Thursday, October 29, 2009
This image seems very appropriate for a day in which the supposed "public option" got watered down to almost nothing at all. All the political BS we've gone through, and for what? It's all smoke and mirrors in the haunted theater of social injustice.
I am starting to get the idea that when Dems say "reform" they mean "grease up and grab your ankles."
This is not what I wanted. It's not even close.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Rachel Maddow provides an excellent explanation of what is in play right now. There is an enormous disconnect between what the government is calling the "public option" and what most people think is meant by that term. We have to be very careful that if we support health care reform at all, that we don't water it down so much that it is ultimately ineffective and thereby open to criticism as if we had actually given it a proper chance, when we perhaps really didn't.
This being the grotesque corporatist country that it is, I am not hopeful of meaningful reform. Reid is playing a bit of bait and switch here with his flam-flam description of what he has actually proposed.
Friday, October 23, 2009
On the list of recipients are 55 Republicans who have steadfastly opposed other Americans getting the public option, like the one they have chosen.
Weiner said, "Even in a town known for hypocrisy, this list of 55 Members of Congress deserve some sort of prize. They apparently think the public option is ok for them, but not anyone else."
See the full 55 member list at the link above.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
1. Move money to small banks (to starve the bigger banks)
2. Pay with cash (instead of credit cards)
3. Contact lawmakers
I like the first two suggestions because actions speak louder than any words. Do it - as much as you can, starve the banks and use cash.
Still and with that said, I have to reveal that I don't love this Dylan Ratigan guy. Shockingly, I find this guy overly combative and browbeating to his guests. You'd think with my own rhino thick skin and foul mouth - the one I am so eager to have spew expletives almost all the time at every conceivable target - you'd think this trait of Ratigan's wouldn't bother me at all. Alas, I think he needs to be more professional given the numbers of eyes and ears to which he has access. Rachel Maddow gave a guy a total beating just last week but she did it fairly professionally and generally stuck to the format of a formal debate. She didn't just interview the person and ask tough questions, she finally confronted the man with conclusions and opinions of her own that she wanted to share with her viewers. It was pretty epic. See it here (and Dylan: take note!), Rachel interviews/debates Tim Phillips of the 'astroturf' organization "Americans for Prosperity":
Meanwhile, Alan Grayson has created a website for people to list the names of the people that have died because of congress' inaction on health care reform. His site is called "Names of the Dead" and includes some very informative links. The site is running really slow right now...
Go to these links and see for yourself:
This guy has huge balls. Sure, maybe he sees his chance as a political opportunist. As long as he does the right stuff, I don't mind it one bit. Someone has to take a leadership position in the absence of the U.S. Prez taking the leadership role.
Yeah, that's right - another shot at Obama (a.k.a. Mr. Very Weak Tea)...
Monday, October 19, 2009
I found this hysterical. Yes, it's wildly mean-spirited - but ultimately that may be the source of its blacker than black humor.
This must be how Cheney or the CEO of Blackwater think. For them, the deaths of others does equal cash in untold millions.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
On Thursday, Goldman Sachs will announce the firm's bonus payments for 2009. Analysts expect the bonus pool to mushroom to $23 billion -- double the bonus pool paid to employees in 2008. Earlier this year, Goldman Sachs said that it had put aside $11.4 billion for bonuses during the first half of the year.
How much is $23,000,000,000?
For one thing, it's enough to send 460,000 full paying students to Harvard University for one year, or 115,000 for four years.
Story continues below...
It's enough to pay the health insurance premium for the average American family ($13,375) 1.7 million times.
It's enough to upgrade 191 million computers to Windows 7 operating system (priced at $119.99), or to buy 115 million iPhones at $199.99 (provided the recipient was willing to sign a two-year contract).
Or, apparently, it's enough to reward the employees of Goldman Sachs for a bonanza trading year, at a firm where average employee compensation was recently $622,000 -- and likely to be greater this year.
The $23 billion figure could leave some American taxpayers woozy -- the US government bailed out Goldman Sachs with a multi-billion payment last year, which the firm has since repaid.
But while Goldman is likely to pay its biggest bonuses ever to employees, the firm pays very little in taxes worldwide. In 2008, the company was said to have paid just $14 million in taxes worldwide, and paid $6 billion in 2007.
The firm's corporate tax rate? About 1 percent. According a prominent tax lawyer, "They have taken steps to ensure that a lot of their income is earned in lower-tax jurisdictions."
Yes, that seems fair doesn't it?
I can't wait to hear the news that congress has botched health care reform later today...
Of course, I'd love to be proven wrong. I'd love to hear of some great success for social justice for the other 99% of the country. You know, the ones that do actually pay taxes worth a damn.
To be fair, Stewart and the Daily Show are at least partly responsible for the conflation of comedy and what currently passes for television journalism. Stewart has again and again revealed television journalism for the empty, talking heads garbage that it really is. If it weren't such effective propaganda and advertising, television news would be an abandoned mode of entertainment/infotainment. But yes, TV news "journalism" has its uses to the powers that be.
On the other side of this is the fact The Daily Show is one of the few places you can actually get real information about political matters of the moment. The Daily Show's whole raison d'être is pointing up the failings of television journalism for laughs. Interestingly, while they are doing that very thing the truth of many matters is more clearly revealed on The Daily Show than most of the supposed journalism taking place on all of the several 24 hour news networks combined!
I exclude the following shows from condemnation: Bill Moyers' Journal, The Rachel Maddow Show and Countdown with Keith Olbermann. But seriously, consider that those shows represent maybe 11 hours a week of programming and then compare that to what occurs for 168 hours a week on several stations. Wiki says that there are at least 5 such 24 hour news networks: CNBC, CNN, Fox Business Network, Fox News Channel and MSNBC. That's 5 x 168 = 840 hours of nearly all mindless fluff instead of actual journalism.
I'm just sayin'...
Monday, October 12, 2009
While "Junior" was in office, there was absolutely no point in hoping for anything. We were just waiting out the time until he left office. Oh, how we waited!
And then Obama entered from the left and he was talking the talk. The guy is one smooth talker, like a televangelist with his message of "HOPE" for the world of tomorrow. Obama talks the talk that resonates in the ear of leftists and progressives. At the time of his candidacy Obama was saying that if he had the White House and the Dems controlled congress we could end the wars, stop torturing our pretended enemies, get single payer health care and reform the banking industry and the financial services sector too.
But once Obama was in office it was back to the endless prevarications and back-peddling that we have all come to expect from the average politician. It could be that monied interests and their endless lobbyists have a stranglehold on the federal legislature. In D.C., it's supposedly six lobbyists to each congress critter, and that's just for the health care lobby! It's even possible that the entrenched power of the now mortally wounded GOP is still sufficient to the task of hobbling Obama's every effort toward achieving a true progressive agenda. Because the GOP is the party of "No." And "Yes," we get that part of it.
So why do we still believe in this guy? Why bother to "HOPE"?
Because Obama has very carefully positioned himself as the center of all things political. Because Obama's is the party of "MAYBE."
MICHAEL MOORE: We're here to get the money back for the American People. Do you think it's too harsh to call what has happened here a coup d'état? A financial coup d'état?
MARCY KAPTUR: That's, no. Because I think that's what's happened. Um, a financial coup d'état?
MICHAEL MOORE: Yeah.
MARCY KAPTUR: I could agree with that. I could agree with that. Because the people here really aren't in charge. Wall Street is in charge.
MARCY KAPTUR: Let me give you a reality from ground zero in Toledo, Ohio. Our foreclosures have gone up 94 percent. A few months ago, I met with our realtors. And I said, 'What should I know?' They said, 'Well, first of all, you should know the worst companies that are doing this to us.'
I said, 'Well, give me the top one.' They said, 'J.P. Morgan Chase.' I went back to Washington that night. And one of my colleagues said, 'You want to come to dinner?' I said, 'Well, what is it?' He said, 'Well, it's a meeting with Jamie Dimon, the head of J.P. Morgan Chase.' I said, 'Wow, yes. I really do.' So, I go to this meeting in a fancy hotel, fancy dinner, and everyone is complimenting him. I mean, it was just like a love fest.
They finally got to me, and my point to ask a question. I said, 'Well, I don't want to speak out of turn here, Mr. Dimon.' I said, 'But your company is the largest forecloser in my district. And our Realtors just said to me this morning that your people don't return phone calls.' I said, 'We can't do work outs.' And he looked at me, he said, 'Do you know that I talk to your Governor all the time?' He said, 'Our company employs 10,000 people in Ohio.'
And I'm thinking, 'What is that? A threat?' And he said, 'I speak to the Mayor of Columbus.' I said, 'Why don't you come further north?' I said, 'Toledo, Cleveland, where the foreclosures are just skyrocketing.' He said, 'Well, we'll have someone call you.' And he gave me a card. And they never did. For two weeks, we tried to reach them. And finally, I was on a national news show. And I told this story. They called within ten minutes. And they said, 'Oh, we'll work with you. We'll try to do some workouts in your area.'
We planned the first one after working with them for weeks and weeks and weeks. Their people never showed up. And it was a Friday. Our people had taken off work. They'd driven from all these locations to come. We kept calling J.P. Morgan Chase saying, 'Where's your person? Where's your person?' And they finally sent somebody down from Detroit by 3:00 in the afternoon. But out people had been waiting all morning and a lot of people that's how they treat our people.
MARCY KAPTUR: Think about what these banks have done. They have taken very imprudent behavior, irresponsible. They have really gambled, all right? And in many cases, been involved in fraudulent activity. And then when they lost, they shifted their losses to the taxpayer. So, if you look at an instrumentality like the F.H.A., the Federal Housing Administration. They used to insure one of every 50 mortgages in the country. Now it's one out of four.
Because what they're doing is they're taking their mistakes and they're dumping them on the taxpayer. So, you and I, and the long term debt of our country and our children and grandchildren. It's all at risk because of their behavior. We aren't reigning them in. The laws of Congress passed last year in terms of housing, were hollow. Were hollow.
Foreclosures in my area have gone up 94 percent. And we know the basic rules of economics. Housing leads us to recovery. Housing was the precipitating factor in this economic downturn. Unless you dealing with the housing sector, you aren't going to have growth in this
MARCY KAPTUR: Congress has really shut down. I'm disappointed in both chambers, because wouldn't you think, with the largest financial crisis in American history, in the largest transfer of wealth from the American people to the biggest banks in this country, that every committee of Congress would be involved in hearings, that this would be on the news, that people would be engaged in this. What we're seeing is-- tangential hearings on very arcane aspects of financial reform. For example, now we're going to have a consumer protection agency to help the poor consumer, who doesn't understand all of this, rather than hearings on the fundamental new architecture of reforming the American financial system, so that we have prudent lending, capital accumulation at the local level again; that we encourage savings and limit debt by the American people. Our country needs this. Those aren't the hearings that are happening.
If you want a marker at the Federal level of how serious we are to get justice out of this financial crisis, look at the F.B.I. Look at the number of people who are really prosecuting and investigation mortgage fraud and securities fraud. It is so small
I've been one of the Members of Congress trying to increase by ten times the agents to get at the justice issues for the American people. For companies that have been hurt. For shareholders that have been hurt. Our government isn't doing it. That it's very easy to look at the budget of the F.B.I. in mortgage fraud and securities fraud and say, 'How serious is the government?' And until those numbers increase, we will not begin to get justice.
SIMON JOHNSON: Well, the final end of the last vestige of Glass-Steagall came in just now in August. Unnoted, but I think very significant. Goldman Sachs, you remember, was an investment bank, a securities company. Not allowed to be a commercial bank; didn't have access to the Federal Reserve and this ability to tap into the money supply of the country. Until September of last year, when the crisis broke, they were allowed a very short notice to convert to being a bank holding company. This was what saved Goldman Sachs in my opinion. Also Morgan Stanley. Which meant they could stay in the securities business. And they could also have access to the Federal Reserve. In August, just now, they converted to what's called a financial holding company. That may seem like a technical detail to you, but this means they can borrow from the Fed, at essentially zero interest rate now.
They can invest in, I mean, as far as we can see, from the outside, looking at their portfolio, anything they want, including, you're going to love this one, they just bought some stock, big chunk of stock in a Chinese automotive company. Okay? So, that's your money, that's your Federal Reserve, financing a highly speculative investment. And if it goes well, they get the upside. And if it goes badly, that's another one for us.
BILL MOYERS: Does President Obama get it?
MARCY KAPTUR: I don't think President Obama has the right people around him. The poor man inherited a total mess, globally and domestically. I think some of the people that he trusted haven't delivered. I urge him to get new generals. It's time.
SIMON JOHNSON: Louis the Fourteenth of France, a very powerful monarch, was famous for having many bad things, you know, happen under his rule. And people would always say, 'If only Louis the Fourteenth knew. I'm sure he doesn't know. If we could just tell him, he'd sort it out.' You know. I'm skeptical.
Exactly. As always with Moyers - dead on target. And Kaptur was a revelation! I don't know much about her, but to me she comes across as intelligent and full of passion for her work as a legislator. Johnson always worries me a little because of his IMF background, but he pulls no punches here.
And I'm skeptical also. I think Obama gets "IT." He just has a different agenda than you and I. He's a corporatist operative - politicians are all of a kind - and we are the disenfranchised.
I am a radical liberal.
We are in a post-constitutional era. By which I simply mean that we don't really have a rule book any longer. We are in the era of government by "winging it."
I am a champion of a hybrid economy because I think capitalism as we imagine it is utterly broken - and even if it wasn't broken it would be wholly inadequate to the task of being the economy for the future.
I champion socialized safety nets for the entire population. After all, it's exactly what the corporations and banks got - individuals certainly deserve at least what legal entities receive and even more.
I disdain the power of the corporations of the world. We have to knock them down to a manageable size. Corporations are the biggest problem of the post-constitutional era because the kind of capital power they represent was undreamed of at the time of the writing of the Constitution. Corporations are not only not individuals, the only true purpose of any corporation is to serve the public good as a servant of the people.
So many things are completely upside down these days that I'd have to start at a very elementary level to fully air my thoughts on any of these ideas, but that's the quick and short strokes of it.
It is good to talk of peace, but keep your sword to hand. It's a bumpy road ahead, folks!
SEN. MAX BAUCUS: My job is to put together a bill that gets 60 votes. Now I can count and no one has been able to show me how we can count up to 60 votes with a public option in the bill.
BILL MOYERS: Of course not. They can't get 60 votes. Not when the people who want a public alternative can't possibly scrape up the millions of dollars Baucus has received from the health sector during his political career.
Over the last two decades, the current members of the Senate Finance Committee...have collected nearly 50 million dollars from the health sector. A long-term investment that's now paying off like a busted slot machine...Of course, like water seeking its own level, big money finds its way around every obstacle, and was soon up to its old tricks, filling the pockets of friendly politicians. Today none dare call it treason. So how about calling it what it is: a friendly takeover of government. A leveraged buyout of democracy.
Outrageous? You bet. But don't just get mad. Get busy.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
"The dead govern the living." - Auguste Comte
It is about the oppressive weight of following in the footsteps of those now departed or soon to be departed. It is the weight of culture when the way we've been doing things doesn't work anymore.
Here's the most obvious aspect of culture that doesn't really make sense anymore:
That's crazy offensive right? But is it really that far off the mark? Consider the following Bible quotes:
But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you."
Does it still seem so crazy to note that the Jesus myth closely resembles other myths that are largely accepted as absurd and almost humorous in their nature? Why should we set the Jesus myth aside for special treatment? Do you really believe in the myth that there is a father in the sky that will judge and care for you after you are dead? And I don't mean as a comforting thought that occasionally crosses your mind when you seek for some kind of continuity - or perhaps in a stressed out situation bargaining against death as you might in a foxhole - I mean truly believe it down to your core. Do you?
Well, I don't believe a word of it.
The stories collected in the Bible are an amazing product of culture. Biblical passages are at turns mythic, lyrical and sometimes even shockingly absurd. Maybe there really aren't great justifications for people turning into a pillar of salt, being oppressed like Job because of a wager between God and the Devil nor for a man like Noah to have drunken sex with his daughters. Those stories are mere myths. Stories passed from fathers to sons until they took on the hard basis for western culture. But that doesn't mean we have to believe in those silly stories today. The Song of Solomon may have lost none of its beauty but that doesn't make it true.
Today we are still ravaged by the power of myths. There are still stories that keep us in check. Traditions that truly are the rule of the dead over the living. Certainly, Christianity is one. Capitalism is another. And a whole variety of prejudices represent still others.
I look forward to a day when we can step boldly into the light and declare ourselves free of myths and absurdities. We have to confront the realities of the world and the universe at large with our ability to reason. And every time some old fart - usually some fucking Republican - cries about the destruction of culture do try to remember what that person is really trying to champion: the unreasoning maintenance of the status quo.
Is that really what you want?
It's not what I want at all.
For centuries we were all monarchists. We have significantly abandoned that project at this time except as a symbol or to draw in the tourists.
The old ruling class transformed itself into the new capitalists. "You can have your newfangled democratic republic, just don't take our wealth away from us," they said.
But, see? something has to come next...
Do you suppose capitalism is going to work best for the 6,789,804,942 that are currently living on this planet? How long will we try to force a square peg into a round hole before we abandon the project?
Do you want to be controlled by the dead?
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Edwyn Collins says: "Non serviam." More here:
Copyright Drama Prevents Artist From Sharing Music on MySpace
Thursday, October 1, 2009
This is really very interesting stuff. I am AMAZED at the AMAZEMENT shown by the conservative talking heads at the fact that it has taken this long for anyone to call them out on their endless bullshit, to play them in the same way they try to play others. They did not like it one bit. They want to keep nonsensical talking points before the public thereby accomplishing absolutely nothing.
Where were these talking heads when endless GOP members and other conservative talking heads reduced the political conversation to this level of bullshit? You know who I mean: Coulter, Limbaugh, Beck, Savage etc. - to a man, interchangeable mudslingers (Hey, I see an Adam's Apple, kay?!). And now all of a sudden they don't like it? Well, fuck them!
One of my favorite "teaching points" here would be the way the GOP operative tries to get back onto his talking points of tort reform and free market competition - as if resolving those matters would in any fucking way equal better health care for even one person. Despite the obvious corporatist whoring which obviously unites the GOP, they stay on point and never veer off track or play by another's team rhetorical strategies.
Political debate takes place in a sewer. There are no heroes except those that prevail and accomplish their goals. Anything else means fuck all.
Progressives need to learn that indulging the rhetoric of the other side makes for very bad sound bites. Don't listen. Don't play "fair." Speak! Make your point. Keep it short and sweet. Make no fucking apologies for what you want to say and for god's sake do not equivocate. Say what you mean and say it mean.
"I would like to apologize. I would like to apologize to the dead." - Alan Grayson
Here's a funny thing about health care reform: people die from lack of access to health care.
Oh wait, that's not funny - that's totally fucking frightening! But, you know, the Dems have it hard getting anything done since they have a super majority in congress.
This is what ultimately happened to health care reform, as depicted on "Late Show with David Letterman."
It's abstinence only, folks! Don't get sick. Don't fuck. We are under the thumb of the party of: NO!
As in "no empathy."
"It's not about the specifics - it's about wanting to oppose reform, wanting a political victory, wanting to undermine the president and the democratic majority."- Arianna Huffington