For those of you who enjoy reading these as much as I enjoy collecting and offering them, here is another of our famed trivia articles.
First off, from that wonderful fella Jim Hightower, comes this little historical oddity that proves that scoundrels seldom suddenly and miraculously appear in the public spotlight but usually have a record of corruption from many years past.
Back in 1964, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported on one of the many, many instances in which Republicans have intimidated minority voters at the polls. This one occurred in Arizona at a South Phoenix precinct. It seems this particular Republican had gotten into a shoving match with one Lito Pena, a Democrat who went on to serve in the Arizona legislature for 30 years. Mr. Pena, in an interview regarding the altercation, explained that he had confronted a brainy but truly obnoxious GOP agent who had stationed himself at the tables and "quizzed voters ad nauseam about where they were from, how long they'd lived there - every question in the book. A passage on the Constitution was read and people who spoke broken English were ordered to interpret it to prove they had the language skills to vote." Naturally, the prospect of being forced to face such a nasty inquisition deterred any number of legal minority voters from exercising their Constitutional right to vote.
Whom, you might be asking, could this little GOP Nazi be? Well, that's the best part, that's for sure. That's because the Nazi in question is your very own Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, William H. Rehnquist. Just how scary is that? ( 1 )
I promise you, nobody could make stuff like this up. The LA Times headline proclaimed "Medicare May Slash Payments for High-Tech Outpatient Care". If medical care like this saved or improved the quality of lives, why would the government consider cutting the funds that provide it? Because the government has decided to simply limit spending on these procedures without any regard to the medical needs of Americans, just to save money (Can you say idiotic tax cuts for the rich, boys and girls? I knew you could!).
But here, my friends, is the first truly hilarious part. The very procedures that Congress is forcing Medicare to do away with includes the exact same procedure that the decrepit old fart President Dick Chaney received for free from the government; an implanted pacemaker. Yup, you heard right! The government thinks the act of keeping a multimillionaire alive for free is okay but keeping just any Tom, Dick, er Ricardo, or Harry alive is just too expensive. Isn't it grand knowing your place on the old political pecking order?
Now here's the really, really funny part. The program funds that are being cut apply only to procedures that are performed on an outpatient basis, as was Chaney's procedure. This means that doctors can still offer these oft times life saving procedures, they will just have to have the patient stay the night in the hospital to qualify it as an in-hospital procedure. In other words, a medical practice that would cost X amount for Medicare will now, with these insane little cuts, will cost X plus the cost of a night in the hospital. That, gentle readers, is your government in action! ( 2 )
Ever wonder why the Pentagon always gets a bigger chunk of the federal budget year after year while more deserving programs like education get razor thin increases at the most? Perhaps it can be traced to the fact that the Pentagon employs, and I'm certainly not making this up, 1,592 Public Relations personnel. Additionally, since the salary for these posts hover in the area of $90,000 a year (the salary of one Linda Tripp - remember her?), that means that the Pentagon spends around $143,280,000 a year just for PR efforts and doesn't include lobbyists and the like. Makes you wonder how many PR folks are in the employ of teachers and schools, doesn't it? ( 3 )
By the by, did you know that not everyone will receive the unnecessary little "tax rebates" that the Chaney Administration has been sending out? In fact, almost half of those Americans who paid payroll taxes on their earnings (that's half of the bottom 60% or about 32 million American workers) will receive zilch, zip, nada, nothing at all. Meanwhile, nearly every single taxpayer in the top 20%, the folks for whom a $300 check is a bit less than the difference between hunger and staying even, will receive this huge windfall. Ah, the joys of a compassionate conservative syndicate. ( 4 )
The next time you go to a drug store to fill a prescription and particularly if you are among the millions who pay for those drugs out of pocket, think about this as you write out that check; while the pharmaceutical industry whines that the reason your drugs are so blindingly expensive is because of the huge costs of research and development, it just isn't so. In fact, the cost of research and development of new drugs is one of the more minor expenses that the industry budgets for. The real expenses are in advertising, marketing, and executive bureaucracy. These costs account for more than twice the industry's expenses of research and development combined.
The salaries of the executives of these corporations aside, the wealthy few also rake in compensation in the form of stocks that include $130 million to the CEO of Pfizer and $227 million in stocks to the CEO of Bristol-Myers.
Nevertheless, with all the howling about costs, the industry "earns" profits nearly four times greater than the average Fortune 500 company. No one in the industry, of course, will admit that these thefts in the way of profits are the direct cause of tens of millions of American families being forced into a decision of paying for drugs or rent or food, but seldom having the luxury of affording all three. ( 5 )
If anyone needed more proof that the Chaney Administration is just chock full of nazis, consider the following. In the 1990's, your Attorney General John Ashcroft, gave an interview to the neo-Confederate magazine Southern Partisan (see Ashcroft's Southern Charm for more background). In this interview, he lavished praise on the magazine for "defending Southern patriots". This same magazine, so filled with "patriotism", also produced a T-Shirt bearing the words "Sic Semper Tyrannis" which celebrated the "patriotic" assassination President Lincoln. This same T-Shirt garnered additional fame when it was found to have been worn by Timothy McVeigh on the day he bombed the Oklahoma federal building. Ah, the charms of the Southern mentality! ( 6 )
Still think that media is a bunch of left leaning wackos? In the year 2000, all forms of the media cited progressive or left-leaning think tanks 20% of the time. Centrist think tanks were cited 30% of the time while conservative or right-leaning think tanks were cited 50% of the time. ( 7 )
I just love the double talk that passes in the conservative media as debate on the issue of the anti-worker, anti-human rights, anti-environment, etc. Global Economy. Consider this quote from Newsweek magazine's Fareed Zakaria.
"In Quebec, historically left-wing forces have joined hands to oppose the strengthening of democracy in the Western Hemisphere - for that is the central agenda of the Summit of the Americas ... The anti-globalization crowd is anti-democratic in another, more fundamental, sense. It is trying to achieve, through intimidation and scare tactics, what it has not been able to get through legislation. The lesson of Seattle seems to be: If you cannot get your way through traditional democratic methods, through campaigns, lobbying and legislatures, then riot and rabble-rouse on television."
Now, honest to God, I have no idea where to begin debunking this load of right-wing, anti-democratic, pro-Globalization crap.
First off, democracy is the last thing on the minds of the greed filled gnomes that attended the Summit of the Americas. In fact, other than as just more Nazi propaganda, I doubt that democracy even enters their little pea-brained consciousness. A global economy cannot exist in a world full of democratic societies since the globalists seek to have complete economic and environmental and worker control over every single government on Earth. Only then will they be able to destroy our Constitution and worker's rights and environmental protection in their blind rush to maximum profits at any cost to the rest of the world.
Next, there is no possibility of achieving a just and rational world while those who demand the way cleared for a global economy owns nearly every industrialized government on Earth. Just as in the Sixties, the voices of reason cannot be heard over the deafening din of the cash registers. However, like the Sixties, the courage of the protesters to stand strong against the billy clubs and tear gas and unconstitutional attacks on them and their organizations will, little by little, seep into the TV addled brains of the nation and may well awaken them to the horrors that they are ignoring. If America was a real democracy instead of the openly owned and operated subsidiary of Corporate America, then the entire fiasco of globalizations would be a historical bump, at best.
Finally, as in Seattle, those who engaged in a "riot" or who "rabble-rouse[d]" were in the extreme minority of the protesters. The vast majority were peaceful, organized protests by union members and everyday men and women from all walks of life who merely demand the right to be listened to with the same seriousness that government gives to those who own it. It is the media and only the media who twist and distort the protests into violent affairs by focusing solely on the rock throwing few and completely ignoring the peaceful marches and speeches that entail the absolute majority of the participants.
That said, just how many people will understand the massive falsehood that substitutes for factual reporting on these times? ( 8 )
That's about all I can stomach today, folks. We'll immerse ourselves in the lies and half-truths of the conservative media and the corporately owned government in the next installment of trivia for the open minded.
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