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Remembering the sacrifices of our own citizens is not enough. We also need to remember those our country has killed in the wars we have waged.
The Right To Keep And Bear Slaves
What does the Second Amendment to the US Constitution have to do with slavery? EVERYTHING! The 2nd Amendment was created to protect Southern slave-patrol militia. Southern states feared they would be disarmed and lose control of their slaves.
Art In My Front Yard
Glendale Arizona wanted to destroy my art project. I stood firm and argued for my artistic freedom. I won.
GIVE PEACE A CHANCE
The Dove of Peace flies from site to site through as many countries as possible. Please help it make a line around the globe by taking it with you to your site, by giving it to someone for their site, by passing it on to another continent, or to the conflict areas of the world...
My thanks to Cosmic Rose
As four long years of the worst and most dangerous Presidency in our history come to an end, we have averted many threats to our democratic institutions because good people resisted, opposed, and finally defeated the would-be tyrant. Even in better times, we will need to remember to stand up to racism and bigotry of all kinds, insist on truth and justice, and know that all humans deserve to be treated with fairness, respect, and empathy.
The Cosmic Cabdrivers' Guide to the Universe, in its various sections and blog pages, is dedicated to providing useful information and stimulating thoughts, ideas, and humor for intelligent beings everywhere, seeking peace, justice, and equal prosperity for all. Contributions and feedback are welcome.As President Obama said, the obligation of a citizen does not end at the voting booth.
The people need to SPEAK OUT--to write, call, march; demonstrate! We must condemn bad policies and demand good ones. We need to to take control of foreign policy, not let it control us. Military and economic aggression must be stopped. Covert subversion must stop. Our domestic policies should reflect our ideals and influence the world by good examples of equality, empathy, and humanitarian justice.
But our obligation to act STARTS at the voting booth. Our duty to THINK about that action, to understand how essential it is, to understand how much is at stake for our nation, and for the world, comes long before that. DO NOT LISTEN to the misguided who tell you it doesn't matter, that there is no difference.
Income inequality is still getting worse. Immigration is not reformed. Warmongers threaten diplomacy and make peace harder to achieve. Even basic gun control laws are blocked. American citizens are being denied voting and reproductive rights in many states. We are not doing nearly enough to promote clean energy and protect our climate, all because of obstructionist Republicans who are elected by voters controlled by prejudice and corporate propaganda, allowed to win by the apathy of the cynics.
The Cosmic Rat
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The people should be the deciders! We should have a National Referendum for any proposed war or hostile military action.
CLIMATE CHANGE: CO2.EARTH
Earth's latest data for atmospheric CO2
We are not winning the struggle to reduce excess carbon dioxide. It is getting worse, and climate change is already showing adverse consequences. Click above for more information.
Human population growth worldwideis a matter of great concern. It is the underlying cause for excessive CO2 pollution and poverty and hunger in many places. If Earth is to be our sustainable home for future generations, we must control our birth rate.
The US Census Population Clock shows current populations of the US and the world
Census data is important for another reason, here in the US, projecting FUTURE population numbers and categories. The GOOD news here is that we will be a more diverse country Minority populations often subject of prejudice and discrimination will, in a few decades, have a combined population greater than than the whie people now in the majority. This will make it much harder for white nationalists to have political power..
Projections of the Size and Composition of the U.S. Population: 2014 to 2060
Wikileaks, founded by Julian Assange, has contributed enormously to revealing truth that the public deserves and needs to know. It is perhaps the most important web phenomenon of the decade. Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning, nominee for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize, revealed through Wikileaks video documentation of an incident in which American soldiers gunned down Reuters journalists in Iraq, and many documents which helped to fuel a worldwide discussion about American overseas engagements, civilian casualties of war, imperialistic manipulations, and rules of engagement.
Manning deserves lasting honor and respect for his courageous act.. President Obama rightly commuted his sentence. A full pardon would have been better.
Assange, essentially under house arrest in London, should be freed from the threat of prosecution. Whether one agrees or not with what is published, freedom of the press must be protected.
Assange, probably out of anger and frustration, allowed his once noble creation to be used to impact the 2016 election, which was not up to its past honorable principles.
Revealing what governments hide from their people, and making useful information free to the public are noble acts of journalism. Publishing private email to influence a democratic election is sleazy, and contributes to the worst tactics of political campaigning.
Wikileaks' past achievements should always be an inspiration for those dedicated to truth and freedom of information.
Through the Looking Glass Links to over 700 mirror sites for Wikileaks
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Seattle, Washington... Phoenix Arizona
Edmonton, Alberta... Kansas City, Missouri.
St. Petersburg Florida... Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
London, England... Vilnius Lithuania,
Tel Aviv, Israel... Baghdad, Iraq
Phoenix, Arizona, USA
(Home of CosmicRat)
St. Petersburg, Florida
Birthplace of CosmicRat)
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The Affordable Care Act represents the greatest advance in providing healthcare to Americans since Medicare. More improvements are needed, but in the meantime, use it, appreciate it, and tell your friends.
The two estimates below of Iraqi war deaths have different totals. The first, lower number is bad enough, considering the war was unjustifiable.. Read the explanations to decide which is more accurate.
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The Trap of IndividualismThe ideology that calls itself conservative often promotes policies and acts in ways that seem not to make sense, and use tactics without principles, except to win at any cost.
One thing that tells us is that the ideology is secondary to the purpose. Usually we think in terms of an ideal, or set of ideals, inspiring a plan of implementation. With conservatives, it is the opposite. Their motivation is simple: greed. The ideology is built around the purpose of allowing an elite minority to continue to exploit the majority, who they hope to convince is an acceptable state of affairs, or at least prevent from effectively offering resistance.
An article I recently read on the subject of the American gun culture and the promotion of the Second Amendment revealed some insight into a key aspect of the devious design of the manufactured ideological web, and how it serves them.
From 'Operation Wetback' to Newtown: Tracing the Hick Fascism of the NRA
The right to bear arms, an amendment that has been twisted loose from its original purpose, resulting in a heavily armed population in a society where that is not only useless but dangerous as well, serves to give gun owners a sense of personal power that is only an illusion. It turns them from a part of a society to a collection of individuals, distrusting other individuals, unable and unwilling to cooperate and organize with others to defend their common interests.
Individualism: It sounds like a very positive concept. We are all individuals, with the right to be ourselves, say what we like, and do things in our own, perhaps nonconformist, way.
But there is another side to individualism, and that is the side the conservatives use against us. Human beings are at their most effective when they work together to achieve common goals. That is the very basis of human civilization. Sharing our knowledge, discoveries, and effort is what built our fantastic advances in technology, science, and art. It has also enabled us to free ourselves from tyrannies.
Human beings would not exist today if we had not learned to cooperate. Every living being has a drive for self-preservation, but we and other social animals evolved an innate tendency toward group preservation. Individually, we are vulnerable; together, we survive and prosper. Empathy is a vital survival trait. We often help and protect others, at risk to ourselves. Groups in which members did not have that instinct usually failed.
Beyond mere survival, our social nature, as we developed our ability to communicate, share, and pass on knowledge and ideas to future generations, made us the dominant species we are today. Of course we don't all think alike or have the same abilities. Our individual nature is also important, resulting in new ideas, inventions, and specialization.
When our ancestors reached the point of building structures, devices, and organization enabling us to be reasonably sure of daily survival, some, having acquired more wealth than others, began to believe that they did not need the rest of society. They felt that their wealth and the power it enables made them independent of, and superior to, the majority of their fellow human beings.
This was an illusion then, as it is now. It not only ignores the history of collective human contributions to reach the current level, but the interdependent support of the entire population. This thought of being apart from the masses is nevertheless attractive because it seems to excuse the elite from responsibility for their impact on the rest of society.
It has never been too difficult for the ordinary people to realize that the wealthy elite at any point in history use their power to obtain much more than their fair share of available resources with little or no regard for those they exploit for material gain. The wealthy and powerful know this, and the cost of their position is to live with a degree of fear that their power will not protect them from a unified and purposeful mass of common people, once those people decide that inequality and injustice have gone too far.
In the past, alliance with an autocratic government was good insurance for the elite. It was the basis for feudalism, and, as industrialism developed, a marriage of state and corporate power, as in the British Empire, or fascism. The fascism of Nazi Germany was very attractive to some American capitalists, at least until the war made their advocacy 'politically incorrect'.
In a democracy, wealth and power must rely on two methods: direct financial influence on elected representatives and propaganda to influence the electorate. They have been quite successful with both in the US.
Perhaps the most insidious and effective themes of propaganda is the promotion of individualism as an ideal opposed to collective organization and action. With this twisted notion of opposing the two complementary traits which have actually together built our civilization, they seek to isolate each person from every other person.
As the above linked article points out, the individual 'right' to own and carry firearms, no matter how unnecessarily deadly, gives the owner the illusion of personal power and independence, while increasing his level of distrust and fear of every other person, especially if there are perceivable differences between them.
Those who attempt to organize people for collective action are portrayed as wanting to rob others of their individuality. Naturally the excesses of communist governments fed into this line of propaganda for many years, and was so pervasive that it is still useful.
The propaganda seeks to label any idea but unregulated capitalism as 'communist' or 'socialist'. Over the last 40+ years the definitions have been escalated to the point of attacking the reforms by Roosevelt and those who followed him that actually saved capitalism from itself.
Even democracy has been attacked, both rhetorically and tactically by those seeking to limit the right to vote. Democracy is, after all, the ultimate in collective, cooperative action. It enables the majority, who are not rich and powerful, to limit the priveleges of the 1% to control their lives.
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Health boundaries can permanently impair and range from misdiagnoses to stress.
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What does SOCIALISM mean in the US?There will be deliberate confusion and misinformation spread by Trump and the right-wing Republicans who support him. A clear idea of what Democratic Socialism, or Social Democracy, means, and what it does not mean, should be kept in mind by everyone.
Using the word SOCIALISM does not mean that Democrats are much further to the left on the political scale. In fact, Republicans have gone MUCH further to the right, while Democrats continue to support equality and the common people. But for too long, socialism has been used as an epithet, a negative accusation, by the right wing, and it is time that its meaning be understood.
Most advanced economies, including the US, have a blend of socialism and capitalism in their economic systems. Private enterprise operates with capitalism. Businesses where competition exists, and where consumers can compare before buying, generally do no public harm. The competition usually serves to keep them accountable in price and quality. Democratic Socialists do not seek to change that.
As we know, some services are best done by the government on behalf of the people. Others, if provided by private companies, must be tightly regulated by the government because they are practical monopolies, or because competition does not serve to self-regulate them. Some products and services, even when competition controls prices, must be regulated for public safety.
Naturally, we have a degree of socialism in the US, but in some areas it is lacking compared with the ideal found in most advanced economies. In particular, health care, for which almost every developed country has a government-based system to insure access by their citizens, has been seriously deficient for decades in the US. The ACA greatly expanded insurance coverage, but depends too heavily on private insurance companies. As a result we still pay more for health care than any other nation, yet rank far behind in health outcome.
Higher education has become far too expensive, making it accessible only to the wealthy or via huge loans that burden students for many years afterward, and result in having to choose high-income occupations to study for, even if they were not the primary interest or ability of the student.
Problems such as these are the focus of Democratic Socialism. It does not replace or impair the capitalist portion of the economy, which does not and cannot solve these issues. It is the task of a government of the people to protect the vulnerable and disadvantaged among us.
Capitalism by itself creates a society in which a relative few become very wealthy, and a majority range from moderate incomes to extreme poverty. The disparity between these groups becomes wider with time. In the past, this has led to a desire to do away with capitalism altogether, but what has worked best has been to find the right balance between socialism and capitalism
It is our goal to create that proper balance, using means that have been proven to work in other successful countries, adapting them to work harmoniously in our own. Enabling all of us to have access to health care and education will not only benefit those with lower incomes, but also produce a much healthier and better educated nation for us all.
THE SECRET TO SURVIVAL
Human beings have been around for about 200,000 years. Compared to many of our fellow animal species, we are not physically very impressive, yet we not only survived but thrived, expanding our numbers almost everywhere on Earth.
We didn't achieve that by stubbornly refusing to change how and where we lived in the face of the many challenges. Changing to adapt has been our secret to success.
Fortunately, it was not until after we had developed civilization and technology to the point where some felt invincible to life's hazards, that the concept of conservatism was invented.
Naturally enough, those who felt safer and wealthier than most, did not want anything to change. Sometimes they succeeded in preventing change for a time, until events or the less fortunate demanded it. When conservatives gain too much power, they can become an impediment to survival, not only their own but everyone else's too.
That's right, conservatives are a handicap to human survival. That is not to say that being cautious and carefully planning changes is a problem. That is not what conservatives do. They impede all progress that they believe contrary to their self-interest of grasping wealth and power.
This country has needed significant change for years. Progressive leaders and members of the public have long advocated it. We have fallen behind many other free democracies.
One of the biggest problems has been our medical care non-system, consisting of a disorganized collection of health professionals, profit-seeking insurance companies and providers of equipment and medicine, serving the acquisition of wealth, but not so much those who need the care. This situation in normal times impoverishes the non-wealthy when they have serious illness, causing more personal bankruptcy than any other problem. Preventative care is often skipped due to the cost. Despite spending more than any other country, we are a less healthy nation as a result.
But the other problem of our non-system becomes most evident when there is a virus pandemic like we now have. Without a national health authority, there can be little preparation for emergencies. Future needs are not profitable until the need arises. There is no way to mandate the stockpiling of supplies, equipment, and hospital rooms that, when epidemics occur are needed immediately.
A Federal health agency with the power to assure such preparedness is needed, along with a system to share the cost of health care among all, assuring that all in need can be treated.
We like progress
The capacity of humanity to innovate and embrace change is undeniable. The advent of computers, the internet, and cellphone networks are obvious evidence. We lived without them once, but now consider them almost indispensable.
And, now that there is an urgent need for physical distance from one another, we are seeing that technology that was only convenient and fun becoming an essential tool that allows us to be social without touching, and for many to work without leaving home.
Using these systems, and adding innovations to them, we can maintain distances needed for health for extended periods without becoming frustrated and lonely. We can enjoy virtual interaction without practical limitation.
The more difficult problem to solve is to maintain work-based income in businesses that depend on physical proximity-- restaurants, theaters, sports events, concerts, public transportation, etc. Having to shut down most of these activities puts many out of work. And we must avoid the temptation to re-commence them prematurely.
Clearly a safety net needs to be implemented for as long as required. There is no need to allow excessive financial hardship in addition to the danger from the virus. Continued income will maintain consumer demand for goods and services that can still be provided.
We should look for alternative projects to provide employment in activities that can continue safely. This would be an excellent time to repair and improve our infrastructure, to build new carbon-free energy installations.
Some might consider it outrageously disproportionate that a an organism much too tiny to see can change an enormous nation. Yet we know that viruses, bacteria, insects are parts of the forces of nature, just as powerful as earthquakes, hurricanes, and tidal waves in their own way. We, too, as part of humanity, are a force of nature, changing the global climate by our collective acts.
The tiny virus has changed America already, and we may think it a temporary adaptation, but it has awakened us to the need for permanent change.
It has been written that the virus has called our bluff. Those who believed that we could exist sustainably as a loose collection of individuals, wavering between cooperation and independent disregard of the whole, have seen our vulnerability exposed.
Those who thought leadership didn't matter, that any idiot could be President, and managed to elect such an idiot, are, along with the rest of us, reaping the chaos they sowed.
If this virus doesn't teach us that we need to cooperate ALL the time, not just when danger threatens, then perhaps nothing will.
--cosmicrat March 25, 2020
The Trump assault on our system of government has wielded a unique weapon: the denial of reality, with an unprecedented proliferation of prevarication. Ejection of its author will not make the effects disappear from the minds of the affected.
ICON NOTIt is a positive trend to de-statue the villains of history. There is no question that we need not and should not honor the dishonorable, those whose claim to fame was the harm done to their country and its people in their time. No one who fought to keep slavery is worthy of a statue, nor is anyone whose main accomplishment was furthering the genocide of Native Americans.
The question of those who did both right and wrong, as human beings often do, may be less clear. Those who helped secure freedom from England and formed a country with a claim to high ideals deserve our thanks for that, but if they enslaved people and designed a government that preserved slavery, they deserve to be condemned for that. Their entire stories should be told. But, do they deserve to be venerated as a national icon? Probably not. If their statues are left in place, plaques should be added to explain their mixed legacies.
Erecting monuments is an understandable impulse. Sometimes they comemmorate events, sometimes ideals. Sculptures of the human form may represent the artist's concept of beauty, but when they are of a particular human, we should wonder why, if the art itself fails to answer that question.
We might wish to remember Lyndon Johnson, who signed into law the Civil Rights and Voting Rights laws, and who tried to fight poverty. Yet he is the same man who waged a needless war that killed over a million human beings. Could a statue represent both sides of LBJ? Unlikely.
Even when we try to iconify ideals, we need to remember that they are aspirations, not accomplishments. The Statue of Liberty represents the highest of our national principles, and it has indeed symbolized a freer life for millions of immigrants, yet liberty is denied or incomplete for far too many, whether born here or elsewhere.
If that statue reminds us that there is much liberating yet to be done, it is serving its purpose. Perhaps we should also erect a Statue of Equality.
--cosmic rat June 30, 2020
It's HistoryThose words are often said to mean It's over and done with. It belongs to the past.
But that isn't the right way to look at history. The story of human events is not a mere collection of isolated facts. It is a live, connected flow of human actions and words and motives, each affecting the next. The past, both known and unknown, touches us, making us what we are, guiding what happens next.
We need to know history, or we will constantly be surprised, not so much by what will happen, but WHY it will. Yet teachers of history, writers of books, and keepers of records often lie, or omit important parts, to handicap our understanding.
We are usually taught the history that makes our country and its leaders look good. That is the least important part. The mistakes, the crimes, and the secrets are what we need to know about.
The point is not to make everyone a cynic, thinking that all leaders lie or have bad motives. It is to learn the truth about the rights and wrongs, the wise and honest, the inept and deceptive. Elaborate imagined conspiracy theories come from knowing too little, not from learning too much.
Here is one example, a mostly-unheard story of the first Iraq invasion.
Highway of Death: 22 Years Later
...over 60 miles of coastal Highway 8 from Kuwait to Iraq, a division of the Iraq's Republican Guard withdrew on Feb. 26-27, 1991.
Baghdad radio had just announced Iraq's acceptance of a cease-fire proposal and, in compliance with UN Resolution 660, retreating Iraqi troops were ordered to withdraw to positions held before Aug. 2, 1990.
'U.S. planes trapped the long convoys by disabling vehicles in the front, and at the rear, and then pounded the resulting traffic jams for hours,' says Joyce Chediac, a Lebanese-American journalist. 'It was like shooting fish in a barrel,' one U.S. pilot said.
This was Iraq invasion #1, that was supposedly justified. Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, done because Kuwait was stealing oil from Iraq, happened after Sadaam told the US Ambassador his plan, and he was told the US wouldn't interfere.
We all know Bush #2 lied to start a war with Iraq, but so did his father. It seems to be a family trait.
Sometimes what is left out of history is not what happened but what might have happened
If Winston Churchill had gotten his way, World War Two might not have ended the way it did, but continued against the USSR. Operation Unthinkable
Churchill ordered his Generals to come up with a plan. They added up the numbers, and showed him. The Russians had a much bigger army and more figher planes than the Allies, and would have almost certainly won easily.
Of course the idea was abandoned, but Stalin learned of Churchill's intentions, making the Cold War inevitable.
From 1945 to 2003, the United States attempted to overthrow more than 40 foreign governments, and to crush more than 30 populist-nationalist movements fighting against intolerable regimes. In the process, the US bombed some 25 countries, caused the end of life for several million people, and condemned many millions more to a life of agony and despair.
US Foreign Policy
--cosmic rat, Jan. 5, 2015
Our ability to use the democratic tools available to us is constrained only by the opposition of the propagandized. The best thing any of us can do is to teach someone to think.
-cosmicrat December 23, 2012
We hear the word "crisis" often lately. The meaning of that word depends on the context in which it is used. When Trump uses it, it means This is an issue I can use to appeal to my base, so I'm going to mention it a lot, and lie about it.
A crisis created by unscrupulous politicians for political advantage can hasten a real crisis, one whose meaning is more like, We have reached a crossroads in public policy, and we need to decide now which way to turn.
We DO need to turn, because the current policy toward immigrants is doing us great harm.
The way we act, and react, toward immigrants, especially refugees reveals our national face to the world. There is no clearer or more globally visible evidence of what kind of people we are. What diplomats and leaders express to one another about friendship and good intentions are only words. It is how we greet the strangers, the ordinary people, who come to our doors, that we can be fairly judged on. It is not enough to say what we will NOT do, and should not do. Separating parents and children, imprisoning people who have nothing wrong but ask for asylum, publicly insulting them-- no one should be doing those things. We know we don't want a "wall"-- a symbolic un-welcome sign.
It is absurd that a country as large, prosperous, and powerful as ours would have to appear inadequate to handle a few thousand asylum seekers without acting overwhelmed. We need plans, organization, and personnel on a scale equal to the need, to welcome, process, check backgrounds, and make decisions about people and families asking to enter.
This processing needs to be done in a courteous and pleasant manner, and completed efficiently and fairly in a short period of time. The world's richest country can build facilities and employ qualified people to do this. It would be a sound investment in our image to the world, of benefit to international relations, as well as assuring that the labor needs of American employers are met.
Far from being any sort of “danger”, the vast majority of immigrants are a valuable benefit to our economy and our society. They always have been.
The issue of so-called illegal immigration has produced an
interesting political alignment, not quite like that
produced by other important issues. The climate of fear
that has been encouraged by Bush neoconservatives in order
to push their agenda of Presidential dictatorial power, and
offensive use of military force, and world domination has
also resulted in a wave of xenophobia, seen in the Dubai
Ports furor and an anti-immigration stance by a variety of
confused caucasians. Normally the power-seeking Bush
Republicans would jump right into the reactionary camp just
as they did with the theocracy-seeking religious extremists,
but it happens that many influential business interests need
the 'illegal immigrants' to stay right where they are,
working hard for low wages.
So, we have an odd alliance between big business and a very
large number of Americans with Hispanic heritage, who
naturally sympathize with the immigrants, and millions of
others who believe that America stands for the principles
inscribed on the Statue of Liberty.
BRINGING HORSES TO WATER
One of the biggest mistakes made by early Communists was making atheism part of their political philosophy, and, once they acheived power, requiring it. Though athiesm is logically correct, attempting to suppress religion was tactically a bad idea.
GASOLINE PRICES 2005-2011 -A reference to refute Republican lies.
River Bend Blog The real story from inside Iraq
STOPPING DESPOTISM--the Al Gore speech
An eloquent and insightful statement about the danger from the Bush Administration.
THE SEARCH FOR TRUTH
An unpleasant job, but someone has to do it.
THE LESSONS OF WORLD WAR ONE
People and politicians alike knew the truth then. Why didn't that help?
VOTE COSMICRATIC We need one world government.
THE DANGER IN RELIGION
Many think of religion as a gentle and good thing, but it is also being used to cause violence, destruction, and loss of freedom.
THE ATTACK ON TRICKY DICK
Did the government learn nothing from the failed Nixon assasination attempt?
COALITION POLITICS IN AMERICA
How the Republicans win elections, and what we should do about it
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