Tuesday, October 06, 2009

It's NOT just racism...

As the brainless bovine that make up the birther/deather/teabagger crowd emit their fact less, logic less squeals primarily about Obama, many commentators of the left/liberal variety jump on the “it's racism!” bandwagon. True, as far as it goes, many of the mindless gasbags are, at their core, racists. Many of those who lament “We want our country back!” are those that want the fictional white, middle class utopia depicted in “Leave it to Beaver” back. Sigh! Those days really never were, as I should know since I was alive back then and have memories of that era. But, this is what they want.

However, these self same regressive poo flingers are, in the main, adamantly against the very things that made the comfortable middle class life possible during the Eisenhower era. Most are adamantly against unions, though it was unions that won many of the labor victories that made the 5-day work week, the 8-hour work day and a decent, livable wage a reality. They would foam at the mouth and scream “Socialism!” were the government to go back to the Eisenhower era top marginal tax rate of 91% for those making over $3 million a year. They would go beyond apoplectic were Obama to send federal troops into a state to enforce federal law on equal access to affordable housing as Eisenhower sent federal troops into Little Rock, Arkansas to enforce Brown v. Board.

All this being said, the opposition to Obama and the Democrats is not merely racist. It is a deeper, more malevolent, more malignant kind of opposition. It is an opposition that anyone representing/holding a more liberal viewpoint, no matter what the issue, is illegitimate and, therefore, unfit to rule. These are the "monarchists" in today's society who feel that they, and they alone, are morally superior enough to rule. Though these sentiments of the ruling elite are mouthed by many who “the ruling class” thoroughly despise, they are merely parroting the noxious talking points fed them by that self same “ruling class” (über rich elitists with an over inflated opinion of their own self worth). These talking points are spewed out by the multiple paps of the reichwing Wurlitzer (O'Reilly, Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity, etc. ad nauseam), who hold themselves out as “average Joes” simply “telling it like it is”. The fact that they are multi-millionaires with absolutely no knowledge of life in the trenches as experienced by the vast majority of their audience seems to be of no consequence. For the purpose of leading their muttonheaded flock, they assume the mantle of “the common man” though in no wise actually having any real, personal knowledge of what the real common man faces. They are isolated in their luxurious ivory towers, having no truck with the common peasants living in squalor, whose sole purpose, according to these wealthy charlatans, is to serve them.

Let us not forget, for all the truly despicable actions of Bill Clinton, he was not guilty of the vast majority of false charges claimed by the self same rabble that is now clamoring for the head of Obama. Clinton was a war criminal, he was a poseur as champion of “the people” while selling them and their interests down the river; all this is true. He was not, however, the murderer of Vince Foster, he was not an accomplished land manipulator (he and Hillary actually lost money on White Water). Virtually all of the charges that excited the hottest denunciations of Clinton and his wife by the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy were, quite simply, baseless. Again, in the case of Clinton as in the case of Obama, that minority (the mega-wealthy, over-privileged class) are adamantly fixed in opposition simply because they have absolutely no desire to have one iota of their power and privilege eroded to devolve to the masses.

So, remember, it is not simply racism, it is a wicked though small cabal of rich elitists who want more for themselves and less for everyone else.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Let's talk health care, shall we?

OK, I've held fire over the entire health care debate, hoping against hope that the Congress and Obama administration would, finally, forsake the imprecations of the highly funded health care combine (AMA, PharMa, AHIP, etc. ad nauseam), but that was not to be.

The absolute pile of crap that came out of Baucus' Senate Finance Committee showed just how beholden Baucus, Conrad, and Bingaman are to their primary funders, the out of state health care lobbies. The bill itself was drafted by one Liz Fowler who, until earlier this year, was an executive VP for the health care concern Wellpoint, Inc., primary owner of the majority of Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans in the U.S. So, this being the case, is it any surprise, whatsoever, that the Baucus Senate Finance Committee bill is just one great big wet kiss for the health care industry?

After last weekend's clueless gathering of mentally deficient “9/12ers” in D.C., one could only scratch one's head in bewilderment at how these people, the very people, by and large, that are and will continue to be screwed by the health care industry, were loudest at braying approval of the status quo. What is sobering is to realize that most of that crowd of unwashed, mouth breathing, knuckle dragging mental midgets can and probably do vote!

And, more astoundingly, though they raged and screamed about “socialist medicine” few, if any in that crowd, had ever actually experienced “socialized medicine” and had absolutely no idea what they were braying about. Contrary to the “masses” that showed their abject ignorance of the subject, I have actually experienced “socialized medicine” in both Europe and Canada. Again, contrary to all the “horror stories” of restrictions on providers, restrictions on procedures, interminable delays and scarcity, all of my experiences with European and Canadian health care were very salutary. When admitted to a hospital, after obtaining necessary personal data, I was quickly ushered to a hospital bed and was nursed and treated every bit as well as I ever had been in any American hospital. When going to the doctor I merely had to present my “health care ID” and got in to see the doctor in short order. When labs and tests were indicated, there was no major delay in obtaining them. And, most importantly, NO BILLS WERE TENDERED FOR ANY OF THIS CARE!

The pathetically weak, industry dominated Baucus bill is in no wise ANY KIND of “socialized health care”! It is a huge gift package for the health care industry, with “individual mandates” that would benefit the health insurance industry with MILLIONS of new “insured”, even if the only insurance available to many would be, essentially, worthless coverage. With literally dozens of ways for the insurance industry to game the system, Baucus' “health care reform” would, actually, be less than useless, it would be positively harmful!

Unfortunately, at this point it seems that the whole “health care reform” charade needs to be scrapped and, since it is manifestly obvious that the Republicans won't sign on to anything of consequence anyway, it needs to be redrafted from scratch. And, more importantly, when the redrafting begins, it should BEGIN from the standpoint of UNIVERSAL SINGLE PAYER! If necessary, then the universal single payer MAY be bargained down to a robust, heavily subsidized public plan. The public plan can be retained as a FALL BACK position, but it certainly shouldn't be the point of departure for a real health care reform plan.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Bail?
You betcha!

We are constantly being assailed, from all sides; the for profit media, government spokespersons, the talking heads on radio, TV and the inter-tubes, that there are companies and concerns that are “too big to fail”. They are “too big to fail” because, should they collapse, the economic reverberations would be too dire to contemplate. Therefore, due to their economic and political size, if they are in danger of failing it is incumbent upon the government (i.e., the taxpayers) to bail them out.

There is an excellent article today by Dave Lindorff, “Whatever Happened to Antitrust?”. He points out very clearly how much of the problems that the economy is now experiencing comes from the relaxation and non-enforcement of many of the antitrust laws. Many of these antitrust laws date back to the Theodore Roosevelt and Taft administrations. Unfortunately, this relaxation and non-enforcement of these antitrust rules cannot solely be laid at the feet of Bush the Lesser. It was during the Clinton administration that a premier anti-trust agency, the Interstate Commerce Commission, was abolished in 1995.

Additionally, IMHO, the entire concept of “too big to fail” is perverted and largely an aspect of the “American way of life”. The entire idea of “mass production” has morphed into unsupportable gigantism. Gigantism, by definition, “...is a condition characterized by excessive growth...” (emphasis added). Certainly, mass production has led to lowering of price and increase of availability of most commodities. However, this very lowering of price and increase in availability has led to overproduction. For example, were we to produce fewer automobiles the prices of cars would go up. However, that would in turn mean that vehicles would be kept longer, maintained better and people would, of necessity, place a higher value on the vehicles they have. People would, in turn, stop thinking of cars as disposable commodities, hence slowing the rate of cars being junked.

Ah, I hear you say, “But! That would mean a slow down in growth! Our economy would crash!” Well, yes, the consumerist version of our economy would crash...and more the better! A great deal of our economic problems come from that self same consumerist economy. As we have become ever more a “throw away” culture, we have amped up the use of natural resources. As it is, the U.S. has only about 4% of the world's population yet we use about 25% of the world's resources! This while, all during the Cold War, we went about the world selling the “American way of life”. Now, that China and India are becoming more wealthy and aspire to the “American way of life”, one can readily see that that situation is insupportable. Were the rest of the world to adopt the “American way of life” at this moment, it would require 4 more Earths to supply the current world population! There are no other Earths out there to provide those resources. There are two and only two possible ways out of this predicament. Either the Earth's population, ourselves included, will have to drastically cut back on their consumption or drastically cut back on the world's population. Yes, neither is a very palatable choice but, that's what we are stuck with. We must go back to a time before Edward Bernays and his heirs and their public relations forced America (and the rest of the world) into our present consumerist culture, back to a pre-consumerist world. A world where a citizen's worth was not measured by their consumption. A world where one didn't discard perfectly good items simply to get the “latest and greatest” gadget to replace it. A world where items were economically reparable and where you didn't have to discard an otherwise operable item for lack of a replacement gear. Frugality is still a virtue.

Also, if we were to slow “economic growth” and bring back the idea of frugality and repairability, there would be a growth in the real economy, i.e., local appliance repair shops, local repair facilities of all kinds. Slowing “growth” is not a bad idea. Cutting back on consumption is a good idea. Promoting population control, worldwide, is a good idea. A modicum of sanity by politicians and polities would be a good idea. I fear it won't happen until material circumstances force it upon us.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Beware what you decide to believe in...

Perhaps now, with the ginned up, phony “outrage” (in many cases, paid for and subsidized by the mega corporations of the health care combine), people may understand where this commentary is coming from. Let me take, as an example, such as Rachel Maddow, who in general I highly praise and like.

OK Rachel, like many, many media types (but, especially liberals) was in full throated support of the “Iranian Twitter© Revolution”. This is understandable, Iran has a repressive, theocratic regime which, among other things, suppresses womens' rights and those of other despised minorities such as the GLBT community. So Rachel, as many other commentators, loudly applauded and supported the ongoing protests in Iran that have been Twittered and Facebooked and MySpaced around the planet. However, is Rachel aware that the mechanism used to unseat Mohammad Mosaddeq in 1953 was this self same one? Are Rachel and the myriad other commentators who have loudly and strongly backed the Iranian “revolution” aware that the current demonstrations follow, almost exactly, the game plan enacted by Kermit Roosevelt, Jr. (Teddy Roosevelt's grandson) in Iran in 1953? The plot that Kermit and his CIA cronies used was to stage massive street protests (riots) by segments of Iranian society disaffected by Mossaddeq's reforms. There are now (and always will be) segments of society that are disaffected. If any confirmation of this is needed, one need only reflect on the fact that, even at its nadir, G.W. Bush and his (mal)administration garnered over 20% (>60,000,000) approval ratings. If even a sizable portion of those 60,000,000+ people had turned out in street demonstrations and those were reported as the demonstrations in Iran were reported, an outside observer, with little or no knowledge of the internal situation in the U.S. at the time, might well reason that the majority of Americans actually supported G.W. Bush, Darth Cheney and their policies. They would be sadly mistaken but that would, nonetheless, be their takeaway of such demonstrations and reporting.

Another variant of this kind of flawed reasoning is displayed by many, many commentators who loudly lauded the various “color” revolutions in Yugoslavia and the post-Soviet sphere. Even such luminaries as Thom Hartmann have repeatedly lauded and noted with approval those manufactured “revolutions”, again, being wholly and abysmally ignorant of the situation on the ground. Caught up and washed over by the “news” coverage of the For Profit Media, Hartmann and others huzzahed these “revolutions” as honest reflections of the “will of the people”. What is often omitted from his and other commentators' evaluations is the fact that the “revolution” in Yugoslavia as well as the myriad “color revolutions” is the fact that they were ALL covertly (and, sometimes, not so covertly) supported, organized and funded by either the U.S. government outright or through various NGOs (“non-governmental organizations”) such as the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, to name just two. What is often forgotten is that both of these NGOs were founded under the Reagan administration, primarily to take over various formerly CIA functions such as encouraging and facilitating “regime change”. It should also be noted that the Soros Foundation also has had a hand in the Yugoslavian and other “color revolutions”. The IRI, NDI and Soros Foundations were all instrumental in establishing, organizing and funding all of these various color “revolutions”.

As was the case in the Venezuelan “overthrow” of Hugo Chavez, there certainly was a resentful core to the opposition to him. What was hardly ever accentuated in the U.S. press, this opposition was, primarily, the upper middle and upper classes who had been forced by Chavez to relinquish a tiny bit of their choke hold over the economy to the wider society. Much as was the situation in Cuba in regards to Castro, much as is the situation in Honduras with President Manuel Zelaya. Certainly, those who stand to lose power, money or position in a society are going to be upset, that goes without saying.

Again, if some outside observer, ignorant of the true dynamics on the ground, were simply to judge on the basis of “news” reports, they would have to conclude that the majority of Americans fervently and vehemently detest the very idea of change in the health care system and its delivery...and they would be very wrong!

So, this warning applies to all who rush to judgment with but a minimal, partial and/or media generated opinion, “Beware what you decide to believe!”

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Right Wing Media as Iago

Over the course of just the last year there have been 3 high profile massacres/attempted massacres/murders committed by persons having extreme right wing views. Let us give each a cursory look and see what we can divine from them.

July 27, 2008 - “...a politically motivated[1][2](emphasis added) fatal shooting took place at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, United States. Motivated by a desire to kill liberals and Democrats, gunman Jim David Adkisson fired a shotgun at members of the congregation during a youth performance of a musical, killing two people and wounding seven others.” Wikipedia entry “Knoxville Unitarian Universalist church shooting”. When the right wing media were accused by some of having had some part in motivating Adkisson, they howled most vehemently that they were in no wise to blame. Those denials became strangely muted when, during his interview and the rambling letter he left behind specifically stated that his was a hate crime. During the police search of his home the police found:

1.Liberalism is a Mental Disorder by radio talk show host Michael Savage
2.Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War of Liberty over Liberalism by talk show host Sean Hannity
3.The O'Reilly Factor: The Good, the Bad, and the Completely Ridiculous in American Life by television talk show host Bill O'Reilly Wikipedia

Additionally, he specifically stated that on his wished for hit list were the Democratic members of the House and Senate as well as “100 People Who Are Screwing Up America” by Bernard Goldberg Wikipedia This hardly seems to comport with the protestations of the vehement, violent right wing talkers who say that they are innocent.

May 31, 2009 – Scott Roeder, a long time violent anti-abortion activist assassinated Dr. George Tiller at Dr. Tiller's church. Roeder had a long history of anti-government (Freemen) and anti-abortion extremism (Army of God). Roeder had already been convicted in 1996 on explosives charges (which begs the question, “How was he in possession of a handgun?”). Roeder had been reported to the FBI the day previous to the assassination attempting to glue the locks to Dr. Tiller's clinic shut. Roeder had ties (there is debate as to how close) to Operation Rescue. Wikipedia

Following the assassination of Dr. Tiller, Operation Rescue's founder, Randall Terry, had this to say (“distancing” Operations Rescue from Roeder):

“Terry: The point that must be emphasized over, and over, and over again: pro-life leaders and the pro-life movement are not responsible for George Tiller's death. George Tiller was a mass-murder and, horrifically, he reaped what he sowed.

Q: So who is responsible ...

Terry: The man who shot him is responsible ...

Q: ... because that makes it sound like you were saying that he [Tiller] is responsible.

Terry: The man who shot him is responsible.

Q: What did you mean by "he reaped what he sowed"?

Terry: He was a mass-murder. He sowed death. And then he reaped death in a horrifying way.”
“Terry Declares That Tiller "Reaped What He Sowed

June 10, 2009 – James von Brunn walked into the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. with a .22 caliber rifle and shot and killed a security guard. Again, as in the case of Scott Roeder, von Brunn was a convicted felon so the question must be asked, “How was he able to be in possession of a firearm?” Von Brunn had, in 1981, entered the Federal Reserve building in Washington, D.C. and taken people hostage at gunpoint. He was tried, convicted and imprisoned for that crime. Von Brunn had a long history (after all, he was 88 years old) of violent anti-social, anti-Semitic, anti-racial activity. He was motivated by the likes of George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party.

Please be advised, the above is merely a cursory glance at the information available on all these incidents. I urge each of you who read this to bestir themselves to do some surfing of the net to get more details on all the above.

The main point of this piece is this: “Does the violent right wing Wurlitzer (Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, etc. ad nauseam) bear any responsibility for these and similar acts?” Let me put it this way, was Iago responsible for Othello's murder of Desdemona? If you are asking, “Did Iago murder Desdemona?” of course the answer is “No”. However, if you frame the question as “Did the act of whispering vile calumnies about Desdemona into Othello's ear cause the death of Desdemona?” the answer would have to be an unequivocal “Yes!”

Were the depraved howlings of the right wing Wurlitzer the proximate cause of the deaths above? No. Did their invective laden scream fests, broadcast to millions of people, many on the very knife edge of sanity, lead to those deaths? I ask, you decide!

Friday, March 13, 2009


Time for Obama to tell his economics team to “Cut the crap!”

“You say you want a revolution?”

Einstein once famously said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Starting with Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and FED chair Ben Bernanke and now continuing to Bernanke and new Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, all have repeated explicitly that, in their efforts to resuscitate the economy, they want to “re-inflate” the housing bubble! Think about that for just one moment. These “Masters of the Universe” want to commit us to the very self same path that has brought us where we are today. By Einstein's definition, this is the very definition of “insanity”!

One of the major problems that has led to the crash and burn of the worldwide financial system and, probably the crash of our domestic economy and, maybe even a Depression, is the series of “economic bubbles” that have been encouraged and grown by such as former FED chairman, Alan Greenspan. Greenspan was responsible for inflating the dot com bubble and, when that collapsed, for inflating the housing bubble. Greenspan was also highly in favor of the myriad “innovative financial instruments”, all of which were completely unregulated (by design) and with no oversight whatsoever!

This whole idea of economic “bubbles” is based on the idea of increasing lending which leads to increases in investing and, especially, increases in spending. As Paulson and Bernanke and Geithner and a whole myriad of other economic “bright boys” have said, “We need to get credit flowing again!” There's only one problem with this, to have lending you must have borrowing. The public has borrowed itself out. Borrowing means, to the individual, debt. As it is, the vast majority of credit worthy borrowers have maxed out. They are carrying as heavy a debt burden as they can. And, lending to the not credit worthy was what the whole charade of the “NINJA” (No Income, No Job, No Assets) loans was about. When you lend to people who can't pay back those loans, the loans go bad. When the loans go bad, the various “bundled debt instruments” built upon those debts go bad as well.

Loans are still available for credit worthy individuals, it is just that they are not borrowing anymore. As the old saw goes, “You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink.” The borrowers aren't drinking anymore.

More than anything else, the government needs to:

  1. Stop throwing good money after bad! The Wall Street banksters have become incredibly wealthy by gaming the system. Wall St. has, for at least the last decade, been running the market like a casino. Well guess what? They've bet badly and lost, badly. The government should NOT try to “save the Wall St. banks”. If the Big Boys (AIG, Goldman Sachs, BoA, etc.) are broke, they should be taken over (gasp, Nationalized!), restructured, broken up and, when they are made sound again, privatized. After all, that's what we have an FDIC for, right?
  2. Get rid of the thieves! It is more than high times that all those “bright boys” that have led us to this dismal place take their medicine. Those who knowingly, willingly skirted the rules should be prosecuted, ala Bernie Madoff. ALL the boards of directors of all the Wall St. banks MUST be fired. They are all criminally incompetent or simply criminal. Either way, it's out on their ear with them!
  3. Investigate, prosecute, jail. It is well past time to investigate those governmental agencies and officials who were tasked with monitoring the banksters and yet somehow managed to miss every single red light on the board. There are rare exceptions. Sheila Bair, Chair of the FDIC, has for years been pushing for more stringent oversight. Oddly enough, under the Bush administration all her pleas fell on deaf ears. Once the investigations have been completed, those officials and ex-officials who allowed the shenanigans that felled the financial system should either be prosecuted or fired or both. And, those found guilty of collusion with the Wall St. banksters must go to jail. And not Club Fed either. I mean federal penitentiary, with bars and big, bad, nasty boyfriends.
  4. Stop blowing bubbles! Stop trying to maintain the broken system that has gotten us here! No more “bubble economics”. If we are to persist with a capitalist economy, let it be a true capitalist economy. You invest in companies because you believe in the service/product and expect to gain from the success of that venture. If you guess badly, poof! there went your money. No more of this insanity of capitalist socialism! No more “privatize the profits but socialize the losses”!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Sit down and STFU already!

Enough already! Time for the progressives and Democrats to stand up and clearly tell the regressives and Republicans to “Sit down and STFU!” in no uncertain terms.

On all the talking head shows for some unknown and unfathomable reason there are far more Republicans and reichwing ideologues being asked for their opinions on the current stimulus package and, predictably, they come out spewing the old (and discredited) bromides about “tax cuts” (for the wealthy and mega-corporations) and cuts in increasingly frayed social services for the rest of us. ENOUGH! The last 28 years (yes, I'm including Clinton's 2 terms because many of his policies sprang from the same éminences grises that got us where we are today!) where the political and economic center has been violently wrenched to the right of center and the very economic policies for tax cuts for the rich and service cuts for the rest, HAVE been implemented. Look where it has gotten us. Greater concentration of wealth and political power in the hands of a tiny minority with the attendant pauperization of the majority. With the greater concentration of wealth into fewer hands, political power has also been concentrated in fewer hands. With our political system the way it is, once a senator or representative is elected to office, the majority of their time is subsumed in fundraising for the next election. Many, if not most, legislators don't even have time to do the job they were elected to, they usually don't even have time to read the bills they vote on, much less examine them carefully and think about how it will affect their constituents. These mundane duties are delegated to their staff. Even in those rare cases where the legislator may not be compromised by moneyed interests, often times their staffs are.

With the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the moneyed interests, the interests of the vast majority, i.e. the public at large, suffer. While the moneyed interests virtually dictate legislation beneficial to themselves and their interests, the public interest is forgotten. For example, when the credit card companies essentially rewrote the bankruptcy laws to their perceived interest, the ability of the common citizen to get any true debt relief was essentially stripped away. However, interestingly enough, were the same bankruptcy rules to be applied to the Wall St. banksters who have gamed the system and become monumentally rich in the process, all of Wall St. would have crashed by now, all their company and personal assets would have been liquidated and all the Thains and Madoffs would now be residing under bridges. Obviously, this has not and will not happen because we do have a two-tiered legal system; very harsh treatment for the common man and extremely lenient treatment for the wealthy and powerful. Imagine, if you will, that you had embezzled say $25,000. Once the theft were detected, you would be taken forthwith to the jail to await trial. If you can afford to do so, you may be able to bond yourself out until trial. Once convicted, off you go for a lengthy stay at a state or federal penal facility. Now, look at Bernie Madoff. Certainly, he has posted an immense bond (but he had stolen an immense amount of money). Pending his trial he is under “house arrest” at his luxurious Manhattan penthouse. Even if he should be convicted (after all, he can afford to hire the best counsel money can buy), he may well be sentenced to a minimum security facility, maybe even one of those Club Feds where you pick up trash in the morning and play tennis in the afternoon. In addition, if you (a common peon) are accused of a variety of offenses, all of your assets are seized, even prior to trial, making the task of defending yourself near impossible. See the difference?

Again, we have had 28 years of essentially, Reaganomics i.e. massive tax cuts for the wealthy and mega-corporations. So, what hath these failed policies wrought? Immense concentration of existing wealth into the grasping hands of the greedy, massive destruction of wealth for the lower and middle classes. Near total neglect of the public infrastructure leading to increasing failure of that infrastructure. The outsourcing of most of the American industrial base to low wage foreign countries which has also helped wreck the unions in the United States. The massive pillaging of the Federal Treasury by private interests has left the United States, for all intents and purposes, bankrupt.

So, in conclusion, each and every time one hears the standard Republican line of “tax cuts” to remedy our current troubles, one must be very careful to say “Sit down and STFU!”. It has been tried, for 28 years running, and has directly led us to the disaster we find ourselves in today. Remember, Republicans, “STFU”!

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