US Secret Detention Centers Around The World

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Big Government?

This happened in Turkmenistan:

“In January 2006 one-third of the country’s elderly had their pensions discontinued, while another 200,000 had theirs reduced. Pensions received during the prior two years were ordered paid back to the state.”

That’s what the Tea Party’s gonna want to do next.

 

The tea party doesn’t care about jobs. And more broadly speaking, neither do the Republicans. This whole defeicit thing isn’t really a big issue. Not when unemployment is so high. Not when the economy is in the tank. And the economy is not suffering because of the defiecit. This whole “oh, my grandchildren are going to pay for this”. Umm. What? This whole thing is so distorted.

Republicans have this thing about government. They think it’s evil. They rail against “big government”. This is ideological. They want to defund that government because they don’t believe in it. The Environmental Protection Agency? Big government. The Federal Aviation Administration? Big government. Medicaid for children whose parents can’t afford private insurance? You guessed it. Big government.

It’s insane. I learned back in my basic economics class that when you need to raise employment and grow the economy, the government needs to increase spending. Nothing good can come of slashing the budget by billions of dollars. It will only hurt us, because we’re not cutting the things we really do need to cut (*cough* defense). Shame on you, Republicans. Shame on you, Tea Party. And shame on you Democrats in Congress, and also on you, President Obama.

You know when Speaker Boehner says that he got 98% of what he wanted in this deal, it is not going to be good. And if that’s true – that he got that much of what he wanted – that’s a pretty pathetic compromise, guys. Not a compromise at all. Where is the voice of the working class? So much for shared sacrifice.

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Vegan Update – Day 6

I did pretty good this week. On Friday, I fell and ate a breakfast taco and some chocolate. But that’s it. I’d say that’s pretty good, for a cold turkey vegan. Overall, I feel much better when I’m eating vegan. The coconut milk creamer for my coffee tastes like heaven, and I’m actually eating breakfast – I bring a little bowl of blueberries, raspberries and nuts. And I found some delicious trail mixes at the nearby organic store.

Grocery Shopping

 

Thai Rice With Lemon & Vegetables

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What I Ate: Day 1

Cashews, sunflower seeds, raspberries, blueberries, baked sweet potato wedges, wheat thai-noodles with vegetables, brown rice, coffee with coconut milk, pigs-in-a-blanket with smart dogs, non-dairy ice cream sandwhich, green tea.

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Going Vegan for 1 Week – Introduction

Tomorrow I am going Vegan for seven days. Ultimately I would like to be Vegan, or mostly Vegan, but it’s been awhile since I’ve been too careful with how I eat, so I’m going for a trial run. I did go raw a couple of years ago. It was good, but I had hardly any money at the time and didn’t have a lot of access to fresh produce and more “exotic” ingredients, so it didn’t last long.

I started my journey today at Sprouts Farmer’s Market. I bought some of my favorite fruits and vegetables – carrots, broccoli, dark purple grapes, apples and blueberries – and various kinds of granola, raw and unsalted cashews, organic flax seed bread. I even got some non-dairy organic ice cream bars and smart dogs.

I’m sure the first few days aren’t going to be a problem. I generally don’t eat a lot of meat, and I do love vegetables. I’m excited to try out some vegan recipes – including pigs-in-a-blanket with the meat-free hot dogs (or, the pigs are safe in the barn, as the recipe goes) and apple crisp. I sometimes drink coffee in the morning at work, so I got some coconut milk coffee creamer. All together, I only spent $40 for what I estimate to be about a weeks worth of food.

I’m not going vegan because I’m against people eating meat, or dairy. I’m not going to be protesting people wearing fur or marching in any PETA rallies. I really don’t have any ethical problems with eating meat or dairy itself – I do have moral issues with factory-farms and slaughterhouses, which is admittedly where the vast majority of meat and dairy products consumed in the U.S. come from. I’ve been doing a lot of research into the health benefits of going vegan, and it turns out that dairy isn’t all that good for you. I’ve read this before – milk is meant for calves, not humans, and that it is thanks to the lobbying of the dairy industry that we’re bombarded from a young age with the so-called benefits of dairy (Got Milk?). Big surprise there.

I’ll be updating my 7+ day journey with photos, recipes and thoughts, as well as my usual political banter. It’s been very hard finding the time to actually write out my thoughts, although there is never a slow day with news and issues that desperately need my commentary.

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Thoughts, July 15th 2011

This entire past week has been so disgusting. Republican’s are refusing to give an inch, because they want to keep every .0001% of tax cuts to the wealthy. They’re willing to slash public health care, social security, workers pensions, food and nutrition support for poor families – “everything’s on the table” except taxes (and the defense budget, don’t let them fool you).

I have always said – even when he was running – that President Obama is a very moderate leader. He has been demonized by the Right for being an extremist, a socialist, whatever, but the truth is, he is far less extreme than Bush was, far less extreme than McCain was, (We’ll stay in Iraq for a thousand years!) and he has been so willing the past three years to concede everything from the public option, the Bush tax cuts and slashing budgets to the Right that him being anything Left of center is crazy talk.

The Republican party is all about ideology. First, there is the ultra-rich. The multimillionaires, the billionaires. The tiny group of people that control over 90% of our wealth. They are Republicans because they don’t want to pay taxes, they don’t think that owning such a huge slice of the pie means they should do anything to help the vast majority of the population (who works for them, when they’re not getting laid off – assuming they can even find a job). These are the people who are pro-war, because war is profitible for so many industries, they are against regulation because that means they can do whatever they want – they don’t have to clean up their environmental disasters, they can manipulate the markets and their finances to pay no taxes at all, they want to change the laws so that it’s nearly impossible for consumers to sue for damages caused by products – the list is endless.

The second group of Republicans are the religious right. These so called “values voters”, usually evangelical Christians (or Mormon) vote with their Bible, not with their brains. They oppose abortion; support countless and endless war (it’s all in God’s hands). They say that legalizing same sex marriages destroys communities and the entire network of social fabric but deny that our (gay, straight, bi – everyones) lifestyles are actively destroying the planet, even in the face of rising sea levels, soaring temperatures, freak storms, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. (I guess it doesn’t matter.. Jesus will be here soon and then it doesn’t matter.)

Of course there is a very small group of “other”. People who are neither religious nor rich, but style themselves “Libertarians”, or some crazy thing. They’re not all bad (or crazy), but the vast majority are.

The tea party is what the founding fathers feared most;  people who are ignorant of how the world works coming to power.

Bill Maher

Basically, the Right is anti-government.

Here’s the facts. In our age of global economies, multi-national corporations who hold more wealth than many nations put together, we need a strong central government, controlled by the people and  for the people to protect us from them. The government should absolutely regulate these industries. Who thinks the oil markets can regulate themselves? Republicans do! Hell, the oil markets can barely regulate themselves when they’re heavily regulated!

Companies, industries and corporations are all single-purpose organisms. THEY EXIST TO MAKE MONEY. The government, on the other hand, was set up (by the Constitution that these Republicans supposedly adore) to protect the citizens from oppression. I’m not saying all companies and businesses are bad. And I’m not denying that there will always be a level of corruption in government. Power begets corruption. In the private and the public sector. But there has to be balance. We need regulation to protect out environment, our drinking water, our soil, our food, our pharmaceuticals, our toys – everything. The private sector isn’t nearly as self-correcting as was once believed.

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My letter to Verizon Wireless

I recently switched my wireless service. I am now paying $25 a month for unlimited data and messages on my new android with Virgin Mobile. I canceled the data service on my blackberry (data alone was $30 a month) and as soon as my contract is up in 2 months, I will be canceling my family plan as well.

In the United States, Virgin Mobile is owned by Sprint, who actually comes out in support of net neutrality. I would much rather have gone with Credo Mobile, however their plans are a little pricey for me right now.

I have been disgusted with Verizon Wireless for awhile now. Not just because of their high prices – nearly $200 a month for 4 phones, only one of which has any kind of data/messaging plan – but because of their opposition to net neutrality, their psuedo-monopoly (along with AT&T) of the wireless market in the US and because of their financial support of radical Republican politicians, including the tea party (AT&T also donates big money to the tea party).

So I switched my service, so far I love it. I also sent the following in an email to a few of the Verizon Wireless executives as well as customer service. Hopefully it reaches someone and makes the slightest difference. I encourage everyone else to, as consumers, take control of your money. Money is what runs our country these days, and the only way our leaders – corporate or elected – will listen to us is by changing the way we spend that money.

I have been a contracted customer for almost six years now, and I have had enough. I have paid $30 a month for the past three years for my blackberry data plan. The network itself is great, I have never had a dropped call, I almost never have had to talk to customer service. But I am sick of spending an additional $30 a month for data. My family plan is almost $200 every month! Insane!

However, the most concerning issue for me is your corporate political stance. You openly argue against net neutrality. Protecting a free and open internet – free and open to everybody, regardless of how they are logging on – is very, very important and you have publically stated your opposition and donate corporate money to politicians who will do your bidding in Washington. And worst of all, you have donated money to the tea party. That is lowest of the low, and I refuse to do business with anyone who supports that.

I refuse to give you another penny of my money. As of yesterday, I removed all extra data and messing plans from every phone on my plan, and when my contract is up in the next couple of months we will not be renewing. I have switched my service over to another service, a company that is cheaper and ethical. I just had to let you know how disgusted I am with your company policies and as a result am refusing to do any business with you in the future.

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More GOP Hypocricy

Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey gave a speech today in his state, citing his fellow Republican governors in Ohio and Wisconsin who are working very hard to fulfill the Tea Party “mandate” to cut the size of government and the deficit – by destroying unions and public service workers right to collective bargaining.

Gov. Christie: “In Wisconsin and Ohio, they have decided there can no longer be two classes of citizens: one that receives rich health and pension benefits, and all the rest who are left to pay for them.”

Let’s look at what is happening in Wisconsin that is causing the governor, Scott Walker to take such extreme actions. It is the deficit that everyone has been talking about, and states, like the federal government, are having problems managing and handling their debt.  Gov. Walker talks about his states $137 million state deficit, but he won’t talk about the $117 million he gave to corporations and big business in tax breaks.

Now back to this “two classes of citizens” Gov. Christie was talking about. Yes, there are two classes of citizens in this country, at the very least. And they broadly can be defined as the ultra rich, and the working poor. The economic recession that has cost millions of people their jobs, working class families losing their homes, their retirement plans, their savings – these are the people that, although they had nothing to do with the economic collapse directly – are being hurt by it. The recession was caused by deregulation and catering to the whims of Wall Street and big bank executives who actually made money off the recession. There is a class of people in this country who thrive on greed, and won’t be sated until the government “of the people, by the people, for the people” has been privatized. And Republicans, with the help of spineless Democrats, are all too happy to help them.

But, Gov. Christie, the way to solve the class problem in America is not by taking away the rights of working class people to unionize and fight for fair pay and benefits – it is to stop battle axing taxes for the wealthiest Americans and most profitable corporations, it is to seek and stand up for regulations that help the American people and the environment, because obviously, profit-driven businesses aren’t going to take responsibility to do it themselves, no matter how much you think the market is going to regulate itself. The BP gulf oil spill last spring is a perfect example of how the market does NOT regulate itself. That is why we have a government – to protect the people from tyranny. Except now, the tyranny is not a foreign monarch – it is the bloated, war mongering, profit-crazed vampiric corporations that take tax payer money in subsidies (corporate welfare), outsource every job they possibly can, and lobby incessantly for lower taxes, more subsidies and less regulation. (Also on funding “grassroots” movements like the Tea Party).

The GOP and the Tea Party celebrated their taking of the House of Representatives in November as a populist mandate for change in our government – is this the change that the American people asked for? Republican politicians threatening to slash unemployment benefits, social security, medicare, education, the EPA, public broadcasting and Planned Parenthood while continuing to spend billions in Iraq (Mission Accomplished??), millions in handouts to corporations whose profits are already skyrocketing, and tax cuts to the richest 1%?

No it is not. But it is the change the CEO’s asked for, and they, unlike the government, are not elected and are not (supposed to be) working for the benefit of the American people.

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