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Saturday, Apr 19th

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Editorial

Helping Amygdalas Jump to the Left

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Intellectual knowledge is one thing, and emotional experience is another.  This is one reason why it's "a darned shame" when you hear a friend's story of having compared ticket prices on the plane with fellow passengers, finding out he or she paid a couple hundred bucks more than any of the others for the same deal -- and why it's "a murderously cutthroat breakdown in society" when you are the one stuck with that extra-jumbo-jet of a bill.

Those differences are the birth pangs of empathy, so mutter away, and to your heart's content. Welcome to humanity.  We are not ants or otherwise able to experience the hive mind, so we have to grow our awareness and empathy fresh, every day.  And yes, tending that particular garden can be a real drag at times.

You can unexpectedly explode an expelled spew of coffee over a sudden comeuppance or shock of news, or choke without warning on a bite of food, or have your tongue trip over a sip of soup and collapse.  The causes of the so-called spit-take can be many.  Roll around some of these possibilities in your mind's eye, while swirling around some pleasant liquid or other in your figurative -- or literal -- mouth:

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The Sound of the Guns

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"The economy has collapsed! And it's Obama's fault!" That's the rightwing reaction to the 0.1% shrinking of the GDP in the 4th quarter, never mind that the year overall was pretty good considering the Republican agenda. The reality is that the GDP is being depressed by the loss of exports to Europe because of their idiotic austerity measures, and the reduction in military spending as the endless war on terror is finally coming to an end. That, and the Mitt Romney crowd's practice of closing down high tech factories and shipping them to China, - also the 'job creators who run corporate America are driving down wages.

The 'New Normal' of global warming, super storm Sandy, also had a significant impact on the GDP. And ironically, Obamacare has cut the amount of money draining into the insurance company/corporate hospital industrial complex. This also reduces the Gross Domestic Product.

Consumer confidence is down simply because nobody knows how to plan for the future when their job could disappear tomorrow in order to further line the pockets of people who can't even begin to spend the money they're making now. Not that the rich don't try, the super rich spend more on their lifestyles in a few months than the bulk of the Republican voting base can hope to make in a lifetime. Of course, the consequence of this is that as an ever increasing portion of our economy is sold to China, the more the rich need to squeeze from what's left to maintain the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

 

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We're Always Glad You Asked, Even If You Aren't

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When there are more years behind than ahead, contemplative stewing and meditative mulling is the operative daily mode.  That process clicks into place and idles away unaided.  It's sneaky, this mental program, having automatically installed itself at some point or other, perhaps when a certain number of breaths has been taken, or something similar.

It's very much like a perpetual motion machine you never knew you had -- one that kicks into gear suddenly and without warning, slipping any and all restraints, unexpectedly puttering and pottering around all by itself.  This latent skill is an intriguing discovery at any age, but especially when you think you've already got yourself fairly well figured out.  By now, you've sort of thought of yourself as pretty well knowing how to be -- and being -- you.

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Beware of Ting's Thing, Calif bill to force Internet voting

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by Bev Harris, founder of Blackboxvoting.org

California Assemblyman Phil Ting has proposed AB 19, a bill to require the California Secretary of State to implement an Internet voting pilot project.

They tell us Internet voting is secure. It's not. It's not secure, and can't be made secure, but that's not even the point.

The point is it's not transparent.
The whole premise in our Constitution is that we self-govern. To do that, the public must be able to see and authenticate essential processes, like who actually voted and the vote count, and that is not possible with Internet voting.

Internet voting transfers all control to whoever runs the server. (The server is just a computer that sits in a room -- and one Internet voting company, Scytl, has its server physically sitting in Spain.)

Internet voting gives the administrator complete control over the front end (who put the votes into the system) and the back end (the counting of the votes).

Internet voting is trying to come on with a vengeance, and not just in California. It is now imminent. Unless we are vigilant, many of us will be forced to vote online in 2014 and 2016. Lobbyists are at work to persuade your legislators to install Internet voting.

Political support has been secured from officials in several states. The governor of Hawaii has announced he wants Internet voting. Secretaries of State from Connecticut, West Virginia, Washington, and Oregon are already pushing online voting, and soon you'll hear about it near you. Federal bills promise cash to states that "expedite" their voting systems, with vague language as to what that means.

Because Americans are skeptical about Internet voting, politicians and reporters describe it as "smart phone voting" and "iPad voting." They also call it "convenience voting" but what they don't tell us is that, in exchange for convenience, we will lose the ability to self-govern.

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Coming to your mailbox, economic recovery?

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Remember when the credit card offers came in your mail by the handful? Those days maybe about to return. Credit card debt backed securities (they call them bonds now) are now the hot investment with tens of billions being issued by the big banks. The reason these new bonds are so popular is that investors are suddenly seeing credit card debt as a safe again. In fact they are so popular that they aren't paying returns all that much better than government bonds that pay hardly anything at all.

The reason for this that's being given by the business news is that consumers are newly reliable since all the 'bad risk' accounts have already gone bankrupt since 2008. But that would have been true last year and the year before that. The reason consumer bankruptcies are now seen an acceptable risk is that prior to Obamacare coming online, fully two thirds of bankruptcy filings listed medical debt as the primary cause. Health insurance companies are now required to pay the bills with no annual or lifetime caps and rescission is prohibited. That's where you think you have insurance until you actually need it,  - half of medical debt driven bankruptcy filers had insurance.

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Using the Same Words to Reveal or Conceal

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It's a chicken-and-egg sort of a situation, wondering how much language determines thought, and the amount that's the other way around.  Maybe there's no way to know which came first, or whether it's at all relevant -- or if "both" is the correct answer.

Somehow, I find it easy to get distracted by such chicken-and-egg considerations, especially whenever the feathers really get flying at the Congressional chicken coop, and when every besotted member of that prideful roost feels the urgent, imperious need to crow, squawk, cry, or flail around in the dirt and mud.

While it is not useful behavior, it does provide backers, constituents, and media a puffed-up show of Big Foul's power, I suppose.  (Although just why it is these chicken-hawks, chicken-hearts, and youngsters-playing-chicken would want to advertise such empty, boneheaded actions is anyone's guess.)

These periodic explosions of feathers and eruptions of busy-beaked cacophony are also twin signals that the adults have left the room, leaving the children to govern.  Thing is, all of these children are hitting the full stride of their Terrible Twos all at once, en masse, as a terrorizing group.

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zzzztttt!

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The mega store chain Walmart, that one that likes to drape itself in Red, White and Blue in order to better sell its Communist Chinese goods, has announced it will 'create' 100,000 jobs for military veterans. Why will it push 100,000 already poor people out of the way in favor of giving poverty wage jobs to the veterans of George Bush's imperialist follies? Because it will get hundreds of millions in cash from the government for doing so. They wouldn't do it otherwise, this isn't without risk. These people are trained in combat, and have served under fire...

 

Even more risky for Walmart is that these people have been instilled with certain 'liberal' values. Things like real teamwork, where all pull together for the whole, and 'no one is left behind', the kind of thinking the Walton family really doesn't want their workers to even dream about. After all, in just 30 years the five Walton heirs have accumulated  more wealth than the bottom 40% of the entire United States of America, and they're only getting started.

 

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