Category Archives: Guest Author

Another Day, Another Hail of Bullets

USA Gun Map   :

John Liming takes a look at the latest gun shooting to hit the news and writes on the importance of electing Democrats into office before sensible gun laws can ever be enacted.


Is it just me or is this kind of thing becoming more and more commonplace in America?

So when we send our kids to school this morning is there a possibility they won’t come home tonight?

Is the kind of America we are becoming and is it the kind of America you want for yourself and your generations?

October 21, 2013 came and went in Sparks, Nevada and a shooter at a Middle School opened fire with a gun, killed a staff member who was trying to protect students and then turned the gun on himself and ended the tragedy.

The shooter was reported to have been a student at the school and so far I haven’t heard a word about what the motive for the shooting might have been.

There were apparently a lot of eyewitness reports on the local news out there in Nevada and all the usual talk about how sad everybody was about the “Horrific” event – – – but I will almost guarantee that there isn’t going to be all that much discussion about the tragedy in the Halls of Congress.

The reason I don’t believe there is going to be all that much noise raised in Congress about this particular horrible event is that I think some of the big gun interests have more or less caused all that to be tamped down now and Americans are supposed to accept all these gun-related tragedies as both “unpreventable” and part of the “new norm” – – – or some such crazy shit as that.

If the government that is supposed to protect its citizens can’t even agree on a budget or on government spending without shutting down completely until some wing nuts get their way about things, how in the Hell do you even imagine the government is going to be able to do anything about gun violence?

Republicans, wing nuts, radical righties and all the gun nuts are more than likely more than pleased this morning that there is damned little possibility the Fed or anybody else is going to get their two cents worth in about these kinds of senseless tragedies.

“Gotta Pertek Them Secund Mendmunt Rights” after all – – – right folks?

“Ain’t No Way To Prevent Them Gun-Shooting Tragedies” – – – right folks?

“The Best Way To Pertek Agin Guns Is To Have More Guns” – – – right folks?

“Big Gubmint” has been there and done that and all attempts to get gun violence control legislation have completely failed in The United States – – – for the time being!

You see folks – – – I think we are living in a time and place when “Guns” are far more important than the people who are killed because of them.  What other impression could anybody have than something like that seeing all the resistance the big money, the gun lobbies and the dumb assed radical righties have put up against getting anything done to prevent this kind of awful crap from happening?

Well – – no need to go on blathering about that subject, I guess!  What the hell good does it do to talk about it?  Let’s all just put our heads in the goddamned sand and maybe there won’t be any more of these dreadful events in the uncertain future.

I mean after all folks, we gotta perteck them there secund mendmunt rights at all costs, don’t we?  I don’t think these kinds of things even make an impression on wing nuts because I think if they did, the wing nuts would be doing something about them – – – unless it is as I have always suspected . . .the wing nuts don’t have a clue about how to govern.

And that raises another question in my mind – – – “If they don’t know how to govern, what the Hell are they doing sitting in cushy elected offices in Washington and in various state houses around the country?

I personally think America is better than that, deserves better than that and can do one helluva lot better than that!

The next chance to make improvements on our “Gubmint” comes in 2014 and 2016.  Mark your calendars!


– John Liming


John publishes American Liberal Times

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It’s Time To Put This “Ted” Talk to Rest

Ted Cruz Talks   -

“Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.”
~John F. Kennedy


E.A. Blair shares his thoughts on names.


I’ve never really trusted anyone who seemed afraid to use their given name. Not all of us are lucky enough to have parents who give us popular or reasonable names. I’m not talking about flower-child names, either. The Baby Boomers spawned a generation of Dweezils, Moon Units, Starshines and Aquarians; present-day celebrities have continued that trend. Despite my aforementioned distrust, I can easily see why someone with a genuinely odd name might prefer to use a middle name or a nickname if it makes life easier.

But there are many people who use their middle names when there is no apparently sensible reason to do so. Picture yourself doing a series of on-the-street interviews. How many people do you think would be able to tell you what “Scooter” Libby’s real first and second names are? How many people (readers of this blog excepted) could come up with Mitt Romney’s actual first name? How about G. Gordon Liddy? Does anybody have any idea what the “J” stands for in “J. Danforth Quayle” or “J. Edgar Hoover”? When H. Ross Perot first learned to write his name, what did he put down on the paper?

Sometimes a name change is understandable. The Screen Actors’ Guild, for example, does not allow two members to register under the same name (Ed Begley, Jr, lampooned this rule when he hosted Saturday Night Live in 1984 and announced that, since his father had died fourteen years earlier, he was dropping the “Jr.” from his name and swept it out of the on-screen credits). The rule may, in fact, make the actual names of some of its members unrecognizable. Entertainers also change their names for the sake of popular appeal – Benjamin Kubelsky and Archibald Leach are not the best candidates for household names. “John Wayne” is a blustering, macho hero; “Marion Morrison” is not. “Erich Weiss” lacks a panache and mystique that “Harry Houdini” captures much better. “Norma Jean” is downright dowdy and lacks the virtue of alliteration, whereas “Marilyn Monroe” evokes a satisfying “Mmmmm”.

One may even wonder why middle names exist in the first place. Granted, the perspective I am presenting here is very American-centered. Other cultures have elaborate schemes for assembling complicated strings of first, middle, other middle, additional middle and hyphenated names from the maternal and paternal sides of the family. In some Asian countries, legally recognized names are adopted or dropped by the individual at will. The only values I have ever seen to middle names in the present-day US are twofold: the first is to placate both sets of grandparents and the second is for parents to let their offspring know when they are in trouble.

That still doesn’t keep me from wondering just what all those initial-bearing people have to hide. Which brings me to the main point of this little rant. The state of Texas, home to George Bush, Rick Perry and Louis Gohmert, has seen to inflict on the other forty-nine states yet another right-wing nutjob who calls himself “Ted” Cruz.

“Ted” is not his first name. It is not even either of his given names.

The junior senator from Texas is named Rafael Edward Cruz.

He was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, to an American woman and a Cuban father who, at one time, had been a soldier in Fidel Castro’s revolutionary army. The obstetrician attending his birth worked under a national health insurance plan a step beyond the Affordable Care Act that he so vehemently opposes (probably for is own reasons, not for the benefit of his constituents).  How’s that for foreign?

So why “Ted”?

Is it so he can call his speeches and fauxlibusters “Ted talks”?

Or is it because of his base?

Is it that the same tea party who cannot accept that someone named “Barack Hussein Obama” could have been born in the united states would have their collective head explode at the notion of a “President Rafael Cruz”? It’s definitely not White enough for his base, and “Edward” is too formal for them as well. “Ted” is one syllable. It’s easy to spell and remember. Even “Eddie” isn’t good enough. Guys named “Eddie” are rebellious, they’re bikers, they’re played in movies by guys named Meat Loaf. “Ted” totes a gun. “Ted” is a real Texan, a real ‘Merican.

People who opposed President Obama made a sport of stressing his outlandish (in more ways than one) middle name.  So maybe it’s time to remind Mr. Cruz’ base that their poster boy has a touch of the “other” about him as well. It’s time to stop calling him “Ted” and start doing him the courtesy of calling him by his title and the name his parents, no doubt proudly, gave him: Senator Rafael Cruz of Texas. Let the Tea Party deal with it.

Oh, in case you were wondering, “Scooter” is Irving Lewis Libby. Mitt, as so many people here know, is really a Willard. The rest are George Gordon Battle Liddy, James Danforth Quayle, John Edgar Hoover and Henry Ross Perot;  what’s wrong with any of those names?  Benjamin Kubelsky was Jack Benny and Archibald Leach was Cary Grant. As a matter of course in days gone by, many movie actors had their names tacked on to them by managers and promoters to market them.

-E.A. Blair


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Minimum Wage – Yes or No?

RichMan_PoorMan :

Our good friend John Liming takes on the issue of minimum wage and the right’s mission to abolish it…or, short of that, to get it as ridiculously low as they possibly can.

Go get ‘em, John.


Some of the Righties will tell you, “Raising the minimum wage will not help lift people out of poverty – it has never worked and it never will because we already live in a welfare state and the more you “give” to people the more they expect to be given.”

So I am assuming here that a lot of Righties – especially the obscenely rich ones who own businesses that –  employ – people are among that howling number opposing any raise in the so-called “minimum wage.”

Can you hear it now – “I don’t need no damned Gubmint telling me what I have to pay people to work for me!?”

Some Righties argue that raising the minimum wage will not do a thing to help people escape the bonds of poverty because they say that few minimum wage workers are actually – poor to begin with.

O.K. –  so now I am waiting for somebody to tell me how many minimum wage workers they know who are – rich!  If they are not poor then they either have to be rich or absolutely destitute – well below the description of “Poor.”  It has to be one or the other; it can’t be both!

So I do not know because I am not a mind reader – but I will assume that if Rightie thinks the minimum wage does not help the poor because most people who earn minimum wage are not poor to begin with – then the answer that Rightie must be thinking about is to make the minimum wage earners who are not poor to begin with actually become poor – and then the minimum wage might help them.  Is this the story here?

That makes some sense to me because I have always viewed the radical righties as being more than willing and capable of making people poor and poor people even poorer by passing laws to cut off their government benefit programs.  Yes – the line of reasoning does make some sense in what I consider to be a sort of – strange – way.

So if the right wing ideal of what a minimum wage should be is anywhere near close to being what I think it might be – then the resultant minimum wage under a Rightie set-up would be Zero Dollars per hour – how about doing a little bartering here employees?  Anyone interested in working 40 hours a week for some coupons to the local big box store?

For those who argue that minimum wage jobs are usually reserved for those who work at entry-level positions and that raises above the minimum wage are usually in the crystal ball for such workers, then the righties who argue this way might have made a point.  I can see a worker who has been making $7.50 an hour suddenly getting an increase from his or her more than generous Rightie boss to $7.53 an hour – can’t you?

When I worked for a Rightie boss who owned a small manufacturing plant a few years ago – my yearly union-negotiated yearly raises were about 3 cents an hour – and need I mention that as the years went by I was required to pay increasingly larger shares of my insurance plan until the 3 cent raises were soon eaten up and gone forever?

So here is the deal as far as I see it:

If Rightie gets his or her way  – and the minimum wage gets ultimately shit-canned – there is hope on the horizon:

The worker can always turn to food stamps – housing vouchers – low-income rental units – emergency room medical care – meals at city missions – earned income tax credits – and all kinds of goodies supposedly freely available from Uncle Gubmint.

People who spend long hours searching through garbage  often find things that have been discarded – things that can be cleaned up and sold at a flea market booth or something –  right?  Good old Right Wing self-sufficiency –  something that can be built with an individual’s own two hands –  without any help from anybody – especially “Gubmint.”

I have seen some pretty scrubby-looking dudes tooling around my neighborhoods in broken-down old trucks hauling away things people have placed at curbside for the regular garbage guys to come and get.  I have often thought to myself as I watched some of these apparently un-washed in their junk-yard-ready conveyances – “Gee!  Those must be loyal Righties exercising some of those good old conservative values of “doing it myself and getting it done!”

May I add here that even though I found the images I was observing interesting – I did not feel any pangs of envy.

I am predicting – without having the foggiest notion of what I am talking about – that sooner or later some right wad will find a way to get rid of the “Intrusive” legal requirement to pay a “minimum wage” and at that moment all the minimum wage workers in the world can take full advantage of those old reliable Right Wing values – Self Reliance and Self-Sufficiency” – and create for themselves new and inventive ways of dumpster diving.

Did I hear somebody say “Vote Democrat?”

-John Liming


John publishes American Liberal Times

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On Flags and Independence Day

July 4th  -

E. A. Blair ruminates on his Independence Day experiences along with some info on the U.S. flag you might not have known.

A Happy 4th to all.


Some years ago, NPR’s Morning Edition featured a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence, performed by members of their news staff. These were people who make their living by using their voices with dramatic effect, and the performance was stirring, to say the least. While listening to it, I felt the recurrence of that naive patriotism I used to feel as a kid while marching in the neighborhood Fourth of July parade to the local park, before the cynicism of adulthood and modern politics washed it out of me.

One of the best features of that reading was that they read the whole thing. Most people only go as far as “…Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness…” before they lose interest. Most people forget that the meat of the Declaration is not in the prefatory remarks, inspiring though they are, but in the specific grievances that follow.

There are twenty-eight specific points listed in the Declaration that are addressed to King George III, and they fall into a number of categories, enumerated here:

Laws: 1, 2, 3, 8, 9,13, 18, 19, 20, 21 (Nine)

Militarism and aggression: 11, 12, 14, 15, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 (Nine)

Representation and legislation: 4, 5, 6, 10, 22 (Five)

Foreign affairs: 7, 16 (Two)

Redress: 28 (One)

Taxes: 17 (One)

The teabaggers in this country may be disappointed to learn that only one of those twenty-eight points concern taxes; a majority of them are about the colonies’ inability to make their own laws and to not be subject to unwarranted military actions and only one concerns taxes.

The following year, Morning Edition repeated the performance, and that time I read along with a downloaded copy. Eventually, NPR ceased the annual performances, but I continued the tradition on my own, and added to it over the years. Now, in addition to reading the full Declaration, I also read the complete Constitution, including all seven articles and twenty-seven amendments. Over the years, I’ve made my own editions of these documents in a text-based format and annotated them for my own use.

Some years I get really ambitious and go beyond those two seminal documents. At times, I have added the Articles of Confederation, the Treaty of Tripoli, the Northwest Ordinance and even the Constitution of the Confederate States of America (all of which can be found online). One year, I also read through something I hadn’t thought about since I was a kid, which is Title 4, Chapter 1 of the United States Code. Title 4 is composed of laws regarding the symbols and seals of government and provisions for the seat of government. Chapter 1 is confined to matters solely concerning the U.S. flag, and is commonly known as the Flag Code.

Over the years, many zealots in congress have tried to pass a constitutional amendment to prohibit desecration of the US flag. From 1995 to 2006, the House of Representatives passed a resolution for such an amendment six times; each time, it passed the House and either died in committee or failed to pass the Senate. A flag protection act passed in 1968 in response to Vietnam War protestors was declared unconstitutional, as were copycat laws passed in 48 of 50 states.

It never occurred to any of those lawmakers that there already was a flag law in effect, and all it needed was some teeth, because the fatal flaw of the Flag Code is that there is no penalty for violations. Without resorting to the drastic action of passing a twenty-eighth amendment, all they needed to do was pass a code of enforcement to Title 4 Chapter 1.

But in doing so, the conservatives who usually champion such measures would probably be biting themselves on their collective butt. Here are some of the reasons.

Section 3 of the Flag Code forbids altering, imprinting advertising on a flag or displaying a flag with such an alteration or imprint. Interestingly enough, in the District of Columbia, this is a misdemeanor meriting a fine of up to $100.00, thirty days’ imprisonment or both. Every Memorial Day, Presidents’ Day, Labor Day and Independence Day, thousands of merchants violate this rule thousands of times all over the country.

Teabaggers and false patriots love to wrap themselves in the flag, wear the flag, buy flag cakes, use napkins, paper plates, paper cups and lots of tacky little tchochkes imprinted with the stars and stripes. This is where they fall afoul of section 8 of the code, which is titles Respect For The Flag.

Here is Section 8, Paragraph (d): “The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker’s desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.”

Sorry, but that flag comforter on your bed is illegal, not patriotic. Ditto for flag curtains and, literally, wrapping yourself in the flag.

Here is Section 8, Paragraph (g): “The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.”

Sorry, mister politician, but that flag you just autographed for an adoring voter? That’s desecration, and it’s illegal. Even the president (Dubya was famous for autographing flags) has been guilty of this, many times over.

Here is Section 8, Paragraph (I): “The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.”

This is one of my favorites, especially the part about not imprinting it on “anything that is designed for temporary use and discard”. This includes napkins, paper plates and cups, candy wrappers, cake designs, and the like. If you interpret this section strictly enough, this provision actually makes flag-imprinted postage stamps illegal.

Here is Section 8, Paragraph (j): “No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.”

All those flag-imprinted t-shirts, bathing suits and costumes? They’ve got to go.

Finally, here is Section 8, Paragraph (k): “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

This provision really has the potential to upset the über-patriotic, since it not only allows the burning of flags, it mandates it. When people turn over discarded flags to the American Legion or some other legitimate patriotic organization for proper disposal, this is how it’s done. Protestors could claim to be following the law if they used a worn, discarded flag to make their statement.

In thousands of parks and yards across the country, the morning of 5 July will find the ground strewn with discarded flags and trash cans filled with the same as well as flag-imprinted merchandise, yet the same people who lust for a flag amendment fail to see this as desecration. They also fail to see millions of flag-printed t-shirts draped over flabby, sweaty bodies as desecration. They fail to see that someone’s refusal to use flag-imprinted stamps as adherence to Section 8, Paragraph (i).

One year, I announced my intention to personally enforce Paragraph (j) by hitting the beaches and forcibly confiscating every flag-imprinted bathing suit I saw, but was warned that I could get into real trouble for trying to enforce a federal law. What a country we have – but that remains a fond Fourth of July fantasy.


~E.A. Blair


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America The Brave…or is it America the Fearful?

Flag Dispersed  -

A guest post from James Fidlerten.


After September 11, 2011, America became united, as it grieved the loss of so many lives on American soil. The tragic event also changed so many things and it changed us, we Americans. I know we talked about how we were not going to allow it to change us, because that meant the terrorist would win, we would just carry on our lives as we always had and defy the purpose of the terrorist in the first place. What we did instead was allow our government to lead us into war and we allowed that same government to interrogate prisoners with torture along with a host of new things, such as intrusive searches at the airport, wiretapping of American citizens and a loss of innocence from the assured peace of mind, we had before — all because of fear.

It was because of fear that we Americans changed. Suddenly, we were vulnerable. Our ever-resourceful intelligence community and our powerful military were invincible no longer in our eyes. It also became an opportunity for some to exploit the fear that so many felt, to fulfill their own agenda. Sometimes politicians in powerful leadership positions, uses fear as a tool to accomplish something, such as starting wars.

The war on Iraq by the George W. Bush’s administration is a good example in my opinion. Clearly, fear was used by members of his administration on the American public, Congress and the world, with warnings that Saddam Hussein’s government had “weapons of mass destruction”.  Saddam Hussein we were told, was conspiring with Al Qaeda because of a faulty piece of intelligence, we later learned.

Support was high for the war, mainly because the populace and the Congress believed the Bush Administration’s statements and the intelligence community’s assessment concerning WMDs in Iraq. A majority of Americans were misled because they were afraid and another war offered a solution to make them feel safer.

A personal story; my father kept a gun in the house; it was a revolver and a very powerful gun, though I cannot remember the type exactly. I was quite young but I remember the loud sound it made when my father used it in the country once, to shoot a skunk.

He gave a warning to us children – there were six of us – telling us “not to ever touch that gun because it had a hair-trigger and it might go off!”  We all remembered the sound of those two shots my father fired, so we were all entirely afraid of the gun. It was kept up on the top shelf in the closet of my parent’s bedroom, but it did not matter where he put it, we would not touch it. Fear was a useful tool to keep children from a deadly weapon but it should not be used on adult citizens of a nation.

There are a great many threats out there in this world and we have been fortunate to avoid many other horrible acts if it had not been for government intelligence and intervention. Yet government must have its limits. There is a fine line between alerting the public to a possible danger and inciting them to be afraid, and just trust that government to do the right thing, even if it is against our Constitution and most importantly, our sense of moral ethics and decency as a nation.

Government is not the only entity that uses fear to incite the public. The Media plays an important part in giving the public a reason to be afraid of all sorts of things. Fear has high ratings for news sources; sensationalism and violence brings in the viewers and the bottom line is profits. The Media has a different motivation than government politicians and it is its job to report the news, though its method of selectively choosing what news to report is usually bias, in favor of its ratings.

Then there are the hate groups and the propaganda machines on the internet that pop out garbage they call news. A good example would be the lies and misinformation that have been told concerning our current president, Barack Obama, accusing him of not being born here and that he is secretly a Muslim. I believe what riled up many on the far right was a lie that Obama had plans to take away all their guns. He has never sought to do that, not even in the most recent gun control bill. Yet that false piece of information has been pushed by many right-wing conservative blogs, email campaigns, just to stir up fear among the less informed that Obama was out to take over the country with a Muslim government and force Sharia law on everyone.

The main tool of any terrorist is fear.  When we as a nation make important decisions, such as a decision to go to war or not, or allow our civil rights to be waived in favor of more protection and a sense of safety, all out of fear, we then are allowing ourselves to be manipulated by sharp players who do not have our interests in mind.

I believe the best cure for fear is knowledge, the more we know the more we will understand.


-James Fidlerten

James publishes Fidlerten Place.

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