Friday, February 20, 2009

A Free Fall, of Sorts

If you've been keeping up with the news at all, you'll know that the stock market is for all intents and purposes, crashing. Some economists are starting to say that what we're witnessing could be the beginning of a financial crises that will make the Great Depression look like a picnic. Basically, it has never happened before that everything is falling so far, so fast.

Many people think that the stock market crash in 1929 was a singular event, something that happened overnight and left lasting repercussions. That isn't true at all. It was an overall gradual decline over a few years, punctuated by steep losses every few months.

Here are the charts from Yahoo! News:

The 1929 crash, and it's aftermath (Feb 1929 to Feb 1930).

The 2008 crash, and it's aftermath (Feb 2008 to Feb 2009).

If you notice, there's a great deal of similarity. However, the stock market now has lost more percentage-wise from the high of a year and half ago until today, than the stock market in 1929 did. The initial drop this time was lower, but the overall decline is what is frightening. The initial drop in 1929 was 40%, but by February the following year having recovered some, it was down 29% from it's high the year before.

Last October, the initial drop was "only" 21%, however the stock market is down as of today 48% from it's high a little under a year and a half ago. And it isn't going away anytime soon. If history is any indicator of anything, it's going to be one hell of a ride, in slow motion.

Anyone who has studied the Roman Empire knows that it didn't fall overnight. It was a gradual thing, something that happened so slowly that the people living through it might not have even noticed it until long after the fact. In many ways, Depressions are the same way. We know something is wrong, but we're not ready to call it a game yet.

On the bright side, all of this could have a very positive outcome. My grandmother used to tell me that "you can't take it with you." People are greedy and materialistic, and in all of this there is a lesson to be learned. Money is not everything. Oh, it's good to have for the purposes of having a roof over your head and food on the table, but do you really need another flat screen television for the kitchen/bathroom/garage/etc? Or the latest fashionable purse/shoes/etc? Or a car/house/boat/etc. that you can't really afford? Many people in this country are very spoiled, and in my humble opinion, they're going to have a very rude awakening before it's over with.

Money is Always More Important

You know, I think that Mrs. Clinton should really watch those Freudian slips or perhaps just shut the hell up. Why? Because every time she speaks, she manages to say something that makes my respect for her go one notch lower.

Today for instance it was reported that she said while speaking about China:

"But our pressing on [human rights] can't interfere on the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crisis..."

Yes, because money is always more important than life or human rights. I mean, think of all the things you can buy with money. Whereas, what can you buy with some China man's life half a world away? A life is obviously worth nothing to the politically powerful and wealthy. These are the same personality types that ruled Medieval Europe from their castles while the serfs who were practically slaves, did all the work and suffered.

Same shit, different day.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Monkey Mess

You may have heard about the row over the NY Post publishing a comic yesterday, depicting the writer of the Stimulus Package as a crazed chimpanzee. While I'm all for artistic freedom and against censorship, if the editor of said paper didn't see the firestorm that was going to ensue from it, they're an idiot.

The offending comic from the NY Post

And it *is* racist. If the President were a white guy, well, then the comic wouldn't have been offensive. But the President is black, and since historically black people have been depicted as monkeys, it's a racist comic. It doesn't take a genius to figure that one out.

Should they not publish it? Well, I say that's their prerogative, but they have to be willing to live with the fallout from it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Malkin and Her Short Memory

Lay the blame anywhere but where it belongs.

Ms. Malkin seems to think it's all Obama's fault that the stock market is in a free fall. She states that it's fallen 2k points since he was elected, never mind that he wasn't even in office for a majority of that time.

It couldn't possibly be the failed economic policies of the last decade. Nah, it couldn't possibly be the corruption, the deregulation, the lack of government oversight with the banks and mortgage lending. It couldn't possibly be the Republicans allowing all of the high paying factory work to be shipped to China or Mexico so that their crony CEO friends could make record profits and take home record bonuses of hundreds of millions of dollars while using slave wage labor in third world countries. It couldn't possibly be a Republican's fault.

When G. Dubya took office we had a budget surplus, which he quickly squandered. He also squandered a lot of other things too. The friendship and trust of our allies and the wealth of this country are just the tip of the iceberg to what that man and his administration squandered.

Malkin must have a very short memory, because from May of 2008 until G.Dubya Bush exited office on January 20, 2009 the stock market fell over 5,000 points. It went from over 13k to under 8k. In fact, since January 20th when Obama took office, until today, the stock market had been up a little bit on average. Of course, today it fell a lot, and I suspect it's going to continue that trend, as reversing the mismanagement of the previous administration isn't going to happen overnight.

I have a good friend who told me right after the election that she figured that the Republicans would prop up the economy the best they could until Obama took office, then they would not cooperate, and would let everything collapse and blame it all on Obama and the Democrats. That makes for a nice excuse for all sorts of fascist aspirations. I'll leave your imagination to that one.

Perhaps Malkin and her ilk, if they want to know the reason for the state our economy is in, they can go and look in the mirror. They voted for it, and they continue to advocate for failed policies.

The blame lies at their own feet.

Pakistan and the Taliban

This isn't good for anyone.

The Pakistani government has given the northwest part of the country to the Taliban, citing that was what the residents of the area wanted. Codswallop. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled the region and some of the women who fled spoke out against it in Islamabad, insisting that it's not what the residents there want.

The Taliban there have torched schools and school girls, have murdered their opponents, and Pakistan's government thinks that the people there are going to speak out against the Taliban? It's like asking a hostage with a gun to his head whether or not he likes the hostage taker.

So what does some remote part of Pakistan have to do with anything or anyone, other than the unfortunate people stuck there? This is roughly 100 miles from Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. What no one in the press is saying, is that Pakistan has nuclear weapons. It has just conceded a large chunk of land as a safe haven, to a terrorist organization that would like nothing more than to have the entire world follow Sharia law and for women to be silent and hidden, or dead.

If the Taliban has a foot hold here, what prevents them from attempting to topple the government, or attempting to acquire nuclear weapons in Pakistan? Meanwhile we have squandered the goodwill of our allies, wasted money, time and resources fighting an unnecessary war in Iraq, when the real danger was in Afghanistan as a ton of military experts have been screaming for years. Now we have merely pushed these people over the border and have come closer to causing general upheaval in nuclear armed Pakistan.

The world, quite mad, sits by and does nothing, as usual.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lies and Liars, or Why Do You Want a Theocracy?

I love history. A lot. It's like a drug for me. I read a ton of it. And when people take and twist history into something that it never was, it really pisses me off. I think that may well be an understatement.

So when I read this:

I thought I might break my teeth from clenching my jaw.

These bastards, and yes that's exactly what they are for rewriting and covering up history (and the author of this piece isn't alone), get no respect from me. I can get past the fact that he doesn't like our new president, to the point of calling him by his middle name as an insult. I can get past the fact that he thinks the way things are going is wrong. You have an opinion, fine, but state it with the FACTS. I can disagree with you, you can disagree with me, and we can still get along. However I don't get along at all with LIARS. Because if you lie to me once, I have no further cause to *ever* believe anything you say to me at any later date.

This country was never a Christian nation. I know that these people wish that it had been, that was really why the Puritans came here, not for religious freedom for everyone, but for themselves. However, by the grace of whatever god you want to thank, the founders had a depth of sense and foresight rarely matched in any other age, including our own. I cannot reiterate this enough. They had something that only comes around every once in a great while. And I can tell you, it ain't here now.

While some of the founders were Christian, many weren't. Many were deists, and others such as Thomas Jefferson, were accused of being atheists for failing to mention or worship god enough to suit the preachers of their day. The Constitution of the United States, that document that all Presidents are sworn to "defend against all enemies, both foreign and domestic" was lambasted in newspapers while it was being ratified as an atheistic document because it failed to mention god. Jefferson caught most of the heat for it too.

Grant Swank, the writer of the above article, obviously hasn't studied the subject or read any of Jefferson's letters, which are available online or he would know that this wasn't a country founded as a Christian Theocracy. Some choice tidbits from Thomas Jefferson:

"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between church and State." Letter to Danbury Baptist Association, 1 January 1802

"History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes." Letter to Alexander von Humboldt, 6 December 1813

And those are just two small examples of what Jefferson thought about religion when used in conjunction with government. There are dozens more. There are also attacks on Jefferson in the opinion section of many papers of the day. See, nothing really changes! He wrote in 1800 in a letter to his friend Benjamin Rush that the preachers who were lambasting him in Sunday church services while he was running for president, did indeed have cause to fear him.

"The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes, & they [the clergy] believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: & enough too in their opinion, & this is the cause of their printing lying pamphlets against me..."

The bolded phrase there is carved into marble on the rotunda of Jefferson's memorial in Washington D.C. When Jefferson speaks of tyranny, he doesn't just mean political tyrants, he also means religious ones as well. So, Jefferson is just one president, what about others? I think one of the most telling documents, and often quoted is the Treat of Tripoli. Article 11 states:

"As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

This treaty was to assure the citizens of Tripoli that we would not wage a religious war with them, as our government was not Christian and had nothing against the Muslims there. It was *unanimously* passed in the Senate of the United States on 7 June 1797 and signed into law by President John Adams. If it had been so abhorrent to said Senators, why was there not a single vote against it? Unless of course, they believed what the document said.

So the real question is, why did the founders and early law makers in this country shy away from religion in government? Notice, I didn't say shy away from religion in general. Many of them were religious. They didn't feel that religion had a place in government for more reasons than one. If you look back at history, it becomes startlingly clear as to why they didn't want religion in government. In Europe, religion was what ran the state and it didn't turn out well. Besides the specter of the Inquisition from the medieval period through the Renaissance, if you didn't belong to the official state religion, you couldn't hold office. Indeed, this was the case in many of the colonies, where in Massachusetts Bay Colony you had to be Puritan to hold office, which was the reason why Rhode Island was founded. In the south, especially in Virginia, you had to be Anglican or Episcopal to hold office, a hold-over from the Old World, as many of the colonist there were of English decent. But that was prior to the founding of the United States as a nation, and the founders upon uniting the colonies into the United States sought to do away with that.

Indeed the only mention of religion in the Constitution, is article six. " religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." Soon after most states did away with the religious tests too.

These people who seek to institute theocracy in this country are traitors to the Constitution. I don't say that lightly, nor with any humor. It's not funny. One need only look at Iran and Saudi Arabia to see how theocracies work in the modern era. You don't even need a history book for that one. All one has to do is read Yahoo! news. In theocracies, the People are never in charge. It's always the clergy of the religion, and they choose the leaders. Or a dictator, who uses the clergy as his puppets. In theocracies, it is religious law that trumps any other law. Do we really want Biblical law in this country? Girls, do you want to be able to be sold into slavery? (Exodus 21:7) Are you a teacher and a female? Well, you're out of a job! A female student? Better shut the hell up! (1 Timothy 2:11-12)

If you think you'd like a Christian Theocracy, because well, you're a Christian, think again. Which version of Christianity? There's a ton of different sects in this country. Which one wins? Think about that.

Don't let it be too late.


"I hated the growing atheistic movement, which was fostered and promoted by the Social Democrats and the Communists. Their hostility toward the Church made me pin my hopes on Hitler for a while... I am paying for that mistake now; and not me alone, but thousands of other persons like me."--Martin Niemöller

A Beginning

So, I've decided after a lot of posting at other people's blogs that I really ought to just start my own. This blog will be about politics and religion, and the massive disconnect that it causes between people. There are few other subjects that can get people so riled up and ready to burn and destroy things than those two subjects. It's as if people who are passionate about their party or their religion, the second they hear something that doesn't fit with what they want to hear, they shut their ears and scream bloody murder. It doesn't matter that most of the arguments put forth in no way effect them, it's enough that they perceive it as an affront to their public leader or to their god.

It also seems that there are certain powers that seek to divide us, the People of the United States, who are supposed to be in charge. Now, being the majority doesn't give you the right to run roughshod over the minority. Indeed, being the majority requires that you protect the minority, lest you lose all of *your* freedoms as well.