Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Buh-Bye Banksters!

In late October I joined with others in suggesting that people move their money away from the larger banks and also that they should trade in cash as much as possible to starve the credit card industry. See:

There really are alternatives to everything you do now. With money, you need to wise up and not just be a mark ripe for the con.

Some people don't even really engage in the system per se. They are on the borders of the economy. Cash may or may not have anything to do with how they are getting fed or supplying themselves with shelter. Living that way may not appeal to you so here's some more.

You can use local banks for most of everything for which you might have used a larger bank. Consider the credit union option also.

I'm seeing lots of commercials on late night TV for services that check your credit reports/ratings. Here's a funny idea: consider living your life without access to credit. Over the course of 30 years a $100K mortgage might cost you between $500-600K to pay off. What if you simply saved up the $100K yourself and then bought a house?

I know that there are upsides to playing with other people's money even if it is at a rate of interest. You get the house sooner, you might have the opportunity to flip the house for a profit within a short time. And so on...yeah, I get it.

But do you understand what it is costing you in terms of freedom to have things as they are right now?

Maybe we are all giving up far too much for the convenience of living off of money obtained on credit.

And we simply don't have to.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Obama 180°

Did he think the inter-tubes would forget?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Why Movies Today Suck Ass:
RedLetterMedia Reviews
"The Phantom Menace"

In the directorial battle of wits between the young George Lucas and the old George Lucas the elder Lucas loses miserably. The young Lucas does have some idea about how to tell a story and when to delegate critical tasks to his betters - like Irvin Kershner, Richard Marquand, Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan. The result was the classic Star Wars trilogy that inspired technological advancements in film making and enthusiasm for the fantasy-adventure genre the world over. That much must be admitted.

But the older Lucas doesn't seem to have a clue. Heaping one overwhelming special effect on another, the older Lucas wants to fool you into believing he has a story to tell when he really fails on that count altogether. Like the bard said, "...it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

I don't have that much invested in this matter because I was never a big Star Wars fan anyway. But I still found this "review" funny as hell and worth watching in its own right.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Two Great Quotes

"A man's respect for law and order exists in precise relationship to the size of his paycheck." - Adam Clayton Powell Jr.

"Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels." - Bob Thaves

Be Clear: The Buck Stops at the Desk of
the White House "House Negro"

There is no "news," only opinions about possible facts. So I don't know much, but I still have my own opinions loosely based on what I think the facts may be. If you read enough the facts bubble up to the top, just like the blood from meat when you are making a tasty stock before skimming off the scum. And scum is absolutely the right word for these facts...

I quote myself from May 31, 2009 - Obama's been prez for about 4 months, and you should read the whole post but here's a small bit from it anyway:



Obama hasn't floated a plan of his own and despite his previous support for a single-payer plan he has refused to allow any such plan to be discussed at recent healthcare reform negotiations. His claimed deadline may reflect the political realities of congressional elections in 2010, but it is also defeatist and melodramatic. Where was the forewarning on this? Now everyone is supposed to immediately jump in support of whatever Obama decides his plan will be even though he has refused to state just what in the hell it is? And the single-payer option is off the table? And it's now or never? By 1 August 2009?

He doesn't seem very hopeful, does he?

Obama is carefully orchestrating all of the reasons why any healthcare reform will prove impossible. And despite whatever Obama or any other Democrat may say of it in the future - they are intentionally dropping the ball on this reform issue because they lack both the leadership and the courage to do the right thing. Cowards all!

Let me float some ideas of my own with you...

Access to healthcare when you need it is a right and not a privilege. No one should be bankrupted by the vagaries of fate or accidental misfortunes concerning their health.

There is no reason to include the health insurance industry in any negotiations about healthcare reform. Why not? Because the health insurance industry is the problem and the source of waste that needs to be corrected.

Any plan that mandates that citizens must buy insurance from private insurers is a giveaway just like mandatory auto liability insurance. And the waste and enormous expense of healthcare will continue to escalate under such a reworked version of the status quo.

Our political representatives aren't going to do what's right because they fear the health insurance industry more than they fear you, the electorate. You are going to have to make them fear your displeasure more instead.


Then back in August I decided that this was all just distracting theater that would amount to nothing:



Given Obama's lackluster negotiating style it's hard to imagine any other result was intended. Obama has broken promises. He has given away the store for 2% with big pharma behind closed doors. Neither single-payer nor the "public option" was ever given serious play. It all seems so obvious now.

Greenwald goes on to say some "pie in the sky" shit as if things might still turn out alright, but you'll have to forgive me if I remain a cynical realist. The plan was to fail. If we pull success from defeat, I will NOT be crediting Obama for it. If success occurs it will be because torches and pitchforks were the next logical negotiating tactic.

It remains the assertion of this blog that the threat of violence is a transformative force and that's what Jefferson really intended by it all along. The fucker lived to the ripe age of 83, and that's obviously not because he was constantly spoiling for a fight. However, he did stand ready to take certain things all the way if he absolutely had to. There is a difference...

Cynic that I am, I observe that this protracted health care reform "dog and pony show" has also served the function of distracting all and sundry from the perhaps just as meaningful fleecing of the American Taxpayer when it comes to the bank bailouts - without meaningful oversight and a now broke FDIC - and the utter lack of Wall Street reform. The economic bubble just might get reinflated and all of these problems passed off to the next biggest fool after Obama.

Fantasy Sequence...

Interviewer to Obama: "Mr. President, what are your greatest accomplishments since you took office?

Prez Obama: "Well, first of all...wait, look over there!!!"


And that makes Obama a "House Negro" in my book, just like Brother Malcolm used to tell it:



I'm a field negro too.

And as a person of color myself, I don't feel like I have to excuse my use of terms like "negro." This blog is about social justice for all human beings. I have no qualms pointing out social injustices when I identify them nor naming our various tormentors for what they are. Some are the 1% themselves (who mainly sit at home and do nothing), and some are their helpers (who do all the work for their masters).

Be clear: Obama is a helper, even though he's supposed to be our man. But Obama's many campaign promises are turning out to have been empty rhetoric now entirely unsupported by the necessary follow-through actions.

So why tell you this shit again today? Well, there are more people that would appear to agree with me and the facts are starting to form a scum at the top of the human stew we have made of ourselves politically. And the "lefty" Democrats themselves are starting to get pissed off Obama too because Obama expects them to carry his water for him and maybe even commit political suicide too.

Digby says:


And Obama can say that you're getting a lot, but also saying that it "covers everyone," as if there's a big new benefit is a big stretch. Nothing will have changed on that count except changing the law to force people to buy private insurance if they don't get it from their employer. I guess you can call that progressive, but that doesn't make it so. In fact, mandating that all people pay money to a private interest isn't even conservative, free market or otherwise. It's some kind of weird corporatism that's very hard to square with the common good philosophy that Democrats supposedly espouse.

Nobody's "getting covered" here. After all, people are already "free" to buy private insurance and one must assume they have reasons for not doing it already. Whether those reasons are good or bad won't make a difference when they are suddenly forced to write big checks to Aetna or Blue Cross that they previously had decided they couldn't or didn't want to write. Indeed, it actually looks like the worst caricature of liberals: taking people's money against their will, saying it's for their own good.

And Greenwald has this stuff:


The administration is getting the bill which they, more or less, wanted from the start -- the one that is a huge boon to the health insurance and pharmaceutical industry. And kudos to Russ Feingold for saying so:

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), among the most vocal supporters of the public option, said it would be unfair to blame Lieberman for its apparent demise. Feingold said that responsibility ultimately rests with President Barack Obama and he could have insisted on a higher standard for the legislation.

"This bill appears to be legislation that the president wanted in the first place, so I don’t think focusing it on Lieberman really hits the truth," said Feingold. "I think they could have been higher. I certainly think a stronger bill would have been better in every respect."

Let's repeat that: "This bill appears to be legislation that the president wanted in the first place."
It's also worth noting how completely antithetical claims are advanced to defend and excuse Obama. We've long heard -- from the most blindly loyal cheerleaders and from Emanuel himself -- that progressives should place their trust in the Obama White House to get this done the right way, that he's playing 11-dimensional chess when everyone else is playing checkers, that Obama is the Long Game Master who will always win. Then, when a bad bill is produced, the exact opposite claim is hauled out: it's not his fault because he's totally powerless, has nothing to do with this, and couldn't possibly have altered the outcome. From his defenders, he's instantaneously transformed from 11-dimensional chess Master to impotent, victimized bystander.

The supreme goal is to shield him from all blame. What gets said to accomplish that goal can -- and does -- radically change from day to day.

I love that "11-dimensional chess" stuff. Hilarious. Idiocy on the face of it. Obama's a genius! No wait, he's a victim! Well played, Blue Dogs...

Fucking A...

And here's Anthony Weiner (Congressman New York's 9th District) complaining about it all:


"Snowe? Stupak? Lieberman? Who left these people in charge? It’s time for the President to get his hands dirty. Some of us have compromised our compromised compromise. We need the President to stand up for the values our party shares. We must stop letting the tail wag the dog of this debate."

There's more at HuffPo too (although I sometimes find them to merely follow the progressive polls - this time they know that we progressives are really and truly pissed off):


"The president keeps listening to Rahm Emanuel," said Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.). "No public option, no extending Medicare to 55, no nothing, an excise tax, God!" he exclaimed about the Senate health care bill to Roll Call. "The insurance lobby is taking over."

What's it all mean? Obama is failing on every front. And there's no longer any reason to be distracted by this in name only attempt at "health care reform."

He meant to blow it. He is blowing it. It's blown.

Done deal.

They might still pull reconciliation out of their collective asses, but I doubt it. The oligarchy opposes it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Obama With Two Mouths

Counting on Progressive Sycophancy: They're For It AND Against It...At the Same Time

The Hill is now reporting that White House press secretary Robert Gibbs says President Obama still supports drug importation legislation. However, Gibbs did not say Obama supports passing drug importation legislation on the Senate floor right now - at the same time another branch of the Obama administration (ie. his FDA appointee) is saying that the administration opposes importation and at the same time the Hill reports "The White House has not endorsed the Dorgan-Snowe-McCain measure."

This is becoming a nauseating pattern: Salon's Glenn Greenwald has documented the Obama administration's penchant for having the president say one thing, and then having administration officials say something very different - and often contrary. This has been most prevalent on the Afghanistan issue, which saw the President commit to begin a July 2011 exit strategy, and his national security officials take to TV to say that there would be no exit strategy in July 2011. Now it's happening on health care, too.

I would call this for-it-before-he-was-against-it, but that would be too straightforward. This is a new level of dissembling - I guess the administration is for it and against it at the same time. It's definitely a sort of cute, have-it-both-ways kind of thing - a way to play the wink-and-nod game whereby the public is told that the president is really bringing about "change" while the Washington Establishment is reassured that there's no real change in sight. And make no mistake about it: there's a formula to it.


Paraphrasing the Diceman:
"Either you suck corporate dick or you don't suck corporate dick."

Which is it, Obama?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

News and Opinions Roundup

Here's a couple bits from Sirota:

Obama Admits We Can't Have Guns and Butter - Then Chooses Guns

During the Vietnam War, it became clear that America could not afford to simultaneously wage war on poverty and wage war in Vietnam. We could not have guns and butter at the same time...The same is true of the Afghanistan War, which will now cost at least $100 billion a year, thanks to President Obama's massive escalation. That's more than the same annual outlay for the universal health care bills being considered in Congress.


When Pundits Insist $141 Billion In Wall Street Handouts Is No Big Deal...

...it's a good sign of just how much the political goalposts in America have shifted, and just how completely the plutocratic ethos now dominate our "democracy." I bring this up in light of the White House now insisting that the Obama-backed Troubled Asset Relief Program will "only" cost taxpayers $141 billion. As you can see here and here for some examples, some professional political prognosticators insist this is awesome news - because hey, $141 billion isn't a big deal, right? And it's certainly not a big deal when the president is saying we barely have any resources for job creation, right?


Here's Joan Walsh from Salon.com:

Is the public option worth fighting for?

Influential liberals have begun arguing a funny kind of liberal Catch-22: The health insurance "public option" is already so diluted, it's no longer worth fighting for. Got it? Because liberal Dems got played by conservative Dems, they should forfeit the entire game.

Crazy as it sounds, it might also be true.


One more bit from Common Dreams:

Drill, Baby, Drill: Obama Administration OKs Oil Drilling in Arctic off Alaska

WASHINGTON -- The Interior Department today gave the go-ahead for Shell Oil to begin drilling three exploratory wells in the Chukchi Sea, a move that opens the door for production in a new region of the Arctic.


For me this last bit is the drop of the other shoe - that's Obama representing very nearly the same agenda as Bush Jr. for fuck's sake!

And Walsh doesn't go far enough. I don't think there is anything left worth fighting for in this so-called "healthcare reform" push. I say it's time to chuck the whole thing and for the Democrats to admit that they are:

  • corporatist whores
  • stooges for a not very well-hidden Wall Street plutocracy
  • not interested in accomplishing anything that creates either peace or financial stability for a vanishing middle-class
  • unrelentingly faithful to the two-party shell-game in which neither party contains the pea of actual political change

So, I guess what I am hearing from our leadership is the following short list of "fuck yous":

  • we can't have healthcare reform because it costs too much (even though real reform would save us a bundle)
  • we can't spend anything on job creation or greening the nation
  • we can't bail out families facing foreclosure, just the banks that put them into the streets
  • there's plenty of money for banks, investment firms and insurance companies that are too big to fail
  • there's plenty of money for waging wars of choice and even escalating them too
  • and fuck it, we are an oil obsessed nation of war-mongers! Reason alone dictates we must shit where we eat.

I'll give you one more bit from Chernynkaya commenting on HuffPo (the best stuff is often in the comments):



How disgusted and pessimistic am I about our government? I talked to my young adult kids and told them to leave the US for somewhere in Europe while they are young enough to make a life there-- a life where corporations haven't destr0yed democracy, where government's role is to protect its citizens, where they can live without the fear of poverty if they should be so foolish as to get ill. So far though, they seem to want to stay.


So there you go, "American Idiocracy" in inaction!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Obama/Ackbar Trap!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Obama's Economy, Obama's War

Here's Sirota asking much of the same questions I myself would ask (and I'll call out my favorites below too):

Some Simple Questions After Obama's Afghanistan War Speech

- Would you be OK sending yourself or a loved one over to face combat and potentially death for the mission Obama articulated in Afghanistan? If not, how could you support sending other people?

- Simple budget question: Should we now believe that escalating the Afghanistan War at the same annual cost of universal health care will save more than 45,000 Americans a year (ie. the number of Americans who die every year for lack of health insurance)?


Keep in mind all of the things we can't afford because of all of the things that remain in play no matter what stripe of president happens to occupy the oval office.

No, you can't have universal health care. Yes, your children are cannon fodder.

A Tale of Two Headlines

Arming Goldman With Pistols Against Public: Alice Schroeder

Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) -- “I just wrote my first reference for a gun permit,” said a friend, who told me of swearing to the good character of a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker who applied to the local police for a permit to buy a pistol. The banker had told this friend of mine that senior Goldman people have loaded up on firearms and are now equipped to defend themselves if there is a populist uprising against the bank.


Obama Administration To Shame Lenders That Don't Offer To Modify Mortgages

The U.S. government will start to publicly identify those companies that are failing to give troubled homeowners permanent loan modifications, and hound them daily to monitor their progress, the Treasury Department declared.


That's some startling contrast to be behold there: Bankers arming themselves against a feared mass uprising in which their heads will end up on pikes and brain-dead Obama's apparently clueless notion that corporate entities are capable of feeling shame for raking in the loot he has actually handed them via bailouts and the continuing unaccounted for help from the Fed.

Shame? They are giving themselves bonuses on the taxpayer's dime, for fuck's sake!

Another Epic Obama Fail!