Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Price We Pay

If ...

... using an assault rifle to kill 58 and wound 500 concertgoers in Las Vegas, or using an assault rifle to kill 49 and injure 58 in a nightclub in Orlando, or using an assault rifle to murder 20 first graders and 6 educators in Newtown, or using any type of gun to kill a family in a domestic violence case is the price we pay for the right bear arms ...



Then ...

... isn't a football player kneeling for the national anthem, in a peaceful protest against police brutality, the price we pay for the right of free speech?

Which is worse?


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

What we learned from the Vietnam War

Apocalypse then ...

"We learn from history that we learn nothing from history."

-- George Bernard Shaw


That's not entirely true about the Vietnam War.


After our defeat, the military developed the ability to fight at night through night-vision goggles and infrared optics. 


The military also dramatically improved the accuracy of its bombs through satellite-guided missiles that turn unguided bombs
 ... Apocalypse now
into "smart" bombs.

We now have drones flying into battle.

In other words, we learned to kill much more efficiently and effectively.

Also, the advances in battlefield medical care during the Vietnam conflict substantially improved the rate of survival in subsequent conflicts. Granted, many of those lives are seriously compromised today.

After watching much of the Ken Burns/Lynn Novick 10-day, 18-hour documentary, "The Vietnam War," it's clear that we learned little else from Vietnam.

In fact, we duplicated the fraudulent start of the Vietnam War in the Iraq War.

The Tonkin Gulf "attacks" gave President Johnson the pretext to dramatically escalate our involvement in Vietnam even though he and his advisers knew there were slim chances of ever winning the war. Our bombing in neighboring Cambodia helped destabilize the region and led to the murderous Khmer Rouge.

Likewise, George W. Bush used the mythical "weapons of mass destruction" to invade Iraq that ushered in unending war and destabilized the region further than it has been since World War II.

More importantly, we didn't care about the Vietnamese people then and we don't care about foreigners today.

Also, this country is as divided today as it was during the Vietnam War.

And, the Sixties were a tumultuous decade.

Predictably, the documentary has its detractors on the left and the right, from Americans and South Vietnamese.

This is what happens when you lose a war, particularly one where you won all the major battles.

The Vietnam War, though, was the culmination of our terribly misguided reaction to communism.

In the 1940s and '50s, Americans turned on each other over communism. We had so little faith in our own institutions that we jailed or ostracized people for having different points of view.

Now, communism needs no defense. It has failed as often as any corrupt, oppressive form of government.

The Korean War, the first test of the "domino theory," never truly ended and we're living with the consequences today. We had a chance to liberate the north, but we went too far and antagonized the Chinese who joined the conflict and pushed the UN forces back to the 38th parallel.

When Cuba, 90 miles from the USA, went communist, Americans started freaking out. Communism was going to take over the world!

Communism would take over in places that had no viable alternative.

North Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh embraced communism because the U.S. didn't side with them in their war of independence from the French.

We picked the wrong side. We backed a corrupt regime in South Vietnam that did not have the full support of its people.

Vietnam War apologists claim that the military could have won if the politicians had let them.

Not exactly. Even the U.S. military has concluded that the defeat in Vietnam was substantially due to our military's mistakes. Add in the atrocities committed by American forces in My Lai and elsewhere, and you have the recipe for disaster.

The American military record speaks for itself. Since World War II, the U.S. military, in spite of the trillions spent and thousands of lives lost, has not had a clear-cut victory in any major conflict.

Some still maintain that the Vietnam War was a worthy cause.

No, it wasn't.

Vietnam, like Korea, was a proxy war that pitted the U.S. against the Soviets at first.

We fought in these far-flung places so that we, rather than the Soviets, could exploit these countries.

At the same time we were fighting totalitarian communism in Asia, we were supporting totalitarian dictatorships throughout the world.

The hypocrisy did not go unnoticed by many in this country or others abroad.

In the end, the dreaded communists won.

Did they treat the South Vietnamese people well? No, they didn't.

But, when two million people died in Cambodia under Pol Pot, it wasn't the Americans who came to their rescue, but the communist Vietnamese army that saved the day.

And, how do we treat Vietnam today? We get a lot of our clothes and shoes from there that are produced by their exploited workforce.

After the USSR imploded in 1989, China became the last major communist country. Naturally, we get most of our goods from China that are manufactured by ridiculously cheap labor.

If we truly detested communists, why do we import so much from them, which ends up supporting  their regimes?

Since at least the 1940s, the GOP has been the most strident anti-communist political party.

Ironically, due to the interference of the Russians and their despotic leader, Vladimir Putin,
we have the former KGB operative's hand-picked president, a Republican, in the White House today.

Rank-and-file Republicans do not care that former Soviets rigged our election. In fact, they are grateful to Putin that Hillary Clinton lost.

That's how far we have fallen from the days of the Vietnam War.

Monday, October 2, 2017

When will we ever learn

Sadly, we won't.

In took a little over a year for a new mass shooting to be crowned the worst ever in American history.

As always, the only voice that made any sense of the massacre in Las Vegas was The Onion, a satirical news website.

They trotted out their well-worn headline: 'No Way To Prevent This,' Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.

If fact, it occurs so frequently that it is astonishing that it attracts so much media coverage.

Guess it's a slow Monday.

This will be hot news for a few days and then it will die down as it always does, not with a bang, but with a whimper.

The White House says this is no time to talk about gun control in America. Obviously, to Republicans and the firearm-fetish crowd, there is no time to talk about gun control.

Not that it matters.

No laws on guns will pass unless it is to expand the use of firearms so that everyone has a gun at all times to thwart any other mass shooting. It wouldn't be surprising to see a motor-shooter law passed where, in order to get a driver's license, the applicant must show proof of gun ownership.

Evidently, more than 300 million guns in the hands of Americans are not enough.

The shooter in his Las Vegas hotel room "had at least 20 rifles, two on tripods at the windows, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition," an official told the New York Times.

Leave it to The Onion, again, to put this in perspective:

"NRA Says Mass Shootings Just The Unfortunate Price Of Protecting People's Freedom To Commit Mass Shootings"

In fact, the Supreme Court made such a ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller. Of course, it wasn't worded that way but the end result is the same. The right to kill with guns supersedes the right to not be killed by guns.

For now, as they say, all we can do is pray for the victims.

And, count the days until the next mass shooting becomes the worst in American history.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Trump salutes Russian flag

Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. Nobody was fired. 
Okay, that headline is a bit of a stretch, but Donald Trump's foul words and disregard for the Constitution on display this past weekend mirrored a Russian tyrant rather than an American president.

Take a knee, Donald, you're obviously not in shape.

You were beaten badly over the weekend by NFL players, coaches, owners and fans.

Instead of one player kneeling during the National Anthem, hundreds did.

And, no player was fired.

You lost, bigly, Trump.

I haven't paid attention to the NFL for decades because I find the pro game boring, compared to college, and the games seem "fixed" much of the time because of all the gambling that goes on.

But, I tuned in Sunday to see what the response would be to Trump's trash-talking of NFL players and the NBA's Steph Curry.

Yes, there were some boos for players who knelt during the playing of the National Anthem, but overall, the fans showed up, cheered and the games went on as usual.

It was great, though, to see that Trump, the Great Divider, could actually unite black and white players along with the owners, who are mostly Republicans, against his tyrannical leadership.

Trump claims that race has nothing to do with it. Of course, like everything he says, that's a lie.

He's not just a white supremacist, as an ESPN personality said last week, he is a racist.

He's an equal opportunity offender, however, because he's also a sexist slob and goes out of his way to antagonize most Americans and people around the world.

Yes, Trump was playing to his dwindling base of mostly white supporters, many of whom are racist.

But, please media, this isn't populism, it's fascism. Call it what it is.

Some have suggested Trump was just trying to distract the press and public away from damaging disclosures from the Russia investigation.

I don't think he's that smart. He just likes to be the center of attention, no matter what is going on.

Puerto Rico is devastated by hurricane Maria. Trump says, what about me?

North Korea continues to threaten the world. Trump tweets insults that get headlines.

It's all about the Donald and no one else.

His so-called defense of the flag and National Anthem is as shallow as he is.

He doesn't give a damn about this country. That's why his campaign colluded with Russia. He's a traitor.

Sadly, many Americans don't care that he is.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Fear Ailes Trump

Trump and Ailes, a pair of sexual predators
It's mid-May and Donald Trump is still president in spite of his "bigly" efforts to get himself ousted.

If a Democrat acted as crazily as Trump has, he or she would have been jailed by now or dragged off to the funny farm in a strait-jacket.

Yet, thanks to Roger Ailes, the former Fox News fascist who croaked Thursday, Trump is still president.

Ailes' legacy is that Trump and other Republicans will always have staunch defenders at Fox News.

Ailes started Fox News in the mid-1990s for those intolerant, aging, white Americans who could no longer face the reality that the country was changing to something less white and more tolerant.

Fox News was created as the official channel of the Republican Party that felt all other media were biased against them.

Nevermind that most of this other media are owned by conservative corporations whose only goal is to make money. Many of the CEOs of these entities are Republicans themselves.

Fox News pitched their dubious narrative to older, white Americans that minorities, feminists, gays, Hollywood elites, non-Christians (who are all Democrats, by the way) were destroying their view of America.

Fox News peddles this political pornography and they have an audience addicted to it.

Trump tapped into that addiction to claim the electoral college victory in November.

Trump and Ailes had another thing in common: sexual predators. Ailes lost his job because of it, while Trump was elected in spite of it.

Ailes did such a masterful job in dividing this country that Trump supporters are completely blind to his outrageous behavior and actions of the past few weeks.

While listening to NPR shows that have Americans call in their opinions, it is absolutely astounding that so many of these people still defend Trump.

As Trump said during the presidential campaign, he could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and he wouldn't lose any voters.

Fox News made it easy for many Americans to not believe the mainstream media. Yet, it's called mainstream because it represents a consensus of reality. But, as Stephen Colbert once noted, "reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Fox News and Trump supporters don't buy the reality of his chaotic presidency because they consider it pushed by liberals.

Trump has lowered the bar of competency and decency so low that his supporters are willing to accept any behavior from him.

Well, that's not going to end well.

Ailes pathetic life ended in disgrace.

Trump faces the same fate.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Epic GOP fail: TrumpDon'tCare

Health care? Who needs it?
After winning the House, the Senate and the presidency, and, after whining for seven years about the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), Republicans showed today how they would fix health care once and for all.

They did nothing.

Not even a floor vote.

No repeal. No replacement. No nothing.

Don "The Con" Trump, said last year that “from day one I’ve been talking about we’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare from day one, we’re going to do it.”

Sixty-four days after "day one," he couldn't even get close to making a deal with fellow Republicans.

Call it "The Fart of the Deal."

What a stinker.

House Speaker Paul Ryan shoulders much of the blame, but Oregon's 2nd District congressman, Greg Walden, did his part to show how ineffective he can be.

The Republican House caucus is so diverse that it contains the tea-bagging faction and those slightly less extreme.

Such comity.

One side said the plan went too far and the other said it didn't go far enough.

In other words, the GOP bill didn't enrich the wealthy enough and it didn't screw over everyone else enough either.

Apparently, only 17 percent of Americans thought the GOP's R&R effort was worthwhile before Republicans decided not to vote on it.

What is truly shocking is that even with a huge tax cut for the rich included in the bill, Republicans still couldn't stomach it. They entered a Twilight Zone of their own creation.

Over the past half-dozen years, House Republicans spent their majority in Congress by voting more than 50 times to repeal Obamacare. They knew full well that their votes wouldn't matter because President Obama would never sign their bills.

Now that their votes matter, they said, "uh, nevermind, we were just kidding."

That is called Republican governance.

GOPers don't believe in the federal government and they run for office to prove it.

Meanwhile, they collect their paychecks and enjoy their deluxe health care coverage.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Don't throw money down OSU-Cascades' pits


OSU-Cascades aims to make its campus inaccessible to most students
Now that OSU-Cascades owns the former pumice pit next to its micro 10-acre campus and is on the verge of taking over a former demolition landfill, it now wants taxpayers to cough up $70 million to fill these holes in the ground.

That request doesn't include any buildings, professors or parking places.

The ex-pumice mine needs massive infill to make the land stable for building. The ex-landfill needs $50 million just for reclamation.

Oh, and the state budget deficit is approximately $1.6 billion for the current biennium, due mostly to health care and about 20 percent to the public employees retirement system.

Unlike the federal government, Oregon has to balance its budget every two years.

And, of course, raising taxes is impossible. There is no greater evil on the planet, according to Republicans.

So, most programs, agencies and services face varying degrees of cutbacks.

In this environment, of a booming state economy and the inability to raise taxes, the brain trust at OSU-C expects $70 million in non-existent state dollars to fill in holes in the ground.

Actually, they need to fill the holes in their heads first before begging others for money.

As noted before, OSU-C decided to build their campus without a master plan in the most expensive area of Bend, where there is no affordable housing for even OSU-C professors, let alone students.

The school was given land at Juniper Ridge where $70 million could go a long way towards fixing the traffic problems that a university would create on Bend's north end.

No, OSU-C wanted a 10-acre university where even students who are lucky enough to live on campus, can't park their cars on campus. The nearest the school wants students to park is about 3/4 miles away in an industrial area.

OSU-C better set aside a huge sum of money to build student housing on the edge of town and bus the students to school.

In essence, OSU-C doesn't really want students since they built the campus in the most inaccessible area of Bend and Central Oregon. Like most entities today, from Netflix to Amazon, they just want the student's, or their parent's, credit card number.

Stay home, just pay us, the university brain trust says. We want to live, work and play on the west side, and we want you to pay for it.