Protect the Investors? Really?

I keep hearing about how the banks have not been held accountable and they are still profiting madly (and maddeningly) from the bailouts and the fact that they are still being propped up by tax payer money now.

Add to this the fact that the same guys who were in charge then are still in charge now. Not only that, but many of them got record bonuses that year because on paper they made record profits… Because of the bailouts.

Now, I tend to agree with most people this far. It sucks that this happened. The bankers involved should be jailed, not given bonuses. This is where it gets a bit messed up, and where many in the mainstream media seem to get confused. I am going to use words that may sound very capitalistic for a few moments, but it is unavoidable since we are talking about banks.

The people in the media, who quite often are relatively intelligent people so I won’t call them idiots, actually feel sorry for and want to protect the investors while finding a way to punish the bankers. They WANT the banks to be held financially liable for what they did, but they DON’T want to hold the investors accountable.

What the fuck do they think investing means? The investors, the shareholders specifically, OWN the banks. It is THEIR investment. The guys that the bleeding heart types want to hold entirely accountable (and they should be held to account. I am not saying they should not), are employees of the bank, and not owners.

Yes, those with fiduciary/fiscal responsibilities and authority should be held accountable when they fuck up. That does not mean however that their bosses should be given expensive parachutes and a padded drop zone to escape the results of allowing the whole thing to crash.

Do we want to protect the economy? Yes.

Do we want to protect the depositors? Yes.

Do we want to protect the people directly responsible, and the ones who hired them to do it? Hell no.

Thousands of small business ventures get started and die every year because someone messed up somewhere along the way.

Thousands of long standing businesses collapse and close up shop every year, because of market pressures or because someone just screwed up.

Millions of people lose their jobs when this happens.

What do they get in the way of protection? Well, if they had their paperwork in order they can file it as a loss on their income taxes. That is it. Nothing else. They can file bankruptcy if they figure out what is going on in time. Beyond that, they and their investors are pretty much screwed.

When the crash came, we (the tax payers) bailed the banks out. THAT was our token gesture to the investors. How do they repay us? They gave record bonuses to the idiots that did it. This is called complicity. This is called approval of behavior. That action effectively absolved me of any pity I might have for them when it came to the issue of who to hold accountable.

If the banks are too big to fail, then one of two things needs to happen. Either they need to divide them up majorly, or they need to take them over. Nationalize the suckers and keep them nationalized until such a time as they can once again be able to operate without being “too big to fail.”

Yes, that means using tax payer dollars to insure the deposits… But we already do that, and the depositors are not at fault.

I will make one caveat to my above comments, and that is this: The first banks to nationalize should be the reserve banks… With no provision to ever privatize them again. Their role in our economy is too important to allow them to follow the same sort of stupid behaviors that banks are expected to make. On top of that, it would bring our current currency more in line with the guidelines provided by the constitution. Our government is supposed to generate money, not privatized banks.

When You Say “Support Our Troops,” Think About What That Actually Means

General rule of thumbs:

If you are not prepared for people to voice their opinion, avoid making controversial posts.

If you have comments to make about the troops, and you have troops on your friends list, assume that they are likely to see those comments. Assume that there are going to be times that they cannot hold their tongue.

And when you make comments about the troops, remember that they do not all think the same. Even if what you are saying is something that is agreed upon by about half the troops (that is a higher percentage than you can actually expect for us to agree on anything), the flip side of that is that about half don’t agree.

Supporting the Troops does not automatically mean supporting the regime that is sending them to die.

Supporting the troops does not mean buying into every bit of ra ra Jingoistic propaganda that you see.

It sure as hell doesn’t mean blowing the troops off when their opinions don’t match the image that you have in mind of how they should think and act and feel.

I hold my tongue on a lot. I hold my tongue on most things. There are limits however beyond which I have a moral obligation as a member of the United States Armed Services, as a Citizen of the United States of America, and as a plain old Human being to speak up and say something.

If I see posts that are purely religious in nature, I am generally going to ignore them. It is your right to hold whatever religious beliefs you want. I am not going to judge that.

I ignore a lot of posts that are just plain dumb, or misinformed unless it is something I can actually be of help on in some way.

I generally try to avoid offending people whenever I can.

However, when I see posts talking about the constitution, about people’s rights, about what a person thinks it means to support our troops, those are kind of things I have to speak up on if I disagree. They are things that are very personal to me, and quite often have a direct impact on me and my way of life.

When people say “Support our Troops,” I am one of those troops.

When people say “The troops fought and died for your right to do such and such,” we also generally fight and die for your right not to do it as well.

When people speak about freedom of religion, and how something is trampling their rights, Freedom of Religion is Freedom to practice ANY religion, not just yours.

When someone says that preventing them from trampling someone else’s rights is taking away their rights… There is a world for that, and it is plain old bullshit.

I am opinionated about certain things, but as a general rule they are things that I am very passionate about for one reason or another. When it comes to issues of what our troops fight and die for, that one is about as personal as you can get.

We are Freaking Out Over Nonsense

So… I see a trend, and it is not just on the right.

People are picking up on “scandals” and “outrages” that are being fed to them by their respective “wings” of the media.

People are getting all worked up on little things that are at most slights, and offenses.

People are freaking out over things that are flat out not true and have been debunked a thousand times over, because their favorite pundit is still pushing the issue.

You know what else is happening as a result?

It is a heck of a lot easier for the media to conveniently overlook some pretty heinous stuff. It is a heck of a lot easier for the media to run horse and pony shows while the real news is overlooked, ignored, or worst yet, flat out changed.

Stephen Colbert has a slogan for his show: “When news breaks, we fix it.” There is a reason for this. He is a satirist, and that is how he sees the real “news” media most of the time.

If we are taking the horse and pony show, and seeing it as real news; If we are accepting all the little nit picking details as controversy; then it is a hell of a lot easier for the media outlets to feed us the party line. It is a lot easier for them to make out normal people as criminals and heroes as villains.

We have wars going on that are not legal under international law. These wars are only called wars when it is convenient, such as when they want to invoke the espionage act.

We have secret laws: you know the thing that once sent famous politicians into a frenzy because they were introduced in other countries. These secret laws are being used to clamp down on first, fourth, and fifth amendments.

We have journalists under investigation by the FBI and CIA for… Yeah, journalism. Peaceful activists are on FBI watch lists, and potential whistle blowers dare not speak up without fleeing the country first (or at least preparing to do so).

Let me ask you this: What is a bigger issue, protecting your already existing right to say “Merry Christmas” that no one is trying to take away, or the fact that pretty much all of our online communications and the meta-data on all of our phone calls is being stored away in a massive database out in the desert? Now, which one have you heard more about on the news?


News flash…

Just because some talking head tells you that the guys in charge are being persecuted, just because they believe that some prophesy said that would be the proof that you were doing things right, doesn’t make it so.

If you belong to the group that makes up 76% of the country’s population, and 88% of the US Congress, and likely an even larger percentage of the law making bodies over all in the states… Odds are you are not being persecuted.

In the day and age of persecution that was discussed in the bible, Christians were a smaller percentage of the world population than the Jews are now. They were new, they were strange, they were more vocal than any monotheistic group that the government had dealt with up to that time.

You want to know how you can tell if you are being persecuted:

  • Have you been denied or lost a job because you were Christian?
  • Have you ever felt that local law enforcement might gun you down because you are Christian?
  • Have you ever had to practice your faith in secret to avoid being jailed, executed, or tortured because you are a Christian?
  • Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with a brick through your window, or a random holy symbol burning on your front lawn because you are a Christian?
  • Have you ever been refused service in any establishment because you are a Christian?

These things do happen in modern America, but not to Christians.

I have seen these things happen to Pagans in the US, and I have heard of them happening lately to Muslims as well. These things do happen. These things are persecution.

Being asked not to teach your religion to other people’s children is not persecution. Would you like me to teach your children Buddhism, and tell them it is the only way to enlightenment? Telling you that it is wrong to bully our children is not persecution. Would you like me to tell your children that they are worthless and will burn in hell because they are different from me? It is not persecution to tell you not to pass laws based on your religion. The part of the Constitution that says not to do that is entirely about preventing the persecution of one group or the raising up of another.

I know these examples may seem like common sense to most people that will read my posts, but they are obviously news to others. After all, that is one of the biggest things I hear from the talking heads lately “Bullying is not wrong if it is based on firmly held beliefs, so anti-bullying laws are persecution!”

Screw that. You are free to practice your religion as long as it does not harm anyone else. It makes Christianity as a whole look bad when you get those few idiots who want to bully others in Christ’s name. No offense, but if the bible is the word of God, and Christ was the son of God/ultimate prophet, then there is a special place in Hell for people like that.

You can teach whatever you want in the church house. You can teach whatever you want at home. If you are running a parochial school (i.e. a Church run religious facility), then whatever you want to teach is fair game. After all, the parents made a conscious choice to send their children to you, and that choice was quite likely based on your teachings.

And guess what! If your group was being persecuted, that would not be possible. Yes, there are people who petition to have the accreditation of some religious schools revoked. However, the accrediting agencies generally already know what is being taught so that is not likely to happen. Furthermore those attempts are not based on your faith. They are based on the fact that there are schools teaching non-sense as science. That non-sense is harmful in the long term because it can affect your child’s future education possibilities. Still, those schools exist and are allowed to exist. In a lot of ways that in and of itself is the exact opposite of persecution. It is acceptance to the extent that society is effectively standing back while people teach their students things about physics and geology that just aren’t founded in any form of science. I suppose that at this point it is too late to voice an obvious bias towards Young Earth “theory”.

Does persecution exist in our country? Yes. You can bet it does.
Are some of the groups persecuted against Christian? Yes.

However, if you are a Christian, odds are you have never experienced true persecution unless you are a Mormon. There are parts of the country where Catholics are actively persecuted as well, but only by other Christians.

Support Our Troops, But Don’t Bash Dissenters

A lot of people post things in support of the troops. I am cool with that. I am all for supporting the troops.

Whenever this happens though, you will often get people who are pissed off about the wars, and about the government, and about the direction that things have gone. Believe it or not, I am cool with that too. I understand what they are getting at and where they are coming from.

What I am not cool with is that the response to these people is almost always a personal attack, with a liberal application of jingoistic slogans and references to 911.

People who get the most pissed off about our government’s military actions are generally not anti-troops. You don’t have to protect us from them. They are on our side too.

What may be a good idea though is to take a step back, and read what they posted and think about it. Google a bit. Ask questions. Don’t just jingoistically wave the flag and sing the praises of the troops while invoking the image of 911 as the answer to all the concerns you might have.

Yes, 911 happened. A lot of people died that day. That number though is dwarfed by the number of people killed in the decade since. That number is dwarfed by the number of men women and children who will never see another birthday, who will never see their families again. Most of them were only guilty of being in the country that our leaders decided to attack under the guise of tracking down a non-state entity.

By non-state entity I mean that we officially went to war against a group equivalent to the Mafia, only smaller and less well armed. We did not declare war on a specific country.

There are politicians that will still use the argument “They hate us because we are free!”

Guess what, they hate us because we bombed their neighbors. They hate us because we used words like “Crusade” and “Jihad” to describe a war not only on a group of people, but on the religion that group claims to follow. They hate us because having a Muslim sounding name is all that it takes in some places to get picked up off the streets and not see your family for four years… That is totally ignoring the fact that at the end of those four years you were dropped off in a random Middle Eastern country where you have no connections, have never been, and don’t even speak the language (That guy was Canadian, picked up in Canada at the request of our Government).

This is the sort of thing our government is doing in our name. They send our troops to faraway lands to cause massive damage and leave behind massive numbers of casualties, and they claim it is in the name of the “War on Terror.” The troops suffer. The local populations suffer. Their families suffer (both the troops and the locals). The military contractors make millions. And when all is said and done, they like us even less than they did before. Not only do they hate us more than they did before, but most of them don’t even know why we are there. When polls have been done, questioning people in Iraq and Afghanistan, over ninety percent had no clue what happened on 911. First word they got that anything was wrong involved an explosion in their back yard.

And of course, once the dust settles, and the end of hostilities officially arrives, it is only a matter of hours before the oil companies, and the mineral companies have boots on ground securing contracts.

Modern American Slavery: The Prison Industrial Complex

The Private Prison Industry is one of America’s greatest shames. Corporations contract to the states to run prisons. They profit off of every person in their “care” and they generally have minimum occupancy agreements with the states that run as high as 90%.

This means that our governments are not only paying another entity to run our prisons at a profit, but they are promising to keep bodies in the beds. There is no way to make such a promise unless you are also promising (spoken or unspoken) to violate every constitutional principle a person can think of.

These corporations crow proudly that they are “Successfully” keeping their facilities full and that they are “successfully” increasing occupancy every year. Sorry, but by the very nature of a prison system, growth is a failure not a success. It only counts as a success if you are a share holder or a board member who is counting the inmates as units of money and not people.

The rise of the prison industry as a for-profit industry has caused massive damage to us as a society.

“We believe we have been successful in increasing the number of residents in our care and continue to pursue a number of initiatives intended to further increase our occupancy and revenue.” – CCA 2010 Annual Report

This quote basically says it all.

* Their lobbyists push to keep the war on drugs going.
* Their lobbyists push for policies like “Stop and Frisk.”
* Their lobbyists are entirely responsible for the various “Three Strikes” laws.
* Their lobbyists push the agenda to have more police in schools (as opposed to private security firms) resulting in police being involved in the disciplinary process of the schools. More children are in prison as a result.
* They actively push the agenda to increase the number of undocumented immigrants that are locked up while awaiting trial, even though it has been proven that most are otherwise law abiding and will show up for court dates on their own.
* The level of corruption in the courts has sky rocketed, as they work out back room deals with judges to pay them off for tweaking verdicts and sentencing in favor of the prison system.

This is just the beginning of the list. This doesn’t even begin to deal with the fact that in order to guarantee occupancy, someone’s rights have to be ignored.

People talk about potential dystopian futures. Screw that, we are already there. Human beings, American Citizens, are being treated as cattle, and bought and sold for the profit of corporations. I am not going to point fingers at one political party or the other. After all, the country changes hands between them every four to eight years. Even if that were not true, this took cooperation on the part of both political parties to make happen, and to get to the degraded, depraved state that it is in.

And then of course, there is the most recent addition to the whole fucked up mess. Leasing out prisoners to perform labor for corporations at nickels and dimes per hour. Yes, our nation is slowly but surely reinstating full out slavery. This is going on at the state level now, but the federal government has not stepped in to stop it.

And people wonder where the jobs are going.

Here is a link to a HuffPost article on the subject:
30 Ways the Prison Industry Gets Rich

Teaching Our Sons Not To Rape

Ok, I have seen a common theme popping up over the last several months about the issue of rape and how to address it.

There are those who are constantly saying “Women should protect themselves,” and those who are saying that “We should teach men not to rape.”

The first one has some relevance, but given the nature of the vast majority of rapes, it doesn’t have much bearing on reality.

The second one is vital to solving the problem. We as a society DO need to teach our sons (and daughters) not to rape. However, those who espouse this view are constantly shot down. The response from the opposition runs the gambit from vulgar language to threats of violence (I wish I was making this up).

People who say that men should take responsibility for their behavior are often called sluts, bitches, prudes, or if they are guys they are called gay, effeminate, etc. Ironically, I do not personally think that the accusations are near as insulting as the people making them seem to think.

Anyway, I am starting to ramble so I will get to the point.

As a guy who lives in the middle of a culture that takes just that route, that tells their young men and women not to rape each other, I can tell you this much: If fucking works.

The United States military, Navy and Marines especially perhaps, have had a long history of sexual assault and related problems. The most effective method that they have found so far, the one method that actually produced a drastic drop in the number of assaults and full out rapes, was teaching people what rape and sexual assault are, and insuring that they know it is wrong.

And to the assholes who are all like “Women should protect themselves because guys are going to do what guys do.” As a human male, you sicken me. You are shame to your species. You are basically saying that you and those like you are no better than rabid animals that function at a level no more elevated than that of a mollusk. Please, do the world a favor and don’t reproduce. We don’t need your ideas being passed on to future generations.

Not a Happy Read

Warning: This one is not written with friendly words.

There are a number of bumper stickers out there that are geared towards encouraging community, cooperation, unity, and peaceful coexistence. Probably one that everyone has seen simply says “Coexist” and the letters are made up of various religious and philosophical symbols, as well as a few LGBT symbols thrown in for good measure.

The message is simple, and it is obvious. We are all human. We are different, but we are human. We need to learn to deal with that.

And of course, as is inevitable, I have started seeing various opposed variations. Sad as that may sound, it is true.

I saw one earlier on the way home that offended the hell out of me. I am not prone to road rage, but I went ahead and got ahead of the guy just in case I changed my mind.

It said “Coexist?” except that the letters were made up of bombs, guns, and various jingoistic symbols. And then bellow that it said: “Ok Lefty, you first.”

It offended the fuck out of me. To be blunt, it is not intolerant to discourage hate. It is not intolerant to tell you not to go bomb and kill people because you don’t agree with their skin color or their religion. It is not intolerant to say that it is wrong for you to bully.

It also offended me greatly because the combination of the message and the symbols used caused one thought to stick in my head and refuse to budge…

People like that are the reason that people like me still die on a daily basis, even if they don’t make the news any more.

We still get periodic lists of names of sailors and soldiers who have been shot, blown up, run over, or just taken their own lives in the Middle East. So yeah, fuckheads like that offend the hell out of me.

You know what the real bitch of it is though? They are the ones screaming “Support our Troops!” any time they see someone even indicating that peace is a good idea.

The Shrinking Deficit: Or Sequester is a Sham

The deficit has been going down somewhat steadily for the last four years. I know that may sound odd if you listen to the media and especially to the Republicans in Congress who have declared their primary job to be getting rid of Obama (Even though their primary job is supposed to be serving the American people).

Now, we are entering into sequester. Ignoring the fact that the sequester is an entirely made up thing triggered by an entirely fabricated crisis, the primary piece of evidence that we “must” do this is just as fabricated than the WMD’s that lead us into Iraq, and the end result is likely to be just as much economic harm.

The deficit is the main excuse used to push for sequester. “We must reduce this every growing rapidly rising deficit,” “The deficit is higher than it has ever been,” “Obama has increased the national debt faster than any president since World War II,” and the litany goes on. But this is not true. There are numbers. There is this thing called math.

And this is where the problem comes in. The average American has to depend on the media and their politicians to tell them the truth. There are over 315 million people in our country. It is literally impossible for any one person to know everyone or even the majority. That is why the news media is so important. That is why our Founders decided to go with a Representative Republic rather than a True Democracy. It is because they knew that our numbers would only grow.

However, when you have the leaders of our nation stating in front of television cameras flat out lying to us, and the reporters broadcasting those lies as the gospel truth, you get confusion. Yes, all of the data necessary to know the truth is publicly available, but the vast majority of Americans do know have the knowledge or resources to access that data. The internet is a wonderful thing if you know what you are looking for, or if you know that you should be looking.

With a close majority of law makers backing the men that go on the air screaming about the deficit, why should anyone believe they are wrong? Most Americans are good, hard working, trustworthy people. The thing about trustworthy people is that we tend to see the best in others even when they have been screwed before. Add to that the fact that whichever politicians screwed you last, they are going to be laying the blame for it at the feet of their opposition.

Notice that I said “close majority.” This is because there are currently 253 Democrats in congress and 277 Republicans [1]. The result is that I can’t really lay the blame for this entirely at the feet of one party or the other. Yes, the Republicans tend to be the one screaming from the rooftops about out of control spending, worse than any time in history. The Republicans are the ones declaring that Obama is a runaway train and that he is increasing the deficit more and more every year. But, where are the Democrats? Why are they not speaking up? They have just as loud a mouthpiece in the media as the Republicans and the Republican majority is only about four and a half percent. So yes, they are at fault here as well. Either they are just as confused as the rest of the populous, or they are willfully choosing to let the Republicans lie to us. I am not sure which possibility is worse.

The reality is that the deficit has been going down in relation to the GDP for years. Believe it or not, history has indicated over the last few decades that “Big Government Democrats” tend to spend less and shrink government while in office, while “Small Government Republicans” tend to spend more and increase the size of government. Given that most people are constantly told the opposite by the media, I would say that we need to start depending more on the raw statistics, and less on the pundits interpreting them.

This brings me to the point where I am going to start talking numbers. Because of the prevalent narrative in the media, 90% of Americans do not know what is actually going on with the deficit [2][3]. And no, that number is not just pulled out of thin air.

A recent Bloomberg News poll, reported on 22 February, 2013 [3] indicated that 62% of people polled believed that the deficit was growing annually. 28% believed that it was staying about the same. Only 6% knew that it was actually shrinking. The other 4% account for people who didn’t answer and the margin of statistical error.

That is 90% of our brothers and sisters who have no clue about what is going on in the economy other than “it sucks.” It is not their fault though. As I said, the people who are supposed to inform us have been feeding us bad information, and the people who were supposed to keep that from happening stood silent, or worse, vouched for them.

The Rachel Maddow Show for 26 February, 2013[4][5] has a decent report on the subject. I listened to the audio podcast version. If you subscribe there, it starts at about the 6 minute mark with her getting into statistics around the 8:40 mark. Otherwise, if you go to the website for the video[4], and click on Previously, and the link for February 26, 2013, it is one of the clips they have there. As of this writing it is the first item on the list.


Boy Scouts and a Fear of Change

Governor Perry, when speaking about the Boy Scouts of America and their policy on homosexuality, said that he did not feel that “Scouting is not a place where sexuality should be the intersextion of. Scouting is about teaching a substantial amount of life’s lessons. Sexuality is not one of them, it never has been and never should be.”

You know… The people on the “Pro-Gay” side agree. That is what we are fighting for. The difference is that Governor Perry needs to spend some time with a grammar book and a dictionary.

Currently, Boys Scouts of America policy makes sexuality an issue. It effectively teaches that a specific sexuality is the right one. This goes against what the Governer has said, even though he seemed to think he was supporting the current policy.

They BSA leadership has postponed their decision again. They know there is only really one right answer, but they are concerned about whether or not their organization will survive the change.

One individual (I am not sure who) was quoted as saying “I am not sure if scouting will survive this changing society.”

The problem is that if Scouting does not surive the change, then it wasn’t meant too. They need to learn from their sisters. The Girl Scouts do not care if you are gay or straight. They do not even care if you were born a biological girl. They got with the program decades ago.

They are even inclusive enough that they will embrace the sons of their scout leaders. They are often effectively part of the troop (they just can’t usually go to camp and such. After all they aren’t really girl scouts unless they identify as girls).

The BSA will have to make this change eventually, and I think they will be surprised at the results. Their senior leadership needs to grow up and move on with life and stop enforcing their homophobia on children.