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October 30, 2014 10:10 AM

What is on my mind is the coming election. The massive and obscene amount of money being spent to elect people who are then beholden to the big money donors. Some of these positions will impact the entire country, and we are electing people whose only thought is to get elected. Once they are elected then their main concern is to re-elected!! Don’t we owe it to our country to try to do a better job of picking a candidate, and then requiring that they actually work for the citizens of our country.

The quote above comes from, of all people, my mother. The reason I’m writing about it is that she’s spot on…and it says a lot about why this country is where it is.

It’s become impossible to ignore the growing mountain of evidence pointing to the reality that America is no longer a democracy. Two Princeton researchers looked at our political system and asked a very simple question: “Who really rules?”

The answer to that question is as simple as it is complex and disturbing. As envisioned by the Founding Father, American governance was to be predicated on “one man, one vote.” Each citizen would have a voice in who represented their interests. That’s about as basic as it gets, and it should have been enough to see our democracy evolve and mature. Unfortunately, when human beings are involved, any process or system will eventually and inevitably be corrupted. So it is with American democracy.

The answer to “Who really rules?” is far different today than it would have been in the early days of the Republic. Today, “one man, one vote” represents a commodity that’s available to the highest bidder. If it’s true that power corrupts, and that absolute power is kinda fun, there will be people willing to do whatever it takes to obtain and/or control that power. Today, those folks are people like Sheldon Adelson, the Koch Brothers, and the Walton family, people with the means to purchase the government they want several times over.

American governance today is less democracy than it is a admixture of idiocracy, plutocracy, and oligarchy. Wealthy, self-interested captains of industry use their money to buy influence, control the media, and propagandize low-information voters- and those who just don’t care- into voting against their interests.

The question now is distressingly simple: How do we take our country back?

October 30, 2014 9:55 AM

October 30, 2014 9:45 AM

Continuing the kind of innovative work that few fast-food chains have the gall to attempt these days, KFC Korea has abandoned all rational ideas about nutrition and dared to dream with this thing, the Zinger Double Down King. It’s got chicken, beef, and pork that have been fried, grilled, and griddled, respectively. What’s more is that it’s still bunless, of course, like its forebear, and there’s some kind of special sauce involved. It’s on sale now, allegedly only has 750 calories, and from the looks of some of the photos that have been circulating online, we can safely say it’s in the running for the most unwieldy and completely monstrous fast-food item of all time.

When I lived in Houston, my job as an auto insurance claims adjustor took me out of my office for a good part of my day. When I had time between appointments, I’d occasionally pull into the parking lot of a fast food restaurant so I could catch up on some work on my laptop. Every now and again I’d stop and just watch as people entered and left the restaurant, which never ceased to be an exercise in understanding why Americans are so fat.

It was easy to tell who the regulars were; they were the ones fairly waddling into and out of the restaurant. When people ask me why I won’t eat at fast food restaurants, this is the story I use to illustrate my argument. Not that I’m any better than those who love fast food, of course, nor do I always make better, healthier choices when it comes to what I eat. Fast food has always represented for me the worst sort of edible, corporate, mass-produced, faux food that I see as gradually killing Americans in the name of ever-greater profits. An argument could be made that I’m simply being unhealthy in a different manner, but what I do makes sense to me, so I stick with it. Besides, there are far better ways for me to spend money than on cheap, mass-produced McFood. Life is too short to eat bad food, no?

For good or ill, I’m here to tell you that this trend is no longer limited to America (and probably never was). From the evil geniuses at KFC Korea comes the latest assault on our waistlines and arteries- the Zinger Double Down King. That’s certainly shorter than “The Sandwich That Will Put Your Cardiologist’s Kids Through College,” or “An Endocrinologist’s Wet Dream.” It’s probably what will lead to the coming proliferation of clothing stores serving big and tall men.

Then only question is when this gastronomic suicide pact will reach our shores.

October 30, 2014 9:35 AM

Congratulations to mi amigo, Sean Paul Kelley, who seems to be doing pretty well for himself these days. Here’s a guy who’s traveled extensively in place most Americans couldn’t find on a map if you held a gun to their head. He’s followed his passion, and there’s a lesson in that for humanity…one that will sadly no doubt remain unlearned.

Should you travels happen to take you to San Antonio next week, I’d highly recommend putting Sean Paul’s talk on your calendar. I wish I could!

October 30, 2014 9:21 AM

Rep. Louie Gohmert was an in-studio guest on the “Point Of View” radio program yesterday, where he went off on a bizarre tangent about Ancient Greece in trying to make the case that allowing gays to serve in the military “is not a good idea.”

The Texas Republican had been railing against the Obama administration’s decision to send several thousand members of the U.S. military to Western Africa to assist in the effort to control the Ebola outbreak, saying that it was just the latest example of the administration demonstrating its fundamental disdain for the military.

Somehow that discussion eventually prompted him to launch into criticism of the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy in the most perfectly Gohmert-esque fashion imaginable.

“I’ve had people say, ‘Hey, you know, there’s nothing wrong with gays in the military. Look at the Greeks,’” he said. “Well, you know, they did have people come along who they loved that was the same sex and would give them massages before they went into battle. But you know what, it’s a different kind of fighting, it’s a different kind of war and if you’re sitting around getting massages all day ready to go into a big, planned battle, then you’re not going to last very long. It’s guerrilla fighting. You are going to be ultimately vulnerable to terrorism and if that’s what you start doing in the military like the Greeks did … as people have said, ‘Louie, you have got to understand, you don’t even know your history.’ Oh yes I do. I know exactly. It’s not a good idea”

October 29, 2014 9:03 AM

October 29, 2014 8:56 AM

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Archbishop of Portland says the young woman who made national news after moving to Portland to legally take her own life should not try to control her own death; every moment is precious, even amid suffering. Brittany Maynard, 29, insisted during an interview with People Magazine that she’s not the least bit suicidal. But after getting diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, Maynard moved to Portland so she can die by lethal medication prescribed under the Oregon Death With Dignity Act. She made the decision after learning about the horrible stages of death by glioblastoma and said being able to choose to go with dignity would be “less terrifying.”

None of us can begin to know or understand what Brittany Maynard is going through…along with those who love her. How can we begin to comprehend the pain and suffering she’s enduring…and how can we possibly hope to understand her dilemma? She’s facing a future in which glioblastoma will slowly, painfully, and horribly kill her. None of us can begin to understand her circumstances, and no one has the right to judge her harshly for deciding to end her life on her terms.

We should be wishing her the best in the hopes that her last few days or weeks will be as comfortable as possible. That she’s chosen to take control over when her life ends is something that shouldn’t even be open for debate. It’s her life. She’s evaluated her circumstances and made a decision she feels is best for her and her loved ones. That should be the end of the story, because here in Oregon, people with a terminal illness have the legal right to end their life at a time and in a manner of their choosing. NO ONE else has a right to interject their opinion as to her decision. They should respect Ms. Maynard’s decision…or they should STFU. She moved to Oregon because she wanted to have control over how her life ended. Those who feel that God’s the only one worthy of making that decision aren’t the ones suffering from glioblastoma.

Those who oppose Death With Dignity are free to their views in a global sense. When it comes to an individual’s decision, NO ONE has the right to judge that person harshly. Ms. Maynard’s case is not an abstract theological and moral concept. It’s a young woman with a terminal disease doing what she thinks is right for her- something she has the legal right to do here in Oregon. The pontificating and moralizing are wholly inappropriate when the circumstances of an individual are the subject of discussion.

That said, there are those self-righteous religious Conservatives who feel moved to offer their opinion that what Ms. Maynard is doing is sinful and wrong. While I respect the right of the Archbishop of Portland to have an opinion, he has no right- zero, zip, none, nada- to weigh in on Ms. Maynard’s decision**. It’s easy to be theoretical and self-righteous when you’re not the one facing a lingering, painful, and imminent death.

October 29, 2014 8:46 AM

October 29, 2014 8:28 AM

A rally was held…in Springfield, Oregon, with citizens pushing back against a man who distributed racist “diversity is white genocide” at a local high school earlier in the week, reports KMTR. A man identifying himself as Jimmy Marr attended the rally and took credit for the flyers, explaining he was trying to “breakthrough the media blackout with white genocide… (and get) a chance to say my piece and get exposure so people know what white genocide is.”…. Marr, who maintains an account at white supremacist website Stormfront, explained that “white genocide” partially refers to how the U.S. was founded by white Europeans, and how minorities have changed U.S. culture.

There’s a fallacy popular among Conservatives, racists, sexists, and/or others with viewpoints generally considered disturbing that we must respect their opinion. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s true that every American has a RIGHT to an opinion. What they don’t have is the right to demand that we respect that opinion.

If someone airs an opinion that is generally offensive, ignorant, wrong and/or hurtful and denigrating, there’s no corresponding right to expect that opinion to be condoned or even tolerated. Jimmy Marr is certainly free to his convictions and to express them if he chooses, but he can’t claim offense or persecution when his racist opinions are roundly rejected. A person has every right to hold and voice an opinion, and his audience has every right to push back if they feel it’s wrong, inappropriate, and/or offensive.

That Marr experienced rejection only serves to indicate that the Springfield community doesn’t care to tolerate or condone racism. Perhaps there’s hope for humanity after all.

October 29, 2014 7:53 AM

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