodies biology always trumps theology.  The animal inside of us instinctively wants to do whatever it can to proliferate carbon copies of itself and to push its own agenda in order to do so.  With certain individuals the drive for personal power is so extreme that the only way to hold them in check is through institutional, secular control.  You only need to go back to the days of the Inquisition and warring Popes in Italy to know that theocracies quickly become cesspools of corruption, no different than any other form of governing ideology and perhaps worse, because theocracy disguises these abuses behind a pro-Bible, or a pro-Koran, or a pro-Talmud shield that makes people afraid to question them.

So Catholic or not I won't be voting theocracy in the next election.  Heck, if Pope Francis could run I wouldn't vote for him either.  Instead I'll pull a quote from my own Bible that says "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's."  Maybe Falwell and Cruz deleted this part from their proposed governing Constitution.


Image is from:  "Ted Cruz by Gage Skidmore 4" by Gage Skidmore. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ted_Cruz_by_Gage_Skidmore_4.jpg#/media/File:Ted_Cruz_by_Gage_Skidmore_4.jpg

The combustible mixture used in The Truth Bomb includes a generous portion of java from Starbucks and other corporate coffee conglomerates, and none of this is cheap.  Therefore, unless the ads to the right and below complete annoy and offend you, please investigate what my sponsors have to say.



Saturday, March 21, 2015

Did Ayn Rand Really f*** up my Life? Still Deprogramming from My Objectivism Mental Captivity


By Mel Carriere

I have a quote up there on my blog masthead saying that Ideology is Mental Murder, and this adage can be no better argued than from my personal experience deprogramming from the Objectivist brainwashing I went through, beginning at the spiritually vulnerable young age of 17.

I say spiritually because in spite of its stated commitment to rational, "objective" phenomena as the only means of guiding one's existence upon this planet, the Objectivist philosophy is indeed a religion, with its own set of inflexible dogma that it enforces as rigidly as the Grand Inquisitor sending heretics off to burn at the stake.

Ayn Rand and her philosophy began to worm its way into my psyche from a very young age.  When I was about five years old a friend of my Mother gave her a copy of Atlas Shrugged as a birthday present.  My mother never read it, and perhaps I should have followed her lead.  At any rate, I used to stare at this big thick book on the shelf, and being a budding geographer I yearned to pull it down from there and have a peek.   When I finally defied the segregation rules in my household that separated the big people books from the little people books, I was confused when I didn't find a single map within its seemingly infinite pages.  But rather than losing interest I became even more intrigued, the mystery of this "Atlas" that contained no maps continuing to tickle my curiosity throughout my youth.

When I was about 15, a college age friend I was talking books with told me that Atlas Shrugged was not an atlas at all.  It was a novel, she said, and one of her favorites.  Fancy that!  The mystery being solved I finally attempted to read it, and managed to plod through about 200 pages before surrendering to my attention deficit and giving up.  ADHD is not always a bad thing; perhaps if I would have retained this short literary attention span my life may have turned out better.

I am not exactly sure what it was, but when I was 17 something reawakened my desire to read the 1,200 page epic.  Perhaps I was spurned on by the same psychological forces that made me decide to run a marathon at age 47.  That marathon medal looks really good hanging on the wall, maybe I thought I would impress my friends by bragging about how I had conquered Atlas Shrugged, the literary equivalent of 26.2.  By this time I was a much more disciplined reader and I made it through to the end.

As thoroughly as St. Paul when he had his blinding vision on the road to Damascus, I was an instant convert.  My life changed immediately, in both negative and positive ways.  On the positive side, I was no longer satisfied with mediocrity.  All of Ayn Rand's "men and women of the mind," as she describes them, were dogged overachievers, so I used them as my example.  My grades improved and I got straight As my senior year in High School (Not that it did me any good, my Dad kicked me out and I joined the Navy anyway).  I also became an extremely hard worker, trying to model my work ethic around the Randian rags to riches characters I read about in "Shrugged," such as steel mill magnate Hank Reardon.

On the negative side, I became introverted to the extreme.  I was reluctant to make friends with any of my peers, considering them to be beneath me because they did not represent Rand's archetype of the ideal man.  In my objectivist-warped mind  everybody was a miserable "second-hander," a parasitic looter of lofty ideas that they were not capable of producing.

I stayed under this very lonely, isolated pall of Objectivism until about age 22, when hormones eventually triumphed and I finally discovered friends, beer, and women.  My life became infinitely happier.

Nonetheless, the ugly stain Ayn Rand left behind in my mind never completely washed out.  As I finally grew up and realized that instead of leading to a Utopian "Atlas Shrugged" society where everybody lives happily and freely in a concealed mountain fortress, what the laissez-faire capitalism espoused by the Objectivists really means is that all of us working stiffs get to live in crowded, filthy, third world style tenement houses as we struggle to survive on slave wages. Nonetheless, I still maintained that in spite of the ideological gulf that now separated us, Ayn Rand was ultimately a positive guiding force in my life and her philosophy turned me into an independent, individualistic, self sustaining man.

Then, just a few weeks ago, I started to reconsider this.  I now believe that what Ayn Rand really did was to turn me into a faithful ant with a mushy brain directed by unquestioning obedience to my corporate overlords.  For many decades Objectivism also tethered my soul to the "trickle-down" economics theory championed by Reagan and the Bushes that has insidiously penetrated into the consciousness of Everyman and has dealt a near death blow to organized labor and to the living wage in this country.  Now all the high paying factory jobs have been exported overseas and all we are left with is Wal-Mart and Taco Bell.  The punchline is that nothing trickled down after all, and I was a willing accomplice to this criminal activity.

The moral of the story, kiddies, is to approach books like Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead with extreme caution.  I am not saying they should not be read at all and I will die before I ever advocate the banning or the burning of any books, but just make sure you are psychologically prepared to deal with such overtly mind controlling literature before you dive in. Rand's books are enjoyable reads, to be sure, but the price you may pay for reading them, if you are not careful, is nothing less than the ownership of your own mind.  Besides that, no matter what sort of mental stain remover you are using, that crap just does not come off in the wash.

Read more about Ayn Rand's influence on American thought and culture:



Image is attributed to:  "Ayn Rand1" by "I looked at the photograph you mentioned at Wikipedia[...] It was taken by Phyllis Cerf (April 13, 1916– November 25, 2006), and I believe we obtained permission to use it in some cases long ago from her son Christopher Cerf[...]Richard E. RalstonPublishing ManagerThe Ayn Rand Institute". Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ayn_Rand1.jpg#/media/File:Ayn_Rand1.jpg

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

12 Years Later the Dixie Chicks Still Upset the Hive



By Mel Carriere


One would think that Americans would have all of our bullish, misguided, misdirected patriotism that led to the 2003 invasion of Iraq out of our systems by now.  After all, I think it is pretty clear that toppling Saddam Hussein, the rancid glue keeping the fragile Iraq house of cards together, was perhaps not a wise course of action after all.  Yes he was a rotten, corrupt evil dictator, but he was maintaining stability in a country invented as if on a whim after WWI by the victorious European powers, drawn with arbitrary borders that included various competing ethnicities that all hated each other but were forced together into a combustible mixture that I guess looked good on paper at the time but doesn't seem to work without a strongman at the center.  The post Iraq war reality has demonstrated that the country will never function short of American troops staying in Iraq forever, or American planes dropping bombs over Iraq forever, yet the Dixie Chicks in 2015 are still vilified for denouncing the invasion of Iraq 12 years after they made this statement on stage in England.

I read an article yesterday, March 14, which defended Dixie Chicks frontwoman Natalie Maines for the remarks she made in that concert and for an almost equally incendiary twitter post she tweeted out March 11th.  I responded to that article with the following comment that I did not realize would migrate to my own Facebook page:



I'm going to put this article's link at the bottom of this post but I'm going to make you slog through my rant first.

Although the response to Natalie Maine's outburst on stage in England on March 10, 2003 was woeful and in my opinion, un-American, in the "angry villagers with pitchforks" mentality that gripped this country at that time I can somewhat understand why there was an almost universal outcry against the Chicks and why their CDs were burned and their songs boycotted on the radio.  I didn't like or approve of it, but I understand that in the heat of battle people's emotions get away from them and they do stupid things.  That was only 2 years after the World Trade Center, after all, and even though it turns out Saddam had nothing to do with that or any other acts of terrorism I guess we still weren't sure about that in 2003 and the angry villagers were willing to round up just about any bad guy wearing a turban to set an example about what happens when you f*** with us.

I can understand the reaction in 2003.  What I have problems with is why there is still a reaction in 2015, but as I found out from my comment yesterday, there is. 

I am not going to put the names or the profile pictures of the people who responded to my post here, because they have a right to their views and I don't want to arouse any similar vilification against them from angry villagers living in the village to the left.  

Anyhow, the first angry villager, still angry after 12 years said:  "Very simple, don't insult your customers."

Hmmm...I am thinking Natalie Maine's customers that night would have been the 2,000 or so paying fans at the Shepherd's Bush Empire theater in London, England, not many of whom would have been insulted by her remarks.  What prompted Natalie to make her statement, in fact, was the anti-war sentiment that was prevalent in England.  Her exact words - "Just so you know we're on the good side with y'all.  We do not want this war, this violence, and we're ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas" were, in fact, applauded by those customers.

Another comment I received from my remark is more indicative of the broader anti-Chicks feeling that followed the concert in Shepherd's.  It said:  "Or MINDLESS!  If she spoke like that about OBAMA...She would be called a racist.!!!  Love that her career died soon after.!!!"

A Facebook friend pointed out that Ted Nugent, another controversial entertainer, does speak poorly about Obama, and while some people probably call him a racist for it, the people denouncing Natalie Maine's criticism of another President probably don't care.  That commenter also called Natalie Maines mindless, because she spoke her mind.  I'm  not sure what that means, but I suppose it signifies that you can't be categorized as intelligent unless you share the opinion of the hive.

What happened to Natalie Maines and the Dixie Chicks in 2003 was a good old fashioned Texas-sized lynching; carried out by an angry mob psychologically manipulated into confusing war mongering for patriotism.

The right-wing commentators who are frequently the source of inspiration behind the hive-minded mobs will have us believe that Natalie Maines somehow vicariously insulted our American troops by insulting the President.  I respond that it was the President and the war profiteers pulling his strings that really insulted the troops by wasting their lives and good health, both physical and mental, by sending them into a situation that was not worthy of their bravery and excellence.

In fairness, the far left has its own hive that it stirs up to try and permanently silence the Limbaughs, Becks, Hannitys and Savages that inspire the right wing hive.  This is as equally wrong and equally ignorant as silencing Maines was.

We live in America and we have a Constitution that we hold up as a shining example for its guarantees of free speech, but as the Dixie Chicks scenario points out, not too many really appreciate or believe in free speech.  We pretend to, we put our hands to our hearts before baseball games and shed a joyful tear thinking about this vague, almost religious concept of freedom, but what we really love is a damned good witch hunt.

But I'm not ashamed to say that I still love Natalie Maines and the rest of the Dixie Chicks, these being Martie Erwin Maguire and Emily Erwin Robinson, and I admire them for their music and for doing a very courageous thing.  If they had been from Rhode Island, New York, or Michigan nobody would have given their remarks a second thought, but coming as they did from the heart of the Bible belt in Texas they knew quite well beforehand what a Hornet's nest they were going to stir up, and I'm damn glad they did it.  Somebody had to be the voice of reason and sanity, even if it didn't do any immediate good.

So now I'll let you read about how things are going for Natalie Maines 12 years after, and make sure you watch that kick ass music video made for a song that describes the kind of hell one has to go through for speaking one's mind in America.




Image is from:  "DixieChicksMSG062003" by Original uploader was Wasted Time R at en.wikipedia - Transfered from en.wikipedia Transfer was stated to be made by User:twice25.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DixieChicksMSG062003.jpg#/media/File:DixieChicksMSG062003.jpg


The combustible mixture used in The Truth Bomb includes a generous portion of java from Starbucks and other corporate coffee conglomerates, and none of this is cheap.  Therefore, unless the ads to the right and above complete annoy and offend you, please investigate what my sponsors have to say.