Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Mighty Hunter, Walter Palmer

One has to wonder what major inadequacy Walter J. Palmer may have been trying to overcome that would have caused him to travel to Zimbabwe and pay over $50,000 to like-minded defectives in order to lure a much beloved lion outside the safety of a wildlife preserve? He was clearly trying to compensate for something given the fact that killing Cecil wasn’t enough for Walter the Mighty Hunter—no, he apparently wanted to make him suffer… either that, or he himself suffers from a severe lack of skill with his little bow and arrow. After being wounded and suffering for forty hours, Cecil was finally summarily executed… then he was decapitated and skinned. You refer to these as “trophies” Dr. Palmer? Hardly. A trophy is something kids win at spelling bees, or athletic events. There was nothing “sporting” about what you did, Doctor. In its way, what Palmer did seems as cold-blooded as one of the ISIS videos.

A study (last year) commissioned by the International Union for Conservation of Nature revealed there are only an estimated 400 lions remaining in the wild in the seventeen nations of West Africa. The population has decreased by almost 50% in the last two decades. As one might expect, this is due to a combination of factors: habitat loss, available prey, and humans who suffer the same blood lust that afflicts Dr. Palmer. It’s clear that Walter Palmer believes he’s entitled to kill whatever he desires, whenever he wants to do so. After all, he has the cash—right? Sorry, Dr. Palmer, but you are not entitled to destroy the beauty and majesty of nature at will. You and your fellow poachers have decimated the world’s population of lions, rhinos, and elephants to the point where their survival has become questionable. You must be so proud, mighty hunter.

Although there’s a measure of comfort to be had in fantasizing about what we might like to do to you and those of your ilk, the simple truth is we’re better than you. We can’t resurrect Cecil—or any of the other animals you’ve “taken” (that’s a truly sick euphemism you used in trying to justify your actions). So, apart from boycotting your business (River Bluff Dental @ 10851 Rhode Island Ave. S., Bloomington, Minnesota 55438), or calling said business (952-884-5361) to voice our disgust at your actions, you’re unfortunately free to resume being the mighty hunter you perceive yourself to be. It would be nice, however, if you were extradited back to Zimbabwe to face charges and a jail sentence.
In the meantime, the rest of us need to pressure our legislators to persuade the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to include lions on the endangered species list. Although it’s unenforceable outside the United States, it would ban the importation of all so-called “trophies” (hides, heads, etc.) that Dr. Palmer and his sort hold dear.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Paul LePage: Resign Already!

Let's cut to the chase: Paul LePage should finally do what's best for the people of Maine and resign as
Governor, effective immediately. Of course, the likelihood he'll see the wisdom in this suggestion is nil. Nonetheless,
a strong case can be made.
His first term in office amply demonstrated the fact that he is incapable of behaving like a rational
human being. Instead, he repeatedly embarrassed himself--not to mention the people and the state of Maine.
Nationally, he was widely perceived as a bullying demagogue who refused to engage in open discussion; let alone recognize the value in ever searching for compromise.
As the curtain rose on a second term (a fact that in itself defied all laws of logic)there were those who
somehow expected-- or hoped-- for a more contrite and diplomatic Paul LePage. Unfortunately it has quickly
become apparent that nothing has changed.
LePage had long been eager to risk the well-being of the state on the altar of Tea Party economics, and he quickly proposed a constitutional amendment to eliminate Maine's income tax. Then, incensed that Democrats in the legislature had the temerity to oppose him, he vowed to veto every bill sponsored by a Democrat until he got his way. The Legislature remained unwilling to force Maine onto the same road to financial ruin that Kansas is currently treading. Their Tea Party governor Sam Brownback rammed through deep income tax cuts that have resulted in a large budget deficit-- and not the huge growth in economic activity and revenues that he'd promised. Nevertheless, LePage threw a public tantrum (disguised as a press conference), complete with fake Christmas trees and plastic pigs. No one could be certain what it all meant, but it did make the national news where LePage--and Maine--once more became laughingstocks. LePage carried through on his threat and vetoed ten bills (nine of which were subsequently over-ridden), followed by sixty four line item vetoes aimed at derailing the bipartisan budget that had been presented for his signature. All sixty four vetoes were over-ridden by the Legislature in record time. Even many Republicans had reached a breaking point and were exasperated by his behavior.
LePage remained on a roll, however. When he discovered that the Good Will-Hinckley School (a boarding school for kids with complex academic, social, behavioral and emotional challenges) planned to hire Mark Eves (who also serves as the Democratic House Speaker) as President, he suffered a meltdown and notified the school's board that if they hired Eves they could kiss $500,000 in state funding goodbye. It was estimated that this might trigger an additional loss of $2 million in private funding--more than enough to threaten the school's survival. To no one's great surprise, the offer to Eves was rescinded.
Any story involving blackmail is likely to catch the media's attention--and this was no exception, but Maine was embarrassed yet again.
In all likelihood, Mr. Eves will sue Mr. LePage (at the very least LePage violated the First Amendment prohibition against using state funds to exact retribution against political opponents), so the story and the national fallout won't be going away anytime soon.
Now, as a result of such impetuous and arrogant behavior, discussion re: possible impeachment has naturally surfaced.
But Maine is saddled with failed policies that have left our economy ranked anywhere from 38th (America's Top States for Business) to 47th or 49th (Business Insider and Forbes, respectively); we can ill afford additional distractions courtesy of the Cirque du Paul LePage. If he really wants to do the right thing, he should resign. By stepping aside he could still the political waters, assist in healing the almost irreparable damage done to the relationship between the Blaine House and the Legislature, and pave the way for future bipartisan progress. The state of Maine deserves no less.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Greek Pain, German Shame

When Italy’s fascist dictator Benito Mussolini invaded Greece (through Albania) on 10/18/1940, he imagined a victory to rival the military successes amassed by his Axis partner in crime—the Fuhrer of the Thousand year Nazi Reich—Adolf Hitler. Instead, the Greeks defeated the Italian army and pursued them into Albania. Hitler was temporarily forced to divert his attention away from his plans to stab Russia in the back (which he still managed to do in June of 1941) and bail out Mussolini. With the bulk of the Greek army in pursuit of the Italians in Albania, Nazi Germany launched a brutal blitzkrieg into Greece (joined by an opportunistic Bulgaria) on 4/6/1941. The Germans invested 680,000 troops, 1200 tanks, and 700 aircraft. Greece fell in a matter of months. During the ensuing “triple occupation”, there was widespread starvation (an estimated 40,000 people died in Athens alone), and the Greek economy was destroyed. In addition, between 60-70,000 Greek Jews (81% of their original population) were murdered as Hitler pursued his deranged attempts to eliminate all the Jews in Europe.
Tens of thousands more Greeks died as a result of Nazi reprisals against freedom fighters and at the hands of collaborators. Ironically, many Nazi collaborators escaped punishment for their crimes and became a part of the ruling class in Greece following the defeat of the communists in the bloody civil war that followed on the heels of World War II.
In 1942, the Greek Central Bank had been forced to provide a 476 million Reichsmarks loan (at 0% interest) to Nazi Germany. In 1960, Greece accepted 115 million Marks as what they viewed as partial payment for Nazi crimes. However, in 1990, immediately preceding the unification of East & West Germany, those two German entities signed the Two Plus Four Agreement with the U.S., Britain, France, and the Soviet Union. The Germans claimed that all matters concerning World War II—including further reparations due to Greece—were closed because Germany had surrendered to the Allies and no one else!
However, the Germans and the Troika (European Central Bank, European Commission, and the International Monetary Fund) recently unleashed a second blitzkrieg against Greece, this time in the form of severely punitive austerity measures (for the privilege of remaining in the Eurozone) guaranteed to have a devastating effect on the entire population—except the oligarchy and the banks.
Angela Merkel’s favorite punching bag, the much beleaguered Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, recently renewed Greece’s demand for reparations from Germany—somewhere in the amount of 269-332 billion Euro.
Leading French economist Thomas Piketty has noted that Germany has “no standing” to lecture other nations about debt repayment, never having paid back its own debt after World War II. Instead, Piketty argues that the same debt relief extended to Germany following the war ought to be extended to Greece now. If this doesn’t happen, let’s at least hope that Greece takes their reparations case before the World Court, and prevails. Imagine a humbled Wolfgang Schauble and Angela Merkel visiting Athens to finally hand over such a check: from justice deferred to justice secured.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

"IMF Dirty MF"

This song was written by Bruce Cockburn, singer-songwriter and guitarist extraordinnaire, back in 1985. The IMF continues to place the interests of bankers, investors, and corporations above the needs of the poor. Its "structural adjustment policies" perpetuate an immoral system of modern day colonialism that's built on the weakening of labor laws & collective bargaining, the suppression of wages, trashing the environment, and continuing to relegate women around the world to a second-class status. Although it is funded with taxpayer money, the IMF continues to operate exclusively in the shadow world of central bankers and finance ministers. Most recently, the IMF has been a key member of the "troika"--who along with Germany-- appear hell bent on eviscerating the Greek people. The IMF is proof positive that the past is prologue.
I respectfully dedicate the following to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the people of Greece.


Padded with power here they come
International loan sharks backed with the guns
of market hungry military profiteers
Whose word is a swamp and whose brow is smeared
with the blood of the poor.

Who rob life of its quality
and render rage a necessity
by turning countries into labour camps
modern slavers in drag as champions of freedom.

Sinister cynical instrument
who makes the gun into a sacrament--
The only response to the deification
of tyranny by so-called "developed" nations'
idolatry of ideology.

North south east west
kill the best and buy the rest
It's just spend a buck to make a buck
you don't really give a flying fuck
about the people in misery.

IMF dirty MF
takes away everything it can get
Always making certain that there's one thing left
keep them on the hook with insupportable debt.

See the paid-off local bottom feeders
passing themselves off as leaders
Kiss the ladies shake hands with the fellows
and it's open for business like a cheap bordello.

And they call it democracy.
And they call it democracy.

See the loaded eyes of the children too
trying to make the best of it the way kids do
One day you're going to rise from your habitual feast
to find yourself staring down the throat of the beast
they call the revolution.

IMF dirty MF
takes away everything it can get
Always making certain that there's one thing left
keep them on the hook with insupportable debt.
And they call it democracy.