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Saturday, January 31, 2009

A bad situation, that should be a good one

Everyone knows the oil companies are doing great--and have been, ever since 2000 when they got one of their own in the White House.

Exxon-Mobil has enjoyed the largest profits, year after year, of any corporation in the history of the United States, as an example, for the last few years. They just announced more record profits, too, recently so the gorging hasn't stopped, even at the expense of their fellow Americans.

You would think that, with all that money, there might be a remote chance that the people who work for those same companies could and would share in all this profit, wouldn't you?

You would if you lived in Europe, anyway.

Well, this is the good old U.S. of A, where profits are profits and employees are things to be tolerated, if not abused.

Get this, according to the Associated Press:

"With a third contract offer rejected, some 24,000 refinery workers from the Gulf of Mexico to Montana prepared to head to the picket lines Saturday just hours before an existing labor agreement expires."

"The nation's biggest refiner, Valero Energy Corp., said it would shut down some facilities if workers strike. So did European oil company BP PLC."

See, with all those profits, the "little guy"--the Unions and the employees--figure there's money to be shared.

You might think so.

But this is Amerika, where the corporation is king and it operates for its own benefit and existence, employees be damned.

The heck of it is, since Big Oil has so much money, far from being ready to share it with its own employees, what they're going to do is tell those same employees--you know, the ones who make the corporation work and make money?--to just keep waiting for any raises.

With all their profits and the low oil prices per barrel, it BENEFITS the companies to have those same employees go out on strike. With that, there is an extremely high likelihood that the price of oil per barrel will go up.

The corporations nothing but win.

The employees lose.

The American people--and everyone buying gasoline and heating fuel--get screwed.

So get ready for it, ladies and gentlemen.

We are about to get collectively screwed.

Again.

Some more.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

The RNC just pulled off one the most funny, sad, pathetic, desperate, pitiful and/or cynical act they possibly could.

Today, they elected, on their sixth vote--it took them 6 tries--their first ever African-American leader of their organization (the Republican National Committee).

Hearing that, you have to just bust out laughing.

Did you see this group last summer, at their national convention?

Or again, did you see the audience at Senator John McCain's concession speech, the night of the election last November?

Both groups, one very large, one large enough, were almost completely, totally lily-white.

Not only that, if a poll were taken, it would very likely be shown to be at least middle class, and a great deal of them upper middle class.

So we got an African-American from the Democratic Party as President so the Republicans threw the American public--and the world--a desperate, pathetic, political bone, way after the fact, of another African-American, in an effort to make themselves look, however ridiculously and disingenuously, like an inclusinve, multi-race party.

We all know better.

I salute the new Chairman, Michael Steele's, ability to take advantage of this situation, betray his people and exploit this opportunity so totally and utterly.

Opportunism never looked so good.

Link to full story here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/31/us/politics/31web-steele.html?em

Friday, January 30, 2009

3 involved men

There are 3 men, currently, who are very involved with the current negotiations for the economic stimulus and this administration whose approaches are very different.

Two are very similar while the third is very different in their approaches.

It seems that Senator John Cornyn (R., Tx) and Represetative John Boehner (R., OH) both have a "Jones", so to speak, to grandstand and oppose things from the Democrats.

It's not like it's a surprise it's just frustrating.

Rep. Boehner seems to really enjoy the limelight, as much and frequently as possible. I get the sense he isn't sure what he likes more--his own photo on paper or footage of himself on television.

Both Cornyn and Boehner seem to want to block progress just to be blocking progress.

The thing is, we're in one heck of an ugly financial mess right now and we need to put politics aside, unfortunately for these two men, and work for solutions.

It's very unfortunate for them because in the first place, the Republican leadership in the past 8 years got us to where we are today and, as I said here earlier, if we get the solutions we do need--as we should--now, with this Democratic President, the Republicans run the risk of being out of power for many years to come.

A large legacy of screw-ups from the Bush years, followed by success in Obama years will doom them for a long time to come, certainly. (And here's hoping).

Republicans, right now, keep saying we need to put in more tax cuts into the stimulus package and not just spending.

Well, they handed out their tax cuts during the just-left Bush administration--only it was to the very wealthy of the country. Also, we have debt out the wazoo. How do you lower taxes further when we can't pay for what we already get? (But that's another column: tax cuts vs. insanely large spending--neither of which we can afford).

The fact is, we need to solve these very large problems because so many people's lives and livelihoods are at stake now. People have already lost their life savings or their jobs, due to this banking, economic mess.

It's not a time for stalling and blocking. It's a time for solutions.

The third person I mentioned is one Bill Perkins, from Houston, Texas.

Have you seen the large ads Mr. Perkins has run in newspapers either mocking Washington or just asking where the trillions of dollars in bailouts went in the last few months?

They're huge.

And frequent.

He's paying big money to ask these questions.

And I think they need to be asked.

And answered.

It seeemed, for a while there, that no one in Washington wanted to even ASK where the money for the first 1/2 of the bank's bailout went, let alone give Americans answers.

So here's to Mr. Perkins--thank you from the rest of us.

We'd like to know where this boondoggle has gone, too.

Who knows? We might avoid throwing away many more millions--or even billions--of taxpaid dollars, all in a supposed attempt to "kickstart the economy."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

More good news!

Between Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (Rhode Island) and the ACLU, it looks as though we really are going to look into what our government was up to the last 8 years, after alll, God willing.

It seems Senator Whitehouse was quoted as saying the new President may not "look backwards" but that he intends to examine what's been going on in our supposedly open government.

Now, news today from the ACLU that they may be getting the documents from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel on the Bush Administration's anti-terrorism policies.

It would be nice to know whether our own government has been operating within the law, after all, don't you agree?

This good news follows the fact that Attorney General nominee (who is, apparently, sure to get the job this week) testified before the Senate in his confirmation hearings that, yes, he thought like most of the rest of the free world that waterboarding is, in fact, torture.

And then there's this:

"Since Obama's directive on disclosure, Melanie Ann Pustay , the director of Justice's Office of Information and Privacy , instructed federal officials that they should process requests for records with a 'clear presumption in favor of disclosure, to resolve doubts in favor of openness, and to not withhold information based on 'speculative or abstract fears.'"

"In another indication that the ACLU may get its way, the nominee to head the OLC, Dawn Johnsen , has previously indicated she thinks that such memos should generally be released."

"Before her nomination, Johnsen wrote in an article for Slate, the Internet magazine, that the central question in the debate was whether OLC could issue 'binding legal opinions that in essence tell the president and the executive branch that they need not comply with existing laws — and then not share those opinions and that legal reasoning with Congress or the American people? I would submit that clearly the answer to that question must be no.'"

It seems that, all along, what we've needed to do was shine light in the dark corners of our government.

But with old "Tricky Dick" Cheney, that just wasn't going to happen--not on his watch.

But his time is over, thank God.

Links here:
http://thinkprogress.org/2009/01/13/whitehouse-investigate-bush/
http://news.yahoo.com/s/mcclatchy/20090128/pl_mcclatchy/3154778

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Good news/bad news

Two bits of news have come out this morning.

First, it looks as though President Obama's $825 billion stimulus bill will go through.

For better or worse--and we hope not worse--hopefully this will be a positive stimulus to the economy, what we need to get banks and businesses working again so more people don't lose their jobs.

Hopefully, too, it won't just be pork barrel politics with millions and billions wasted.

Hey, I'm an optimist.

The Dow is up on this news so that's good, too.

The second note is that the price for a barrel of oil just jumped, too, to $42.00 a barrel.

And there's a rub.

Can you imagine how many speculative dollars are going to flow into oil futures if anyone senses that even the American economy begins to recover, let alone the world? How about just the United States, China and India?

There will be so many people buying oil futures, there's no telling how high it would return.

This points out that we have to put back into place the curbs on speculation that our government took out in 2000. The ones we were missing when oil went to $147.00 a barrel and it was in the range of $4.00 a gallon at the local Kwiky Mart.

If we don't, forget about business recovery.

We'll have a small contingent of oil millionaires and everyone else choked off from work.

Here's the links:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/obama_economy
http://www.rigzone.com/news/article.asp?a_id=72189

Monday, January 26, 2009

We can't lose this

So here we are, in the worst economic situation in the last 40 or more years and everyone knows it.

We have a new President who has the American people behind him.

His administration is busting their collective hump, so to speak, to create and exercise the best plan they can come up with, in hopes of saving our financial souls.

And what are the Republicans' response?

Just this moment, they're stalling and threatening to block the development.

I got to thinking about this.

With Republicans in such low standing with the American people, given their track record in the last 8 years, they want to take a stand. They still want to exercise some control. They want to be effective and thought well of.

But here we are, on the edge of a devastating economic crisis, with countries like Britain and Iceland broke--not unlike us, in actuality--and the Republicans think we can delay an economic recovery package.

The bad thing, for the Republicans, is that they're at their lowpoint in popularity.

They may deserve it but, naturally, they don't like it and want to make a comeback and, admittedly, want to do and be something positive for the country.

The fact is, Republicans have a vested interest in having our new President fail--unequivocally.

If President Obama if successful, forget the "Contract with America" and any other plan Republicans come up with.

The Republican Party would be devastated for decades.

And they know this.

Fortunately, for Democrats--and the country--the Republicans know that, if they block an economic recovery plan--even if they delay it--any difficult or ugly consequences would also doom them and their party.

They are, truly, between a figurative rock and a hard place.

They can't afford for this new President to succeed.

None of us can afford him to lose.

CEO's? and ethics?

We need a new world model

When watching the television mini-series "Rome" some year or two ago, I rememeber a scene in which it was suggested that a law should be made to outlaw war.

Yeah, outlaw war.

Internationally.

And that many hundreds of years ago.

Then there was the League of Nations.

And then the United Nations.

And we got closer--for a while.

Well, the time has come.

After reading the paper today and taking stock of so many world situations like Darfur, Zimbabwe, modern Europe, hell, the United States and our mess and messes, along with the countries that are working like in the Netherlands (read: socialist), the time has long since come for a new world model--a new way to run things.

And here it is--at least suggested. Here are some things we should do, collectively, as a world.

For starters, yeah, outlaw war. Outlaw war and unilateral attacks from one country on another. (Hear that, George W. Bush?). If one country were to attack another, the rest of the civilized world would come down on them.

The fact is, this kind of unprovoked attack is already against international law. This would just be a logical extension of what we're already practicing and believing.

The next thing, Socialize banking, energy, oil, health care, everything.

Everyone in the United States will say this is crazy and crazy talk but it's not.

The fact is, nothing we're doing now is working.

From Russia to, again, Zimbabwe, to the EU, virtually the entire continent of Africa, reallly, again, virtually everywhere, all the old systems are broken.

Governments would have to be reworked, too, of course.

A new model, where they truly work and government officials don't practice graft and cronyism but, instead, practice the good government we need. They wouldn't be taking bribes and scamming money off projects.

Clearly, this is the difficult part.

Rotary International practices and emphasizes honesty and truth, literally, all 'round the world, in nearly all countries. I think they could be counted on to assist with both setting up and maintaining good, working, honest, effective governments.

We need a new order. We need solutions. We need things to work.

Right now, worldwide, they aren't working.

President Obama could and should be the one to start this discussion. He'd be the perfect person, at this time, to begin the thoughts and discussions to this new world we need.

The United States can no longer act unilaterally. We need to work with all the other nations of the world in alliances.

Then, while we're doing all this, let's start talking about how we can all work for everyone's benefit--everyone's business, everyone's health care, everyone's decent living and existence. Instead of pitting ourselves and our countries against one another, why can't we all decide we're going to work together for all our benefit, advancement and progress?

We could all agree that a certain standard of living had to be achieved for all of us, along with health care, education, jobs and mass transportation for all. We'd do away with nuclear arms, eventually, in this ideal world.

The old question from the 60's was "What's the opposite of competition?"

The answer was "Collaboration." (It was an old Shawn Phillips album).

Is it going to happen right away? No, no it's not.

But couldn't we work that way, toward collaboration and solutions, all on one planet?

Shouldn't we?

Because we sure need solutions.

Particularly now.

The current, tired, old model isn't working, that's for sure.



I can dream, can't I?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Pyrrhic victories, surely and at best

First, a reminder:

Pyrrhic victory, defined:

Origin: 1880–85; < Gk Pyrrikós; after a remark attributed by Plutarch to Pyrrhus, who declared, after a costly victory over the Romans, that another similar victory would ruin him

Pyr·rhic victory (pĭr'ĭk) Pronunciation Key
n. A victory that is offset by staggering losses. [After Pyrrhus.]

If ever there were Pyrrhic victories, it would be anyone who assumes we've gotten a victory or victories by attacking Iraq.

The fact is, I really don't think anyone's claiming any victories, as such, other than the one claimed by our now ex-president George W. Bush, that he kept us safe from another attack or some such.

Why Pyrrhic?

Well, let's see. more than 4,200 American soldiers killed, many thousands handicapped, maimed and really, destroyed, one way or another, by this war; spending beyond which we can't afford; debt for the war beyond which we can't afford; this was has bankrupted us morally, with our peers in the world; the fact that we tortured people which, may I remind you, is against our own internal law as well as international law?

And so much more.

Yes, Pyrrhic victory.

No one discusses this possibility, really.

No one argues or discusses that maybe we're a war and a bridge and many incursions too far.

In over our heads.

Between this arbitrary war and our unregulated banking and financial and spending messes and our Constitutional issues, huge debts, questions and problems, we're rattled to our foundations.

And no one's talking about it.

Not really.

We're whistling past the graveyard, it seems.

And how can you solve the big problems if you aren't acknowledging their existence?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

President Obama's weekly radio adress 1.24.09

Farewell to an idiot

No, heck no I won't miss this buffoon.

Can you say "delusional"?

Last evening, I saw this headline and article, in the Kansas City Star, by William Kristol, on now Former (thank God) President George W. Bush and his administration and tenure, saying, literally, "A Tribute to a Job Done Well and Faithfully".


Are you effin' kidding me?

Good God.

The man wrecked our Constitution, thrusted the government more into people's personal lives than any other President or government official--including J. Edgar Hoover--spent more money than any other President in the history of the country, ran up more debt than any other President in the history of the United States, took us into an unnecessary war, took us into that same, unnecessary war by misrepresenting information to us, the American people, took us into the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of approximately 70 years earlier, at least in part, by not regulating business and banking and so much more and Bill Kristol gives a tribute to this clown, dolt and buffoon.

Unbelievable.

Un-freaking-believable.

The guy must be very nearly out of his mind or just simply delusional.

The above complaints are facts and matter-of-fact, they aren't opinions. All those things are what George Bush did and where he's left us.

For instance, in the article, Mr. Kristol says Mr. Bush "shouldered the burdens of office for the past 8 years."

In a word, Mr. Kristol, bullshit.

Mr. Bush himself said the last 8 years weren't a burden of any kind--at all. He said this at his last press conference, publicly.

George Walker Bush didn't have enough imagination and/or depth to take on the burdens of this country.

You want proof?

Iraq.

The war in Iraq.

Attacking Iraq.

Unilaterally attacking Iraq.

Attacking Iraq against and in spite of international law.

Misrepresenting facts, in order to attack Iraq.

Ignoring the deaths, pain and suffering that his Iraq war created, for both Americans and Iraqis.

His repsonse to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and the gulf states.

And so much more.

Mr. Kristol gave Mr. Bush credit, in the article, for staying with and behind Israel and I understand that.

But too much of everything else Mr. Bush did was against the country, against international law, against right, against decency and against the American people.

George Walker Bush was for corporations and for corporate profits and that showed clearly in decision after decision.

"A job well and faithfully done"?

Hell no.

Not unless you're rating what he did for Big Business in America.

Only then.

Friday, January 23, 2009

What The New York Times thinks, anyway

In today's New York Times, it seems very clear what they, at least, think should happen.

First, they covered John Thain's fleecing of his company and the American people, when he was at the head of Merrill Lynch. You probably heard about this guy--he had his private bathroom done for $1.2 million dollars, for starters and then gave away billions of dollars of bonuses, for God's sake, just before Bank of America bought them and just before B of A had to get billions of dollars of your and my tax money to cover all their lossed, these included.

Let it be said now and into the future and in the American history books that John Thain is and was a thief and scumbag.

Second, the Times had an editorial by Paul Krugman, saying we need, as a country, to nationalize banks in the country and the sooner the better.

Third, there was an editorial column saying the same thing.

Finally, there is a fourth separate article pointing out how Sweden's advice to the US in the financial mess we're in would be to, repeat after me--nationalize the banks--or some of them, anyway.

So it's pretty clear what some people and groups in the US think we should be doing.

It will likely happen, too, for a few reasons:

1) It will be called "nationalizing" the banks, not socialism;

2) It will be stated that it's intended to be temporary and finally

3) We're in one hell of an ugly financial crisis and our government leaders don't know what else to do, other than also borrow and hand out trillions of dollars of money.

The banks and their leaders were incredibly irresponsible and greedy, which is why we're in this mess, and that's what the John Thain piggery makes so clear.

One thing is for sure--we need a quick return to good, strong, clear and complete regulation of our banking system, now and forever.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What American Soldiers call "war porn"

Defined, it's video of attacks on either enemies or just civilians in a war-torn area, as in Iraq or Afghanistan. NPR this afternoon, told of soldiers fighting the enemy with remote laser-guided bombs, as shown here.

This is the new way we go to war.

Here's a thought

www.redefinechristmas.org

It starts to come out now

Now that W and the Dick are no longer able to keep the lid on all their shenanigans--and that of Halliburton and KBR--the information and truth starts slowly coming out.

It's being reported just now that the Army has officially declared that "An Army investigation calls the electrocution death of a U.S. soldier in Iraq 'negligent homicide' caused by military contractor KBR Inc. and two of its supervisors."

More: "the manner of death for Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth, 24, has been changed from accidental to negligent homicide because the contractor failed to ensure that 'qualified electricians and plumbers' worked on the barracks where Maseth died."

I'm thinking there was a high likelihood that there were orders from the White House or the Vice President's mansion or somewhere that said this kind of thing was to be referred to as "accidental", as long as the Bush Cabal was in power.

So this is how it starts.

I think there is going to be a great deal more information coming out about our government and what was--and was not--done and by and to whom in the next several months.

It's not going to be pretty for the clowns who were in power, either.

You might want to sell that Halliburton stock about now.


Link to original story online here:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090122/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/iraq_contractors_electrocutions

Helping one another

If you could and would care to help an American soldier somewhere in the United States, the following website has been set up as a charity, to do just that. You can go through and see what they need and send them whatever you can afford:

www.USAtogether.org

It was set up by a Silicon Valley executive who had made a great deal of money and wanted to “give back”. The support doesn’t go through any agency—it goes straight to the person and/or their family, who needs the help. It was on NPR (National Public Radio) this morning.

Please forward the information so word can get around and as many people can help as possible.

Thank you!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"That's what I'm talkin' 'bout!"

Only one full day into the new Obama administration and already it seems like such good things--things we wanted and even expected--are coming to fruition.

Besides speaking to several of the leaders in the Middle East by phone (Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah), the new President Obama then had a meeting with his economic advisers about our fiscal situation and that mess we're in.

He talked of accelerating the country's departure from Iraq with his top military staff.

"As part of Wednesday's burst of activity, Obama's aides circulated an unsigned draft executive order that would require the closing within a year of the Guantanamo prison..."

And this is all extremely refreshing, intelligent and wonderful stuff, all in one day, sure.

Check out all that was done:

--President "Obama announced he was freezing the pay for senior White House staff and tightening up rules for former lobbyists who work in government -- an effort to make good on campaign promises for ethics reform."

--He froze the pay of all administration officials who make more than $100,000.00 per year or more;

--He signed rules making it easier for Americans to get government documents;

--"As part of the transition, Obama last night ordered federal agencies to hold off on pending regulations made in the last days of the Bush administration. The order blocks proposals including those to ease emission requirements for factories and require some foods to be labeled by country of origin";

--"The administration also sought a 120-day pause in military war-crimes tribunals of suspected terrorists detained at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba. Obama has vowed to close the facility and revamp the system for holding and trying enemy combatants";

--"Obama also decreed that only he would have the power to assert executive privilege, so as to 'limit its potential for abuse.' That may be a reference to former Vice President Dick Cheney’s assertion of executive privilege in keeping documents from Congress.";

Of all the good things done and changed today, however, this one impressed me most and gave me the most hope:

---"'A lobbyist who joins the Obama administration...is forbidden from working on issues they previously were involved with,' he said. Any person who leaves the administration will be barred from lobbying the government for two years. Government hiring, he said, will henceforth be based on qualifications, competence and experience, 'not political connections.'";

(Link to complete articles here--and they're good:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/bloomberg/20090122/pl_bloomberg/aysq9ot7ervu_1;
http://uk.reuters.com/article/marketsNewsUS/idUKN2042189320090122?pageNumber=1)

It truly is a new day.

A great, new day.



_____________________________
Meanwhile, back at the ranch:

It was just reported that the now former Vice President Dick "The Dick" Cheney was welcomed back to Wyoming with a standing ovation.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

and Rush Limbaugh?

He's concerned that our new President's rules for honesty and openness in government is just a ruse, created so we can go after George Bush.

Hmmm.

Not a bad idea.

It WAS our government, wasn't it, Rush?

Great Expectations (?)

The question keeps getting asked or proposed, lately, about President-elect Obama and that is, "Can he live up to our, literally, great expectations?"

And my answer is, yes--unequivocally, absolutely yes.

And here's why:

The conservative writer David Brooks, on PBS evening news last week, said he thought Obama was "non-partisan", in his words.

From a Conservative Republican, that's pretty extraordinary, for starters.

But more than that--much more--is that it seems that this new President is going to be, apparently and hopefully, a statesman, of all things.

We haven't seen one of those for a long time.

You may have already heard that the President-elect had dinner last week with a few very conservative columnists like William Kristol, for heavens sake, at George Will's home.

That's already very nearly unbelievable.

Can you remember the last time such a thing happened? I know I can't.

Another quote from last Friday evening's newscast was that Mr. Brooks found Mr. Obama to be much less of an "ideologue" and this, too, is so very welcome and now foreign to our politicians and politics.

It's generally agreed that the last 16 years have been tremendously ideological and divisive.

Far from being a "uniter", as President Bush promised he would be, years ago, he and his administration were loaded with ideologues and ideology, to the point of out-and-out dogma.

Right-wing, conservative, business-serving dogma and it's been very divisive and negative for the country.

When Republican Presidential administrations and campaigns started, years ago, clearing and denying attendees at what were supposed to be public speeches and presentations, so they could get audiences that were purely and completely acceptable to them and their ideas and directions, I was surprised--almost shocked--and disappointed, knowing we were going down a bad path.


I think President-elect Obama, as President, is going to bring statemanship, wisdom, calmness and intelligence back to the Presidency and so, the whole country.

Will Democrats and liberals get everything they want, always, from this new President?

No, certainly not. I'll say that right up front.

Barack Obama isn't perfect--he doesn't "walk on water", by any means.

But he's going to be what we need in this country, especially now, when we need to recover from the legal, internal and external, constitutional and financial issues, problems and messes we have now, due to the last 8 years of mismanagement, ineptitude and travesties.

This really is a new day.

A very welcome new day.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thanks, Bill!

We've waited 8 long destructive, divisive years for this

Not with a bang but a whimper.

A new day

Thank God. (or whom- or what-ever).

We made it.

A lot of us weren't sure we would.

But we did and we're here.

Doesn't it feel refreshing?

Doesn't it feel as though a great, dirty weight has been lifted off our collective shoulders?

Think of it:

President Barack Hussein Obama.

We came out on the other side of the Bush administration.

As I've said, I wasn't sure we would.

There's two magnificent things about all this, all at once.

The first is that we have a bright, hard-working, intelligent and eloquent President in office, at long last.

And the second is that we no longer have to hear or see or read about that idiot who just left for Texas.

Sure, we'll have problems and sure, he'll disappoint us and we can't possibly get everything we all want but at least we don't have to any longer be ashamed of our President and what he does and what comes out of his mouth.

We, hopefully, no longer will have our government going against us--fighting us to pollute the air or to get their corporate ways and running against our needs, the needs of the people and the middle and lower classes.

"Free at last, free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Monday, January 19, 2009

Conservative comeback?

So here we are in the United States, going to hell in a handbasket and, of course, W is about to walk away--again--from all his screw-ups, naturally, and there's talk of people expecting too much from the new President Obama and his only being human and all and "will the conservatives and Republicans be able to make a comeback", right?

Sure.

And they will.

Someday.

Sure.

But--get this--I just saw the "top ten" list of things none other than Newt Gingrich thinks are the most important things America should get to. And here they are:

1. English should be the official language of government. (87 to 11) English? That's your number one?

2. We want our elected leaders in Washington to focus on increasing the energy supplies of the United States and lowering the costs of gasoline and electricity. (71 to 18) But not decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels?

3. The option of a single rate system should give taxpayers the convenience of filing their taxes with just a single sheet of paper. (82 to 15) Yeah, I see the Senators and representatives in Congress latching on to this one right away, don't you? Them and the IRS and the lobbyists from the accounting firms.

4. Every worker should continue to have the right to a federally supervised secret ballot election when deciding whether to organize a union. (79 to 12) Oh, yeah, just make sure it's EXTREMELY DIFFICULT for Americans to join and form Unions, for God's sake.

5. Keeping the reference to “One Nation Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance is very important. (88 to 11) Because nothing promotes our country, our economy and our way of life like saying "God" in our pledge and there are no other pressing issues--like, say, the economy--pending right now.

6. Congress should make it a crime to advocate acts of terrorism, violent conduct, or the killing of innocent people in the United States. (83 to 12) Otherwise, people might think we're FOR terrorism.

7. We should dramatically increase our investment in math and science education. (91 to 8) Isn't spending more money contrary to being conservative?

8. We believe that if research indicates we could build clean coal plants in the United States with no carbon emissions, it would be important to build such plants as rapidly as possible. (71 to 8) Clean coal. Yeah. Right. And flying pigs, while we're at it.

9. Illegal immigrants who commit felonies should be deported. (88 to 10) Boy, now there's a tough stance! We'll show them!

10. We support giving a large financial prize to the first company or individual who invents a new, safer way to dispose of nuclear waste products. (79 to 16) But NOT for any of that pussy solar power stuff, which makes so much more sense.


So these are the ideas that are supposed to bring the conservatives and Republicans back into power? (you can see all this at www.newt.org).

Are you kidding me?

Could these guys--Newt in particular here, not just W--be more out of touch with America, the American people and our problems and issues?

It looks like it's going to be a smooth ride for a while, as long as they think like this--that this is the way to solve our problems and get back the American electorate.

Gitmo' savings! (from SNL)

W's lost it

Rest assured, folks

Conservatism isn't dead.

The thing is, what is and has been wrong for conservatives and Republicans is George W. Bush.

There is patently, absolutely almost nothing that is or was conservative about this guy: He never met a dollar he didn't want to spend; he grew government larger than any other President on his watch; he intruded government into more lives than any other President; he mixed more religion into government and government into religion than any other President; he got the country into more debt and deficit spending than any other President, etc.

Face it--the facts are George W. Bush has been the worst President ever and he's been a bloody nightmare for both Republicans and conservatives.

Getting rid of this clown--or having him walk off stage, anyway--will be the best thing that ever happened to Republicans, the Republican Party and conservatives and conservative thought. Then, once he's gone and we all start collectively forgetting--and most Americans will forget, sadly--conservatives and Republicans can go back to talking about cutting government, cutting government spending and all that they've always proposed and supposed themselves to be.

It would just be nice if they'd keep government out of bedrooms and religion, once and for all, for starters.

Worst. Ever.

Worst.

President.

Ever.

Let's be clear on this and let's say it again and again so we all remember our lessons:

George Walker Bush was, by far, outstripping all other Presidents in the history of the United States of America, the absolute worst President this country ever lived through.

The former "worsts" now pale compared to this buffoon.

Wareen Harding was incompetent and there was graft in his administration but not even he could touch the lows of this "leader".

President Harding didn't attack another sovereign nation, defying international law and opinion.

President Harding didn't spend every dollar he could get his official hands on like this clown, and put us into massive, historical deficits, thus bankrupting the country.

No other President put so many people, from the very industries they came from, into positions meant to oversee those same industries.

No other President in the history of this country set his very administration against the very people of the country, the way George Walker Bush did.

The thing is, when Ronald Reagan became President, I wasn't sure we'd live through his tenure, even for four years, let alone all eight.

Not with all that demagoguery and ideology.

But we did.

We lived through it and it turned out he realized some of the things he originally wanted weren't good for the country so he changed his opinions and the course for himself and the country.

And Bill Clinton came in and cleaned up his messes. And pretty well, too.

So we lived through that and we've come out at the end of the George W. Bush administration, too, albeit bedraggled, beaten, abused (literally, physically and constitutionally, as it turns out), in horrific debt, with a sullied American name, but we made it.

And now we have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and clean up this mess.
____________________________________________________________________

For more information and clarification and support on George W. Bush as the worst President of the United States--ever--go to this link:
http://www.harpers.org/archive/2008/04/hbc-90002804

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Worst. President. Ever.

If Donald Trump, of all people, thinks you're the worst President ever, in the history of the United States, you have screwed up on a pretty large scale. The bar is pretty low on that one.

Friday, January 16, 2009

W's Legacy from Countdown with Keith Olbermann

Important column from another blogger

Friday, January 16, 2009

Most Galling Statement Of The Week

Nominations are being accepted for the most galling statement of the week. Here is my nomination: White House Sees 'Strong' Econ Recovery Early In Obama Admin.

The Bush administration said the U.S. economy should emerge from its slump in the second half of the year - an optimistic forecast released days before President-elect Barack Obama inherits a recession and mammoth budget deficit.

"The actions taken by my administration in response to the financial crisis have laid the groundwork for a return to economic growth and job creation, and they are beginning to show some early results," President George W. Bush said in a letter to Congress that accompanied the annual Economic Report of the President.

The report, prepared by the White House's Council of Economic Advisers, says economic growth should be an anemic 0.6% this year after contracting 0.2% in 2008. The contraction is seen continuing in the first half of the year before growth resumes in the second half. For 2010 and 2011, the White House projects growth of 5.0%.

Reflecting the current drop in GDP, the White House said it expects the unemployment rate to rise to an average rate of 7.7% this year.

"The magnitude of the crisis required unprecedented policy responses to reduce the extent of the damage to the economy," the report said. "These policy actions have laid a foundation for a strong economic recovery early in the term of the next administration."

The White House's report is rosier than most other projections. Last week, the Congressional Budget Office forecast a 2.2% contraction in 2009, a performance that would mark the worst year since World War II. CBO expects the U.S. unemployment rate to peak at around 9% in 2010.

Bush is attempting to take credit for a recovery that has not happened yet, and in fact will not happen at all. His entire eight year term has consisted of nothing but lies, distortions, wasted money, failures to address natural disaster like Katrina, an unfounded war on trumped up lies, trampling of human rights, trampling the constitution, and policy decisions that helped sink the economy.

There is not a single major thing Bush did right, and hundreds of things he did wrong including this ridiculous attempt to take credit for a bailout plan that has clearly failed.

Bush is the epitome of arrogance, gall, stubbornness, and stupidity all wrapped up in a single package. He will go down in history as one of the all time worst presidents. Ironically, the gall of his statements today will help seal that fate, so perhaps we should be thankful for them.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com
_________________________________________________

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Thanks, Mish.

Worst. President. Ever.

Worst. President. Ever.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The travesty that is Fox "News"

Fair? Balanced?

Fox News Employees expose Fox News

Learning and unlearning, again and again

PBS showed an archive film clip of the late, famous and renowned economist John Kenneth Galbraith from some time ago, on economies, of course, and on housing bubbles and bursts. What he had to say was interesting.

Mr. Galbraith pointed out that there were virtually always about 20 years apart, to paraphrase him, because we never seem to learn our lessons, permanently, anyway, on housing and costs and prices and markets.

Naturally, the obvious thing to point out is that this is so unfortunate, first, and that you would think we would learn.

Sure it’s true but that’s not where I’m going with this.

Where I want to go is to say that I hope that, with the environment and our air, land and waters, as to polluting and not polluting, hopefully we will know better and permanently learn this stuff, as a people, all over the planet.

With our environment, we can’t keep “learning and unlearning” this stuff.

We have to have clean air and clean soil and clean water all the time, naturally (no pun intended), as a matter of course.

We don’t get “do-overs” on clean air or water or soil.

In order to live, we have to have these things all the time.

And we know this.

Just ask the people in China who are trying to live with filthy air or waterways.

These things are not luxuries. To repeat, we must have them.

So, as a country and as a world, we can’t be going through cycles of caring for our world and then not, for a period of time. Even our own generations, let alone future ones, are far too dependent on all that is around us to make those mistakes.

We have to be good stewards, so to speak, at all times.

It’s as the old saying goes, we don’t inherit our world from our ancestors—we borrow it from our children.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Truth from the insanity, presented as humor

Energy and power

Energy and the sources for energy and electricity in the United States--and the world, really--need to change.

Our old power structures used to work but they don't any longer.

The whole idea of having an electric company that creates the power, only to dole it out to all of us is extremely outdated, particularly here in America, where corporations own and run the power-generating facilities and they exploit their customers with whatever charges and price increases they want to put forward, just because they want it and because they have the government officials in their own financial pockets.

That's one reason it no longer works.

The other reason the old way doesn't work is because the way of creating the electricity--having turbines moved by water, usually--is so damaging and polluting to the environment.

Added to that the global warming, it's just a recipe for needing replacement.

And the thing is, we have a solution for this.

The fact is, we need to have photovoltaic cells on our commercial and residential buildings so each facility can create its own energy.

There's no reason this can't happen, technically.

It would solve the problems of people not being able to afford energy for heating and cooling, along with the environmental and global warming problems.

But the fact is, we have the power structures in existence now, in our governments and society, that want and need--for their own existence--to keep things just the way they are.

In Missouri, right now, for instance, the Kansas City Star reported that, even if you wanted to put solar panels on your home, you legally can't get insurance to cover it, thus making it virtually impossible to do.

Corporations are aligned against this advance in technology for our society.

It's probably much more possilbe in Europe, where they don't let corporations have a stranglehold on the citizen's actions and lives.

This is why I've said here that, with this new President, we have work ahead of us--a great deal of work--and we have to keep pushing and take our country and society back from the corporations.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bye George

Moving on

We are in such a huge era of change, financially and technologically and people just have little idea, it seems, about what's going on and where we're headed.

I've felt that one of the great things that's happening to us, concerning the environment, is the elimination of newspapers.

Delivering news daily on sheets of new, virgin paper simply makes no good sense. It's antiquated and destructive.

We should get our news online as soon as possible and then power all those computers with solar energy from photovoltaic cells and do away with the power companies.

That's fodder for another entry.

What's really unfortunate about eliminating newspapers is that it does away with the Fourth Estate.

Hell, we almost don't have anyone now, to inform us of what our government is doing nationally and internationally.

With all that this, Bush Administration has gotten away with in these last 8 years, it seems more likely than ever that governments could and would, possibly, in nightmarish form, get away with whatever they want since no one would be there, in strength, to report their actions and activities.

Would the Nixon administration have fallen even as late as it did if not for 2 reporters at the Washington Post, doing research and digging and persevering?

The conclusion of almost everyone is no.

Besides the somewhat "universal experience" and information that we all get as a culture, this is a very real issue and problem for us, culturally, nationally.

I think the consensus is, too, that, even with a proliferation of blogs, they don't--and won't--have the power of The New York Times or other media.

And sure, maybe this will change and some other reporting structure will come into being but it seems the collapse of a great deal of print journalism is going to fail before these other organizations come into being.

In short order, things are changing and going to change a great deal more.

The "man on the street" isn't too much aware of what's going on, too, I believe.


More on change soon...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Another "last" from this President

First it was the last flight from this President in Air Force One a few days ago and today, the last Presidential Press Conference.

Thank goodness.

We're getting closer and closer.

But what a doozey this one was.

I was crossing town as I heard the Chucklehead speak and just couldn't believe how delusional and misguided and mistaken and just out-and-out wrong he was, in spite of his conviction.

You can see his excuses for himself, as they come out of his mouth and mind.

What was surprising was when he got what seemed to be angry about the "30,000 people the Coast Guard took off rooftops" in New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina made landfall.

According to W, virtually the worst thing his administration did was putting up the "Mission Accomplished" poster on the aircraft carrier about Iraq, just after our (internationally illegal) invasion.

He described not finding WMD's as a "disappointment."

Disappointment?

With 4,223 confirmed American Soldier deaths based on his directed misinformation, it seems it should be considered, even by this clown, as much more than a "disappointment" but no.

This President is so convinced of himself, in spite of raw data and facts, he has no problems with his actions and non-actions.

What's really rich, though, didn't come from today's insane, disconnected-from-reality press conference. What was really great came this weekend.

It seems W indicted himself on, of all things, Fox (Faux) News.

W couldn't stop himself since, of course, he doesn't know anything of war or troublesome things like law or culpability or responsibility so he blurted out how, yes, he condoned, himself, torture, in order to get information out of suspects at Abu Graib.

Uh, what's that Mr. President?

Unbelievable.

Uh, Mr. President, you need to know it is internationally agreed that torture, even during war, is a war crime and that those who order torture could possibly be open to being tried for that war crime.

So here it is, a two-fer:

W indicted himself, possibly, for one and two, it happened on Fox News.

It was a great day for truth and all that's good and right.

Thre's hope for this country and world yet, in spite of all the damage this clown and his minions did in the last 8 years.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Barack the House

From the holidays

 
Posted by Picasa

More of why we should all be angry--and wanting justice

Thursday, Jan. 08, 2009

The Bush Administration's Most Despicable Act

By Joe Klein from Time Magazine

"This is not the America I know," President George W. Bush said after the first, horrifying pictures of U.S. troops torturing prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq surfaced in April 2004. The President was not telling the truth. "This" was the America he had authorized on Feb. 7, 2002, when he signed a memorandum stating that the Third Geneva Convention — the one regarding the treatment of enemy prisoners taken in wartime — did not apply to members of al-Qaeda or the Taliban. That signature led directly to the abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay. It was his single most callous and despicable act. It stands at the heart of the national embarrassment that was his presidency.

The details of the torture that Bush authorized have been dribbling out over the years in books like Jane Mayer's excellent The Dark Side. But the most definitive official account was released by the Senate Armed Services Committee just before Christmas. Much of the committee's report remains secret, but a 19-page executive summary was published, and it is infuriating. The story begins with an obscure military training program called Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape (SERE), in which various forms of torture are simulated to prepare U.S. special-ops personnel for the sorts of treatment they might receive if they're taken prisoner. Incredibly, the Bush Administration decided to have SERE trainers instruct its interrogation teams on how to torture prisoners. (Read "Shell-Shocked at Abu Ghraib?")

It should be noted that there was, and is, no evidence that these techniques actually work. Experienced military and FBI interrogators believe that torture leads, more often than not, to fabricated confessions. Patient, persistent questioning using subtle psychological carrots and sticks is the surest way to get actionable information. But prisoners held by the U.S. were tortured — first at Guantánamo Bay and later in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Armed Services Committee report details the techniques used on one prisoner: "Military working dogs had been used against [Mohammed al-] Khatani. He had also been deprived of adequate sleep for weeks on end, stripped naked, subjected to loud music, and made to wear a leash and perform dog tricks."

Since we live in an advanced Western civilization, there needs to be legal justification when we torture people, and the Bush Administration proudly produced it. Memos authorizing the use of "enhanced" techniques were written in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Council. Vice President Dick Cheney and his nefarious aide, David Addington, had a hand in the process. The memos were approved by Bush's legal counsel, Alberto Gonzales. A memo listing specific interrogation techniques that could be used to torture prisoners like Mohammed al-Khatani was passed to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He signed it on Dec. 2, 2002, although he seemed a bit disappointed by the lack of rigor when it came to stress positions: "I stand for 8-10 hours a day," he noted. "Why is standing limited to four hours?"

It would be interesting, just for the fun and justice of it, to subject Rumsfeld to four hours in a stress position — standing stock still with his arms extended, naked, in a cold room after maybe two hours' sleep. But that's not going to happen. Indeed, it seems probable that nothing much is going to happen to the Bush Administration officials who perpetrated what many legal scholars consider to be war crimes. "I would say that there's some theoretical exposure here" to a war-crimes indictment in U.S. federal court, says Gene Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale Law School. "But I don't think there's much public appetite for that sort of action." There is, I'm told, absolutely no interest on the part of the incoming Obama Administration to pursue indictments against its predecessors. "We're focused on the future," said one of the President-elect's legal advisers. Fidell and others say it is possible, though highly unlikely, that Bush et al. could be arrested overseas — one imagines the Vice President pinched midstream on a fly-fishing trip to Norway — just as Augusto Pinochet, the Chilean dictator, was indicted in Spain and arrested in London for his crimes.

If Barack Obama really wanted to be cagey, he could pardon Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld for the possible commission of war crimes. Then they'd have to live with official acknowledgment of their ignominy in perpetuity. More likely, Obama will simply make sure — through his excellent team of legal appointees — that no such behavior happens again. Still, there should be some official acknowledgment by the U.S. government that the Bush Administration's policies were reprehensible, and quite possibly illegal, and that the U.S. is no longer in the torture business. If Obama doesn't want to make that statement, perhaps we could do it in the form of a Bush Memorial in Washington: a statue of the hooded Abu Ghraib prisoner in cruciform stress position — the real Bush legacy.


Click to Print Find this article at:
http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1870319,00.html

The scummy Bush Legacy

The New York Times

Eight Years of Madoffs

By FRANK RICH
Published: January 10, 2009

THREE days after the world learned that $50 billion may have disappeared in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, The Times led its front page of Dec. 14 with the revelation of another $50 billion rip-off. This time the vanished loot belonged to American taxpayers. That was our collective contribution to the $117 billion spent (as of mid-2008) on Iraq reconstruction — a sinkhole of corruption, cronyism, incompetence and outright theft that epitomized Bush management at home and abroad.

The source for this news was a near-final draft of an as-yet-unpublished 513-page federal history of this nation-building fiasco. The document was assembled by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction — led by a Bush appointee, no less. It pinpoints, among other transgressions, a governmental Ponzi scheme concocted to bamboozle Americans into believing they were accruing steady dividends on their investment in a “new” Iraq.

The report quotes no less an authority than Colin Powell on how the scam worked. Back in 2003, Powell said, the Defense Department just “kept inventing numbers of Iraqi security forces — the number would jump 20,000 a week! ‘We now have 80,000, we now have 100,000, we now have 120,000.’ ” Those of us who questioned these astonishing numbers were dismissed as fools, much like those who begged in vain to get the Securities and Exchange Commission to challenge Madoff’s math.

What’s most remarkable about the Times article, however, is how little stir it caused. When, in 1971, The Times got its hands on the Pentagon Papers, the internal federal history of the Vietnam disaster, the revelations caused a national uproar. But after eight years of battering by Bush, the nation has been rendered half-catatonic. The Iraq Pentagon Papers sank with barely a trace.

After all, next to big-ticket administration horrors like Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo and the politicized hiring and firing at Alberto Gonzales’s Justice Department, the wreckage of Iraq reconstruction is what Ralph Kramden of “The Honeymooners” would dismiss as “a mere bag of shells.” The $50 billion also pales next to other sums that remain unaccounted for in the Bush era, from the $345 billion in lost tax revenue due to unpoliced offshore corporate tax havens to the far-from-transparent disposition of some $350 billion in Wall Street bailout money. In the old Pat Moynihan phrase, the Bush years have “defined deviancy down” in terms of how low a standard of ethical behavior we now tolerate as the norm from public officials.

Not even a good old-fashioned sex scandal could get our outrage going again. Indeed, a juicy one erupted last year in the Interior Department, where the inspector general found that officials “had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives.” Two officials tasked with marketing oil on behalf of American taxpayers got so blotto at a daytime golf event sponsored by Shell that they became too incapacitated to drive and had to be put up by the oil company.

Back in the day, an oil-fueled scandal in that one department alone could mesmerize a nation and earn Warren Harding a permanent ranking among our all-time worst presidents. But while the scandals at Bush’s Interior resemble Teapot Dome — and also encompass millions of dollars in lost federal oil and gas royalties — they barely registered beyond the Beltway. Even late-night comics yawned when The Washington Post administered a coup de grâce last week, reporting that Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne spent $235,000 from taxpayers to redo his office bathroom (monogrammed towels included).

It took 110 pages for the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan research organization, to compile the CliffsNotes inventory of the Bush wreckage last month. It found “125 systematic failures across the breadth of the federal government.” That accounting is conservative. There are still too many unanswered questions.

Just a short list is staggering. Who put that bogus “uranium from Africa” into the crucial prewar State of the Union address after the C.I.A. removed it from previous Bush speeches? How high up were the authorities who ordered and condoned torture and then let the “rotten apples” at the bottom of the military heap take the fall? Who orchestrated the Pentagon’s elaborate P.R. efforts to cover up Pat Tillman’s death by “friendly fire” in Afghanistan?

And, for extra credit, whatever did happen to Bush’s records from the Texas Air National Guard?

The biggest question hovering over all this history, however, concerns the future more than the past. If we get bogged down in adjudicating every Bush White House wrong, how will we have the energy, time or focus to deal with the all-hands-on-deck crises that this administration’s malfeasance and ineptitude have bequeathed us? The president-elect himself struck this note last spring. “If crimes have been committed, they should be investigated,” Barack Obama said. “I would not want my first term consumed by what was perceived on the part of Republicans as a partisan witch hunt, because I think we’ve got too many problems we’ve got to solve.”

Henry Waxman, the California congressman who has been our most tireless inquisitor into Bush scandals, essentially agreed when I spoke to him last week. Though he remains outraged about both the chicanery used to sell the Iraq war and the administration’s overall abuse of power, he adds: “I don’t see Congress pursuing it. We’ve got to move on to other issues.” He would rather see any prosecutions augmented by an independent investigation that fills in the historical record. “We need to depoliticize it,” he says. “If a Democratic Congress or administration pursues it, it will be seen as partisan.”

We could certainly do worse than another 9/11 Commission. Among those Americans still enraged about the Bush years, there are also calls for truth and reconciliation commissions, war crimes trials and, in a petition movement on Obama’s transition Web site, a special prosecutor in the Patrick Fitzgerald mode. One of the sharpest appointments yet made by the incoming president may support decisive action: Dawn Johnsen, a law professor and former Clinton administration official who last week was chosen to run the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice.

This is the same office where the Bush apparatchik John Yoo produced his infamous memos justifying torture. Johnsen is a fierce critic of such constitutional abuses. In articles for Slate last year, she wondered “where is the outrage, the public outcry” over a government that has acted lawlessly and that “does not respect the legal and moral bounds of human decency.” She asked, “How do we save our country’s honor, and our own?”

The last is not a rhetorical question. While our new president indeed must move on and address the urgent crises that cannot wait, Bush administration malfeasance can’t be merely forgotten or finessed. A new Justice Department must enforce the law; Congress must press outstanding subpoenas to smoke out potential criminal activity; every legal effort must be made to stop what seems like a wholesale effort by the outgoing White House to withhold, hide and possibly destroy huge chunks of its electronic and paper trail. As Johnsen wrote last March, we must also “resist Bush administration efforts to hide evidence of its wrongdoing through demands for retroactive immunity, assertions of state privilege, and implausible claims that openness will empower terrorists.”

As if to anticipate the current debate, she added that “we must avoid any temptation simply to move on,” because the national honor cannot be restored “without full disclosure.” She was talking about America regaining its international reputation in the aftermath of our government’s descent into the dark side of torture and “extraordinary rendition.” But I would add that we need full disclosure of the more prosaic governmental corruption of the Bush years, too, for pragmatic domestic reasons. To make the policy decisions ahead of us in the economic meltdown, we must know what went wrong along the way in the executive and legislative branches alike.

As the financial historian Ron Chernow wrote in the Times last week, we could desperately use a Ferdinand Pecora, the investigator who illuminated the history of the 1929 meltdown in Senate hearings on the eve of the New Deal. The terrain to be mined would include not just the usual Wall Street suspects and their Congressional and regulatory enablers but also the Department of Housing and Urban Development, a strangely neglected ground zero in the foreclosure meltdown. The department’s secretary, Alphonso Jackson, resigned in March amid still-unresolved investigations over whether he enriched himself and friends with government contracts.

The tentative and amorphous $800 billion stimulus proposed by Obama last week sounds like a lot, but it’s a drop in the bucket when set against the damage it must help counteract: more than $10 trillion in new debt and new obligations piled up by the Bush administration in eight years, as calculated by the economists Linda J. Bilmes and Joseph E. Stiglitz in the current Harper’s Magazine.

If Bernie Madoff, at least, can still revive what remains of our deadened capacity for outrage, so can those who pulled off Washington’s Ponzi schemes. The more we learn about where all the bodies and billions were buried on our path to ruin, the easier it may be for our new president to make the case for a bold, whatever-it-takes New Deal.

It's a new day truly

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Fairness Doctrine: it's time has come--back

Let's be clear about the Fairness Doctrine.

We simply need it.

Beyond needing it, the whole idea that voices will be silenced if/when it's brought back is nonsense, purely and simply.

The Fairness Doctrine, after all, only says that, if one viewpoint is given time--5 minutes, 15, a half hour, hour, whatever--the same amount must, then, be given to an opposing viewpoint on our radio and television airwaves.

It was initially put into place to be certain we'd stay a level-headed, more informed, hopefully, and civil society, I should think.

But the Republicans came into some power and took it out of our laws.

Foolish.

Now, we have people like Rush Limbaugh, in the worst example, spewing all kinds of vitriol, one-sided viewpoints and out-and-out lies, with no answers from any other side or viewpoint--Liberal, Libertarian, or whatever.

Hopefully, the Democrats coming into power now will bring back this law into our broadcasting, laws, society and airwaves.

Hopefully these Democrats will have the fortitude, intelligence and courage to do this and to do what's right for the country.

Rush Limbaugh could still be his same blowhard self, as could, of course, anyone else.

They'd just have to be answered with opposing views for the same amount ot time.

Anyone of intellgence with their own courage of convictions wouldn't be afraid of such a thing.

I can see it now...

...it's mid-2009 and Rush "I'm a right-wing nut-job" Limbaugh will be blaming then-President Obama for the deficit.

I wish no one would buy off on that crap.

As soon as the President-elect is sworn into office, it's big times for that fat, ignorant slob.

But here's the truth on the budget, now, today, while "W" is still screwing things up:

Because of Right-wing, "Conservative" and very Republican George W. Bush, the budget deficit is already at the highest it's ever been, in our nation's history. For the first time ever, as I stated here earlier, we'll hit a trillion dollar deficit.

Thanks again, George!

And next year?

Because of the unregulated, unholy mess "W" helped create and is now leaving us with, it is projected to hit 1.86 trillion dollars.

With this huge downturn in the economy--again, thanks to George--we have to spend a huge amount, so we can keep our business wheels turning, so to speak.

And pay attention to this:

"The report shattered President George W. Bush's pledge that the government would balance its budget by 2012. Instead, CBO sees significant deficits at least through 2019."

So let's not let anyone get away with saying this is the Barack Obama recession--or worse.

It's nonsense.

From what I've heard, the "Big Fat Idiot" is already saying it's an Obama recession, unbelievably enough.

You'd think he'd at least wait 6 or more months before he (and Hannity, I see) would assume we forgot our recent history and the debacle that this current administration have been but no.

It's going to be a rough 8 years from these clowns.


Link to budget deficit story here:
http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSN0643708720090107

Link to article covering Hannity/Limbaugh claim of "Obama recession":
http://mediamatters.org/items/200811120011

Late, poignant Happy Holidays wishes

Monday, January 5, 2009

One of many things wrong with corporations--and America

Check out this ad in the newspaper yesterday in the "Help Wanted" section:

"Administrative Operations Assistant to the President/CEO, a company with properties in 8 states is seeking an Operations Assistant for its Home Office location. This position provides administrative support to the President of the Company in a variety of capacities including developing and preparing presentations and reports for new hotel development, as well as hotel management. The selected candidate will perform special projects as assigned. Other job duties include preparing meeting agendas, notices, minutes and resolutions for corporate meetings. Performs complex and confidential administrative functions including developing and typing written correspondence. The ideal candidate must have excellent organizational skills and can adhere to tight schedules. Experience working in an administrative position, or have previous front office or front desk experience a plus. Outstanding knowledge of excel, and Microsoft products are required. Confidentiality is a must. A flexible work schedule at 40 hours per week, at an hourly pay rate of $8.50 plus Health Benefits and a 401(k) plan is offered."

Check that out. (Ignore the typos, though that could be more of the story, here, too).

Look at all the things they want and require: "complex and confidential administrative functions", "excellent organizational skills", "previous front office or front desk experience", "outstanding knowledge of Excel and Microsoft products", etc.

Can you believe the chutzpah of these people?

They require this and must have that and then they want to pay this person $8.50 an hour.

Nearly unbelievable.

Do you know what that translates to per year, in salary?

It's a little over $12,000.00 per year, after taxes.

A full-time job and you're supposed to somehow live on a little over 12 grand a year.

How are you supposed to keep a car, insurance for it, food on your table, a roof overhead, clothes on your back and all the requisites of a job on 12 thousand dollars a year?

Forget any small entertainment expense. How about the necessities?

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we need to become a Socialist country, in its truest sense.

Left to its own devices, the corporations of the United States are eating us all alive.

They chew us up, live on us as long as we will let them or as long as we're alive and then spit us out, either because we're exhausted, or sick or dead.

Coporations aren't even paying living wages anymore. Some of them, anyway, as is evidenced here.

Wal-mart? Retail stores in America? Any of them?

Heck no.

And health care?

Too many corporations don't pay full health care benefits--they put at least half of it back on the employees, even though the company may have the owner's family members secretly on the payroll or they have other arbitrary expenses for the owner's family paid by the organization. The owners usually figure it's due them, "because they own it, dammit."

In my hometown of St. Joseph, Missouri, the hometown newspaper for the last--what?--hundred years has been owned by one family. They are wildly wealthy (they own their own jet, or did, anyway. I think they still do. Or, better put, the newspaper bought them a jet. The company pays for it, you can bet on that).

But do you think the employees had health insurance?

Hell, no.

Can you imagine anything that is more human-reliant, to create and function, than a newspaper?

Who's going to write those stories but humans? Who's going to see to the printing and distribution of the paper?

But do you think they'd offer those same employees health insurance, as a reward for their hard work and creativity in writing, creating, printing and distributing those papers EVERY DAY?

Again, hell no.

And do you know why?

Well, for starters, because they can.

Life is extremely cheap to today's corporations, that's why.

Don't like the working conditions?

Quit.

Don't think you make enough money?

Quit.

Can't live without health insurance coverage by the company?

Screw you.


And it makes me wonder when the American people are going to expect more.

Hopefully, that time is now.

Or very soon, at the very latest.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

And so comes a new year

There's so much to say, so much to think, so much to consider.

The one thing that comes over me, more than any other thought right now is "Thank God George Walker Bush is almost no longer the leader of this country."

Sometimes these events--New Year's, birthdays, other things--come along and they're particularly poignant.

Two years ago, for instance, I turned 50.

Like everyone, when I came to that half-century mark, it made me think and take stock of my life--what I've done, what I haven't done, who I am, where I am, etc.

This New Year celebration, if that's what it is for us--and I think it is, still--brings us to the near-end of a two-term President who has led us in wrong paths: into an arbitrary, unnecessary and expensive war, in terms of lives lost and damaged and financial costs.

This same President also turned our government against us and for and towards the ultra-rich and big business and corporations.

It's been ugly.

But hey, here comes the end of the year and the end of his administration and leadership.

And here also comes new leadership and fresh faces, motivations and ideas.

And you know what?

I think virtually everyone is ready for that, don't you think?

So here's to the old year--and the new.

Here's to friends and good times and good memories.

Here's to hope and optimism.

We have a lot of work ahead of us but for now, let's make a toast to new possibilities.