Archive for December, 2011|Monthly archive page

Tex Shelter’s Best of 2011

In Current Events, Economics, Education, Election Politics, Humor on December 30, 2011 at 20:33

Flaming Peace from growabrain.typepad.com

Need a reading list for 2012? Well, here you are.

These articles have been chosen among the best of 2011 based on originality, quality of writing, and importance of the topic. I chose some because they are funny or at least they gave me a laugh. They are not ranked, they are chosen chronologically and are only numbered for ease of reading.

1. Stop the Race to National Standards and Race to the Top

This is one of a few articles where I go after high stakes testing as a failed policy (No Child Left Behind) from the Bush administration, given a white wash, and renamed Race to the Top.

Reasons to read: It’s an amalgam of various criticisms of Race to the Top, criticisms that need to be understood before we let corporations ruin our schools beyond repair.

Excerpt: So, teachers’ pay has to be based on how well little John or Sally or Juan or Chin or Liliana does on a standardized test that is only valid if you don’t considered the cultural and economic variations of all students everywhere. And, RTTT gives extra points for creating more charter schools.

2. Michelle Rhee, Wisconsin, and the Attack on Teachers

Why this is worth a read: In this article, I discredit the super-hero of education “reform”, Michelle Rhee. I understand people such as Rhee and Secretary of Education Duncan are symptoms of a greater problem, but like a viral infection, it helps to remove as much of the disease as possible. I also criticize merit based pay that is centered on high stakes testing.

Excerpt: Can you imagine someone going into a hospital, looking at a few charts and then firing half the doctors because they weren’t performing to a set of medical testing data? Most members of Congress would lose their jobs if they had to perform to criteria many of them want to impose on teachers, and they would not put up with it.

3. The Senate is the most Democratic legislative body in the World

I wrote this article because I was sick and tired of the Senate blocking useful reform and I wanted to explain how undemocrat the Senate is.

Reason to read this: People need to learn facts about the Senate you might not have known. Note the sardonic tone of the piece used to deride this anti-democratic institution.

Excerpt: The latest example of the Senate’s love and support of democracy, though there are so many, is health care reform. By its very nature, the Senators in the finance committee are democratic. They represent a small part of the country, and they can stop health care for everyone.

4. Other Official State Items We Need in Arizona

I wrote this after the Arizona state legislature, in its finite wisdom, decided we needed an official state gun. Arizona is a microcosm of politics in the United States. It’s an example of how a few crazy people can ruin a good state for the rest of us.

Reasons to read: You might laugh and cry and groan all at the same time.

Excerpt: The official state border crossing; changes weekly.

5. Accepted Assumptions that are Wrong: A Healthy Stock Market Means a Healthy Economy

Reason to read: It goes to the very core of misguided economic news, the stock market. It is also one of my best pieces on this myth and a good read, and if I were to give an award for best written, this piece gets the Golden Texy.

Excerpt: Americans outside the brokerage and banking industries, outside of the Forbes 500 and their cronies in D.C, are suffering. The stock market doesn’t gage if average people are doing well, it is a gage of what speculators think they can make from betting on, or against, a certain stock. It is a false indicator of prosperity, unless you look at the holders and manipulators of large stock portfolios.

6. Where is the Proof that Obama is even Human?

Reason to read: In this article, I mock the birthers and those that would take political advantage of birthers by taking it one step further, questioning Obama’s species credentials. If he were a dog, I would want to see his papers.

Excerpt: First, I want to see a copy of Obama’s physical examinations to prove that he is human. The Constitution clearly states that you must be a human to be president, and I have yet to see proof that Obama is. Why won’t any of Obama’s supposed doctors come forward? Perhaps he’s not really a human?

Why hasn’t Michelle Obama come forward with proof Obama is really a man. How do we know that Obama didn’t have a sex change and was really a woman? What proof do we really have? Until I see a photo of Obama’s penis, I can’t believe Obama’s a man. Why won’t Obama come forward with his penis?

Best Line: Why won’t Obama come forward with his penis?

7. How Republicans “Win” Elections or Support the “Voter Shooter Law”

Reason to read: A very important article for the year 2012 and the elections. It’s a run-down of the voter suppression and election tactics that make it possible for Republicans to win elections. Then I add a list of suggestions of how to suppress the vote further, as seen in the excerpt below.

Excerpt: 3. Charge neighborhoods with the hiring of employees, the buying of voting machines, and rent in order to have polling places in their neighborhood. That should keep voting down to only those that contribute enough to society to deserve a vote. However, we will not have a poll tax,  for that is un-American.

Memorable line: Voters are easily manipulated by nationalistic symbolism and the Republicans count on it to win elections.

8. How to Promote High Stakes Testing: Lie

Reason to Read: This article features examples of teachers, schools, superindendents and school districts so desperate for funding that they lied about their test results. This story is important and not enough people know about it.

Excerpt: In the movie Waiting for Superman, charter schools based on the KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) model are touted as out performing public schools. However, this model leaves children behind and thus their stats are gamed,

“Taxpayer-funded KIPP schools, praised in the film ‘Waiting for Superman,’ succeed in sending poor graduates to college because the lowest-performing students drop out or don’t enroll at all, a study found.”

Important line: So, the high stakes testing regimen faced by schools all over this nation was based on a lie, and that lie has produced millions in sales for CTB/McGraw-Hill, makers of testing materials and friends to President Bush.

9. Obama Shows his Hatred of Israel by Admitting Palestinians are Human

Reasons to Read: The article directly discredits the big lie that “Obama hates Israel” in an alternating serious and sardonic style. I wrote it after a well educated Jew I know asked me, “Why does Obama hate Israel?”, and then she refused to debate me on it because instead of using her analytic, scientific brain (she is studying medicine), she told me that she was “too emotional” to talk about it. Well yea.

Look at the facts and learn that Obama wants peace, and that includes for Palestinians too. Sorry, but Obama thinks Palestinians are also human. Some paranoid Jews and Republicans who want to attack Obama don’t even bother to look at Obama’s complete speech and stick to the big lie about Obama’s hatred of Israel that Republicans have pushed since Obama ran for president. Also, look at the map and the borders. The 1967 border is almost exactly the same as the current borders.

Excerpt: Clearly, Netanyahu wants no peace. And there are Arab governments, namely Iran, that don’t want to see a peace between Israelis and Palestinians either. If nothing else, pissing off Iran and other Muslim nationalists in the region should move Israel to peace talks. Furthermore, I am sure there are multinational arms dealers selling weapons to Israel and Muslim jihadists that will suffer greatly if peace breaks out in Israel and Palestine.

Memorable line: How Dare Obama hate Israel by stating their need to be secure!

10. Stop the Socialist FEMA Takeover of the Midwest

Reason to Read: Republicans hate the government, until they need it. This article mocks the tendency of hypocritical Republicans to take government money when it helps them but cut funding when it might help someone else.

Excerpt/Memorable Line: Yes, the state legislature refuses aid for the unemployed caught under the dual tornado of joblessness and state cuts, and they should stick to their guns, and pull them out of their holsters, to refuse socialist FEMA funds to help those affected by the recent tornadoes.

11. Every Day, I’m More Gay

Reasons to read: Sometimes the only thing you can do to fight homophobia is to amuse those that realize most homophobes are scared and ignorant, and laugh at them. I write like a confused homophobe, and exaggerate the fears these people must be feeling to humorous effect. There are too many good lines to quote here, so read it.

Excerpt: Then another shocking revelation came my way when I learned that Freddy Mercury was a gay man the whole time I was listening to his music and watching his videos, on MTV! Imagine a band named “Queen” having homosexual members in it. Who would have known?

Memorable Line: Yes, I know Broadway is not just for gays any more, but it’s the gayt way drug to homosexuality.

12. Defending the Power Elite in America Against the Interests of the People: The Case of the United States Government

Reason to read: This article illuminates the undemocratic structures in our government and questions the firmly held beliefs of our elected officials and much of the population that we are a highly evolved democracy. And, it’s not a bad read.

Excerpt:  The form of our government in the United States is one that is not conducive to change and radicalism. It is set up to prevent big sweeping changes and thus promotes the interests of those in power, the moneyed and political elite. Elections for political office do little to change the underlying body politic, changing one face for another, and are only cosmetic in nature.

Line to Remember: As long as we have a two party system in the United States run by money and limited choice, we will never have a government by the people and for the people.

13. Facts about Class, Poverty and Downward Mobility

Reason to read: This article is a well written exposé about class in the United States and the lies the right-wing and political and economic elite use to defend their economic dominance, greed and the plutocracy.

Excerpt: If it was just a matter of working hard, why is poverty rising and wealth more concentrated at the top than ever before? Is it that 80% of Americans are lazy? There is a given amount of wealth in a nation and thus when more wealth is concentrated at the top, there will be more poverty at the bottom.

Memorable Line: The idea of the American dream is one of the most successful pieces of propaganda ever perpetuated.

14. Endangered Billionaire Job Creators

Video of the year by Tex Shelters done in the style of an endangered species ad. If you gag every time you hear the term “job creators” about mega corporations who are actually job cutters, this video is for you.

15. My Dream Christmas Letter From Obama to the Republican National Committee

Reason to Read: The article is a letter I would love to see Obama send Republicans and it explains why he will win in 2012. It also highlights the faulty Republican candidates and how they are not qualified for the campaign trail let alone the office of the presidency. Moreover, it’s funny.

Excerpt: And Michelle Bachmann, what can I say? She thinks black families had it better during slavery than they do now. Thank you for that Representative Bachmann. Have you asked Herman Cain about that?

Memorable line: You know how to make a guy feel welcome, to four more years in the White House.

So there you have it, some of my choices for articles that deserve an addition read and issues that deserve further consideration.

Peace, and happy New Year,
Tex Shelters

Happy New Year, World, from Tex Shelters of Occupy Tucson

In Current Events, Economics, History, Occupy Movement on December 29, 2011 at 23:30

Occupy the World from flyingnorth.net

To: The World and all its residents
From: Tex Shelters of Occupy Tucson, speaking for himself and not the movement
Re: Current Conditions and prospects

Dear World:

Happy New Year, World. I know we have had a rough year and not treated you well. I hope you forgive humanity and realize that many of us see some of what you are going through and want to help. I also want to acknowledge that “New Year” is a human construct and that the world has a different concept of time, living eternally in the moment and constantly in forever.

Sorry about the global warming world. I know you try to accommodate humanity, but at this rate, I wouldn’t blame you if you threw us all off for our continued burning of your forests, coal and oil fields. And sorry about the BP oil spill in the gulf, world. I only wish that the corporations that caused the spill weren’t getting so little punishment and that we would use that disaster to change our energy policy.

We are worried about your 1.4 billion that live in extreme poverty despite your bounty. It’s not your fault, world, but we have created a system that allows such suffering and depravity. The one percent hoard more than they need, and most of us have been accomplices to this plunder.

We occupiers and others are disturbed that the United States leads the way in incarcerating its people, and that the world far too often sees prison as an answer to social problems. I know that’s not what you want us to do with your resources.

We are upset about the continued war economy that puts money into weapons and their manufacturers, weapons that are created for the sole purpose of killing. Sorry world. We occupiers do want to end wars and the use of these weapons that protect the wealth of the 1%. We occupy because we don’t think it’s too late to end this endless war.

We are upset about all the foreclosures on homes, especially those that could be saved with some creative refinancing. Bankers are very good at finding creative ways to make money, hide their lack of liquidity, create credit default swaps, collateralized debt obligations and other financial instruments to make money off the hard earned work of others. But neither the banks nor the government have been willing to work creatively to help people from losing their homes. And the efforts that have been made are inadequate to meet the needs of homeowners. This is not what the world needs.

We are upset by CEOs that make millions even when their companies lose money. The world would be a better place without these greedy people.

We are upset about the Washington, DC revolving door in which Congress members can get jobs making millions at Wall Street firms as Washington insiders and use their Congressional contacts to help their new companies get contracts, tax cuts, reduced regulation, and other benefits. We are upset by Congress selling our democracy to the highest donor for a few dollars and thus sell out everyone’s future. They are no better than dictators who rob their national treasuries. Moreover, we are upset that Congress can in essence practice insider trading, further selling out our democracy.

World, we are upset that many in Congress would rather cut programs that help Americans in a time of need than work with the president to create jobs.

We occupy because we don’t think it’s too late to help create positive change. So please dear world, help us educate the populous about the greedy few who want to ruin the planet for all of us and for far too long have not been challenged.

Tex Shelters

Tex Shelters’s Pet Peeves of the 2011

In Current Events, Economics, History, Humor, Occupy Movement on December 28, 2011 at 19:36


from petliferadio.com

I ordered these for editorial reasons; they are not ranked. The list is not all inclusive, but they are issues I have experience with and might amuse you. So on with the winners!

Google has slowly crept into almost every aspect of the blogosphere and internet. Soon, you will have to log-in to Google to take a shit in your own home.

The use of the term “pro-life” and “pro-abortion”
People who use the term pro-life to define themselves are usually just pro-fetus. Many of them don’t care if a woman dies as long as the fetus is protected and are the same people who support cuts to education, school lunch programs, immunizations, pell grants, ADFC, and other programs that aid children. And, the forced-birth crowd is often for the death penalty and against health care. So much for “pro-life”. Moreover, nobody is “pro-abortion.” No one is lining up to have an abortion as if they were lining up for Jay-Z tickets. The idea that anyone is pro-abortion is just a lie that ignores the reality of choice in the United States.

Certainly, this could be a pet peeve any year, but the forced-birthers are endangering the lives of half the population to a higher degree than ever by challenging legal and safe medical procedures.  And, the way the argument is framed is part of the reason they get away with it.

Congress ignores the needs of the people to pander to the 1%. Republicans in Congress spent much of 2010 talking about the deficit and trying to find ways to cut social spending, thus increase unemployment during a recession. In the first half of this year, Republicans spent much of the year still focused on cuts until Occupy Wall Street gathered steam and media attention and helped change the debate from deficits to equity, jobs, and bank criminality. As Republicans took charge of the agenda after winning a majority in the House, Democrats either cheerfully joined in or passively sat by. Let’s hope Congress listens to the people and their needs in 2012.

People who write about the Occupy Movement but have never been to a camp or read the literature provided by various movements
Would you trust a movie reviewer who never saw the movie they are writing about? Then why trust “journalists” who write about the Occupy Movement but have never visited a camp? These critics talk about something they haven’t even experienced, first or secondhand. This also goes for many members of the general public as well who buy into the lies about the movement. One of the most misguided comments I heard was “people only go to Occupy Wall Street to hook up.” Yes, that’s where I would go for a date too, cause all that talk about a widening income gap, buying on margin, and increasing poverty and homelessness gets the ladies and gentlemen hot!

Anyone who refuses to look at conservative decisions and policies made by President Obama and then turns around and blames those who criticize Obama for his decisions are Obampoligists™. They criitcize anyone who disagrees with Obama on one policy area or another as misguided fools who don’t realize that a Republican would be worse than a Obama. Sorry folks, we know Obama would be better than the current crop of Republican candidates, but he’s not better than say, Reagan. Being better than a Republican doesn’t make you a good president any more than being a better singer than William Shatner means you should win a grammy.

People who write unsupported statements online as if they are facts and don’t provide links or evidence for what they are saying
If you don’t have anything nice to say, at least back up your comments with facts or links or posts or something. Otherwise, you are wasting everyone’s time. That also goes for positive but unsubstantiated claims as well.

The idea that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme
People who think Social Security is a Ponzi scheme know little about either. Let me make it simple: In Ponzi scheme, you put money into an investment and the money actually goes into the pockets of the schemer and you receive a portion of what you invest as “dividends” with promises that you will reap more later if only you invested more. Social Security taxes, on the other hand, are put into a low yield trust for later use and the money you put in is what you are guaranteed later. And unlike a Ponzi scheme, people are getting their money from the Social Security Trust Fund.

Ron Paul supporters
Ron Paul is apparently the best thing since sliced bread for his supporters. But he is a racist who has a few things correct. He wants to end the minimal wage, get rid of a woman’s right to choose, he wants to privatize education, and opposes the separation of church and state among other things.

Sure, I don’t like other Republican (or Democratic) candidates, but the blind allegiance people have to Paul is the real version of the fantasy Obama-messiah complex. However, no one goes anybody go around calling out the followers of the Paulist religion. No, that would be heresy.  People prattle on and on again and again about how Ron Paul is the answer to our problems. If he is the answer, what is the question? Paul is only the answer because the other Republican candidates have no credibility on any issue, and at least Paul can stand by his long held anti-war and fiscally conservative stances in the past. His positions on many issues are well thought out compared to the other GOP candidates. But hey, even I look tan next to an albino.

The use of the term Nazi
Republicans have called President Obama nearly everything, including “Nazi”. The IRS, Occupy Wall Street, all government, Democrats and Republicans have all been called Nazi this year. The Nazis were a one off historical organization and nothing will ever be like the Nazis. If you need a term, although I wouldn’t use this one without reason, use “fascist.”

Promoting the misuse of the term “Nazi” distorts history and promotes ignorance, as is exemplified when a fourteen year old boy was beaten by bullies in a suburban Denver school as they called him “Nazi” for being German and “Fag” for liking musical theater.    This is disturbing in many ways, and sidesteps the fact that Nazis killed homosexuals by the thousands in WWII.  But history seldom trumps racism and homophobia. Even Democrats joined the chorus of people misusing the label “Nazi” as Rep. Cohen (an ironically Jewish sir name), compared Republican tactics against health care to Nazi tactics. 

People who don’t read my online articles
No, seriously, thanks to my dozens of readers and I wish you all a happy New Year. Please post your own pet peeves below or link this to other social media sites with a click of your mouse.


Tex Shelters

Rush Limbaugh says BP Oil Spill a “Non-story”

In Economics, History on December 21, 2011 at 19:19

Dead birds, no big deal from griffyclan007.wordpress.com

On Rush Limbaugh’s show of December 19th, he stated that the BP Oil spill, the AP top story of 2010, “Ended up being a non-story”, and that few people remember it. We could spend years refuting all the misinformation and outright lies Mr. Limbaugh spews on his show, but I thought this a good opportunity to remember one of the worst man-made ecological disasters in U.S. history.

What Rush says about the BP/Deep Water Horizon story shows his contempt for reality. The importance of a story politically and historically often has little to do with how its remembered. Second, one of the reasons it is not remembered is that news outlets such as Fox, Clear Channel, CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC and the even the supposedly “liberal” counterpoint to Fox News, MSNBC, have done little reporting on this story since the BP/Deep Water Horizon Oil spill of 2010 stopped gushing millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The BP media blackout during the disaster also reduced its coverage.

Limbaugh infers that if we don’t remember a story, it’s not important. How many people under the age of thirty can tell you about Watergate or the Cuban Missile Crisis? If we don’t remember, than it’s not important, right? I am sure few Americans can tell you about the Armenian genocide by the Ottoman Turks, but does that mean it’s not important?  The Turks killed 1.5 million Armenians in a country the size of Maryland in 1915-16, but because we don’t remember it, it’s a “non-story” according to Rush. And what about the cracking of secret German codes in WWII that hastened the end of the war?   I guess that was a non-story too. Using Rush’s criteria, if he doesn’t report on it, it doesn’t matter.

Furthermore, it is the mass media that influences to a large extent what stories we remember and discuss. You might recall that only three short months ago, Occupy Wall Street began. For the first few weeks, there was nothing in the front sections of the New York Times about the occupation. Thus, the movement didn’t exist. Now, phrases like “occupy” and “99%” are part of our national discourse. You can bet if the movement disappeared tomorrow, our collective amnesia would set in and people like Rush will say, “The Occupy Movement was a non-story.”

BP and their executives tried to enforce a media blackout on the Deep Water Horizon spill. “In fact BP has hired security guards and someone has even instructed the military to prevent media access to the workers and oil spill cleanup operations.” They wanted to block the beaches and protect them from dangerous cameras that would film the tragedy and interfere with their media spin campaign about BP being good corporate citizens. They also prevented clean up workers from talking to the media. They denied this interference despite damning evidence from a local news outlet. The airspace above the oil spill was also shut off to traffic and media outlets.

First, BP said they were keeping the public away from the beach for safety reasons. However, they weren’t willing pay for the acoustic switch, a remote shut off valve that would have cost only $500,000. It would cost $560 million to replace the Deep Water Horizon oil rig. So much for public safety. Later, after keeping people off the beaches because they were oh so concerned about safety, they said they were closing off the area due to vandalism.

So, if this was a non-story, it’s because of censorship and the news cycle that won’t report things such as shut off valves, corporate culpability, and the need for regulation. Corporations own the mass media and a larger and larger portion of the Internet, and they don’t want to air their dirty laundry. Thus, they have mouthpieces like Mr. Limbaugh diminish ecological disasters and the economic catastrophe caused by the BP oil spill. This discourse fits right into the mind set of Limbaugh’s audience that small government is good government and liberals and environmentalists want to attack hard working oil companies like BP.

So let’s remember the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster of 2010. On April 20, 2010, the Deep Water Horizon Oil Rig exploded and spewed an estimated 200 millions gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Thousands of marine animals died and the economy of the gulf coast was in ruins. The well wasn’t capped and controlled until September, 2010. BP estimates the likely cost of its Gulf of Mexico oil spill to be $40bn. That’s a 80,000 times more costly than the $500,000 acoustic switch that BP failed to install. But when you put profit above the environment or the livelihood of people, and you can write off such losses on your taxes, what’s the big deal. As Rush would say, it’s a “non-story.”

What Rush and the corporate elite don’t want us to know is that it was operational short cuts taken by BP and Halliburton that lead to the oil disaster. Rush and the CEO of BP will never admit that not only were the regulations that could have prevented the disaster not followed, more regulation for deep water drilling rigs like the Deep Water Horizon is the only way to reduce the potential for future Gulf oil spill disasters.

And what is also lost in the conversation is that more offshore oil drilling in the United States won’t affect the cost of gas to the consumer. More drilling could damage our oceans for hundreds and thousand of years if we have more BP sized spills in the future. However, the mainstream media and Congress don’t want to upset their corporate benefactors, so policies that could prevent future oil disasters and lead to larger investment in sustainable energy are not part of the discussion.

By calling it a non-story, Rush encourages millions of his listeners to ignore the dangers of our energy policy because as Mr. Limbaugh wants you to believe, it doesn’t matter.

Tex Shelters

While Millions Remain Jobless, The U.S. Government Votes for the Right to Detain You

In Current Events, Election Politics on December 18, 2011 at 21:41

from blog.amnestyusa.org

To prove to the world, Republicans, Democrats and perhaps himself that he was tough on terror, President Obama signed the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which included the embedded  indefinite detention provision. And yes, Congress passed the bill with bipartisan support. We are now on notice; behave, or the government will detain you as long as they want.

The detention provision states:

(1) Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force.

(2) COVERED PERSONS- The requirement in paragraph (1) shall apply to any person whose detention is authorized under section 1031 who is determined–  (Read the text here)

It is clear that after reading the detention bill that was added to the NDAA and commentary regarding said bill, that there is no expressed prohibition against indefinitely detaining a U.S. Citizens contained in the bill. At the same time, the vague language makes it appear that only foreign nationals are targeted.

For example, what does the term “affiliate” mean in the passage of the bill that states, “al- Qaeda and its violent extremist affiliates”? Is Occupy Wall Street an affiliate, and should they be detained indefinitely? Moreover, why are we still going after al-Qaeda when they have already been eliminated as a threat? It is the desire Congress and our elites have for a never ending war that makes money for the military industrial complex? It also keeps U.S. Citizens in fear and distracted from addressing the real problem in the nation, Congress and the elites themselves who continue these wars against the world’s poor.

Will President Gingrich use this detention provision to detain any political opposition, non-citizen and citizen alike? Republicans clearly think that the Occupy Movement is full of violent extremists, so will they use it against them? The law contains room for interpretation and thus such detentions can be easily justified under it.

Obama pushed for this provision and signed this bill even though it unconstitutionally abridges the Fifth Amendment, guaranteeing the right to due process; the Sixth Amendment, right to a speedy trial and to confront the witnesses against him or her; and the Seventh Amendment, the right to a trial by jury. All of these amendments legally cancel out indefinite detention laws for anyone living in the United States and any U.S. citizen anywhere in the world.

However, if you can label someone an enemy combatant, then the President and the local, state, and national police apparatus can detain you as long as they want without any judicial checks to this power. And the detention provision in the NDAA makes this possible.

What are Obama’s motives in signing this? Is he trying to look tough. The tough stance would have been to veto this bill and explain why. But he had to show the Republicans he meant business, by taking it out on the rest of us. And Congress and their allies will celebrate with the construction of new laws to squelch dissension.

Tex Shelters


The Twelve Days of Christmas as done by Tex Shelters

In Current Events, Election Politics, Humor, World Affairs on December 17, 2011 at 19:59

What has Congress given us the last year? Watch the video and learn.


1973–A Landmark Year in Popular Music

In Entertainment, Music on December 15, 2011 at 23:27

Popular music was at its peak in both diversity and quality in 1973 . Why was 1973 such a note-worthy year in music? Was it technological, like newly crafted digital Moog synthesizer, used on Stevie Wonder’s 1973 classic Innervisions?

Perhaps it that FM radio had emerged from the 60s and become a dominant platform for the rock and roll culture. Or was it the globalization of rock and rock from Britain to its Commonwealth and beyond that brought rock to hundreds of millions of listeners and influenced new styles of music, in turn influencing rock and roll? Reggae is the prime example of cross cultural influence between rock and in this case, jamaican musical styles.

Not only was the early seventies a time of cultural and political upheaval (the Vietnam War, Watergate, Black, Native American, Gay, Chicano rights movements and so on), it was a time of emerging and converging musical styles such as heavy metal, funk, reggae, jazz fusion, and early disco.

While all the political and cultural events of the late 60s and 70s had an impact on the music of 1973, the early seventies was a time when rock, pop, and soul, major musical styles of the day, had matured. Rock and roll began in the 50s with Chuck Berry (among others) and came to white kids through Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly, et al. New technology built upon current and older  technologies, and new forms of music builds upon older forms. Also, those who had been influence by early rock, pop and soul artists were reaching their creative peak in the 70s, and they themselves were influencing a new crop of artists.

By the late sixties and early seventies, people picking up guitars had a litany of artist to call upon and imitate as well as add to. The same is true in pop and soul. James Brown lead to Parliament Funkadelic and the Brothers Johnson, Phil Ochs, Woody Guthrie, among others lead to the 60s folk music which lead to folk rock artists of the 70s, and so on.  And new communication and recording technology helped spread these new forms of music.

Not only had early rock, pop and soul artists become mainstream enough to sell and make a profit from, they were influencing new forms of music. Rock led to progressive rock and heavy metal, pop lead to singer song-writers like Cat Stevens, Carly Simon, James Taylor and Joni Mitchell and soul music lead to funk, which branched out into rap and disco.

Every year has its classic music, whether it be rap, rock, funk, soul, or other popular form. But the year 1973 stands out for the number of classics by artists that have made an eternal mark on popular music and culture.

First, any year that features Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon is a great year for music. So much has been written about this album that spent an amazing 786 weeks on the Billboard album chart that I will leave it for others.

Houses of the Holy, Led Zeppelin’s fifth studio album was also released that year. The album features classics such as D’yer Maker, The Song Remains the Same and The Ocean. The album is strong front to back with some of the best song writing ever by Zeppelin.

The Who, while outdone again by Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, put out one of their best albums in 1973, Quadrophenia. It’s a rock concept album, and one of the best. “The Real Me” features some of the finest drumming by Keith Moon on any Who track, and it features hits like “Love Reign O’er Me” and “I’m One”.

Alice Cooper’s best album, Billion Dollar Babies, was also released in 1973. With hit songs like “Elected” and “No More Mister Nice Guy”, Cooper wedged his place into rock stardom. There is not one weak song on the album; I recommend this album to all rock fans. In fact, I argue that this album is one of the best rock albums of all time.

Iggy Pop’s Raw Power also came out in 1973, and while not the best of the year, the album was a break from the heavy mental and introduction of power pop that foreshadowed groups such as the The Ramones. Iggy Pop was part of the Detroit grunge scene along with MC5.

For those not into the hard rock scene, 1973 didn’t disappoint. The year featured Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions, Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Paul McCartney and Wings with Band on the Run, and reggae classics from Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff.

Innervisions was a breakthrough album for soul singer and song writer Stevie Wonder. The album warns us about drugs, talks about racism and the struggles black men face, egomaniacs, love and his faith. Every song is it’s own gem that features unique musical influences. “Don’t you worry about a thing” is a Latin jazz, soul song featuring Cuban style piano of the day. In “Higher Ground”, influence by the philosophy of Dr. King, Wonder brings out the Moog and discusses the need to live a righteous life. In the manner of Dr. King, Wonder doesn’t come off as preachy at all; it is more confessional. It also has a little Buddhism in it, “The last time on earth I lived my whole life in sin.”

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road  is Elton John’s last masterpiece as a songwriter. While he has written many good songs since, none of his albums can hold a Candle in the Wind to the Harmony on this album. It’s hard to argue with the quality songwriting and craftsmanship on this album. And a special Tip of the Hat to Bernie Taupin, John’s long time collaborator, who wrote some of the tracks and many of the lyrics and guitar parts on this album.

Bob Marley and Wailer put out Catch a Fire in 1973, which features one of my favorites, “Concrete Jungle”, and Burin’ with two of Marley’s best and more well know songs,  “Get up Stand Up” and “I Shot the Sheriff.” Jimmy Cliff put out his peon to the Struggling Man that year and his classic The Harder they Come. All in all, it was a great year for two of Reggae’s leading artists.

The year also features Queen’s first album “Queen”. While few would argue that this album was their best work, it was a good start to a seminal rock act. Aerosmith release their self title debut that year as well, featuring the blockbuster “Dream On.” The New York Dolls also released their first self titled studio album. While they didn’t top the charts, The Dolls are credited with influencing the punk rock movement and bands such as The Sex Pistols and The Clash in Britain in the late 70s.

Bruce Springsteen also started his stellar career in 1973 with two albums, Greetings from Ashbury Park, N.J. and The Wild, the Innocence and the E-Street Shuffle. These albums would be a career for many, but for Mr. Springsteen, a warm up for his classic 1975 Born to Run.

David Bowie release Aladin Sane, his first number one album. It’s one of Bowie’s best albums with great songs and not as uneven as many of his albums featuring songs such as “Alladin Sane” and “Panic in Detroit.”

And prog rockers also had a good year. Nothing says “progressive rock” louder and more pretentiously than Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s Brain Salad Surgery. For those old enough, who can forget their enjoyment or revulsion the first time they hear “Karn Evil #9?” Pretensions aside, there is some fantastic composing on this album, and I mean “composing”.  And what would the early seventies be without prog rock super group Yes. Not only did they release Tales From Topographic Oceans, they released their Yessongs compilation of live recordings that went platinum, as has their third, fourth and fifth albums. That’s not bad for a band not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Genesis also released Selling England by the Pound in 1973.

Parliament Funkadelic put out their seminal Cosmic Slop in 1973. Other groups releasing albums include ZZ Top, The Rolling Stones, Frank Zappa, and The Eagles.

So whether you liked soul music, pop, rock, raggae among other styles, 1973 is a year to remember and on that lives on in our mp3 players and FM radio stations.

Read more about the great albums of 1973 here.

Tex Shelters

My Dream Christmas Letter From Obama to the Republican National Committee

In Current Events, Election Politics, Humor on December 12, 2011 at 23:13

from tlj-news.com

Dear Republican National Committee:

First of all, Merry Christmas. See, I’m not against Christmas like you think, ha ha.

Seriously, I know we haven’t always got along these last three years. However, I want to thank you for the recent discussions of issues you’ve had at those debates. They’re priceless.

I loved to hear all those audience members cheer Governor Perry’s executions of U.S. citizens, some possibly innocent, in Texas. It makes our drone attacks seem downright humane.

And Ron Paul’s comments about people on their death bed and Tea Party support for death panels bolsters national support for the health care plan we passed in 2009. I appreciate it Representative Paul.

And Michelle Bachmann, what can I say? She thinks black families had it better during slavery than they do now. Thank you for that Representative Bachmann. Have you asked Herman Cain about that?

Thanks for reminding America that I was the one who ordered the capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden. Every time you criticize my foreign policy record, average Americans remember how I got the man who planned 9/11. So thanks. And now, remind them that I was the one who ended the fighting in Iraq. I love it when we can work together for my reelection.

I want to thank Rick Perry for angering not only gays, but all the Jews in America, the non-evangelicals, about 2/3rds of Christians, the intellectuals, and all the people who can fire more that two neurons at once and realize there is no war on Christmas.  And thank you Governor Perry for your continued ignorance of the separation of church and state.

In general, thanks for supporting an end to the minimum wage, and end of the education department, supporting child labor (Here’s to you Newt!), cuts to Social Security and Medicaid and cuts to billionaires taxes, and all the great things you say and do.

You Repubilcans make a guy feel loved, by the rest of America that you have petrified. You know how to make a guy feel welcome, to four more years in the White House.

Merry Christmas, see you in 2012. I can’t wait.

Your Black President,
Barack Hussein (suck on it) Obama.

Tex Shelters

The Occupy Movement has Already Succeeded

In Current Events, Occupy Movement on December 8, 2011 at 19:23

Occupy Madrid From different-kitchen.com

The current historical trend of occupying public space to address social issues began in the Middle East and Spain. When Occupy Wall Street started a U.S. occupy movement, encouraged by an advertisement in the Canadian magazine Adbusters, on September 17, 2011, the mainstream media and public officials were caught off guard.

Now that the Occupy Movement is in its third month in the U.S., my friends and colleges not active in the movement are offering advice. “You have to have a unified message”, “You have to get more media attention”, “You have to move out of the camps and do something new.” And they are full of accusing questions such as “What do you stand for?”, “Who are your leaders?”, “How long will it last?”, “What’s next.?”

So, not only have we faced media skepticism about the movement just being a fad (as well as the lies and misinformation about the movement), then attacks from the police and public officials once they realized our movement wasn’t going away, we now have potential allies telling us what to do. In a world of instant trends and fads and Republican presidential candidates that sit on top of polls for two weeks and fade away, people’s impatience for change and miracles has come to Occupy. Didn’t President Obama at least get 6 months to change things before the criticism began?

Why are we, a movement facing more obstacles and barriers to change than the President, a group without the bully pulpit and instant media attention of an elected official, a group that started basically from the ground up with the social and political capital of our members, face with such an unreasonable set of expectations? No social movement is successful overnight, and it is unreasonable to expect the Occupy Movement to meet the kind of success those outside the movement want. And let’s be truthful here; these criticisms are from those that have never set foot in an Occupy encampment, gone to a march or protest, or read much about the movement.

However, the fact that they are talking about the movement, and now talking about economic equality issues and not the manufactured debt crisis, is a sign of our success.

Republicans are scared of Occupy Wall Street
Another sign of our success is that Republicans have taken notice. Even Republican strategist Frank Luntz admits that the Occupy Movement has had an impact. And this is why we can’t and shouldn’t stop our actions, encampment or not. Luntz is afraid that the Occupy Movement’s message of economic inequality is getting through and painting the Republicans for what they are, defenders of the 1%. It’s not a message that the Republicans can successfully run on, so they must work to diminish it’s impact. Let’s keep sending out our message and not allow the Republicans and Democrats minimize its impact. On a side note, I have yet to hear Luntz or anyone else say they afraid of Obama and his message except to trump up some nonsense that he’s a secret Muslim.

The attacks on the Occupy Movement will only increase as our message makes its way from the encampments to the Internet, radio, television, and beyond. The terms Occupy and 99% have already made it into America’s consciousness. Now the challenge is to bring this successful framing to our public officials and get them to address the economic system to make it more equitable, where capital no longer crushes the 99% to make profit, a system where people’s needs are put before capital, and profit occurs only from serving the people, not at our expense. It’s not capitalism most of us object to, it’s the rigged system we want to abolish.

While it is true that the dominance the 1% holds over our politics and economics continues and there is much work to be done to change this, we have been a successful movement by getting the terms of the debate changed from having to address the “debt crisis”, to helping the 99% with life, liberty and the pursuit happiness.

Tex “Liberate Tucson” Shelters

“Child Labor Laws are Stupid” and other Republican Ideas

In Current Events, Humor on December 5, 2011 at 18:36

from media.masslive.com

Newt Gingrich got to the crux of the problem in America when he said, “Child labor laws are stupid!” Why prevent perfectly healthy children from working when they can. Then we could reduce labor costs and businesses would hire more people as they do with their tax cuts.

Other Republicans had to get behind this stupidity so as not to be left behind by children.

Michelle Bachman came out and told us that, “Science is stupid. What’s the point anyway? If you have to be a nerd or like Denis Kucinich to understand it, you can have it.”

Mitt Romney was clear about this choice, “Reporters are stupid, especially Bret Baier. They ask about books and think it matters what we said and did in the past when it’s obviously not the past and they make up past positions they think you had just to get you.”

Sarah Palin concurs, “Yes, and reporters ask you about the Constitution and what newspapers you read, as if any of that matters.”

Rick Perry thinks that having to come up with three items in a list is stupid. “Why isn’t two enough, why do people always insist on  I also think that the ACLU is stupid for writing me letters not to execute people that might be innocent. What a waste of time it is trying to save those on a Texas death row.”

Herman Cain says that workers are stupid. “If they weren’t stupid, they would be bosses. The poor are also stupid. It’s their fault they don’t have work. And Democrats who lie about my sexual business are also stupid.”

Ron Paul says that, “My fellow Republican candidates are stupid for supporting the wars, and beyond that, anybody who supported the Civil Rights Act is stupid. Don’t people know that segregation and voting rights would have worked themselves out in the South without big government interfering?”

Rick Santorum, always trying to be a conciliator says that, “Obama is stupid. How can he think he can beat the brilliant team we have assembled here to beat him? Beating an old Man like McCain is one thing, but we all agree that you have to be pretty stupid to be a Democrat.”

Tex Shelters