Friday, October 16, 2009

So What Are You Dicks Smiling About?

This is an appropriately profanity-laden post, about a profane situation. I still don’t support the TARP. I’d like to tell President Obama that I don’t give a shit if it’s working.


Because of these greedy motherfuckers pictured right here.

Our jobless rate, being what it is, gives no cause for celebration.

Yahoo! Finance reported Wednesday that as of the close of the bell, the Dow has hit five figures again, a number not seen in over 12 months. They reported that “investors can start focusing on the next benchmark for the market's recovery.”


The Dow Jones Industrial Average has been the market’s most widely feared, revered and accepted barometer for decades. Like sedimentary layers that illustrate flush wet fertile years versus periods of rainless drought, trending the DJIA will show us the last century’s worst financial crises against its greatest stretches of prosperity... for some. It’s like the way counting tree rings won’t tell you a thing about disease in primates, only if they had more or less water to drink.

Joblessness is here to stay
. Many jobs shed across economic sectors may in fact be permanent in America. There is a consumer credit and loan crisis in the offing once the rate and total number of defaults on individual credit cards accounts hits a point of no return. -I’d say “tipping point” but I feel like Malcolm Gladwell has that term copyrighted, and in any case I always laugh when people repeatedly throw it in conversation as if they’re citing some great work in philosophy.

Everyone in government last year, from George W. Bush to Hank Paulson down to the lowliest Democratic junior Congressman managed to convince every poor schmuck, working-class schmendrick, and hapless debtor treading water in America to ignore the foreclosure sign on their lawn, but also that AIG’s, Bank of America’s and even Goldman Sach’s* pain was also somehow their own. Now that these monstrous financial institutions are repeatedly posting profits, their joy is strangely not changing the fortunes of the people who footed the bill for their massive rescues or supported their restructuring. Not one person’s immediate situation is changed by the Dow’s rise yesterday. If you lost your job, the 10,000 point Dow is not calling you on the phone to offer you a new one.

Quite the opposite:

I just got a letter from Bank of America two days ago; they are amending the agreement they made with me on a fixed rate loan that they repeatedly assured me would never change. I called them and asked: “The term fixed rate doesn’t mean anything when you say it, does it?” The woman on the other end of the phone actually laughed. I respected her not being able to hold in a chuckle at a sucker’s expense, just as she probably knows I would’ve choked the life out of her had she been standing in front of me.

I am paying tax dollars to stabilize financial institutions that are turning around and raising interest rates on me.

And where the fuck is Glenn Beck’s outrage now? -Oh that’s right, Glenn Beck passionately argued for AIG keeping their bonuses, -and why not? Glenn Beck is rich. He won’t be crying any of his theatrical tears on TV for you, or for me or for anybody that does the actual living and dying in America at the whims of banks. They’ll compare President Obama to Adolf Hitler, but neither he, nor anyone at Fox “News” Channel will ever go after the finance and banking corporations that make life miserable for working class Americans. They will never decry the subsidies and corporate welfare that keeps the downtrodden, stepped-upon.

So I ask again; to every smug jackass on the NYSE trading floor, sitting behind four screens watching indexes, I say again to every asshole in finance whose livelihood we saved with our tax dollars last fall who:

-won’t create a job;
-won’t pull a family out of foreclosure;
-won’t even pay their proportionate share of taxes:

Just what are you dicks smiling about?

-Oh right, you’re fucking us over again, and there’s nothing we can do about it.
That’s what you’re smiling about.

I said it last year and I’ll say it again, tax money should go to help the actual individual people in trouble who “owe” the money that “imperils” financial institutions, it should not go to the finance, insurance and investment entities who put Americans in the hole with variable APRs, sub prime loans, escalating mortgages. It’s their own money, Americans had to put it up, why can’t it go to helping them first? For once, I’d like to hear somebody admit, sincerely and without qualification, that deregulation was a bad idea. I’d like to hear it from all the politicians who supported it for the last 25 years.

For once I’d like to see an economic initiative trickle up, not down.

But financial institutions would never support anything that equitable and just, would they? It practically sounds like agreeing to be pissed upon from up high doesn’t it?

It sounds like what is always happening in America.


* Goldman Sachs is about to report a tripling in profits compared to one year ago according the Wall street Journal yesterday morning.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot...

But honestly, I don't think that he should be denied the right to be an owner of an NFL team. Rush is constantly pushing the envelope in his commentary every day, but let's face it, he's basically an entertainer at this point. He has an audience to entertain and he does an amazing job of keeping their attention with just talk. I would hate to think that we've reached a point in this country when expressing your views, however unpopular, would mean that you no longer have the right to take part in a free market enterprise. I probably haven't agreed with anything I've heard Rush say for the past 20 years, but if he wants to own an NFL team, a NBA team, a MLB team or an NHL team, I say more power to him.

I think we on the left should be branded hypocrites if we said nothing on this matter. I don't like what Rush has to say, but damn it, he has every right to say it. Let's not start handing out scarlet letters to people we don't agree with. What should we deny Rush next? The right to buy a car dealership? The right to buy his groceries at Wal-Mart? And why should we just stop at Rush? Perhaps everyone on Fox News should have the same restrictions placed on them. I know Rush is a pretty vile person. I personally can't stand the guy, but I'm not willing to say what he should and shouldn't be able to do with his money.

I know this will probably be a pretty unpopular post, but I'm standing on principle here. Rush should be able to buy a football team if he wants one. Of course the players can refuse to play for him if they want to. The fans can refuse to show up to the games if they want to and the networks can refuse to cover the games if they want to.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It's a Snowe Day in D. C.

So the Finance Committee finally got a version of the health care bill approved. Well, hoo f'ing ray! We, meaning the American people, will now have the pleasure of having our the future of our health care system decided by one person. No, I'm not talking about the person the majority of Americans voted for last November. I'm talking about our new de facto President, Olympia Snowe. I do appreciate Senator Snowe breaking with her party and voting for some version of health care reform. What I do not appreciate is the fact that the bill coming out of the insurance company employee Max Baucus' committee, is without a doubt the weakest of the five bills in Congress.

It has become clear that because of the Snowe endorsement, the weakest of the bills is now the template for any agreement going forward. The Bacus bill is the only one of the five that does not include a public option. The Democrats, who in theory have enough votes to overcome a filibuster, will now bend over backwards to accommodate Senator Snowe. She will be a part of the group that works on merging the two Senate bills and at this point it looks like she will be the most important part. Do you think that a bill containing a public option will make it to the floor of the Senate when keeping the approval of Senator Snowe seems more important to the Democratic leadership than passing an effective bill?

I have no idea how we have come to this point. The last time I checked, the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. It seems almost unbelievable to me that the White House would be willing to throw the public option overboard (with no real alternative in sight) for this token appearance of bi-partisanship. Has bi-partisanship somehow replaced effectiveness as the key word for health care reform legislation? In the coming weeks, we will watch as Bacus and Harry Reid bend over backwards in order to placate Senator Snowe. No public option? Sure, Olympia, whatever you want. You want a much larger penalty on those who are too poor to actually afford the high priced insurance that they are now mandated to purchase? Sure. Anything you want. You want to actually make the Bush tax cuts permanent? Sure. We don't need the money anyway.

There can be only one President at a time, according to our Constitution. But I'm not sure that we don't now have two people who now have the power to veto a bill. Senator Snowe may indeed have more power than the guy in the White House, because she gets to veto the bill before it ever gets to his desk.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"Why Doesn't Obama Care

about Fox ‘News’ Channel?" isn't even a question worthy of prolonged discussion, at least not by anyone willing to talk straight about the matter. As I've written here, in post after post after post after post, Fox “News” Channel isn't a news channel, it’s the propaganda arm of the RNC.

Fox “News” is just not news. It’s dishonest for people like Brit Hume and Chris Wallace* (I incorrectly referred to Mike Wallace in the last version of this post), who have actually worked for real news organizations in the past to pretend that it is, or excuse themselves and their bizarre partisan omissions and distortions as an alternative (to what? the facts?)

Every time anyone in elected office appears on Fox “News,” it’s just another layer in the veneer of a false legitimacy for this 24-hour establishment-touting charade that Rupert Murdoch has foisted on the American Public. I’m glad the White House isn’t willing to pretend along with the GOP anymore.

There are no potential Obama supporters or voters within the Fox “News” audience unless they are capable of not watching Fox “News” as though it were information and concede that it is a PR outlet for the Right Wing.
Why do I say that?
Because Fox “News” is the channel Americans turn to when they don’t accept what they see happening in reality. Fox “News” is the place where viewers can go to see Republican politicians and their policies always portrayed in a positive light, unless they don’t tow the party line, and Democrats and Liberals always portrayed as evil and “Unpatriotic.”

Barack Obama mostly ignored Fox “News” Channel during the Presidential campaign to no ill effect. Going on Fox, with the noted exception of Sheppard’s Smith show (Smith’s but a drop in its 24-hour cycle) makes about as much sense as phoning into Rush Limbaugh’s show.

Recognizing Fox as an enemy worth fighting is an admission of weakness for a president whose appeal has been partly predicated on the promise of unity," Chris Rovzar wrote on yesterday’s New York Magazine Blog.
I couldn’t disagree more.
What Anita Dunn and the White House are doing is not recognizing Fox “News” Channel. It’s not news, so the White House won’t deal with it anymore than they would “World Weekly News.”

You can watch “Fox News,” and enjoy it, even repeat what you hear on it, -but by their own admission, their star “analysts,” Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck are not journalists. They need to go one step further and take the word “News” out of their name. If we had an FCC actually concerned with something other than cursing and the occasional wayward tit on TV, Rupert Murdoch’s product wouldn’t be allowed to be so inaccurately promoted and marketed with such a misleading name.

Fox “News” Channel is not a news network.
That’s why the President doesn’t care.


Monday, October 05, 2009

All Aboard

As the Democrats struggle with health care reform, I think it's a good time to remind ourselves why they seem to struggle to get meaningful legislation passed, even with control of the Congress and the White House. When the Republicans are in power, they band together to form a single voice. There are few dissenters and they push through their agenda with seemingly little debate from inside the party. The Democrats, however, end up looking like a model for the modern dysfunctional family. Are the Republicans more united than the Democrats? No doubt. Are the Republicans more effective at advancing their views? No doubt.

Why are the Republicans more effective than the Democrats? It's simple really. The Democrats try to incorporate many views under their banner, while the Republicans are basically tolerant of only one. Being a "conservative" means that you believe in God and the Bible. That you believe in a strong national defense above all else. That you believe in the 2nd amendment as an absolute. That you believe abortion is a sin. That you believe illegal immigrants (and frankly all immigrants of color) are the cause of many of the ills of society. That you believe that government has no place in your health care (as long as Medicare and VA benefits are tended to by some invisible force that is definitely not the government). These along with a few others are the tenants of the Republican cause. You either believe these things or you have no place in the party. When Colin Powell dared to admit that he was voting for Barack Obama, the right wing press attacked. Rush Limbaugh said that the only reason he was voting that way was because of skin color. Rush said that there was no place in the Republican Party for him.

That is the modern Republican Party. It is monolithic and at times monosyllabic. The Democrats are a "big tent" party. It is made up of a diverse coalition of views and beliefs. Some believe in God and the Bible, some believe that abortion is a sin, some have no love for immigrants and some even believe that government should have no place in their health care. The difference being that the Democrats do not try to expel people for those views or beliefs. The current uproar over the "Blue Dog" Democrats would have you believe differently, but unless one of those representatives were to declare himself or herself a Republican, they will still receive the majority of support of their party members against any opposition.

It does make the Democratic Party a whole lot messier and seemingly less effective, but you have to remember the legacy that the big party approach has left behind. From social security, to desegregation of the military, to the civil rights bill, to Medicare, the Democratic Party has been the driving force behind each of these landmark changes to our country. It was a struggle each time to get these things done. Arms had to be twisted, promises had to made and sometimes the rules had to be bent just a little in order to give the American people real change. But always remember which side of the aisle those changes came from.

I am a declared Independent who has been at times very frustrated with the pace of progress in Washington, D. C. At times I've thrown up my hands at the President's seeming lack of urgency. I've cursed the Blue Dogs and the Progressives. I've sworn off writing on this blog a time or two. I've written angry articles, I've called my Senators and Congressmen and demanded action. I have even said out loud that I wished the Democrats could be a little more like the Republicans. But with a calmer head I do realize that wishing for such a thing is more than foolhardy. It would be downright dangerous. Imagine a Congress in which we only had far right and far left fighting each other. We would see and endless string of leadership trying to dismantle what the other party did while in power. I long for the day when the Republican leadership will realize that a narrow vision is not necessarily a better vision. Until that day, we have the Democratic Party, warts and all, that still invites disparate views to share the stage.

I want meaningful health care reform. I want an end to the war in Afghanistan. I want public education to be a priority for this country again. I want an end to the abuse of the Constitution. I want a lot of things, but as I make my endless demands, I do occasionally stop and realize that there is only one party that's listening. It may not be perfect, it may not be the most effective, but it is the only one that genuinely values ideas that may not fit exactly into its platform. So I take today to celebrate the Democratic Party. Tomorrow may be a different story though.

Friday, October 02, 2009

We’ll Never Know; Just How Much We’ll Never Know

Last year, I wrote a three part post focused on the significance of an October 23, 2001 Justice Department legal memo. It was a legal opinion penned by John C. Yoo in response to the Bush Administration’s need for clarification on just what they could and couldn’t do in the days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

What John C. Yoo did, in a duplicitous violation of every Conservative ethic and philosophical tenet that George W. Bush and his cadre claimed to believe in, -was not address the Constitution as it was, but as the Bush Administration would have liked it to be. Yoo made rationalizations for circumventing Constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure and later attempted to define torture so narrowly that Rom Saxon’s Fu Manchu might well have found himself within legal limits in any of his gory exploitation movies.

We’ll never know; just how much we’ll never know, about the Bush administration’s backroom, nighttime attack on our Republic because too many of us were reduced to unquestioning, gullible, submissive fools in fear of what else some religious fundamentalist billionaire hiding in caves would do to us after the towers fell and 2,740 people were murdered. We Americans, driven by a paralyzing fear of the unknown, looked to the incompetent dysfunctional leaders in the White House who let us down in the first place.

How a President who was on vacation for nearly a month prior to the attack on the World Trade Center inspired blind loyalty that bordered on worship by American citizens is something that will never be understood or explained fully by anyone. Just as baffling was the climate we endured; in which no person could raise any questions about the obvious incompetence of the Bush Administration despite their increasingly ridiculous track record. We spent eight years hoping for the best and enduring the worst.

Now there is more evidence coming in the declassified words of our former Vice President himself.

Yesterday Emmet G. Sullivan of Federal District Court ruled that the FBI must reveal “much” of its notes the 2004 voluntary interview with Vice President Dick Cheney during the investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity; -that small criminal matter concerning Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s wife, a CIA agent who became a target of the Bush administration because Wilson wouldn’t stop pointing out that Cheney, Rumsfeld and others were lying about intelligence concerning Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. “Much” is what they are offering Americans in the place of the whole truth, instead of the facts in the matter.

We’ll never know; just how much we’ll never know about what the Bush White House did under the cover and privilege of national security and the pretense of defending the nation. The Obama Administration refuses to let the Justice Department do its job, -if it will lead to scandal… but all crime is scandal my friends, and so certain avenues to the facts and the truth will remain closed to us until they become inconsequential. Too many of us are relieved at this. Too many Americans are content to not know the extent, the horror of the Bush Administration’s abuses fearing that a condemnation of them is an indictment on all of us… The roads to sober, honest redemption are often paved with regrets and the broken glass of our fragile ideals.

We’ll just have to be tougher than that.

We must never be afraid of the facts, because when we are, opportunists are free to bend reality and recreate the world according to their own self-interests. Preferring to argue about imaginary Communists in our midst, instead of the power hungry elites who operate beyond the reaches of the laws we insist protect and bind us as a country. We become fodder for them all, big and small when we fear what they tell us to fear, and see only what they tell us to see.

So I’ll leave you this Friday afternoon with the poignant words of a man who I trust is keeping company with Blake, Whitman, Poe, Yeats, Keats, Tennyson, Twain and Jimi Hendrix.

In 1993, Bill Hicks said to us:

“The world is like a ride in an amusement park. And when you choose to go on it, you think it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills and it’s very brightly colored and it’s very loud and it’s very fun, for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time and they begin to question, is this real, -or is this just a ride? And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, they say, “Hey – don’t worry, don’t be afraid, ever, because, this is just a ride.”

And we… kill those people!

“Shut him up.”

“We have a lot invested in this ride.
Shut him up.
Look at my furrows of worry.
Look at my big bank account and my family.
This just has to be real.”

It’s just a ride.

But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that, did you ever notice that? -And let the demons run amok. But it doesn’t matter because: It’s just a ride.

And we can change it anytime we want. It’s only a choice.
No effort,
-no work,
-no job,
-no savings and money.
A choice, right now, between fear and love.

The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one.

Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride: Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defense each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world,
--which it would many times over, -not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in


Have a great weekend. Remember to speak the truth if you know it and are able. Silence is not honesty my friends. Sometimes it's downright suicidal.