December 31, 2012

Now what?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 2:51 pm

After posting a column on Friday December 28, 2012, in which we criticized the CBS Evening News for relying heavily on videos of people crying, we tuned in that night to the broadcast and saw a crying man who went out and actually begged for a kidney for his wife, a crying woman who lost her house to the bankers (banks don’t foreclose homes people working for those banks do [?]), and a crying man who was part of a couple whose effort to adopt a Russian orphan had come to a halt because of a new Russian law.  On the NBC Nightly News broadcast for Saturday December 29th, we saw a feature story with a video of a fellow who plays soccer and might get an offer from an American Football team to come and work in the USA.  The video had gone viral on the Internets and we wondered if a video of a crying pundit would “go viral” if it was posted on Youtube.  Did we just sabotage all (and we do mean all) our chances for becoming a late addition to the list of famous journalists known as “Murrow’s Boys”?

Slightly after four p.m. on the day we published the column criticizing CBS for tarnishing their legacy that was established by Edward R. Murrow, we heard Norm Goldman criticize, on his radio broadcast, a brand of banks (think of a 1939 movie that was a career breakthrough for John Wayne) because a recent decision by the Ninth Superior Court seemed to legitimize some unscrupulous accounting practices that always favored the bank and screwed the public.

While preparing to write a new column, we suddenly remembered the old oriental parable that ends with the punch line:  “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet (those damn drones at it again?).”  Voila!  We had a Sutter’s Mill Moment.  An epiphany, as it were.

We didn’t need to envy CBS their ability to send a reporter and (union) camera crew out to video a person who was having tough times during post financial cliff period of uncertainty, if we wanted to get a video that would go viral on the Internets, we needed to get a video of a bank official who, wracked by guilt, was crying while contemplating the damage he had wrought.

Then what?

Everybody would see it.

Then what?

One thing seems certain.  If we get a video of a banker crying because of his complicity in a business practice that destroys hundreds of lives, CBS Evening News sure as hell ain’t gonna do a feature about how the World’s Laziest Journalist made a video that went viral on the Internets.  Dang!  It’s a tad late in the game to start searching for a new career . . . but . . . it will be a new year soon.  It will be a new year in some places when this column is posted.

Whatever happened to the guy who was America’s oldest porn actor?  Did he retire?  Could we do some Gonzo style reporting about walking a mile in his moccasins?

Speaking of the cinema, since we do love movies and since a goodly number of young folks like the movies made by Quentin Tarantino and since he has a new film just out, perhaps we could go see it and write a review as a way to rekindle our career as a film reviewer.  (Google Richard Ebert’s review of “Van Wilder” and read the last two paragraphs.)

Perhaps since we are not fully versed on the Facebook fad, we can just designate everything the World’s Laziest Journalist posts as “open to the public” and give George Taki (of Stark Trek fame) a run for the title of the most popular guy on that website.

We have heard of one woman in L. A. who went to a director to ask for a loan and was told:  “Write a sentence on this sheet of paper.”  She was totally perplexed but did as she was asked.  He threw the results in a drawer and jumped on the intercom and instructed his secretary to draw up a standard amount check for buying the film rights (to that sentence).  There are people in Hollywood who make a decent living just by selling ideas (known as “a pitch”) for films.

Didn’t one of those specialists become a director with offices on Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica?  Hmmm.  If he is busy maybe we could track him down and start a new career in pitching and sell him an idea for a new film?

Hey, bro, do you want to buy the story (with a few more specific details supplied) of a nurse who successfully escaped from a POW camp?  Yeah, yeah, yeah we know about the guy who used a motorcycle to escape from a POW camp in WWII but this is another “based on a true story” adventure with a chick as the protagonist.  What actress could turn down a chance to walk a mile in Steve McQueen’s moccasins?

Our columns rarely get comments but isn’t the topic of which young actress could evoke favorable comparisons to Steve McQueen rich with the potential for astute suggestions?

On the same program that he castigated bankers, Norm Goldman proceeded to tackle the legalize pot issue.  Back in the Seventies there was a novel, titled “Acapulco Gold,” that hypostasized what American culture would be like when (not “if”) marijuana became legal.

Wouldn’t it be odd if Washington’s repressive attitude forced the NRA and the legalize pot advocates to agree to a mutual assistance/defense treaty and seek refuge as a coalition group in a third part such as the Pirate Party?

Maybe after the bankers repent and ask forgiveness and the gun control issue is settled once and for all, maybe then the lobbyists representing America’s pharmaceutical companies will permit the politicians to address the legalize pot issue but in Thirteen the chances for that happening fall below the “slim and none” level down to the Australian category labeled “not bloody well likely, mate!”

In our efforts to select a photo to accompany this column, we remembered an image we acquired while doing some fact checking for a possible trend spotting story about snapshot collecting.  It showed a woman on a ship and carried the cryptic caption “Spring 1942.”  In the Spring of that year, the world was in turmoil but someone was making an effort to improve their lot in life.  Aren’t all journeys manifestations of optimism?  Couldn’t that woman be a metaphor for the USA at the start of 2013?

Maybe in an effort to achieve “fair and balanced” news coverage, CBS will hire a pundit to criticize the efforts of mainstream media in the USA?  They could feature a televised version of the media criticism made popular by A. J. Liebling.  Maybe not.  Maybe we could get a job at the American Studies Center at the University of Sydney helping them understand contemporary culture in the USA?  Maybe not.  Maybe now that Wolfman Jack has gone to the great sound booth in the sky, XERF needs a replacement announcer on the night side?  Maybe not.

All three of our writing heroes, Hemingway, Kerouac, and Hunter S. Thompson, seemed to find the obligations accompanying fame very disagreeable so maybe we can reconfigure  the old F. Scott Fitzgerald wisdom to read “Living well (in obscurity) is the best revenge.”?  If you don’t believe us, then ask author William Kotzwinkle if there is any truth in that amended quote.

Isn’t it amazing that the political commentators are making the assertion that the congressional representatives and the Senators are feeling pressure for the members of the 112th  Congress to reach a fiscal cliff agreement now because of concerns about possible resentment for not getting a bipartisan plan to avoid the cliff, playing  a role in their reelection as members of the 113th Congress.  Isn’t there an old political adage that states that American voters have a short memory?
Winston Churchill may have predicted the fiscal cliff political stalemate when he said:  “We conferred endlessly and futilely and arrived at the place from whence we began. Then we did what we knew we had to do in the first place, and we failed as we knew we would.”

Now the disk jockey will play “As Time goes by,” “the Alabama song,” and the Eagles song about James Dean.  We have to go post a link to this column on Facebook.  Have a “good night and good luck” type of new year.

December 28, 2012

Cheating death for fun and profit

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:23 pm

The woman who said “I don’t pay taxes; the little people do” may have inadvertently undercut the level of seriousness that some people will give to the looming prospect of a theoretically higher tax rate for the one percenters in return for giving them a chance to see how people addicted to consumerism handle austerity.  A thirty-nine percent tax rate that won’t be paid does sound more devastating than an irrelevant thirty-five percent tax rate, doesn’t it?

Wasn’t it established that Mitt Romney only pays about 15% in income tax?  If so, how serious of a threat would it be to tell him that if the USA goes off the financial cliff the theoretical rate he should be paying will be increased and life will get grim for the people who get government benefits.  Didn’t he dub them the 47 percenters?

Wealthy folks (like Mitt), after the first of the year, will be able to turn on the evening news, tune in to the nightly images of misery and drop out of the ranks of caring Christians.  Those with cash register hearts will see going off the financial cliff as the starting gun for a race to exploit the rest of society in a time of hardship and suffering.  Wasn’t there a Country song about chilling beers by holding it next to a cad’s heart?  Did he get a job as a CBS TV reporter?

Looking forward to an apocalyptic event that coincided with the end of the Mayan calendar because it would provide excellent material for use in a column may have been just a tad immature and illogical and now that it hasn’t happened writing about how CBS Evening News has morphed from a televised version of the World News Roundup into a contest to see which reporter can be the first to get an interviewee to cry on camera seems a bit anticlimactic and mundane.  If you had a buck for every time a person cried on camera this week and next on the Evening News, would you have a fistful of dollars or not?

After walking away unscathed from a rendezvous with certain death, it seems concomitant upon this columnist to inject a high level of joie d’vivre into our attempts to ridicule the arena of politics and perhaps in an year when not even Congressional representatives have to face the rigors of reelection to just focus on the other aspects of contemporary pop culture that are fun to observe.

Isn’t the yell that Wile E. Coyote gives when he goes sailing into the void a trademarked item that can’t be used without getting permission from a movie studio’s legal department?

When the fiscal cliff chapter of the political history of the USA started to unfold, didn’t Nancy Pelosi reassured Americans that she would bring up a measure in the House that had passed in the Senate last summer and thus avert a crisis?  Did she forget her solution to the problem?  Do the mainstream media journalists consider it rude to remind her of her promise?

How many skeptical commentators asked about how many Trevon Martin type incidents would occur in the schools if armed people are put in every school?  Is it realistic to expect that the armed guards will provide the law enforcement example of baseball’s unassisted triple play with a Rambo reaction to a school shooter?

If Fox News reported that its viewers were exceptionally well informed and that the concept of “the dumbing down of America” was part of a bogus Liberal conspiracy theory, and their viewers believed them; would that be an example of the Epimenides paradox?  Why is it that every time we hear the expression “I saw it on Fox News,” we think of the title of Ross Thomas’ mystery novel “The Fools in Town are on our side”?

Traditionally Ann Coulter used to use crazy talk to divert attention away from George W. Bush when the liberal criticism of him was getting intense.  Apparently the Republicans asked Wayne Lapierre to substitute for her recently when they wanted to turn a discussion on gun control into ideological gridlock.

When we heard of the investigation into the incident on TV that involved David Gregory holding up an extra capacity ammo clip, we were reminded of the time back in the Sixties when a New York City local news anchorman (Jeraldo Rivera?) was arrested on camera by someone dressed like a NYPD cop for holding up a roach (ie a marijuana cigarette) while he was on the air.  Who was that journalist?  What happened to that case?  Maybe if that on air personality is still serving time for that stunt, he can truly report that (for him) the Sixties still have consequences and aren’t over yet.

On one episode of the popular Sixties TV series Star Trek, the crew of the Enterprise was told that when the 21st century arrived massive land wars would be obsolete and that wars would be limited local struggles called Bush Wars.  Is that sound byte on Youtube?  If so we could write a column about that sometime during 2013.

If the World’s Laziest Journalist is going to relegate politics in the USA to the back burner, we could concentrate on other topics.  We might even shift our tendency to post on early Friday morning (PST in the USA) to a different day and time.  Maybe that would permit more readers an opportunity to skim our offerings?

Some cynics might suspect that a shift in emphasis away from politics to more of the “let the good times roll” reports might just be an excuse for this columnist to make the task of writing the columns more like an excuse to go out and have fun.  Watching a lava lamp and being inspired to write heavy philosophical think pieces might have been appropriate before the arrival of the last day on the Mayan Calendar, but now that we have cheated death isn’t every sandwich going to be a treat?  Didn’t a famous musician, after he learned he had a very serious health problem, advise people to “enjoy every sandwich!”?

Perhaps we should write a column about the old movie serials where a Hero (such as The Shadow as played by Victor Jory in the 1940 serial series) shrugs off a brush with certain death and plunges ahead with life in next week’s installment.  Will the saga of the post economic cliff America be a similar story line?

If a person rolls his car and winds up lying on a remote highway with a bunch of broken bones there are two ways to react.  One can either say:  “Oh dear, this means a long stay in the hospital” or he can exuberantly exclaim: “I’m still alive!”  We think that T-shirts that say “I survived the Mayan Apocalypse!” might sell well.  With or without an augmentation to the bank account, this columnist thinks that all the members of the  Mayan Apocalypse Survivors Association should make a concerted effort to make 2013 an enjoyable experience.

Yes, we realize that the suspension of unemployment checks is a serious economic situation, but if people who encounter that problem overcome the challenge just think of how baffled and aggravated the rich people, who expected to see soap opera existential crises every night on the evening news, will be.  It will be just like in the movie serials.  When 2012 ended it looked like “curtains” for sure, but when 2013 begins the financial cliff (except on Fox) will be No Big Thing (NBT).

If, somehow, the unemployed workers, manage to adopt a Zen existence that isn’t dependent on a weekly paycheck, just think how incensed that will make the capitalists who are counting on seeing the victims of their strategy suffer extensively.  It would almost be as if the victims refused to suffer just out of spite.

Back in the Eighties there was a spate of self help books that advised people to cut back on their standard of living and retire at a young age.  Perhaps some of the people getting their last unemployment check next week, should buy some used copies of those books this week?

After a few moments of contemplating what would make a good topic for a more feature oriented column, we realized that it might require a great deal of fact finding to produce a good trend-spotting column.  On the other hand, the obvious absurdities in politics are so readily available and the mainstream media makes no effort to point them out and so such columns full of “these columns practically write themselves” material need very little effort to produce, so maybe we will just slowly transition into some of the alternative topics.

Do the places that sell marijuana for medicinal purposes make extra profits by selling such periphery items as lava lamps?  Are T-shirts featuring a famous rolling paper logo still being sold?  Do the pot clubs sell those rolling papers?  Do rock concerts still include light shows?  When is the Jefferson Airplane going to release a new album?

Was it George Carlin who first said:  “If you can remember the Sixties; you weren’t really there.”?  Shouldn’t the closing quote for this column be something more intellectual such as Nietsche’s quote:  “ . . . when you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.”  (We preferred to use the Wile C. Coyote howl of despair, but, alas, it was not to be.)

Now the disk jockey will play “Rescue me,” “Cry me a river,” and “Sea of heartbreak.”  We have to go find a good VHS tape to play on New Year’s Eve.  Have a “ . . . but what if an armed guard had been there” type week.

December 27, 2012

My post-holiday epiphany: Why the price of gold has suddenly dropped

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Jane Stillwater @ 10:24 pm

This December, about two weeks before Christmas (or Hanukkah or the Islamic New Year or Buddha’s enlightenment or whatever), the price of gold suddenly started to drop, suddenly catapulting downward over one hundred dollars an ounce

“But why?” you might ask. “I thought gold prices had hung steady for years — or else had gone up.”

Here’s why. There has been a sudden glut on the gold market — and, after that happened, this sudden gold-rush-in-reverse was on. Everyone was suddenly trying to get rid of their gold.

“But why?” you might ask again. “I thought that people were buying gold as a good investment.”

Here’s one reason why. 2012 has been the saddest holiday season ever in America — or at least since 1929 — in terms of economic buying power for the 99%. Millions of jobs have been outsourced overseas, and Wall Street and War Street have swallowed up America’s treasury whole. And, by this last December, it was looking like there’d be only coal in most American children’s stockings this year.

But then all those prudent Americans who had purchased a few gold coins here and there over the years suddenly remembered all that wealth they had stashed away in some sock drawer, went out and cashed in their coins — and Christmas (etc.) was saved! Disaster averted! At least for one more year.

And that’s where the sudden glut of gold on the market has come from.

But what about next year’s holiday season? When the mean-spirited Grinches of Wall Street and War Street come to steal Christmas yet again?

With your gold coins all gone by 2013, you’ll be lucky to even have milk and cookies to lay out for Santa.

And if you live in the path of a hurricane or a bankster or on a flood plain or a rust belt, you’ll be luckier still if you even have a chimney for Santa to come down in.

What to do? How to start work on saving next year’s Christmas? Here are some great stocking-stuffing ideas: End the wars. Levy a $1 transaction tax on every stock and bond bought and sold on Wall Street — like we do on those other casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. Tax the rich and get our money back from them. Put a cap on election-spending corruption. And, like Alan Grayson suggests, end “legislative constipation” in Congress by demanding simple up-or-down votes on stuff like saving Social Security and ending pork-barrel spending on wars-for-oil And, most important of all, let’s throw all those law-breaking Grinches on Wall Street and War Street in jail.

PS: Another factor causing the downturn on gold prices has to do with out-and-out theft. No, not the kind with safe-crackers or masked riders or John Dillinger involved. Hey, that was old skool. In these modern times, only our banks are stealing our gold.

Apparently, several national central banks are now leasing (not selling) their gold supplies to something called “bullion banks,” and then these bullion banks in turn sell (not lease) it to various markets several times over. That is, gold is being used as collateral that is then being slipped into the markets more than once, and thus the price of gold has been artificially suppressed because there now seems to be a glut. But there’s not.

And so all of those sweet little old ladies and hard-working salt-of-the-earth types in America who have carefully hoarded a few gold coins over the years in order to have security in their old age or at least have happy Christmases (etc.) for their grandchildren are now being happily screwed over by the banksters. Again.

(To see photos of Ashley and Hugo’s wedding on the USS Red Oak Victory on 12-12-12, click here:

December 24, 2012

Psychotropic medications and school shootings: Preventing another Sandy Hook

Filed under: Uncategorized — Greg in cheeseland @ 7:54 pm

Author’s note:
I am not against sensible gun control legislation. I simply believe that the role of prescription drugs in the shootings needs to be acknowledged and addressed in legislation. Keep in mind that the ban on assault weapons had been in effect for five years before the Columbine massacre and did nothing to stop it.

Full text:
In the aftermath of the horrific school shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut, the debate regarding preventive measures is focused on stricter gun control laws. While sensible gun regulations are in order, addressing the root causes of the mass shootings is more important if real preventative measures are to be taken.

What caused the gunmen to act is more relevant in terms of prevention than the weapons used. With or without stricter gun control laws, firearms will be accessible to potential mass murderers in the U.S. because there are over 310 million firearms in civilian hands that are not going to magically vanish with more gun control laws.

One common factor in nearly every school shooting and many other crimes is that the perpetrators were being treated for some sort of mental illness with mind-altering medications.

Sandy Hook Tragedy

Adam Lanza, the Connecticut shooter, is reported by multiple sources to have been suffering from Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, as well as other personality disorders and a rare condition in which he was unable to feel physical pain. He was taking medications early as age 10, according to his former babysitter, Ryan Kraft.

A friend of his mother told the New York Daily News that she said he was prone to hurting himself, including burning himself with a lighter. “I asked her if she was getting him help, and she said she was,” the friend recalled.

Joshua Flashman, a 25-year-old Marine who grew up near the Lanza’s home, told that Lanza’s mother, Nancy, had been petitioning the courts to gain conservatorship over Adam in order to have him committed to a psychiatric ward and that Adam was “really, really angry about this.” Flashman also said that Nancy had volunteered to work with kindergartners at Sandy Hook, who would be first-graders now, and that Adam believed “she cared more for the children than she did for him.”

While much of this is unconfirmed because medical and court records are confidential, one thing is clear. If Adam Lanza was being treated by a psychiatrist for Asperger’s syndrome and other personality disorders, part of that treatment usually includes psychotropic medications, in particular, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). And according to statistics on gun violence, these drugs may be even more dangerous than the firearms.

School Shootings and Violence

There have been 31 school shootings since Columbine, in which Eric Harris, age 17 and Dylan Klebold, age 18, killed 12 students and one teacher, and wounded 23 others. An assault weapon ban (1994-2004) was in effect at the time. Harris was known to be taking Zoloft, then Luvox. Klebold’s medical records have never been made available to the public.

A website called SSRI Stories has compiled a sortable database that lists over 4800 incidents of suicide, violent crimes and other incidents between 1988 and 2011, including school shootings that involve people that were prescribed SSRI medications. Here is a short list of a few more school shootings that involved SSRIs:

• Steve Kazmierczak, age 27, inexplicably went on a shooting rampage on Feb. 15, 2008 in a Northern Illinois University Lecture Hall before taking his own life. He had been on Prozac, Xanax and Ambien, but had stopped taking Prozac a few weeks before the shootings. Toxicology reports showed traces of Xanax in his system. Five dead, 20 wounded.
• Jeff Weise, age 16, had been prescribed 60 mg/day of Prozac (three times the average starting dose for adults) when he shot his grandfather, his grandfather’s girlfriend and many fellow students in Red Lake, Minnesota on March 24, 2005. He then shot himself. 10 dead, 12 wounded.
• Cho-Seung-Hui, age 23, showed signs of anger before he went on a shooting rampage on the Virginia Tech campus that ended only after a police officer shot him dead. Officials said prescription medications related to the treatment of psychological problems had been found among Mr. Cho’s effects, but no details of his treatment or the medications have been released to the public. 33 dead, 17 wounded.
• Michael Carneal (Ritalin), age 14, opened fire on students at a high school prayer meeting in West Paducah, Kentucky on Dec, 1, 1997. Three teenagers were killed, five others were wounded.

Violence involving SSRIs does not always involve firearms:

• Jeff Franklin (Prozac and Ritalin), Huntsville, AL, killed his parents as they came home from work using a sledge hammer, hatchet, butcher knife and mechanic’s file, then attacked his younger brothers and sister.
• Jarred Viktor, age 15, (Paxil). After five days on Paxil he stabbed his grandmother 61 times.
• John Odgren, age 16, stabbed a 15-year-old student to death at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School in MA on Jan. 19, 2007. Odgren was being treated for Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression and anxiety. The defense said changes in Odgren’s clothing habits, as well as changes in his sleep and speech pattern, may have indicated a problem with his medication that could have lead to a manic, paranoid state.

The list of incidents like the above on SSRI stories is seemingly endless and all of the circumstances are different except for one – all of them involve a mentally ill patient on some sort of SSRI medication. Some have claimed that up to 90 percent of school shootings have involved a shooter on prescription medications.

While that is impossible to verify without the release of medical records in all cases, enough have been confirmed to establish a link between SSRIs and violence, especially when the black box warnings on the medications mention the potential for violent side effects.

Mental Illness and Medications

Many psychiatrists and physicians use the physician’s desk reference (PDR) in determining which medications to prescribe for patients. A hospital pharmacist with over 20 years of experience had this to say:

First of all, any real pharmacist knows that the PDR doesn’t stand for physician’s desk reference, it stands for poor drug reference. It’s useless. SSRIs increase the effect of serotonin in the brain. Atypical anti-psychotic medications do the reverse in terms of serotonin release. They are dopamine-2 and serotonin receptor antagonists which mean that instead of regulating the release of these chemicals to brain cells, they allow the release, but block the reaction of brain cells. In both cases, these drugs artificially manipulate the chemistry of the brain.

The black box warning on many of these drugs list side effects such as, akathisia, aggression, apathy, sexual dysfunction, even death in the elderly – to name a few. Another known side effect that the FDA does not require in the black box is suicidal tendencies. Drugs like that drive me nuts, mostly because of the overuse of them. Standard practice is to give patients a ‘drug-free holiday,’ meaning that psych patients and Ritalin patients should periodically be taken off their meds to see how they are doing without medication, but only under close medical supervision. In other words, don’t try that at home.

According to Evelyn Pringle in an article published by Lawyers and Settlements, an online legal news source, akathisia is the side effect “most likely to drive people to suicide or violence against others.” The DSM-IV acknowledges the association of akathisia with suicidality and states: “Akathisia may be associated with dysphoria, irritability, aggression, or suicide attempts.”

While it is uncertain exactly which personality disorders Adam Lanza had in addition to Asperger’s syndrome, a registered nurse with 14 years of experience working with psychiatric patients speculates that it is most likely a form of fractured identity:

A part of personality lives in the shadow of the psyche due to its perceived trauma. That creates anger and feel for the need of vengeance. A person with fractured identity personality disorder should not be given a drug that allows integration of personality through opening a path in the brain without proper therapy. Any trauma at a young age, however seemingly minor to adults, is extreme when away from the security base of parents and home, such as a school.

Drugs that integrate the psyche without a healing for that part of what it suffered do not heal anything – they bring that out, create insanity and are insanity. Patients need healing and therapy that is integrated with medication in order to prevent their violent personality from taking over. A personality put it in the shadow for so long is not controllable by any medication alone.

When I was in high school, I may have prevented a school shooting. I sat through a gym class with a misfit that had been incessantly picked on by boys and mostly girls. He was so distraught that all he could say was that he was going to bring a gun to school the next day and kill them all. I pleaded with him that it is not the solution and we can work it out in other ways. I insisted other students leave him alone as I talked to him. I convinced him not to bring a gun to school the next day. I then went to the gym teacher and told him that this guy is planning to bring a gun to school and kill people if the other students did not leave him alone. The gym teacher told me to “go play in the street.” This was in 1987. Now I watch over patients that are overmedicated and I rarely have more than a few moments to speak with them.

Several inferences can be made from the above information. Adam Lanza and many other school shooters were being treated with medications for mental illnesses. That treatment is usually heavy on medication and light on therapy. The medications commonly prescribed in the treatment can cause violent behavior. Despite gun control laws already in place, the school shooters had relatively easy access to firearms.

Preventative Measures

It is clear that preventative measures need to be taken that reach much further than more gun control laws in order to reduce gun violence. It is also clear that some sort of compromise between firearm owners and those demanding stricter gun laws must be achieved.

President Obama acknowledged that authorities must work to make “access to mental health care at least as easy as access to a gun,” and the country needs to tackle a “culture that all too often glorifies guns and violence.” Lawmakers in Congress have proposed reinstating the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and banning the sale of high capacity magazines.

Wayne LaPierre of the NRA argued in a press conference today that bringing more guns and armed police officers into schools is the solution. He suggested that the problem is children exposed to violence in movies, video games and music and guns are the solution. Some states have gone as far as to propose requiring or allowing teachers to bring weapons into schools.

The assault weapons ban did not prevent the Columbine massacre. The more guns in schools approach ignores statistics that have proven more guns lead to more gun violence. America does not need more militarization of public institutions, such as turning schools into virtual prisons with armed guards.

Americans and their leaders need to use common sense in dealing with this issue, not knee-jerk reactions. Sensible gun control laws are already in place and a few more may not necessarily infringe on 2nd amendment rights, but the link between psychotropic medications and gun violence must be acknowledged and addressed in any new legislation.

Atypical psychotropic and SSRI medications are what really need more regulation. Drug companies need to improve the black box warnings or face liability if a patient commits a violent crime due to a side effect that is not listed. Psychiatrists, psychologists and physicians need better information on these medications. Patients that are prescribed these medications could be entered into a national database.

With all legally registered gun owners and all mentally ill patients on medications in national databases, the information could then be cross-referenced. A regulation that no prescriptions for psychotropic medications can be filled if firearms are kept at the residence of the patient could then be enacted and enforced.

That still leaves Americans a choice: Either have your guns or your meds, but not both. If a gun owner wants themselves or a member of their household to be treated with psychotropic medications, then they should have to remove their guns from the residence or opt for inpatient care. Inpatient care could be made more accessible in these cases through an expansion of Medicaid.

The same regulations that are in place for automobile ownership could also be a model for firearm ownership. Every firearm could be registered, licensed and details such as where the firearm is kept stored in a national database. States could have the option of yearly renewals with updated information.

Mandatory minimum liability insurance could be a condition of gun ownership just like most states require for automobile owners. Gun owners do not seem to have a problem with those requirements in order to own and operate a motor vehicle. There should be no reason to have a problem with that regarding firearms either, since guns are not as important to own as a car.

Law-abiding firearm owners in a good state of mental health, with no one on psychotropic medications in their household, would not be subject to any “gun-grabbing.” They can have assault weapons with high capacity magazines, as long they have liability insurance on their weapons. Most gun-owners would retain all of their 2nd amendment rights – it would just cost them more money to own firearms.

People on psychotropic medications would then have more difficultly accessing firearms, which could eliminate spontaneous actions, just as the waiting period for handguns does. Liability would keep more guns under lock and key or at least carefully monitored by owners. Choosing between firearms and medications may also provide an incentive for patients and their families to seek real therapy that in many cases has proven to be more effective than medications. Two new laws – two problems solved.

While laws like that would raise compliance issues, law enforcement does not seem to have a problem with enforcing similar firearm restrictions in cases of domestic violence, or with anyone on probation or parole. Law enforcement can and will verify compliance in those cases and if firearms are not removed from the residence voluntarily, law officers will come by and pick them up.

Of course, gun lobbyists and pharmaceutical lobbyists would scream bloody murder on Capitol Hill, but surely there would be some insurance company lobbyists behind this sort of initiative. Gun owners would also complain about the higher cost of ownership, but unlike an outright ban, it still leaves them a free market choice with their rights intact.

What is most important, however, is that any new approach in terms of preventive measures is worth a try if it does not infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens, does not lead to further militarization of public institutions and prevents the death of even one child or teacher like the 26 that died last week in Connecticut.

Get links, a slideshow and a video here: Madison Independent Examiner – Mental illness, medications and school shootings: Preventing another Sandy Hook

December 23, 2012

OPEC, Chavez & WalMart: Union-busting large and small

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 5:13 pm

Recently I’ve been reading some really hard-core bad stuff about the folks who own WalMart. For instance, despite the fact that Jim and Christy Walton alone are worth approximately 30 billion dollars each, they are still treating their employees pretty much like chopped liver Like some modern-day Ebenezer Scrooges, WalMart’s avaricious owners appear to be hoarding every penny of profits they make — and just in time for Christmas too.

Baby Jesus would NOT approve!

And recently I’ve also been reading Jimmy Carter’s excellent personal memoir, “White House Diary”. And what I have learned so far is that, first, Jimmy Carter was one of America’s greatest presidents because he did everything he possibly could do to help average Americans like you and me get ahead; fought against climate change almost even back before Al Gore; stood up for civil rights worldwide; and scared the shite out of Wall Street, the Pentagon and AIPAC — thus almost guaranteeing that he would never ever get re-elected, be cut off at the knees by the powers that be and get defeated by a puppet like Ronald Reagan as soon as humanly possible.

But if Carter had won a second term and our Ronnie had been forced to go back to making grade-B cowboy movies, we definitely wouldn’t be facing a RepubliDem-generated “Fiscal Cliff” right now But I digress.

The second idea that I came up with after reading this book was that back in the 1950s, the Middle East was pretty much a hell-hole of poverty, thanks to the American “extractive industry” and their scab pashas who had been exploiting that area like it was 1859 back in the States and no one had yet freed the slaves — or like the coal-mine workers had been exploited in West Virginia before miners there unionized themselves back in 1902.

However, the exploited “sweatshop workers” of the Middle East finally began to organize and form their own union too. And they called it OPEC. And practically the entire history of that region from that day to this has been merely one episode after another of what can only be described as UNION-BUSTING — except that the “extractive industries” no longer use Pinkertons. They use GIs.

All over the world today, the “extractive industries” are running people off their land, stealing their resources and, in every way that they possibly can, performing the type of union-busting activities that would make WalMart owners proud. And whenever victims of these “extractive industries” actually try to unionize or rebel, we immediately have yet another union-busting war

Incidentally, it is also my personal opinion that Iran’s leadership made a disastrous deal with the devil when they started negotiating with Ronald Reagan back in the 1980s — because Reagan ended up supplying weapons to both Iran and Iraq, a very clever example of union-busting at its best. And thus the Ayatollah Khomeini, after his deals with Reagan such as the famous alleged October Surprise and the very real Iran-Contra scandal, ended up having the blood of his own people on his hands. One million Iranians died in that “war”.

PS: Have you been noticing lately how Muslims are constantly being demonized and accused of being terrorists and other types of bad people by the powers that be? And have you also noticed that almost every Muslim country from Libya to Indonesia also has oil, valuable minerals or water resources under their soil? Coincidence? I think not.

Further, the Quran clearly states that, “God has sent down the Torah and the Gospel, as a guidance to the people….” And rest assured that this guidance definitely includes the Sermon on the Mount. “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” But what the pseudo-Jews and pseudo-Christians who spread this crap about Muslims don’t seem to understand is that when they are happily busy dissing Muslims, they are also dissing Judaism and Christianity too.

PPS: I just got an e-mail from a friend of mine in Jakarta. She said, “Obama’s better than most presidents because he’s got more dimension, having gained more experience after living all over the world. However, when Obama’s step-father worked for American oil companies in Indonesia, he took that posh lifestyle too seriously. And that’s why he lost Obama’s mom and his family.”

Apparently Obama’s mother couldn’t stand being just another member of the union-busting WalMart generation and so left his step-father and moved back to Hawaii where Obama had originally been born — and how ironic is that? That Obama’s mother’s son should now be helping to preside over some of the greatest “extractive industry” union-busting puschs of all time?

PPPS: Remember the grape strikers out in California’s central valley back in the 1960s? How, under Cesar Chavez, these little guys were demonized and persecuted but they hung in there and persevered and finally won a few union victories over the growers?

And also remember that Hugo Chavez is also a union rep for OPEC — and he too is being demonized and persecuted. But he too is hanging in there and may finally even win a few union victories himself.

And remember back in 1965, when thousands of us marched with Reverend King in Montgomery and chanted “Wallace, you never can jail us all”? That attitude of dogged resistance against injustice, against all odds, also explains why I still keep grinding out this Cassandra-like blog that nobody reads year after year — ever since GWB stole the 2000 election — because there are still more of us than there are of them and eventually, someday, the “union” of all us underdogs will finally prevail. Why? Because our immense “collective bargaining” power is the only single thing that the powers-that-be are afraid of.

And so the world’s WalMart types always keep trying to brainwash us peons into hating one another instead of organizing against them. But this divide-and-conquer technique can’t go on forever. Sooner or later, as things go further and further downhill across the world both economically and democratically, all of us little guys are gonna finally be forced to become “Union Maids” too.

December 21, 2012

Ye Olde Scribe Presents: Which Pill Should YOU Take?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ye Olde Scribe @ 7:45 pm

It’s night: December 21st 2012 and one more end of the world prophecy gets tossed into the dumpster…

Isn’t it time you…


Santa must arm the Elves!

Filed under: Commentary — Bob Patterson @ 1:39 pm

Could the Republicans be missing an excellent opportunity to make new inroads in the gun debate by politicizing Santa Claus and advocating that the only safe and sane way to prevent an invasion robbery at Santa’s toy factory, which would spoil an incalculable number of children’s Christmas celebrations, is to provide the elves with guns and give them firearms training and require them to spend time on the firing range every month.

Would it be politicizing freedom of speech to maintain that no topic on God’s Green Earth is so sacred that it merits an automatic exemption from the tendency of politicians to turn every possible subject of conversation at the local pub to their own advantage?

When hundreds (thousands?) of Santa’s Elves turned out on a cold rainy day in San Francisco to participate in the 2012 Santacon pub crawl, wasn’t the absence of any political activists supporting their about to become illegal right to be naked in public just a matter of common sense and not a verdict on the issue itself?

Theoretically freedom of speech is a good thing, but there are (as the Supreme Court decreed) limits.  People are not free to disseminate misinformation (as Mike Malloy pointed out on his radio show for December 17, 2012) such as yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater where there is no blaze.

Fox News, however, has used a case in Florida to establish their right to broadcast falsehoods as news.  Is there a difference between yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater where there is no blaze and pretending that fibs are news?

Does Fox’s right to tell fibs in newscasts override the United Supreme Court’s “Fire!” ruling about misinformation?  If so, does that mean it is OK to slip some fabricated facts into the gun control debate?

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, dontcha know that opens up a new can of worms and now the lawyers will insinuate themselves into the fookin’ debate and the issue will get sidetracked (and completely bogged down) with defining words such as trying to establish what the meaning of “is” is?  Isn’t it best to just ignore certain things?

In the mid Sixties, in Stroudsburg Pa., on Christmas day a fellow stressed out, killed his family, set the house on fire, and walked off into the sunset.  He was put on the FBI’s ten most wanted list but after a decade of remaining there, he was quietly and surreptitiously removed from that version of the Criminal Hall of Fame.  It is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to find his name on the Internets.  Did he use a gun?  Who knows?

The movie “Rare Export” provided a scientific explanation for several of the Christmas myths (such as flying reindeer) but it was ignored by the pop culture radar and was relegated to the “cult movie” category and is given the silent treatment by political pundits.  For connoisseurs of esoteric entertainment, it is a treasure to be cherished.

Speaking of Norway, Simo Häyhäy used a rifle to kill 542 men and became a national hero.  He was a sniper helping fend off an attack from Russia.

United States Marine Corps sniper Carlos Hathcock used a rifle to take out a Viet Cong general from more than a mile away.  He had one confirmed kill from 2,500 (no typo) yards out.  For a time he held the record for a sniper kill record from the longest distance.  Do gun critics want to establish 2,500 yards as the radius for gun free zones around schools?

Hathcock used one bullet carefully aimed to achieve precision with each of his shots rating rather than sending a “Hail Mary” style fusillade of ammunition towards his target. Critics of the large capacity magazines might want to emphasize Hathcock’s enviable skill and efficiency and disparage the use of a rapid burst of bullets with results that illustrate the law of averages.  Stressing quality rather than quantity when it comes to displays of marksmanship might get gun enthusiasts to listen to the opposing point of view.  Unfortunately that line of argumentation doesn’t apply in the Lanza case.

Some people have wondered why this particular mass shooting has provoked such a universal interest and emotional response.  Has any pundit pointed out the fact that usually such incidents involve a massive number of shots fired and the law of averages.  The shooter in the Connecticut school killed 26 people and was reported to have fired a hundred rounds.  The numbers make him sound more like some one using the execution style rather than randomness and perhaps that subconsciously disturbs the public more than the other killers who use the law of averages to do their dirty work. He was a one man firing squad and not a man unleashing a fusillade of random shots.

The contrast of the One Percenters vs. everyone else is especially sad this year when TV ads challenge the fat cats to buy luxury cars for those on their Christmas gift list while some of the unemployed have to face the possibility that their unemployment checks will be terminated on New Year’s day.

Pop culture scholars tend to credit some pre-war (WWII for those of you who want to know which particular war is being referenced) magazine ads for a popular brand of soda pop for being the source of the Santa image as being the incarnation of the Christmas spirit.

Let’s imagine that a privately owned item was secretly done on assignment several decades ago.  How valuable would a (hypothetical) Norman Rockwell painting be if it depicted an exhausted but happy Santa late on December 26 relaxing by cleaning some of the items in his gun collection?  ([Gun control advocates can never understand why one gun is never enough.]  The thought of being killed by an intruder whilst cleaning your weapon can only be assuaged by always having another loaded gun available when cleaning pistols or rifles.)

Yahoo highlighted the story about the one woman who took an item her father had brought back from WWII to a police gun buy back program and was advised to keep it.  It was a Sturmgewehr worth approximately $40,000 to discerning gun collectors.–abc-news-topstories.html

If American pop culture could include Lenny Bruce’s humor and Stan Freberg’s sarcastic criticism regarding the capitalistic aspect of Christmas, then surely it must be ready, willing, and eager to add something new to the gun control debate.

Speaking of Stan Freberg, in Berkeley CA Carol Denney led some local carolers in a singing protest against the continuing efforts by advocates of a sit-lie law in “bear country.”  Recently the citizens of Berkeley voted against a sit-lie ordinance, but the friends of the homeless expect a renewed attack on the poor sometime in the future.

Blame it on the Kellys?  Speaking of Australia, there is a sidewalk plaque in (if memory serves) the Kings Cross Section of Sydney (NSW), that offers up the idea that space is a mark of wealth.  Some wealthy playboys might own several houses but a poor (but honest?) working man might have to crowd his entire family into a one room apartment close to his work place.  (Have you read Upton Sinclair’s “Jungle”?)

The concept of a poor but honest working man trying very hard to cram a happy holiday into a tight living space might be useful at a time when news stories about exceedingly small apartments are getting good play.  (Didn’t Dave Ross [or was it Charles Osgood?] feature that very topic on one of his recent radio reports?)  Examples of conspicuous consumption can not be shoehorned into a micro apartment.  Suppose that a fellow with a tiny apartment wins a giant screen TV.  It would be incompatible with his life style and cause an existential crisis.

Have you noticed how none (that we could find) of the high priced journalists have explained how the shooter’s mother could afford such a fine big home nor have they mentioned her place of employment.  We can’t imagine that the managing editors we have dealt with in the past would let such a gaping hole in the narrative slide, but this is the era of Murdock style news.  Did she inherit some of movie star Mario Lanza’s money?

What if (hypothetically speaking) a fellow were temporarily operating out of a hostel in Paris or Perth and there was no room in the suitcase for any additional material possessions?  What if such a person had a truly enjoyable Christmas without getting or giving anything physical?  What kind of craziness is it to think that good conversations with new friends, delicious food, and a trip to Cottesloe Beach makes for a wonderful holiday?

Wouldn’t that tend to validate the Apache philosophy that if you can’t take it with you on your pony when you move on, then you don’t need it and thereby invalidate the American compulsion to buy, buy, buy right up to the time when Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve begins?

What if some emotionally unstable person where to think that God gave him the assignment to assassinate Santa Claus and his helpers?  Shouldn’t Santa arm the Elves and require them to have firearms training just in case?

The Republican philosophy about the true meaning of Christmas may best be epitomized in a quote that is often attributed to Collis P. Huntington:  “Whatever is Not Nailed Down is Mine and Whatever I Can Pry Loose is Not Nailed Down.”

The World’s Laziest Journalist disk jockey agrees that poverty sucks and is assessing the possibility of composing a song that becomes a perennial holiday standard because that, he assures us, means a large royalties check every January.  Do we need to provide readers with a long list of examples?

Now the disk jockey will play the song “Santa’s in a wheelchair” by the Kids from Widney (not a typo) High, John Prine’s “Christmas in Prison” (there are several songs titled “Christmas in Jail”) and Stan Freberg’s “Green Christmas.”  We have to go see if the world has ended and we just didn’t notice.  Have a “no chains can hold me” type week.

Ye Olde Scribe Presents: The Quote Goat

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ye Olde Scribe @ 6:03 am

“Because politicians are ALWAYS ‘out to get our goat.’”

Raise the age for Social Security, the right screams for John Kerry so they can get another teabagger in and we get thrown under the bus again? Remind me, who did we vote for this year?


December 18, 2012

NO tidings of comfort & joy: It’s still Hell out in Rockaway

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Jane Stillwater @ 2:51 pm

While our government still happily continues to peel big bucks off its wad and shower it down on Wall Street, big business and the “war” machine like it was Christmas for banksters and war-mongers all year long whether they need it or not, all too many hard-working tax-paying victims of Hurricane Sandy out in Staten Island and Rockaway are still getting no help at all. Zero. Ziltch. Nada.

Nothing is currently being peeled off our government’s endless roll of big bucks for them.

Last week I was riding in a Muni bus over in San Francisco (on my way back from an audition to play a bored office worker in a student film) and on the bus was a very delightful older couple who seemed to have absolutely no cares.

“Where are you from?” I asked them.

“Rockaway,” they replied hesitantly. Rockaway? OMG! Not THAT Rockaway? “Yeah, that’s the one. And, yes, we did live through Hurricane Sandy and, yes, our home was badly damaged and almost destroyed.”

“So what the freak are you doing out here?”

“Having fun! After having survived a personal visit from Sandy, we realized that life is just too short not to enjoy it. So we came out here to have fun.”

“But did you at least get any help from FEMA?” I asked, figuring that after our government has spent trillions on bailing out Wall Street (where no one hardly ever pays taxes and pretty much lives on Welfare for the Wealthy), then the least that our government could do is send a measly few billion bucks off to bail out afflicted taxpayers in Rockaway.

“Have we received any help from FEMA? In a word? No.”

“Not even anything?” No.

“It’s been a whole month after Sandy and parts of Rockaway still don’t even have electricity now. Or places for people to go.”

“But did FEMA give you any money to help you out?” No.

“We got nothing but an avalanche of paperwork.” They didn’t even get bottled water. “A relative in Wisconsin finally ended up bringing us some.” And they can’t go back to their home because the wife has asthma and their house is a hell-hole of black mold right now. Ah, black mold, the bane of asthma sufferers’ existence.

“We just took out a 60-day insurance policy from Lloyd’s of London on our stuff and left.”

I tried to grill the happy couple for more information on what is happening in Rockaway right now — and right in the middle of the Christmas and Hanukkah season too — but they weren’t interested in being reminded. All they wanted to do was forget their worst nightmare and celebrate that they, unlike some of their neighbors, were still alive and had survived one of the fiercest mega-storms ever.

And as our bus drove on past Chinatown, the happy couple soon had all us passengers singing “Merry Christmas” — in Chinese. Brave souls. I almost cried.

PS: And in the spirit of Christmas, what would Jesus have done after Sandy? He woulda given government money to the happy couple instead of lavishing it all on Wall Street and war. And I bet He would have also levied a transaction tax on every stock and bond that was bought and sold at the N.Y.S.E and used that money to keep seniors, hurricane victims and the middle class from falling off our RepubliDem-created “fiscal cliff” — and would have kicked the moneychangers out of the temple too.

And them Jesus would have removed that tax-exempt status from every single church in America that supported bigotry, the NRA, corporate welfare and war. “Go Jesus!” Happy Hanukkah. Happy Kwanzaa. Merry Christmas.

(Photos are by Leah Meyerhoff and Phillip Van, two of many New Yorkers who have volunteered their time to help out victims of this horrible mega-death storm)

EXTRA: I just figured out why the Mayans were right about December 21, 2012! It’s the exact day that climate change becomes irreversible. Duh.

We now only have a few shopping days left to do something about this.

Perhaps if we camped out all night in front of Best Buy or Target or WalMart the night before?

December 16, 2012

EXTRA: I just figured out why the Mayans were right about December 21, 2012!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 2:28 pm

It’s the exact day that climate change becomes irreversible. Duh.

We now only have five shopping days left to do something about this.

Perhaps if we camped out all night in front of Best Buy or Target or WalMart the night before?

Despite tragedy in CT, stricter gun control laws are not the solution

Filed under: Uncategorized — Greg in cheeseland @ 7:03 am

Author’s note:
I’m with you on that thought, Jane. Here’s more…

Full text:
In the wake of the horrible tragedy at an elementary school in Connecticut, with 20 small children and seven adults shot and killed weighing heavily on the conscience of America, many will look for quick and easy measures that can prevent something like that from happening again. Stricter gun control laws seem like the easy answer, but that is not the solution.

More gun control legislation, while sensible on many levels, is akin to plugging a small hole in a dam that is already cracked and gushing. That simply will not solve the problem of gun violence in this country.

The latest in a series of mass murders involving firearms will undoubtedly reignite the debate about gun control laws. Many will validly argue that laws should be stricter and the emotions of most Americans will be with them. Unfortunately, stricter gun control laws are only a small part of the solution to preventing firearm violence, because it is too late for them to have much of an effect. Political, social and economic changes, while more difficult to pinpoint and achieve, are the only hope for ending the culture of violence that the U.S. has become known for.

Even if the U.S. banned the sale of every firearm to everyone, which is unrealistic, that would still leave millions of guns already in the hands of Americans. A 2012 report by the Congressional Research Service estimated that as of 2009, there were about 310 million nonmilitary firearms in the U.S. and firearm sales have skyrocketed since then. Banning the sale of guns, like illegal drugs, would only make matters worse by creating a truly unregulated black market for them.

Keep in mind that the weapons used in the recent Connecticut murders and the Portland mall murders were not purchased or owned by the shooters. Stricter laws regulating the purchase of firearms, therefore, would not have prevented the Connecticut school shooting because the weapons used were already out there. Potential shooters will still have relatively easy access to firearms unless every firearm is confiscated, which is even more unrealistic than banning sales of guns. Furthermore, any attempts at confiscating guns from legal owners would probably result in more gun violence than it would be intended to prevent. It may even ignite a civil war.

Many will correctly argue that the 2nd amendment right to bear arms applies to a well-armed militia to guard against tyranny, not to ordinary citizens armed to the teeth in schools, movie theatres, churches and malls. Many will argue that more guns lead to more murders, which is statistically true. Many will argue that legislation such as the Tiahrt amendments and the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005 tie the hands of researchers and law enforcement while protecting firearm manufacturers from legal repercussions – also true. While all these arguments are valid and stricter gun regulation is becoming more popular, it misses the point.

The point is that America must embark on more deep and fundamental changes in order to end the culture of violence that has permeated American society throughout its existence. And that can only begin with a real examination of the social, political and economic circumstances that feed into the collective consciousness of American society and create the minds that pull the triggers. That will be difficult, if not impossible, but there are a few starting points.

Political Changes

Michael Moore, director of several documentaries including “Bowling for Columbine,” which examined the 1999 Columbine school shooting and its aftermath, was one of the first to take to Twitter after the Connecticut school shooting and demand stricter gun control laws. He makes a lot more sense in the video at the left than he does with his tweets.

The points he made in the aforementioned film also go deeper than gun control legislation. Other themes in the film are the fearful heart and soul of America and the militaristic culture our leaders have sown. Ironically, Moore points out, Colorado is the home of several defense contractors, including Lockheed-Martin in Littleton that manufacture weapons of mass destruction.

President Obama’s speech in the wake of the Connecticut massacre was warm and heartfelt by a nation in mourning. Americans should be thankful for a leader that can empathize with the victims and express that side of him. But left out of the minds of many are the amounts of children that have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and several other nations over the past 11 years as a result of U.S. foreign policy.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London reported that from June 2004 to mid-September 2012, drone strikes in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen killed between 3,017 and 4,517 people, of which 544 to 1,119 were civilians, including at least 247 children. And that does not include civilian deaths in the countries that the U.S. invaded.

Assault rifles were shipped to drug cartels in Mexico by the U.S. Justice Department in the “Fast and Furious” operation, and the cartel wars in Mexico have claimed up to 60,000 lives with another 10,000 missing.

Americans have been taught to ignore or become desensitized to news like that – until something like it happens here. Then most wonder why. The same media outlets that are cheerleaders for the wars and virtually ignore the deaths of children in other countries, or describe it as collateral damage, are still engaged in nonstop coverage of the tragedy in Connecticut.

The same President who alluded yesterday to taking a closer look at gun legislation when the time is right presided over the proliferation of firearms to a neighboring country involved in a shooting drug war. The same leader who wiped tears from his eyes over the deaths of American children yesterday is the same one who said, “I have two words for you: Predator drones. You’ll never see them coming.”

While there is no excuse for 20-year-old Adam Lanza’s horrific actions yesterday in Connecticut, Americans should consider the sort of subliminal message that U.S. foreign policy and behavior towards people in other nations implant in the consciousness of American society.

Violence begets violence. Peace begets peace.

Social Changes

Political changes overlap with social changes. There is one glaring commonality with at least 14 of the school shooters since 1999. All of them were undergoing treatment for psychological disorders and were taking psychotropic medication.

Adam Lanza was said to have had a “personality disorder” and was undergoing treatment, which usually involves medication. The Columbine shooters were known to be on anti-depressants. Cho Seung Hui, the Virginia Tech murderer, was taking anti-depressants. James Holmes, The Aurora, CO movie theatre shooter was also undergoing treatment and taking prescribed medication, in addition to being affiliated with mind control research that his father pioneered with the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA).

Virtually all massacre perpetrators are known to have been taking a psychiatric medication, usually an anti-depressant, including:

• Jared Lee Loughner, the Arizona shooter
• Kip Kinkel
• Ted Kaczinski the “Unabomber”
• Michael McDermott
• John Hinckley, Jr.
• Byran Uyesugi
• Mark David Chapman
• Charles Carl Roberts IV, the Amish school killer

Perhaps some societal changes regarding health care and treatment for mentally ill patients before they get their hands on a gun and pull the trigger are another possible solution.

Many psychiatrists and psychologists in America are too quick to hustle patients in and out of their offices with a prescription in hand because health care is a profit-driven industry. The pharmaceutical companies want it that way and therapists make more money on quantity, not quality of treatment. Real behavioral modification or the time-consuming process of working with a patient through psychotherapy or group therapy has given way to handing out pills to patients like they are Skittles.

Some social changes in terms of the health care system may be in order. Perhaps Medicaid should be expanded to cover everyone with psychological issues. Of course, that entails more government spending, but most would agree that would have been worth preventing the deaths of those 20 children.

A single payer system that cuts out the profit-driven middlemen and gives therapists an incentive to spend more time with their patients, as well as a way of controlling the profits that drug companies reap, may be a part of the solution to keeping the fingers of potential homicidal maniacs off of triggers.

Economic Changes

The correlation between a bad economy and an increase in crime is debatable, with many studies showing that crime does not necessarily increase during tough economic times. The caveat in many studies, however, is that while violence and crime does not increase in the short term, there is little data available to examine that in the case of a prolonged recession.

Mark A.R. Kleiman, a professor of public policy at the UCLA School of Public Affairs, told the Las Vegas Sun that while “there’s simply no correlation between crime rates and economic indicators such as unemployment…there is a correlation between crime and sustained poverty.”

Most of the perpetrators in the wave of mass shootings this year were young and several, including Holmes and Lanza, were described as being highly intelligent. While these are not economically motivated crimes like burglary or robbery, it is quite possible that Americans are starting to see the effects of an economy that gives many young people little hope to improve their lives or attain the same socioeconomic status of their parents despite having the attributes to do so.

The way to move up the economic ladder for young people used to be to earn a college degree. With tuition skyrocketing, student loan debts reaching crisis levels and 53 percent of recent college graduates jobless or underemployed, that is no longer the case. It does not make sense for young people to accrue tens of thousands of dollars of debt and then be forced to work for a wage they could have attained without going to college.

Another long term economic factor to consider is that many cities such as Detroit, Newark, and several in California have been forced to cut law enforcement budgets. If the economy does not improve, many more will follow.

We live in a culture where individual worth is defined by wealth and material possessions. One look at the mobs fighting it out for cheap Chinese-made goods on Black Friday is enough evidence of that. The link is to a video posted on You Tube, coincidentally, by a user named “funwithgunsinns.” However, one might ask, is that really a coincidence?

When some young people lose hope of attaining the sense of self-worth that is defined by our culture, they can develop a mind set that there is nothing to lose by putting a bullet in their head – or in someone else.
Even if the waves of mass shootings this year are not taken into consideration, there is no doubt that America needs economic changes. Economic changes also overlap with political and social changes.
The best steps to improving our economy are cutting spending, increasing revenue and bringing back or creating well-paying jobs. The easiest cuts can come through ending the wars and cutting defense spending. The best way to generate more revenue is to increase the amount of well-paying jobs and provide a better tax base. Tax incentives that stop outsourcing and make it more profitable for corporations to hire American workers than overseas workers, using some of the billions that are spent on wars and defense to invest in infrastructure and sustainable, clean energy may be a good start.

While none of the above provides a shred of excuse or even a good explanation for the senseless, horrible acts of mass murderers like Adam Lanza, they can contribute to a healthier social environment that reduces the propensity for gun violence. Of course, it is impossible to conclude that these measures would stop gun violence, but they would contribute to a culture that gives more young people more hope for the future.

Reasonable gun control laws are in order, but the real solution is to pursue deep, fundamental changes in American society. America needs to change more than just gun laws. It needs to change the culture of violence that leads to people using guns on their fellow citizens.

The other alternative is to pass a few more gun control laws, call it a day, waste away as a nation and witness more wasted lives, both overseas and at home.

Get links, video and a slideshow here: Madison Independent Examiner – Despite tragedy in CT, stricter gun control laws are not the solution

December 15, 2012

It’s terrible to kill kids in CT but fine to do it in Afghanistan and Palestine?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jane Stillwater @ 12:19 pm

President Obama has just promised to take action against those who kill children in cold blood. One thing that he could do immediately to carry out this promise is to stop killing innocent children with his guns, missiles and drones — for no other reason than because they were born in Afghanistan or Pakistan or Palestine instead of in Connecticut.

400 innocent Palestinian children were shot in cold blood in Gaza during Cast Lead I. 48 innocent children and 12 innocent women were shot in cold blood in Gaza during Cast Lead II. Unarmed, these innocent women and children were slaughtered as they stood and had no weapons in the face of their killers — who were armed to the teeth. Tell me again how this is different (and more justified) than what happened in Connecticut?

PS: The shooter at Sandy Hook pretty much fits the national profile of a young person who had been prescribed anti-depressants and consequently the drugs made him nuts — a la Columbine.  Also, here’s a link to Dr. Gary Kohl’s article on the sad effects of anti-depressants on adolescents.  Scroll down to the bottom to see the impressively long list of young shooters who have gone postal while taking anti-depressants.

December 14, 2012

Pot, War, and Rock ’n’ Roll

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:33 pm

“Fug You,” the 2011 book written by Ed Sanders, had completely gone stealth on the pop culture radar screen at the headquarters of the World’s Laziest Journalist until we noticed a remaindered copy for sale in the Half-Price Bookstore in downtown Berkeley CA, last week.  The snob appeal of being able to write about Sanders Sixties Rock group, the Fugs, and casually saying “we saw them perform in the Village in 1966” overpowered our usual tightwad tendency to avoid spending money just to be able to write a column mit book review.

When we got the book home and leaned that the cover was a visual pun that referred to the time the Fugs were featured on the cover of LIFE magazine, we had a breakthrough moment that solved a conundrum that has been baffling us for a long time:  “What makes the Bush era different from the Vietnam War era?”

The first time we read Albert Camus’ book, “The Rebel,” we thought we encountered a passage that asserted that the Establishment, as Society was called in the Sixties, would defuse rebels by absorbing them into high society.  (Subsequent rereadings of the Camus’ book failed to produce that particular passage for quoting purposes.)  That Camus insight, real or imagined, helped us immensely in our various subsequent excursions into pop culture analysis.  Didn’t a rebellious band from England eventually become The Rolling Stones Inc.?  Aren’t the rights to the Beatles songs still earning royalties?  Will new rock bands raise funds by selling stock?

As we started to read “Fug You,” we were delighted to see that a bunch of the references to the counterculture evoked some personal memories to add to our enjoyment level of Sanders recounting of the Sixties.  (Was the Psychedelicatessen NYC’s first “head shop”?  [It was featured in a Time magazine story dated February 24, 1967.])

Then we had our breakthrough insight while staring at the information that the Fugs were featured on the cover of the February 17, 1967 issue of LIFE magazine.  In the Bush era, underground cult heroes have zero chance of getting mainstream media exposure.  No corporation in its right mind (pun?) will give free publicity to a movie maker, novelist, or band that isn’t a shining example of the capitalist philosophy and (even better) part of that very corporation’s “extended family” of subsidiaries.

It wasn’t always like that.

When a book expert was asked to authenticate the validity of a hardback copy of the first edition of Jack Kerouac’s book, “On the Road,” which was autographed and inscribed to Marilyn Monroe, his research revealed that both the actress and the pioneer Beatnik novelist appeared on the Tonight TV show on the same night, so he verified the authenticity of the item.

Sanders says (on page 230) that the Fugs were invited to perform on the Johnny Carson version of the Tonight Show but that a dispute over which song was to be performed caused the cancellation of that potential milestone in pop culture history.

On November 5, 1965, the Fugs added an extremely unusual accomplishment to their resume (page 170).  Allen Ginsberg, the Fugs, and Country Joe and the Fish gave a concert performance in a chemistry lecture room on the University of California Berkeley campus.

In the Bush era, the mainstream media does not feature stories on the counterculture and thus bestow legitimacy on the rebel artists and their anti-establishment philosophy.  In the Sixties, underground celebrities were almost automatically given a ticket to fame by the mainstream media.

During 1969 while we lived in San Francisco, we were totally oblivious to the fact that a co-worker from our college yearbook and newspaper, John Walsh, was struggling with a counterculture venture in the very same city.  (Woulda/coulda/shoulda)  It wasn’t until about two years later that Newsweek magazine drew national attention to the feisty rock’n’roll magazine being published in the city slightly to the East of Berkeley CA.  That publishing venture called itself by the same name that O. Henry had used years before when he attempted to publish a magazine:  “Rolling Stone.”

San Francisco’s band of rogues called the Merry Pranksters weren’t the first people in the United States to buy an old bus and then go tearing around the country seeking fun and adventure, but the Pranksters were the first to have their escapades chronicled by a mainstream writer (from New York City) who just happened to be in the process of forming the Gonzo branch of Journalism, Tom Wolfe.

Hunter S. Thompson chronicled the exploits of the Hell’s Angles Motorcycle Club in the mid-Sixties in a book and then became a staff writer for the previously mentioned Rolling Stone magazine.

Comedian Flip Wilson did a routine about keeping up with the latest news that included “The Church of What’s Happening Now.”  Trend-spotting in the news media wasn’t just a fad in the Sixties, it was an obsession.

George Carlin skewered the Sixties penchant for fast moves in the pop culture arena when he suggested that a song could be “last week’s pick-hit of the week, this week number one, and next week’s ‘golden oldies’ selection.”

Was the band The Who trying to make a confession when they titled an album “The Who Sells Out” or were they just making a feeble attempt to be ironical?

In the Sixties, bands would get a career boost by appearing on the Ed Sullivan TV show.  TV talk shows were not reluctant to feature rising talent.  Saunders includes (pages 227 to 230) a partial transcript of the Fugs 1967 appearance on the David Susskind TV show.

In the early seventies, when a young unknown singer, named Bruce Springsteen, with a hard working publicity agent, wound up on the covers of both Time and Newsweek in the same week, the two rival magazines agreed to make sure that wouldn’t happen again.

When the “Sounds of Our Lives” radio format featured music from the big band era, rock fans might clandestinely listen to Glenn Miller but the roster of ads featuring denture adhesives, Depends, and cures for denture breath, would cause a young listener to recoil in horror exclaiming:  “Hell’s Bells, forty years from now will we become old farts who wax nostalgic listening to stations that only feature music from the British Invasion?”  Do Vietnam era veterans still utter the phrase “Roger that!”?

These days free publicity is too precious a commodity to be wasted on unknowns.

In the era of shrinking news staffs, journalism relies more and more on prepackaged material known as HO’s (hand outs).  Why pay a reporter when you can run a professionally done segment provided free from a large corporation (such as a pharmaceutical company?)?  We have recently learned that the United States and Switzerland are the only two countries that permit TV ads for medicines.

News from the underground provided fertile ground for the growth of alternative newspapers.  The Village Voice helped prepare the way for The L. A. Free Press, the Berkley Barb, and Al Goldstein’s Screw.  These days the San Francisco area sustains three weekly newspapers, the Guardian, San Francisco Weekly, and the East Bay Express.

Unfortunately the underground press no longer functions as a scout for the troops in the mainstream media.  Does Fox Views do trend spotting stories other than noting the rising stars in the Republican Party?  Wouldn’t it be a hoot if this column inspires the establishing of a late night talk show on Fox?  Would Disco Tex and the Sexoletts have a snowball’s chance in hell of being invited on that show?  Are stars from the underground this era’s missing media darlings?

Who is on the roster of the new angry young men?  What new band owns the rights to wear the enfant terrible label?  Can you name a contemporary poet, let alone say who is today’s most outspoken poet/critic of the military adventure in Afghanistan?  Is there any novelist working today who isn’t a corporate approved source of entertainment rather than a rogue who provides the voice of conscience for the USA?

Does the web site that is the leading source of links to contemporary Liberal Lite voices feature any content that can be considered “edgy”?  What ever happened to that word that was ubiquitous when the Internets was in the “new fad” phase?

Supposedly the Internets was going to give alternate voices a chance to get their messages out to the world, but ultimately many new voices and trends may be getting lost in a digital information dump.

Do Tweets provide the basis for trend spotting stories?  Really?  If a thousand people tweet their approval of some new music, do the friends of those thousand people run out and listen to the recommended music or are the tweets of approval lost among thousands of other tweets about thousands of other pop culture items?  If a Tweet is posted on the Internets and no one reads it, will it make a noise?  If a Tweeter touts a hundred new items this week, will a music recommendation carry any clout or will it get lost in the digital information dump?  Do Tweeters have fans who will follow up on all of this week’s one hundred recommendations?

Which will gather more media attention:  The Pope’s unsuccessful attempt to post his first Tweet, or a blog, called Media Darlings, which is being done by a fellow from New Zealand named Rory MacKinnon.  His blog is aimed at journalists and journalism students and it recounts his adventures in Great Britain.

Fame has become America’s answer to British Royalty.  Yes, occasionally some brash young upstart can break into the ranks of the usual suspects, but for the most part hasn’t fame in the USA become a matter of “carrying on a family tradition”?

Reading about all the causes that Ed Saunders promoted (legalize pot, stop the war in Vietnam, providing advice for young men facing the draft, free speech) one is forced to stop and ask:  “Where did he get the energy to do all that?”  For those who didn’t become quite active in all those causes, it seems natural to ask if it was worth all the effort.  Some of the early anti-Vietnam activities Sanders describes will soon be marking their half century anniversary.  Will there be any sentimental laden 50th anniversary events in 2013?  If so, will they get any mainstream media news coverage?  Would such a hypothetical event inspire a Fugs reunion?

[Note from the Photo Editor:  The World’s Laziest Journalist Legal Department was very reluctant to approve a shot of just the cover of the Ed Sanders book and so a file shot of a West Coast location that was also famous for spawning successful music careers at the same time the Fugs were hitting it big in New York City was used.]

On page 206, Sanders quotes a 1966 review in the New York Times in which Robert Shelton wrote:  “The Fugs might be considered the musical children of Lenny Bruce, the angry satirist. . . . While obviously far out by most accepted standards of popular music, the Fugs are clever, biting and effective satirists.”

Now the disk jockey will play the Fugs’ “Kill for Peace,” Country Joe’s song “Dark Clouds” (from his new “Time Flies By” album), and Seasick Steve’s song “Dog House Boogie.”  We have to go see if the Berkeley Barb has any relationship to Malibu Barbie.   Have a “meteoric rise to fame” type week.

The time has come for federal legalization of marijuana

Filed under: Commentary,Opinion — Greg in cheeseland @ 10:12 am

Author’s note:
With all this talk of a fiscal cliff, you would think Obama would have this in mind to generate more revenue. But as Bart says, Leonhart and Holder are too busy busting up poker games and arresting people for getting high.

Full text:
As a teenager, Barack Obama liked to get high in the back of a friend’s VW bus. He knows, as did George W. Bush and Bill Clinton before him, what we all know: that pot is essentially harmless, writes Jann S. Wenner in Rolling Stone magazine. It is about time for the federal government to take steps to legalize marijuana on a federal level.

Not everyone in the federal government agrees that marijuana should be legal and if they do, they will not admit it. But most Americans do believe that, or at least think that the federal government should allow voters in states like Colorado and Washington to decide for themselves whether or not recreational marijuana use should be legal.

In a recent Gallup/USA Today poll, 64 percent of Americans said the federal government should not intervene in states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use. A Public Policy Polling national survey revealed that 58 percent of Americans feel that marijuana should be legal and 50 percent of respondents said they think marijuana will become legal under federal law within the next 10 years.

A closer examination of that poll and several others reveals numbers that probably should not be startling, and reveal a trend in American’s opinions about legalization of marijuana. You can view more polls on the topic here and here. It is clear that Americans want the federal government out of marijuana policies that have been decided by voters on a state level.

The polls suggest that the trend for legalization is going to increase, because all of them show that support for legalization of marijuana primarily comes from younger and middle aged voters. Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, put it this way: “This is the first time Quinnipiac University asked this question in its national poll so there is no comparison from earlier years. It seems likely, however, that given the better than 2-1 majority among younger voters, legalization is just a matter of time.”

The real question now is, will the Obama administration and federal agencies respect state’s rights and the popular opinion of voters and chance federal marijuana laws, or at least back down on enforcing them?

That remains to be seen, but a good indication are the words of Michelle Leonhart, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in her response, or rather her non-response, to a few simple questions in a congressional hearing. (See video here). According to her, all illegal drugs are equally bad, but it is okay to put kids on Zoloft or Adderall, or spend $8 billion a year to incarcerate pot users.

Here are some statistics, as seen at Online Paralegal Programs:

  • Marijuana is the greatest revenue producer of all agricultural products in the U.S. The annual income is $36 billion.
  • It is the top cash crop in 12 states, top 3rd in 30, and top 5th in 39 states.
  • If legalized, the U.S. would save $7.7 billion on prohibition costs.
  • The U.S. would gain $6.2 billion on tax revenues.
  • The U.S. economy would gain another $7 billion on shops and various products made from hemp.
  • Since the “war on drugs” began, the U.S. has spent $33 billion on the “just say no” campaign.
  • Marijuana use has remained the same since the war on drugs began, except in the states where medical use is legal.
  • 10 million of the 37 million people incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses have been arrested for possession of marijuana.
  • The total of cost of incarcerating drug offenders is about $450 billion per year.
  • Last year, about 850 million people were arrested for marijuana-related offenses. Of those arrests, 103,000 were for manufacture or sale and 750,000 were for simple possession.
  • Of 10 states that had legalized medical marijuana, eight saw a decrease in teen marijuana use from 1999 to 2006.

Simple solution – legalize weed and fire Leonhart, because anyone that ignorant or obstinate should not be in a high (no pun intended) position in government. Even Pat Robertson would probably do a better job in that position, and that is not a compliment for Pat. Any research team could dig up the statistics about legalization of marijuana and publicize them.

The potential for tax revenue from the legalization of marijuana has not even been mentioned in congressional debates over the budget, but with the country about to go off the metaphorical fiscal cliff, that deserves some attention. The legislators and voters in the states of Washington and Colorado realize that there is potential for revenue from legalizing and taxing marijuana, just like tobacco and alcohol in all 50 states. But thanks to people like Ms. Leonhart, no portion of the potential tax revenues from legalizing marijuana is even considered. Instead of cutting Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and then raising income taxes on everyone, how about finding a new source of revenue?

Like it or not, Mr. President and Ms. Leonhart, about half of the people in the country smoke weed. Most would probably like to have it legal and pay their fair share of taxes on it in return for you removing the fear of being arrested. That is reality and it is a reality that is going to continue to trend, so go with it and the rest of the people in this country. These “potheads” are also known as voters – the people that elected you.

Most people know that the war on drugs is a sham, especially when valuable resources are spent on curtailing pot smuggling, incarcerating users and banks like HSBC get to launder drug cartel’s money for private profit. Most people are also beginning to realize that spending billions on unnecessary wars and killing people on the other side of the globe is probably more economically and morally harmful to Americans than people smoking a joint.

Keep it lit and force the federal government to get off of the fence and do something about this issue.

Get links and see the video referenced here: Madison Independent Examiner – The time has come for federal legalization of marijuana

December 9, 2012

7.7% unemployment inaccurately depicts real jobless rate

Filed under: Uncategorized — Greg in cheeseland @ 5:26 am

Author’s note:
A disclaimer – I am not bashing Obama. The only jobs a President can create are government jobs. Let’s hope congress can pass legislation that helps bringing decent jobs back to America or at least slows down outsourcing.

Full article:
According to a report released on Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were approximately 146,000 jobs added in the U.S. in November and the unemployment rate dropped to 7.7 percent, which would be the lowest since 2008. The report is based on a survey of households and employers, and does not accurately depict the reality of the jobless rate in the U.S. today.

The 7.7 percent rate is the government’s most widely publicized unemployment rate, known as the U-3, which takes into account only those who are collecting unemployment benefits and actively looking for work. It does not take into account those whose unemployment benefits have run out, those who have given up seeking work, those who are underemployed – desiring full time work but forced to work part time, or those who have dropped out of the labor force more than 12 months ago.

There is also a factor in the calculations known as “seasonal adjustments.” The BLS uses a software program known as X-12 ARIMA, a complex modeling algorithm, to factor in seasonal adjustments to the jobs reports. As with any software program, the results are only as good as what the data input is and the results are easily manipulated. Job growth reports from the BLS have a 100,000 jobs margin of error on a monthly basis, but outside of that margin they are 90 percent accurate.

In fact, the numbers in the reports are regularly (and quietly) revised each month. Last month’s jobs report suggested that the economy had added 148,000 jobs in September and 171,000 jobs in October. That has now been revised downward to 132,000 and 138,000, respectively.

According to the BLS report, 53,000 of the 146,000 jobs added in November were in the retail sector. That would obviously factor in as a seasonal adjustment, because most of those jobs will disappear after the holiday season. Combining that with the potential for a 100,000 job margin of error could mean job losses and a rise in the real unemployment rate last month. It is also difficult to factor in anomalies like the amount of people temporarily out of work due to Hurricane Sandy during the survey week, although the BLS reported that the effects of that were minimal.

Brad Plumer, writing for the Washington Post, explains the potential for discrepancy:

The discrepancy…has to do with what’s known as “seasonal adjustments.” The U.S. economy follows certain predictable patterns in hiring and layoffs every year. School districts always let workers go for the summer and hire in the fall. Retailers always staff up for the Christmas holidays and lay people off afterwards. Students always flood the labor market in June. And this is exactly what BLS does in its monthly jobs reports.

The BLS report releases the highly publicized U-3 unemployment rate along with a lesser known rate called the U-6. There are, in fact, six different scales of unemployment known as “alternative measures of labor underutilization,” that are numbered U-1 through U-6. The U-6 rate is the most inclusive gauge of the statistical unemployment rate in the U.S. because it takes into account “total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force.”

Another BLS report shows, for example, that the official U-6 unemployment rate for the state of Wisconsin is 13 percent. Nevada’s U-6 rate is 21.4 percent, up from just 7.6 percent in 2007. Washington State is at 17.1 percent. Economically troubled California has a 19.6 percent real rate, while Rhode Island is at 18.3 percent, more than double its 8.3 percent rate in 2007. Only four states, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Oklahoma have a U-6 rate that is under 10 percent.

Indeed, many have already pointed out that the lower unemployment rate has more to do with people dropping off the unemployment rolls and out of the labor force than with job creation, as evidenced by a reduction in the numbers reported in the labor force. See here and here.

Even the U-6 rate, however, does not accurately measure the true amount of eligible workers who are out of work.

The key words in that report are “marginally attached.” Persons marginally attached to the labor force are described as those who currently are neither working nor looking for work but indicate that they want to work, are available for a job and have looked for work sometime in the past 12 months. Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached, have given a job-market related reason for not currently looking for work.

Many Americans have given up on the job market and have not looked for work in the past 12 months. Many do not have a phone or mailing address through which to respond to a household survey. There is no way to count all of the unemployed in America who are no longer “marginally attached” to the labor force and according to some estimates that number is staggering.

These people have been called by CNN “The 86 million invisible unemployed” and that, taken together with some simple math, shows that the true jobless rate in the U.S. is far higher than 7.7 percent.

The total U.S. population is approximately 330 million. 24 percent of those, however, are young people not eligible to work and 13 percent are retired. So the total pool of available workers in the United States is 100% – (24% + 13%) = 63% of 330 million people, or about 208 million workers. The U.S. government officially admits that 7.7 percent of the labor force is “visibly” unemployed, which accounts for about 16 million people. Together with the “invisible” that means about 102 million Americans are available to work but do not have a full time job. And with 102 million out of 208 million available workers not working, the true jobless rate in the US right now is closer to 49 percent, not the 7.7 percent the U.S. government and corporate media is propagandizing about.

That calculation is consistent with a recent survey of income and program participation (SIPP) conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau that shows that well over 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government. And that figure does not even include Social Security and Medicare.

The implications for the U.S. economy should be obvious. Government benefits for the unemployed merely provide enough for families to get by and cover basic living expenses. They leave no room for the type of discretionary spending that keeps businesses thriving in America. The amount of citizens out of work, not contributing revenue and receiving benefits, combined with billions in defense and war spending, bank bailouts, tax breaks for huge corporations that outsource jobs, etc., is simply unsustainable.

The only solution to the economic downturn in the U.S. is to bring back or create well-paying jobs in the U.S. Even though seasonal retail jobs that pay less than $10 per hour make good headlines in reports, they are not the solution.

Get links and a slideshow with graphs here: Madison Independent Examiner – 7.7% unemployment inaccurately depicts real jobless rate

December 7, 2012

War: The ultimate example of bullying

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 2:08 pm

At a local neighborhood meeting the other day, I made a comment that someone else didn’t like — and the next thing I knew this person was yelling at me BigTime. Perhaps she thought that the sheer volume of her voice would bully me into keeping the real 411 to myself. Not gonna happen.

I’ve been bullied all my life by all kinds of expert bullies. I’ve been threatened by terrorists in Iraq, chased by North Korean border guards, issued death threats by the IDF — and, even worse, raised in a Republican town! You can’t get much more bullied than that. So now I never back down for anyone — let alone someone who merely raises his or her voice.

And so, at the meeting, I used my “outside voice” on that bully — a voice that makes even dogs and bats hide under the bed. But did that make me feel any better? No, not even close. All I’d done was just to stoop to her level. Not good.

Bullies are people who, when they can’t win their arguments by truth, reason or logic, then result to violence, intimidation, lies and extortion. School-yard bullies use that technique. And, on the national and international level, it is also used by the Mafia, Al Qaeda, Fox News, the IDF, the GOP, America’s new militarized police forces and our new massive highly-weaponized armies happily dreaming of world-wide “pre-emptive war” at the taxpayers’ expense. So how do we protect ourselves against bullies? Not sure. Non-violent resistance is good — but losing one’s life in order to non-violently preserve one’s own self-respect is bad.

Strength in numbers is good (just look at what WalMart workers are achieving through their demonstrations) – but getting pepper-sprayed and shot with rubber bullets by our new militarized police forces in the process is bad.

Raising our children to believe in Truth and Justice is good. Bullying our children with spankings and other types of brutal actions of the strong against the weak is bad. ANYONE can beat up a two-year-old.

Social media freedom and WikiLeaks are good. Media distortion and censorship is bad.

And, according to Dave Lindorff, climate change is bad for most of us but might be hunky-dory for bullies.

When we decent folk stand up against bullies, no matter what it costs us, this makes us feel good about ourselves — but it also makes us feel bad because we have stooped to their level. But as Jesus, Buddha, etc. once said, “There is more good in human beings than there is bad.” And now, more than ever, it is time for the good part of our human nature to come out — and to stop kowtowing to bullies. And to stop BEING bullies as well.

But I digress.

What I really want to talk about here is the very nature of “war” — where the strong intimidate the weak and the biggest bully takes all. Unfortunately, it’s not the smartest or most creative or the kindest or the best or most hard-working person who takes it all — it’s the ones with the most weapons and the least shame.

In the last 65 years, America has become the biggest bully in the world. I’m ashamed to say that — but it is true. And all our super-macho armies and all our vainglorious wars, even the ones involving squabbling with other bullies over the same turf, don’t make us any better than what we really have become: Bullies.

We try to teach our kids not to be bullies — and then we ourselves turn around and wave flags and cheer and support all kinds of brutal bullying done by America’s vast war machine, even though we have armed and equipped these bullies ourselves; at the expense of our own jobs, homes, infrastructure, schools, lifestyles, elders and kids.

A few million years ago, dinosaurs were the ultimate bullies and mammals were the ultimate victims — in a race between the strong and the meek. But just look how things have turned out. Seen any dinosaurs around lately? I think not.

And who knows what new life-form will start evolving once our current human bullying “Masters of War” are extinct.

At the rate we are going — between the massive weapons races, the invasions and Occupations, the terrorism (state-sponsored and otherwise), the nuclear arsenals, whatever — it looks like the meek truly are going to inherit the earth. Again.

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