Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Choosing the Voice

It is a very risky proposition -- letting someone into your head. Most of us never carefully, deliberately consider the voices we choose to listen to. We trust to fate and friends. A random spin of the tuning knob. A casual remark from a friend, "You have got to hear this new song!". Take (for instance) my voice. Right now, as you read this, I am the voice inside your head. Whether you like it or not, I now have the ability to plant the seed of an idea in your head. Whether weed or wheat, you know not at this moment. You may never know. It may not take root. Or it may spring forth, after a longer winter of dormancy.

So, what has gotten into my head? Well, in general terms, Rachel Maddow has. I invited her in. As most of you know, I listen to the podcast of her show every morning while I'm out taking pictures. (Sidetrack: Picture, podcast, poetry, propaganda -- there are endless ways into the mind.) I was listening away the other day when I heard a story about Georgia. The clip is too long -- and the story buried too deep in it -- so I'll link you to another voice I've started listening to (reading) in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution -- Jay Bookman -- about the same story.

 Agenda 21: The lunacy infiltrating state leaders

 "So when Beck publishes a book titled “Agenda 21,” a fictional warning of a UN takeover of the United States in which the U.S. government is abolished and its citizens are allowed only two functions, “to create clean energy and to create new human life,” it’s easily dismissed as the harmless lunacy that it clearly is."

But wait, it gets better. First, yes, it's that Beck -- Glenn Beck. Secondly, the way Obama (you had to know it was Obama's fault) is accomplishing his evil plot is through mind control.

"But somewhere along the line, sifted through the minds of the paranoid, Agenda 21 becomes something much more sinister. For example, GOP senators attending the Capitol briefing were warned that those spreading the traitorous Agenda 21 have been trained in the use of a mind-control technique known as the Delphi technique." 

Now, just for a moment, forget that this all is unfolding in the Georgia State Capitol building and let's go to what was going through my mind when I originally heard this from Rachel Maddow. Obama is the Deceiver! Obama is the Anti-Christ! Of course!

Now where in the world did I get that idea? Well, a few years back, I was curious as to what all the hubbub was about so I read the Left Behind novel. The first one. It's now a series of 16 books, 3 movies and a video game.

Recalling from my memory (controllers all know how dodgy that is), the evil guy rises to power as the head of the UN. In one scene he shoots a guy in a room full of people but because he has mind control over the evil, wicked and unwashed...no one remembers it. He is the Deceiver-in-Chief after all. He is the Antichrist.

2 John 1:7  For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

Are you following along here? If you write a work of fiction based on witchcraft and sorcery that winds up on the New York Times bestseller list then folks will try to get your book banned before it poisons some innocent child's soul. Write a book of fiction about Christians and some evil guy that uses mind control to take over the world via the UN...and it leads to a meeting in a State Capitol comparing the President of the Untied States to Stalin and Mao. (I don't know why Hitler didn't fit into the Power Point slide.)

Here's the thing. If you read it in the Left Behind series (movies, video game, etc.) and then you saw it on Glenn Beck's show and your Uncle Jimmy heard about it from his preacher last Sunday then it must be true. That has to be something to it, right?

Let's close this circle. It matters who you let into your head. If you listen to crazy people 24 hours a day, they soon become normal. I'm not saying to never listen to crazy people. I'm saying you need to have some balance.

You might want to choose a little more carefully who you let in. There are only so many hours in a day and space in your head is limited. When you have to search through your mind's library for an idea to solve a problem you'd do well to have some classics on the shelf. Or at least something of substance. I can't say as I've read Aristotle and Plato (well, bits and pieces) but I've got a few decent ones on the shelves. Just don't let yourself wind up with a nothing but a shelf full of Rush Limbaugh, Tosh.0 and internet porn.

By the way, thanks for letting me into your head. I'll try to leave something useful behind.

Don Brown
November 27, 2012

Friday, November 23, 2012

Picture Album Complete

Okay, I think I'm done adding pictures from the cruise to my album/set on Flickr. (Emphasis on "think".)
Hopefully, I'll get back to writing. Well, just as soon as I clean out my hard drive, blow the leaves off the grass and paint the front-porch railing. Retirement is tough.

Don Brown
November 23, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Tax Bracket Proposal

I've had this thought for weeks but I have a horrible time finding the time to write these days. I miss it. I miss my readers. I'm working on it.

All my readers are aware of my fundamental faith in the ability of government to do good. We are all too willing to point out the many problems of government and its failures. But at the end of the day, we are all left with the simple and undeniable fact: every country in the world has a government. They are essential. The only thing left to fight about is how well run they will be.

To wit: there is no "business" more important than the people's business.

You can view the U.S. marginal tax rates here. The highest bracket is currently 35% for people that make $388,351 or above. The current salary of a member of U.S. House of Representatives or Senate is $174,000. The current pay of the President of the United States is $400,000.

My tax proposal is simple. If you make more than a member of Congress, you get put in the 35% bracket. If you make more than the President your tax rate should be 40%. If you make double what the President makes, your tax rate would be 50%. Triple takes you to 60%. I really don't have a problem with going all the way up to a 90% tax rate for those that steal "earn" inordinate amounts of money -- just like it used to be.

I should also say that I am all for paying members of Congress and the President salaries that are commensurate with their responsibilities.

Two other things before I go. A#1 -- Democrats won the battle but the war isn't over. Don't go to sleep politically and wait for the next Presidential election to get involved. That's why the Republicans are still in charge of the House -- they stayed engaged and won in 2010. The Democrats thought their overwhelming victory in 2008 meant the tide had turned. That the fight was over. Don't make the same mistake twice.

The second thing is, the battle is winnable. Americans can believe in government again. They can believe in themselves and their ability to govern themselves. They can even believe in taxes again. And you don't just have to take my word for it. Take a listen to this segment on Marketplace. Expect to hear more stories like it -- stories that, just a few months ago, were unthinkable. Public opinion does change. And you can help change it. Get involved. Stay engaged.

Don Brown
November 21, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cruise Pictures

For those just looking for the cruise pictures (you know who you are), I've set up a link to take you straight to the album where I'll keep them. Click here.

For the rest of my regular readers, it's the same drill as always. Just click on the picture to see it on Flickr.

Quiet Conquest by Get The Flick
Quiet Conquest, a photo by Get The Flick on Flickr. 

You know, you guys used to write me and tell me when I misspelled something. Either I'm getting better or y'all are slacking off. Just sayin'.

Don Brown
November 19, 2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Crusin' by Get The Flick
Crusin', a photo by Get The Flick on Flickr.
I'm back. I have several people that will be visiting my blog and have absolutely no interest in my writing/rambling below. As I explained -- just click on the picture accompanying this post and you will be transported to my page on Flickr, where you can look at pictures until your heart's content.

It's Sunday night, I just got back and I'm tired. It will take a few days to get all the pictures up and captioned.

Don Brown
November 18, 2012

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday Morning Coming Down

On vacation. I'll write again in a week or so (unless I get an internet connection that I don't know about.)

Don Brown
November 11, 2012

Monday, November 05, 2012

Friday, November 02, 2012

The Turning Point

Along with New York City, the current incarnation of the Republican Party was washed away by Hurricane Sandy. Just as many Americans don't realize that New York City has been as devastated by Sandy every bit as much as New Orleans was by Katrina, many Republicans don't realize that their Party has been devastated too.

Here's the cold, hard fact that is worming its way into the American consciousness: Two major U.S. cities have been destroyed by storms that can be blamed on human's lack of concern for the environment. Global warming will be front and center. The altering of the Mississippi River and its delta will be in the background. I'm not talking science here. I'm talking about Americans knowing it in their gut.

Americans may have been able to shrug off Katrina in New Orleans as a backwater city full of the uneducated and poor but that isn't going to fly in New York. Instead of a Republican President playing politics with an ineffectual rescue and response -- cursed by the very ideology that Bush himself espoused -- we now have a disaster in one of the most sophisticated cities in the world being handled by a competent President that believes in the government that will be in charge of the recovery. Instead of President Bush blaming Louisiana Governor Blanco and sending her "Good Job Brownie"...we now have the partisan Republican Governor Christie of New Jersey embracing President Obama.

There is no sentiment in my statement. I have no use for Governor Christie. I don't believe he's had a change of heart. He is simply a cunning politician and he can see the writing on the wall. The Republican Party is toast. Cooked. Stick a fork in them -- they're done.

Make no mistake, they'll be back. Just as New York City will be back. New York City will be rebuilt. It is now dawning on people that much of the infrastructure that makes New York City go is underground -- and under water. Salt water. We will pump out the water. The electricity will be turned back on. But everybody knows that the saltwater is going to quickly corrode everything. Pipes, wires, rails, beams, everything.

If you're a regular reader of mine can you see all this coming together? Cue Paul Krugman. Rebuilding New York City will be the stimulus spending that he has wanted since 2008. Al Gore must be quietly relishing all this. Talk about an ITYS moment. Say hello to wind and solar. And buried power cables. Don't leave me now but take a look at this clip from The Rachel Maddow Show later.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

That clip ties a lot of what I'm talking about together but if you're pressed for time, fast forward to the 11:30 minute mark and see if anything looks familiar.


If you click on the link above, you'll be reminded the picture came from James Fallows at The Atlantic. You'll also be reminded that the conversation started because of another massive, freakish storm (the derecho) that wiped out the power grid from Chicago to Virginia Beach. Freak summer storm. Freak winter storm. Are you noticing a pattern?

I only mention the power line thing as a touchstone. A talisman. When it all comes together, even the seemingly insignificant (my hatred of over-head power lines) comes together. We have reached a turning point. The lies and extremism of the Republican Party have been laid bare. The foundation of today's Republican Party has been washed away. Global warming is real. It's here and it's going to hurt. Government has a rightful and important place in our society. It will resume that rightful place as it rebuilds New York. It will become blindingly obvious because the simple fact is that no other entity can do the job. 

And we will have to pay for it. Taxes will be levied. Wall Street will go along and its individual members will pony up. The dumb ones might fight but they will lose. The smart ones will be like Governor Christie -- they'll detect the wind change and adjust their sails. (Also, like the Republicans, they won't go away.) We'll discover that instead of hurting the economy -- as Republicans have screamed it would for 30 years -- it will improve our economy. As we spend over a trillion dollars (That's right, I said a trillion. You heard it here first.) on rebuilding New York, New Jersey, et al. we will rebuild our job base and our tax base. America will get busy being America again.

 The only thing that can hold all this up is a Republican House of Representatives. The House isn't supposed to be up for grabs this election. But it will be in two years. If you can vote to change it this election -- if you can vote on a House seat that is contested -- get out and vote for the Democrat. For none of this is a etched in stone.

We will have more once-in-lifetime storms. Europe is still a mess and could melt down. And speaking of meltdowns, Fukushima isn't over. That cold, hard reality is that Fukushima will never be over. Nothing is coming up roses. There is nothing but hard work ahead. But the path we should take is clear to see -- even if it is choked with downed power lines and trees. It's time to get busy cleaning all this up instead of watching it all fall down. It will be hard but anything worth doing always is.

Don Brown
November 2, 2012

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Buying the Government

Set aside an hour and watch this. The issues are worth the effort to understand. But if you don't want to think that hard, you can easily tell the humans from the weasels. Of course, the real issue is who are the people funneling the money to the weasels.

  Big Sky, Big Money

Watch Big Sky, Big Money on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

It's pretty bad when a doper is more honest looking than the people influencing our politics. How long are you going to sit on the sidelines? Are you really going to let the weasels win?

Don Brown
November 1, 2012