Hey! Did I Mention Money?

by R J Adams     June 28, 2015 at 10:30pm

In the previous post mention was made of how the Senate changed its mind, almost overnight, and decided to assist the US President by voting to fast-track the TPP through Congress.

There was even a vague suggestion that money may have assisted certain of our representatives to ‘alter their opinions’ with regard to the “Trans Pacific Partnership”, despite the obvious and well-publicized shortcomings of that particular “trade treaty”.

Let the figures speak for themselves. Between January and March this year, the period when the Senate was discussing the TPP:

  • Out of the total $1,148,971 given, an average of $17,676.48 was donated to each of the 65 “yea” votes.
  • The average Republican member received $19,673.28 from corporate TPP supporters.
  • The average Democrat received $9,689.23 from those same donors.

The amounts given rise dramatically when looking at how much each senator running for re-election received.

Two days before the fast-track vote, Obama was a few votes shy of having the filibuster-proof majority he needed. Ron Wyden and seven other Senate Democrats announced they were on the fence on 12 May, distinguishing themselves from the Senate’s 54 Republicans and handful of Democrats as the votes to sway.

  • In just 24 hours, Wyden and five of those Democratic holdouts — Michael Bennet of Colorado, Dianne Feinstein of California, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Patty Murray of Washington, and Bill Nelson of Florida — caved and voted for fast-track.
  • Bennet, Murray, and Wyden – all running for re-election in 2016 – received $105,900 between the three of them. Bennet, who comes from the more purple state of Colorado, got $53,700 in corporate campaign donations between January and March 2015, according to Channing’s research.
  • Almost 100% of the Republicans in the US Senate voted for fast-track – the only two non-votes on TPA were a Republican from Louisiana and a Republican from Alaska.
  • Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, who is the former US trade representative, has been one of the loudest proponents of the TPP. (In a comment to the Guardian Portman’s office said: “Senator Portman is not a vocal proponent of TPP – he has said it’s still being negotiated and if and when an agreement is reached he will review it carefully.”) He received $119,700 from 14 different corporations between January and March, most of which comes from donations from Goldman Sachs ($70,600), Pfizer ($15,700), and Procter & Gamble ($12,900). Portman is expected to run against former Ohio governor Ted Strickland in 2016 in one of the most politically competitive states in the country.
  • Seven Republicans who voted “yea” to fast-track and are also running for re-election next year cleaned up between January and March. Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia received $102,500 in corporate contributions. Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, best known for proposing a Monsanto-written bill in 2013 that became known as the Monsanto Protection Act, received $77,900 – $13,500 of which came from Monsanto.
  • Arizona senator and former presidential candidate John McCain received $51,700 in the first quarter of 2015. Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina received $60,000 in corporate donations. Eighty-one-year-old senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who is running for his seventh Senate term, received $35,000. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, who will be running for his first full six-year term in 2016, received $67,500 from pro-TPP corporations.

“It’s a rare thing for members of Congress to go against the money these days,” said Mansur Gidfar, spokesman for the anti-corruption group Represent.Us. “They know exactly which special interests they need to keep happy if they want to fund their reelection campaigns or secure a future job as a lobbyist.

“How can we expect politicians who routinely receive campaign money, lucrative job offers, and lavish gifts from special interests to make impartial decisions that directly affect those same special interests?” Gidfar said. “As long as this kind of transparently corrupt behavior remains legal, we won’t have a government that truly represents the people.” {my bold}[1]

Legal Corruption? Isn’t that surely an oxymoron?

[1] “Here’s how much corporations paid the Senate to fast-track passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership” RawStory, June 24th 2015

R J Adams     June 28, 2015 at 10:30pm     No Comments

Back In The Madhouse!

by R J Adams     June 24, 2015 at 10:36pm


We’ve landed back in the asylum, though hopefully not for long. After three peaceful weeks in Brittany, France, disembarking at Detroit airport was truly like returning to a madhouse. Whoever designed that tunnel between concourses at Detroit must have been out of their minds. Garishly-colored sheets of ever-shifting light covering the walls and ceiling…


mqdefault


…coupled with a cacophony of discordant noise emanating from all directions, blew my mind long before I reached Concourse B.

Apparently, I wasn’t alone. The airport website sees fit to carry this warning:

While the Light Tunnel is an extremely popular feature, the Airport Authority recognizes that the combination of light and sound may be uncomfortable for some travelers. Customers may suspend the program for a five minute period by pressing the button marked by signage at each end of the tunnel (to the right at the bottom of the escalators). For more details, just ask any member of airport staff inside the terminal.”[1]

If we’d anticipated any degree of sanity settling over this nation while we’d been away, our disappointment would have been palpable. Not that we did. The madness continues, seemingly unabated. The US government continues to stockpile arms in Poland, then expresses self-righteous outrage when Putin counters by announcing an increase in Russia’s nuclear arsenal.

We now learn from the BBC that “The world ‘largely likes’ the US”[2], but the opinion poll that delivered this verdict was run by an American think-tank, so perhaps the result wasn’t entirely surprising. The Pew Research Center is respected by media organizations throughout the world, but it may not be as non-partisan, non-advocacy, and non-policy forming as it declares on its website. The center relies for its funding on the Pew Charitable Trusts (well, it would, wouldn’t it?) and heading that organization is Rebecca Rimel, described by Philadelphia Magazine back in 2004 as:

…one of the most powerful women in
America.[3]

It was she who, according to SourceWatch:

…was instrumental in the legal maneuvering for the takeover of the Barnes art collection — a large prime collection of artwork with an estimated value of $25 – $30 bn[4]

The film documenting the events surrounding this ‘legal heist’ caused the late Roger Ebert to write:

“It is perfectly clear exactly what Barnes specified in his will. It was drawn up by the best legal minds. It is clear that what happened to his collection was against his wishes. It is clear that the [Philadelphia] city fathers acted in obviation of those wishes, and were upheld in a court of appeals. What is finally clear: It doesn’t matter a damn what your will says if you have $25 billion, and politicians and the establishment want it.”[5]

For “establishment” read “Rebecca Rimel”?

It’s general knowledge that Pew, in its entirety, is still owned by oil magnates viz: the Pew family of Sunoco (Sun Oil Co), and given the vast sums of money involved, and Rimel’s cozy relationship with the corporations and Congress, one has to wonder just how “non-partisan, non-advocacy, and non-policy forming” the Pew Research Center can really be.[5]


Only in an insane asylum could the actions of a 21-year-old mentally unhinged youth gunning down nine worshipers in a church result in three hundred million people coming to blows over a flag.



A hearty “Well done!” to the US media and the NRA. It sure took the heat off gun control. (You surely don’t need a link to this one!)


I’ve always considered circuses to be somewhat scary, probably because they’re full of weird clowns. None more so, however, than the political circus presently in full swing throughout the US, as ten (or, is it eleven…twelve..?) Republican escapees from the institution vie to become the next president of the United States.

The Pope recently spoke out strongly about climate change. Every Republican candidate, bar one, basically agreed the Pope should stick to the Bible and keep his nose out of politics. They all believe climate change is a ‘political issue’, which speaks volumes for their lack of mental acumen. Perhaps, it well qualifies them for the post they’re hoping to attain.

If all this weren’t evidence enough that we’re three hundred million living in a madhouse of a country, then the latest news from Congress must surely clinch it. Today it was announced that our beloved and respected representatives in the Senate have voted to “fast-track” that infamous “trade deal” known as the Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP, through Congress, despite almost all of them being opposed to it last week.[6]

I wonder what changed their minds?


money


[1] “DTW-Tunnel”

[2] “The world ‘largely likes’ the US, says global survey” BBC, June 26th 2015

[3] “Philadelphia Magazine” August 2004

[4] “Rebecca Rimel” SourceWatch

[5] “Rebecca Rimel’s Millions in Compensation at Pew Charitable Trusts and Elsewhere” NPQ, March 12th 2015

[6] “Obama’s ‘fast-track’ trade bill clears key Senate hurdle”BBC, June 23rd 2015

R J Adams     June 24, 2015 at 10:36pm     4 Comments

Fleeing The Asylum

by R J Adams     April 30, 2015 at 4:28pm


Jail


I have escaped.

Well, in truth, not quite. I’m hopeful of winging my way out of this madhouse they call America in a matter of hours. We’ve made it to Detroit airport without being apprehended. Our flight leaves for London, England at 2218 hours. From there, a car to France – and sanity!

Sadly, it’ll only be for three weeks, but even that short duration will be heaven, and there’s hope we may one day return there for good. This trip is a recce of the housing market and the delights Brittany has to offer. I hope to convince my good lady that life can be better elsewhere than America.

Until later…

Au revoir et bonne journee!


R J Adams     April 30, 2015 at 4:28pm     2 Comments

Going Clear…Out Of Our Minds

by R J Adams     April 4, 2015 at 10:25pm


going-clear1


The recent expose of Scientology by HBO (based on Lawrence Wright’s book) leaves many unanswered questions concerning human society and the way it is organised and regulated. Perhaps a more appropriate phrase might be, “…how it is disorganized and unregulated”.

The marketing of snake oil has never been an entirely American invention. Conmen and tricksters have been around this earth since time immemorial but it’s taken the United States, with its twisted Constitutional ideals of “freedom”, to really hone the art of snake oil marketing into an art-form so perfect it’s allowed Scientology to evolve into a multi-billion dollar entity sufficiently powerful to force the Internal Revenue Service into capitulating to its demands.

I know of no other nation in the Western world where Scientology would have been allowed to blossom as it has in the United States of America. It’s so obviously not a religion that a levy of taxes would have rapidly put paid to its leaders’ aspirations, as would have been the case in America had the First Amendment of the Constitution not been so successfully twisted as to allow this monumental confidence trick to take on and win its case against the IRS.

We are living in a world where the violation of religious principle for political power is only too evident. Scientology bears no more true adherence to a religion than Star Trek or Game of Thrones. ISIS has as little to do with true Islam as The Unification Church has with orthodox Christianity.

Everywhere, religious belief is under attack from those who would use violence and brainwashing to gain power over others. And, who is to blame for this situation? Can there be any other fault but our own?

The human ego has long refused to accept its mortality. How can we possibly be just another animal? After all we have intelligence, and abilities impossible for any other creature on the planet. We put great store by our intelligence. We’ve built civilizations – but, so do termites. We’ve learned to farm and harvest our food – but, so do ants.

We’ve studied the Universe and discovered our beginnings – while systematically destroying our only planetary home. We’ve harnessed the power of the atom – primarily to subjugate and slaughter our fellow beings. We’ve learned to manipulate the minds of our brothers and sisters – to possess power and riches at their expense.

Animals do none of the things mentioned in the last paragraph. They helped maintain the balance of nature, until we came along and disrupted it. They hunt only for food and will rarely kill their own species. They know not riches and power, for they have no egos.

Maybe our “intelligence” is not so beneficial as we like to think it is. Perhaps it’s no more than a quirk of evolution, a branch on that great tree of life destined to wither and die for no other reason than it just doesn’t work.

Scientology could be considered a pinnacle of human intelligence. After all, it’s persuaded hundreds of thousands of human beings to part with their money, give up loved ones and friends, and devote themselves to making the cult’s present leader, David Miscavige, a cool $50,000,000. And that takes some doing!

Of course Miscavige is not alone. There have been far too many so-called ‘pastors’ of mega-churches, TV evangelicals, and even tent-revivalist preachers living in million-dollar mansions, flying around in personal Lear jets, and enjoying a lifestyle that’d cause their Holy Benefactor to spin in His grave, had He not already left it and flitted up to Heaven.

Our intelligence and ‘superiority over the animals’ doesn’t seem to have done us much good long-term. We continue to prey on each other. We seek out and exploit the weaker in society for our own gain. After all, riches don’t come from Heaven, they’re the result of one man (or one group) coining in the hard-earned gains of thousands, sometimes millions, of his fellows.

We are, in fact, our own worst enemies. Our self-centered greed, fueled by the power of our egos, prevents us from working out a future for the whole of mankind. Instead, we work only to further our own individual needs and desires. We may believe in climate change, despite the ravings of lunatic politicians and fossil-fuel wealth creators, but we bury our heads in the rapidly-heating sand and choose the latest Ipad rather than a solar panel. Filling the tank of our gas-guzzler produces cries of woe whenever prices rise, and the glee of affording that new 70-inch TV screen when they drop.

Meanwhile, the pastors, popes, and Imams cajole us into believing their god will make everything right and lift us up to his/her bosom when our life on earth is over.

We think we are intelligent, yet the majority of humankind still believes such gobbledygook, and is prepared to take often violent steps to not just perpetuate, but forcibly propagate these ancient, twisted, myths.

If the human race is the pinnacle of evolution, then “God help” evolution. It has nowhere to go but down. But then, neither it seems has the human race.

Though, in all probability, the egos of David Miscavige and his ilk probably wouldn’t allow them to agree.


R J Adams     April 4, 2015 at 10:25pm     2 Comments

Loving America – A Prerequisite Of Citizenship?

by R J Adams     March 12, 2015 at 11:03pm

“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president [Obama] loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

This was the recent quote of Rudy Giuliani at a ‘private’ dinner in aide of Wisconsin’s Republican governor Scott Walker.

There’s little doubt this speech was a pre-election spin designed to fire up the Republican base, in particular those whose in-bred hatred of President Obama is based on little more than prejudice -either racial or political, or both.

It does, however, beg the question as to whether loving this country is a foregone prerequisite of being an American citizen. Having lived in the USA for nearly thirteen years as a permanent resident, but foregoing any desire to swear allegiance to something I consider slightly distasteful, I find Giuliani’s comments somewhat disturbing at best, and at worst, downright threatening.

Being born in America automatically bestows citizenship. That’s the case in most countries, and certainly in my birthplace, the United Kingdom. I’m sure there are many like me, worldwide, who feel no allegiance to their place of birth, wherever it may be. So is this one of the many ways Americans are propagandized into believing their country is somehow ‘special’?

Let’s examine why Rudy Giuliani considers the incumbent president remiss, assuming he’s right and President Obama does not unconditionally ‘love’ his country.

After all, what is there NOT to love about America?

Well, time alone prevents me scripting a tome of Biblical proportions, but there are a number of reasons why America’s president may be less than starry-eyed about the nation he’s attempting to lead.

His efforts to provide a public healthcare option, similar to those maintained by the more civilized nations of the world, was cast out like the Gadarene swine, only this time by the demons themselves – masquerading as the well paid lackeys of the healthcare industry. The remaining piss-pot of relative uselessness, now derisively coined “Obamacare”, is still under attack, as those same lackeys work tirelessly to banish any prospect of an efficiently functioning healthcare service for all Americans, to the dustbin of history.

Another reason America may prove a difficult lover to woo is her innate desire to stick a gun in your face at the slightest provocation. Not to put too fine a point on it, America is a psychopathic killer and many of her citizens love her for it. After all, a trip to the mall is way more exciting when one can’t be certain a nutter with an AK47 won’t suddenly appear and blow you away. (I believe that’s the correct idiom?).

Despite numerous school massacres, multitudinous daily killings that never make the headlines, and a plethora of brainwashing by that firearms manufacturer’s bastion, the NRA, the good people of America are led blindly to believe the Second Amendment to the Constitution is their inalienable right to stock their living rooms with lethal firearms and pretend they’re being “Oh, so responsible”, as they “teach” their three and four year olds the rudiments of “gun safety”.

Perhaps most amazing of all is the look of surprise when their little darling shoots them with Mommy’s prize Glock.

It’s a sad fact that, while America refuses to satiate its desire for lethal weaponry, it can never stand alongside those nations that have, and call itself ‘civilized’.

Who can truly love a boor, whose only idea of culture is – the gun culture?

President Obama gave up any hope of introducing gun control to America long before his first term ended. It was made clear to him there would be no support whatever in Congress for such a matter.

It could be argued that while American culture is somewhat lacking finesse, the geography of the country is the best in the world, with its Grand Canyon, National Parks, vast deserts, plains, and three great mountain ranges – the Sierra Nevada, Rockies, and Appalachians. Surely, enough for any citizen’s heart to burst with love for ‘this great country of ours’.

However, with eighty percent of the nation only too well known as the “flyover states”, the negative side of the argument is at least equally strong. The vast majority of America is frankly boring in the extreme. Add to that the fact that most Americans will never get to see any of the ‘sights’ mentioned in the previous paragraph, and for most people their country of birth is flat and uninteresting, with vast areas turned over to the production of corn, soy, and other crops, stretching from horizon to horizon.

Is there anything worse than a lover who is at best boring, and at worst extremely violent, and likely to leave you to die if you become ill? It’s not my idea of a happy marriage.

The fact that President Obama made an effort to change some of these faults, shows he cared. Though, after six years in the marriage, with no success, who could blame him for wanting a divorce?

Maybe, after all, Giuliani is right. Any love President Obama once had for America has, perhaps, slowly ebbed away. If so, the Giuliani’s of this nation must take some of the blame. One has to ask whether, despite the flag badge worn prominently on his lapel, he truly ‘loves’ America, or has he just used it to become rich and powerful?

If so, he’s not alone. Frankly, I don’t believe for a moment the wealthiest who live in this land have any love for the country that helped them get that way. If they did, they’d pay their taxes to the US Treasury and not keep their millions in untouchable foreign investment accounts. They may pretend, but it’s a false love, for theirs is a love affair based on rape and pillage. While such acts would be considered disgusting and illegal for most people, they have made it legal and acceptable by cloaking themselves in an aura of respectability while robbing and abusing the less well off to attain their elevated positions.

One has only to study the plight of those once known in this country as the ‘middle class’ to realize the truth. We can all conveniently forget the lowest class, living hand to mouth in appalling, third-world, conditions, often in shacks, or even housing themselves in vehicles for a modicum of shelter. They deserve no better. In this country they’re regarded simply as ‘the losers’.

I have refused to become an American citizen for one reason only. I’ve never pledged allegiance to any nation, and I never will. I was born in the UK. I lived in Britain for fifty-four years. I was never asked to take any pledge.

What does it mean exactly – to pledge? To what is one swearing allegiance – the rocks and dirt of which this nation is composed? No, it’s a solemn promise to support the political system in power at the time, and those that grow fat from it. After all, no country can ever be better than its government, and one that’s spent the last six years quarreling and bickering, while holding the people to ransom for political gain, with threats of withheld wages if they fail to get their own way, can hardly be considered lovable.

This has proved the quagmire of President Obama’s tenure. Despite two landslide elections in his favor, the man has been hog-tied by a Congress unable to support a black president, so much so it has brought the nation to its knees time after time, rather than rally round a leader who, a few decades ago, would not have been allowed to drink at the same water fountain.

Thus, yet another reason not to love America raises its ugly head: racial hatred. Has much changed since the 1950s and 1960s? No. One has only to witness the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, to appreciate how little America has progressed since the days of the Klu Klux Klan.

President Obama may not be in a position to admit his love of America has dwindled somewhat since his inauguration in 2008, but while he may remain steadfast to the ideals of the nation’s founders (or, at least, some of them) his affection for the political system he’s tried to lead must surely be at an all-time low.

Personally, I wouldn’t blame him if this were the case. While the honest folk of America are no different from honest folk worldwide, the politicians and corporate greedmongers who now own this country continue to drag it through the gutter of international esteem.

Rudy Giuliani must surely be considered one of them.


R J Adams     March 12, 2015 at 11:03pm     3 Comments