Wednesday, December 31, 2008
The men who are fighting, being kidnapped tortured and murdered, the women and children being blown to pieces today in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza, will soon have songs written about them, and the patriots in their countries will memorize those songs and teach them to their children and grandchildren and 100 years from now they will still proudly be singing those songs, with lyrics like this:
And the world did gaze in deep amaze
At those fearless men and true
Who bore the fight that freedom's light
Might shine through the foggy dew.
Peace in 2009. U.S. Out of Iraq and Afghanistan. End the Wars now.
The song "The Foggy Dew" commemorates the Easter Rebellion of 1916.
'Twas down the glen one Easter morn
To a city fair rode I.
When Ireland's line of marching men
In squadrons passed me by.
No pipe did hum, no battle drum
Did sound its loud tattoo
But the Angelus bell o'er the Liffey's swell
Rang out in the foggy dew.
Right proudly high over Dublin town
They hung out a flag of war.
Twas better to die 'neath an Irish sky
Than at Suvla or Sudel Bar.
And from the plains of Royal Meath
Strong men came hurrying through;
While Brittania's sons with their long-range guns
Sailed in from the foggy dew.
'Twas England bade our wild geese go
That small nations might be free.
Their lonely graves are by Suvla's waves
On the fringe of the grey North Sea.
But had they died by Pearse's side
Or fought with Valera true,
Their graves we'd keep where the Fenians sleep
'Neath the shroud of the foggy dew.
The bravest fell, and the requiem bell
Rang mournfully and clear
For those who died that Eastertide
In the springing of their years.
And the world did gaze in deep amaze
At those fearless men and true
Who bore the fight that freedom's light
Might shine through the foggy dew.
hath scattered like dust
Alexander, Caesar, and all that shared
Tara is grass, and behold how Troy
lieth low --
And even the English, perchance their
hour will come!
By Padraig Pearse. Published in Poems of the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood, Small, Maynard and Company, Boston, 1916.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
There Are Only Ten Stories In The Entire World. But We Get To Keep Telling Them (And Living Them) Because Nobody Ever Listens.
There is a wonderful book called The Magus by John Fowles in which a young English schoolteacher goes to an island in Greece and learns about a man who may have worked with the fascists, or may have fought against them, during WW II. There are different stories. The young man (and the reader) get to opine on what they would have done if faced with the opportunities and possible death that might result from opposing the fascists.
Here we are in the 21st century and we no longer have to wonder what we would have done if we had been alive when the Nazis walled off the Jews of Warsaw, deprived them of basic necessities, then eventually moved in to slaughter them. Because the same thing is going on today in Gaza. Here is our opportunity.
Will we stand in defense of a civilian population that has been imprisoned in their own land, punished with mass civilian assaults by the most powerful military in the region, and are now slated for slaughter by the military racist nation that seeks their extermination? If the U.S. did not keep giving Israel money and sending them weapons (if our politicians did not keep taking millions in bribes and kick-backs of our money, sent to Israel as "aid" but skimmed off the top and laundered back into the U.S. and paid to our Congress in a massive scheme of corruption), Israel would not continue to murder Palestinians.
Whether Israel can live in peace with their neighbors is their problem, not ours. Israel is not a state, not a territory, and has no legitimate claim to money from U.S. taxpayers. Israel does not need any "aid" from the U.S. The standard of living of Israelis is comparable to that of the population in the U.K. Let them decide if they want to spend their money on wars or on social improvement, but the U.S. taxpayers being forced to financially support Israel must end.
Israel claims that their neighbors are insane, and they will never be allowed to live there in peace. So be it. But it's not my responsibility to fund them in an impossible goal. By definition, if we accept their view, it is impossible for them to live there in peace. No reason for U.S. taxpayers to be forced to continue to subsidize what is ultimately doomed to failure, but what is in the meantime causing massive conflict and instability in the entire world.
Why should U.S. taxpayers be forced to financially fund a nation that only exists because some religious fanatics claim that God talks to them. We've got our own religious fanatics right here at home. Let Israel support itself and work out its own problems. If they can't work out their problems, then they have to live with constant war (as they say would happen) or leave. It's their decision. I think the clear lesson from the film "The Battle of Algiers" is that Europeans cannot colonize or control middle eastern nations without resorting to torture, massive imprisonment and deprivation, murder, and war against the native civilian population, and even with all that, the Europeans lose in the end. It's not their land. It was stolen from the Palestinians. Either pay for it and make peace or live with the consequences. But the U.S. needs to stop funding this colony.
There is a massive propaganda system in place to convince Americans that the blood of Israeli children washes their streets daily, and that's why the U.S. must continue sending billions of dollars to Israel, but the truth is quite to the contrary. Israeli children are much safer than American children, and their crime rate is relatively low.
The total number of Israelis killed by a Palestinian during 2005 was 50. During that same time period, in 2005, Israelis killed 197 Palestinians. Four to one Palestinians to Israelis, with the Palestinians doing the dying. But in any event, it doesn't really sound a bloodbath, does it? Not compared to what goes on in our cities every week-end. Why should the U.S. be giving billions of dollars to Israel to "protect" them against the possibiliity of 50 murders when their total murder rate (between Israelis and Palestinians) is so relatively low. For all we know, this could include common crime, more the result of class than politics. But it gets better in later years. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/807007.html
The total number of Israelis killed by a Palestinian during 2006 was 27, which included one child. During that same time period, in 2006, the Israelis killed 650 Palestinians, which included 120 children. The streets in the area may be red from the blood of children, but it is the Palestinian children who are being murdered by the Israelis. http://www.boston.com/news/world/middleeast/articles/2007/05/23/israel_killed_650_palestinians_in_2006/
During 2007, there were a total of 13 Israelis killed by a Palestinian. During that same year, 2007, Israelis killed 373 Palestinians. Do we see a theme here? It is the Palestinians who are being murdered by the Israelis, using weapons provided by the U.S. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2007/12/30/international/i152632S12.DTL
Even today during the slaughter in the Gaza, there are reportedly 3 Israelis killed, and almost 400 Palestinians killed. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/31/world/middleeast/31mideast.html?hp
Israel has sent its Air Force to bomb the civilian population of Gaza, has lined up gunboats to attack from the water, and massed its army on the border ready to invade. Damn, if only the Palestinians had a military of their own this might be called a war. But since the Palestinians have no Air Force, have no Navy, have no airplanes or gunboats, have no Army, they must simply be called an unarmed civilian population being slaughtered by their belligerent neighbor.
This is massive retaliation against a civilian population and is an international war crime. We may not be able to stop it. After all, Israel's politicians always get all huffy about how they are an independent nation, they have no obligation to do what the U.S. says. I wish they were so huffy when it comes to paying their own freight. So maybe we can't stop it directly, but we definitely can cut off all the money. Stop the money and you'll stop the killing.
Write your politicians and local newspapers and demand the U.S. permanently cut off all funding to Israel. Permanently end it. Not a "conditional" holding back. End it. Then we can begin a reparations fund to be paid to Palestinians and administered by a reputable NGO. We should start by determining the total number of Palestinian homes stolen and destroyed by Israel, which we need to build as replacements. Then schools, hospitals. We should build new roads with strict rules that no Israeli may travel on them (just like Israel builds roads but won't let the Palestinians use them). We need to get right and we need to get out.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Instead, the Bush Regime and the neoncons want a world in which corporations dictate to the purported president and governors what they will do, and when they will do it. I anticipate minimum wage as well as overtime and workers comp will be eliminated, or at least there will be a major push to accomplish that. How could the corporate world do that? Simple: refuse to loan money within a state, refuse to employ anyone within a state, unless the state government does exactly as instructed. It really doesn't matter if the Republicans are voted out of office so long as Wall Street and the corporations have stolen all the money, looted and pillaged, and left us destitute. Which they have done.
And now the states begin the process of selling off their assets: parks, roads. Schools will be next. You want to walk on the sidewalk? That will cost a dollar. Want to drive on the road to get to work, or to the store? $5.00 each way. The roads will be privately owned as will the parks, the trees, the oceans and lakes, the schools.
People need to tell the state governments to get up off of their knees and fight. Such as, get the state attorney generals to file coordinated lawsuits (since the federal AG does nothing) and sue Wall Street, get back the money that has been stolen from their state pensions and funds, and from the citizens of their states. Get Up In Their Faces.
Tennessee Ernie Ford had a hit a long time ago with a song called "You Load 16 Tons." Great song about coal miners who worked and lived in brutal conditions, lived in company-owned housing and were charged excessive rents, shopped in the only store in town, which was also owned by the same company. At the end of a pay period, the miners often found that the company had deducted everything and then some, so the miners were more in debt every week and had no way out.
You load 16 tons, and what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt.
Saint Peter don't you call me, 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store.
The only way to stop this destruction of our country and selling off of our assets, the things that belong to the people, is to prosecute, seize the money that has been stolen from the people, and throw the Wall Street Boys, the politicians they have bribed, and the CEOs with whom they have conspired, into prison. Take back the money and send these criminals to prison. Otherwise we're looking at a future in which our children and grandchildren will have no freedom, no democracy, no say in the governing of their country, because everything will be as directed by the corporations and the criminals on Wall Street.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
The Hallelujah chorus is the most famous movement. It supposedly is based upon three sections from the New Testament, Book of Revelation, as follows:
- And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. (Revelation 19:6)
- And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15)
- And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. (Revelation 19:16)
Handel reportedly broke down in tears when he completed the Hallulah chorus, saying that he thought he’d seen the face of God.
Most audiences stand when the Hallujah chorus is performed. The story has it that when King George II of England went to a performance of “Messiah,” he stood up when the Hallelujah chorus began. And the rule at that time was that if the King stands, everybody stands. (Wikipedia)
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I was reading a Santa story for a 5 year old and loved the pictures, the entire story, of this kindly white-haired man with his wife and elfs who spend their time making presents for all the children of the world so that everyone can be happy on Christmas day. And it occurred to me that, just like Blanche, we Americans have a grossly distorted picture of ourselves. There is no American version of Santa going around the world trying to help those less fortunate than ourselves. We're more like the reverse Santa: we steal resources from other countries and leave their children poor so that the upper classes in the U.S. can brag about how many hundreds of millions of dollars they were paid this year.
We, as a nation, have no commitment to helping children in or outside of this country. We don't even provide our own children with health care. If some baby happens to be born to a poor family in the U.S., we'll just let them die if they get sick because we don't care about other people's babies, at least not once they're born. That's the twisted thing about the right-wing: they claim to love the un-born children, but hate the babies.
We don't send the children of the world presents, whether by plane or truck or sleighs with reindeer, and we do not care if they are hungry or if they die young. We do nothing about the misery, poverty, suffering, and death of children in the world except hand out an occasional band-aid.
In the case of Iraq and Afghanistan, we have caused the suffering of those children by dropping bombs on them, wounding them, starving them, injuring or killing their families, torturing and imprisoning the dads, blowing up their homes, destroying their schools, roads, hospitals, electrical system, water delivery. We've left them living in a military dictatorship with gangs of thugs and murderers roaming throughout the cities killing without consequence -- and those are our gangs, our private mercenary gangs that we not only approve but to whom we pay exceedingly good salaries. Money that could, instead, be used to buy presents and to make those children of Iraq and Afghanistan happy.
When I read about the CEOs, the Wall Street Boys, the politicians in Congress being "given" millions or even hundreds of millions of dollars, and then think of the children with no food, it is impossible to think of the U.S. as being a decent country, or a kind country, or a good one. Why is it that with the recent unfortunate growth of religion in our country, crucifixes hung from every neck, we seem to be getting more murderous and brutal. Does anyone else see the contradiction there? Exactly which religion is it that says we should starve children and adorn ourselves with gold and jewels?
They just reported on the news that some hedge fund scum was found dead in his office, possible suicide. Good. Back in the 1930s when the predecessors to the current Wall Street Boys destroyed the economy of the U.S. and the world by greed, speculation, and fraud, many of them at least had the decency to kill themselves, which is what they deserved, sometimes giving the public a show by throwing themselves out of windows from high rises near Wall Street. When they killed themselves, it helped to restore honor and dignity to the country because it allowed the public to believe that there is a God after all, justice will prevail, and no matter how big of a crook someone is, they'll get it in the end.
I think that's what should happen today, also. It would be a tiny bit of justice in an otherwise bleak time of year. In fact, maybe it could be arranged as a Pay-Per-View with the money to go to poor children, with webcams and news crews present to catch the bodies from every angle. Clear the streets to avoid further damage to the citizens. Then tell the boys to jump. Maybe sychronized. It would be like a ticker-tape parade, except for the part when they hit the street. We could call it the Great Leap Forward. The world would little note nor long remember the criminals known as the Wall Street Boys. No loss there. If we were feeling kind, we could say that everyone who jumps will be given a pass in the history books. It would be their way of redeeming some tiny shred of dignity. Kill themselves. And give the money back. In fact, get the money before they jump.
How about the Bigoted Pastor Warren, so intent on hiding in other people's closets to spy on them when they go to bed at night (so to speak), as his "Christian" duty. Does the Bigoted Pastor Warren ever think that he should simply pass the collection plate in his Orange County mega church and ask the ladies to donate their jewel-encrusted crucifixes to be sold, money used to feed the children? I guess that's not as exciting as spying on other people having sex. What is it about these white male preachermen that they spend so much time obsessing on other people's sex lives? I'm wondering if we raised lots of money and bought some enormous porno collection, put it on-line for all the white privileged sex-obsessed preachermen to watch 24/7, maybe they'd leave the rest of us alone and the world would be a better place?
None of this is so hard after all. We don't need the Ph.D.s in this and that and the Departments of Whatever to figure it out. The solution is to live a life, run a country consistent with what we claim are our values, laws, and beliefs. Do as we say.
We need to face up to our wrongdoing. Acknowledge to ourselves and to the world. Then make it right. This is what we need to do immediately, as soon as Obama takes office:
(1) appoint independent (of the white house and congress) prosecutors to begin subpoening witnesses to take evidence for use in war crimes prosecutions;
(2) arrest those accused of war crimes and have public trials, throw them in prison if convicted;
(3) appoint independent (of the white house and congress) prosecutors to begin subpoenaing witnesses to take evidence for use in financial crimes prosecutions;
(4) arrest those accused of financial crimes, including politicians who have taken bribes or kick-backs to allow these crimes to occur, have public trials, throw them in prison if convicted.
(5) End both wars now and bring the troops home.
(6) Establish and fund reparations to be paid to the countries of Iraq and Afghanistan, to be administered by some independent nations and organizations.
At least that would be a good start. Ho Ho Ho.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
What was it about that scruffy working class guy John Lennon? Why do his songs remain so popular, the message just as compelling today as when it was written? Here's another version by the three tenors, Pavarotti, Domingo and Carreras in Vienna. Worth a listen.
But now it gets interesting. There is a new popular singer, David Cook, winner of American Idol. I like his voice and think he's very talented. He was asked to perform at Rockefeller Center this year for the lighting of the big Christmas Tree. And he chose to perform this same song by John Lennon.
Good version in most respects, except: What happened to the ending? Why was it deleted? How many years ago was it that Nelson Rockefeller ripped down a Diego Rivera mural from Rockefeller Center because he was offended by the art -- the depiction of labor struggling for freedom and justice. Is this just more censorship by the Rockefellers or their successors?
I love the fact that this popular young singer would choose to perform this song at this time. But what happened to the ending? Why was it removed? You know. The lyrics that say:
War is overWere those simple lyrics really so threatening that they had to be removed from the song? Who at Rockefeller Center or NBC was so concerned that this young singer not even speak these words of truth, that the wars will end when the people demand it, and not before.
If you want it
War is over
Thursday, December 18, 2008
And now we learn that Obama has chosen the Bigoted Pastor Warren from Orange County California, or "the Reichland" as most people call it, the territory "Behind the Orange Curtain," to preach to the world at Obama's inauguration. Obama decided to honor this man by giving him an international audience with the apparent approval of Obama to preach to the world, lead by example, tell it like it is.
Except that for the Bigoted Pastor Warren, what it is is this: he's a bigot. He does not believe in equal rights or civil rights or constitutional rights for women or gays. Couldn't Obama have found some other preacher, maybe one who wasn't quite so rich? Since when were Christians supposed to act like CEOs, always out soliciting money, building bigger temples in which to be worshipped, buying TV time to convince poor people that if they only send the Bigoted Pastor Warren some money, everything in their lives will be okay. God will make it so.
These mega-preachers live more like rock stars than like people concerned with morality. Tell me the difference between a religious book tour and a rock-n-roll tour? Big stadiums, big bucks, some dude up on stage while thousands worship at his feet, screaming. Usually white, middle-aged men on stage getting all the adoration and taking all the money. Probably they just couldn't sing, but would not give up their dream of living like a rock star. So they picked up a Bible instead of a guitar.
There is no question that there are priests, rabbis, mullahs, ministers, preachers all over this country who are decent honest people, preaching whatever their religious views are in small congregations with working class people. So why pick a guy who is the symbol of the most ostentatious county in the country, the most right-wing segregated Republican county, the mega-church dude, someone whose views of religion involve lots of attention to himself, lots of fundraising. It's all about money. Whatever happened to vows of poverty?
And where are the women religious speakers? Does "change" begin and end with Obama, but everything else will be the same, everyone other than white men will continue to be excluded from -- everything?
If Bush had chosen a pastor who had a segregated church and promoted segregation, there would have been an uproar, and there should be one around this guy Warren. The fact that much of the country may agree with him does not mean it's okay to deny an unpopular segment of the population their basic constitutional and civil rights. I think Obama's real message is that he's a politician, he wants to keep some support from some conservative groups, and he's willing to throw over gays in order to get it.
Of course the bigger problem here is the dangerous alliance between our federal government and the big business of religion which has gotten much bigger and richer thanks to George W. Bush giving taxpayer money to the churches. In a way, religion has usually aligned itself with the powerful forces in society as one more institution that can keep people in line. The government can arrest and imprison people, employers can fire them or work them to death, and the church can scare them into obedience by tales of the horrors of hell. So it should not be surprising to see most religions closely aligned with the federal government.
However, the new policy of actually giving taxpayer money to churches is a dangerous violation of our constitution. Go to the federal Department of Labor website and see their prominent promotion of "faith-based" labor programs: You Too Can Become A Rich Minister And Preach In Mega-Temples Or At Important Inaugurations.
By Obama bringing a mega-church leader into his inauguration, this signals that he plans to continue to give my money to religions despite constitutional prohibitions on doing so. Remember, these religions can receive millions or even hundreds of millions of dollar in income, but they pay no taxes. They have more in common with hedge and private equity funds, and the Wall Street Criminals, than with poor Jesus. What change?
Obama's got a nice smile, but that's a spotlight behind him, not a halo.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
But unfortunately we're getting a new glimpse into the sordid vendettas and petty grievances that form such an important part of the secret platform of the leading Democrats. And what we're seeing is so nasty and irrational that it almost seems it was crafted by KKKKarl Rove. What better way to create conflict within the Democratic party than to have one group of Democrats launch a public, vicious assault on an intelligent, law-abiding constitutional scholar, author, mother and citizen, daughter of one of the most beloved Democratic politicians who ever lived, daughter and niece of men who were murdered because they stood up for traditional Democratic constituencies like labor, poor people and minorities, and stood up for critical Democratic principles such as freedom of speech and economic justice.
What are the objections to Caroline Kennedy putting her name out for consideration to be appointed to fill Hillary Clinton's senate seat? Why the rabid mad-dog opposition? We know that Caroline supported Obama in the primaries. There were some Hillary Clinton supporters who opposed Obama and supported McCain out of their own sense of loyalty to the unsuccessful campaign of Hillary Clinton. Some of the opposition to Caroline Kennedy is coming from these old-Clintonites who just can't seem to let it go.
We're also seeing some feigned anguish expressed by well-known liberal men who claim that they feel compelled to speak out because ... someone else, unnamed, might be better, and how dare she ask to be considered. Andy Borowitz, normally a pretty funny guy, even decided to jump on this anti-Caroline bandwagon, the suggestion that she is outrageously out of line for even asking to be considered, by his humor column today saying that Caroline has asked to be named the Time person of the year.
Some pundits question whether Caroline Kennedy has the proper qualifications. These are the same people that claimed they opposed Obama because he didn't have enough experience as a qualification for office. We only hear these objections to lack of qualification when women or minorities apply for the job. Any useless, slow-witted coked-up drunken son of a rich man can get elected to national office, even become president, as long as he's white and his daddy's rich.
Some men's objections to Caroline Kennedy have nothing to do with who she is, or what her qualifications are. They are simply angry that she would put her own name forward, suggest herself as a legitimate person to be considered. These men apparently believe that it is outrageous that a woman would ever promote herself or ask to be considered for an appointment. In our society, women are never supposed to suggest themselves for promotion, to call attention to their own qualifications, or to ask for anything. Nice girls don't. It's so unladylike . Women should sit quietly and wait to see if they are offered something. Otherwise, say nothing. Is it any wonder women get so much less than men in every area of our society when social norms include a prohibition on even asking for something. "She asked for something. Slut." Some things never change.
We have the additional problem that Caroline Kennedy is now a single (divorced) woman and she is not leaning on her husband's arm while asking to be considered. Who will vouch for this woman? Until very recently, women (and blacks) were not even allowed to testify in a court of law as a witness because the were irrebuttably presumed to be incapable of telling the truth. And of course former slaves (the male slaves), considered the most abused group of people in our society, were given the right to vote (in 1870), to participate in the political arena to the modest degree of casting a vote (even if their views or thoughts were never to be openly expressed) over 50 years before women were finally given the right to vote (1920).
Women are not allowed to enter the highest corridors of power unless they are brought there by a man: husband, boyfriend/lover, father. Some man has to legitimize their entry, stamp their ticket, vouch for their trustworthiness, in order for them to move into the all-boys-club. After all, we still only have a few women in the Senate, even though women are 50% of the country. And women continue to earn only 70% of what men in comparable positions do. Imagine how men would feel if they were told that 30% of their wages would be taken away from them for their entire working life, making the difference between them being able to have a decent life as opposed to living constantly in or on the edge of poverty. Exclusion based on gender remains the rule rather than the exception in this society.
Some of the objections I'm hearing about Caroline Kennedy vaguely refer to dynasty. The same people did not object to Hillary Clinton getting the spot, although she had done nothing in her entire life other than sit on the Board of Directors of that infamous union-busting slave-labor supporting Wal Mart, represent and advise real estate developers and S&L con men, and be married to a man who was himself a successful politician. She had never run for or been elected to office, and had no apparent qualifications for the job. But she was OK because her husband said so. That's a dynasty.
Where is Caroline Kennedy's dynasty? Her father and one of her uncles were murdered when she was a child. Her other uncle is seriously ill . Her brother died, and her mother mercifully had died shortly before that. So exactly what is her dynasty? Who in her family has been in public office since 1963? If we exclude the cousins (and yes, she has a large extended family), that would be no one.
Would Caroline "fill the shoes" of Hillary Clinton? Hopefully not. I don't think Caroline would be so corrupt as her predecessor was to sponsor bills making it illegal to burn a flag (a clear violation of the citizens' first amendment freedom of expression) to try to pick up votes from the right-wing. I also don't think she would support an illegal war just because she thought it might help her future political goals.
What are Caroline Kennedy's qualifications for office? She is a constitutional scholar. She has written many books. She is a mother, citizen. There has been no scandal or impropriety associated with her. Unlike the Democrats currently in the Senate, she did not support the U.S. launching a war of aggression against Iraq nor the continued funding of that illegal war; she did not support torture or sit by while it was done by the government when she was in a position to stop it; she did not get her spouse to engage in war profiteering and get personal gains from this atrocity; she has not taken millions in bribes from Wall Street to do nothing while they looted the country, unlike most of the Democrats currently in Congress; she did not sit on her hands and do nothing while Bush and Cheney put illegal wiretaps into the homes of many Americans in violation of the 4th amendment.
I may have answered my own question. Perhaps the objection to Caroline is that she's simply not corrupt enough to be in the Senate. Maybe that's it.
Sweet Caroline (Neil Diamond says he wrote this song for Caroline Kennedy)
"Hands, touching hands, reaching out, touching me, touching you,
Sweet Caroline, good times never seemed so good.
I've been inclined to believe they never would. "
Maybe the real objection to Caroline Kennedy is that she represents the old traditional Democratic party. After all, her father and both uncles stood squarely on the side of the poor, minorities, and labor, and stood in favor of economic justice. Isn't the real threat to both the Republican and Democratic parties the idea that we might get decent politicians in office who would support the people instead of working against them?
Bill Clinton and his crew tried to change the Democratic party by their doctrine, some call it neo-liberal, which claimed that it was possible to support Republican policies but still be a Democrat. I've never bought that whole story, and see Bill Clinton as a Trojan Horse who served to undermine the Democratic party and hurt the working people of this country. But he did it with intelligence, wit, good looks and a smile, and fooled a lot of people. I don't care what label you put on it, the whole idea that even one American job should be sent overseas is a bad idea. Let's get full employment here, universal healthcare and completely funded pensions, then we'll talk about whether we have any "extra" jobs we want to give away.
And deregulation of the financial institutions simply freed them to loot the country and steal all the money from working people. I never once heard Bill Clinton say that removing the restrictions, and allowing these criminals to charge 30% interest on credit card loans to poor people, might not have been such a good idea after all. What does he care? He's collected hundreds of millions of dollars from rich people and corporations since he left office. He knew who he was working for, and it wasn't us. So maybe the real assault on Caroline Kennedy is from the neo-liberals who fear that if traditional Democrats get into elected office again, working people might begin to stand up for themselves and throw these Republicans in Democratic clothing out of office.
I've heard some leading Democrats take snarky little digs at Caroline Kennedy because she's Irish Catholic, old school like her Uncle Teddy, like that's so last year. Why would liberals attack a woman who comes from such a clear tradition of support for the oppressed, for minorities, for working people? The pseudo-Democrats like to see themselves as wall street types with expensive shoes and suits, taking money from the rich people to send jobs overseas, carefully balancing on a high-wire so they can appeal to traditional Democratic voters while selling us out to the rich people who run everything. Maybe Caroline's candidacy represents more than meets the eye. Now that we've got Obama in the white house, isn't it time to start throwing the traitors out of office and electing some real Democrats for a change?
Let's take the Democrats back to traditional Democratic values, and send the Clintonista-Republicans back to Arkansas.Caroline for Senator.
P.S.: after spending some time reading other on-line blogs, it occurs to me that this may simply be a Republican tactic to denounce the entire idea of a (Democratic) Governor getting to select the person to fill a vacant Senate seat. Since Obama has chosen to recruit so many Democratic Senators to serve in his administration, this could essentially give the Republican party a chance to re-take control of the Senate simply by forcing each of these seats into an immediate election, while using massive funds to create a scent of scandal and incompetence in the Democrats. The timing of the "expose" on the Illinois Governor certainly is odd, and may be the first shot. How stupid are the Democrats? I hope every Governor appoints a new Senator for every vacant seat, and then let's move on.
Monday, December 15, 2008
I thought of those criminals this week-end when I saw that George W. Bush just had to go back to Iraq one last time before he leaves office, one last opportunity to do a fly-over and peer down from his plane on the devastation and chaos he had created, one last chance to review the silent streets, empty or destroyed houses, and ponder the women, grandmas, babies, infants, little children murdered because of him, because he is such a powerful man, and so ruthless, the last time he could smell the blood in the earth and know he put it there. And I couldn't help but think of monstrous men like Ted Bundy who enjoyed forcing his victims to smile, to pretend to love and admire him as a condition for their lives: smile pretty or I'll cut your ears off. Was it the same type of impulse that led George W. Bush to stage a press conference. The man who is largely incapable of phrasing a sentence absolutely needed to order journalists across that poor country to be gathered in a room to worship him, to take his picture, to swear that they admired him, to help create this fictional history in which he is the king, the savior, and they, the non-white folks, love and adore him. Maybe he thought they'd re-name the country after him when he's gone.
Not so fast George. Because in that audience of journalists, in that war-torn land, that poor brutalized nation in which hundreds of thousands if not millions of people are dead because of George W. Bush, millions turned into refugees, in that country in which the U.S. has sent in private contractors to train and form roaming death squads to kill anyone at random to terrify the citizens and gain control, in that community in which all their resources have been taken by western oil companies, in which the U.S. has built compounds and forts to house future armies of America on land that has been stolen, in that region in which the earth is fertilized with the blood of the citizens, in that occupied territory in which people are arrested without cause, tortured, disappeared, murdered, in that geographical area of dirt in which people often cannot even have a drink of water for their babies, in that country there was a man, Iraqi Journalist Muntather Al-Zaydia, who stood up at the press conference, took off his shoes, and threw them at George W. Bush.
What kind of courage does it take to stand up to a monster, a man who has already destroyed much of a country, caused the murder of so many of the people, a man who could order any person's death with a blink of his hollow eyes, to do so in full view of cameras and the world knowing that this simple act might be the last one on earth? How astonishing the courage of this man, the man who threw away his shoes. How much can we possibly admire a man who speaks for an entire nation without saying a word.
George W. Bush made a joke of it, of course. Nothing makes him laugh so much as the suffering and misery of others. He does not care if this man's parents, wife, children, siblings, neighbors, were all killed. George W. Bush has no compassion. That's why he could eat birthday cake while the citizens of the U.S. died from lack of a bottle of water. That's why he has that blank look on his face -- absence of thought, absence of compassion.
When Adolph Hitler began his efforts to take over the world, he built a propaganda campaign against Poland, telling everyone in the world that Poland was an aggressor nation, Poland was sending its troops across the border at night to attack and kill "decent" German families, that Poland was threatening Germany, so when Hitler invaded Poland he claimed that Germany had been threatened, it was acting in its own defense, he had no other choice. This is the exact same argument Bush and Cheney used when they invaded Iraq. They claimed Iraq was a threat to the U.S., that we were acting in self-defense. But they knew that was a lie.
We don't know how many people have died in Iraq because of this war because the Bush administration had an official policy that no person could count the dead. I think they knew in advance that hundreds of thousands, maybe well over a million, would die, but they did not want an official record. So now they claim ignorance. I wonder if they had in mind those men tried at Neuremberg. We know that the Bush administration throughout has been concerned with the possiblity that individual members of that administration might be held liable for international war crimes. Maybe that's why they drink -- chase away those nightmares.
One brave Iraqi journalist stood up against this revisionism. He reportedly has been arrested. Call or fax in support of this brave man Iraqi Journalist Muntather Al-Zaydi and demand that he be allowed to live his life and practice his profession without any interference by the Iraqi government:
1801 P Street, NW, Washington DC 20036
Telephone: (202) 483-7500 (They have a robo-answering service, and do not provide a general message center. I just dialed the first extension they provided, Extension 106, and waited for the tone and left a message there. So far, their fax machine has been consistently busy (or unplugged) so faxes are not getting through.) Fax: (202) 462-5066
Phone: (202) 456-1111
Fax: (202) 456-2461
Friday, December 12, 2008
And next up is to eliminate minimum wage, no overtime pay, no 40-hour week, no medical or pension. I'll bet they'll get rid of worker's comp for injured workers, and get rid of unemployment compensation.
If you think it can't get much worse, think again.
Remember the bonus army? The WW I veterans who were promised a small amount as a bonus if they enlisted and went to fight that war. But then when they came back, the government didn't pay. So the veterans marched on Washington, created a tent city, demanded their rights.
Maybe we need an Unemployed Workers Army. I can't decide whether it should march on NYC or on DC. Come to think of it, there's enough unemployed to go to both places. Let's say in March. There will be lots more unemployed by then. Gather on Wall Street and at the Mall. Bring tents. Sit down, demand our rights.
As for the Republican Senators who are trying to bust the unions, I say this: we need to organize the foreign auto plants that are paying these Republicans such nice bribes for busting the U.S. workers' unions. Organize Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, and any other non-union auto shop in this country.
Now that I think of it, the millions of unemployed people can go to the non-union auto plants right now and start organizing. Picket. Sign up workers and sit down in the offices of the Republican politicians. Better than sitting home being depressed, waiting for the unemployment check. Let's get something going.
All the Democrats from the Senate have written and signed some insipid self-righteous letter to the Illinois Governor demanding that he step down because he tried to get rich by selling his influence and power. Ha!
Those suddenly-ethical Democrats in Congress sat relatively silent, or actively lining their own pockets during the past eight years while the white house and Congress, in conjunction with Wall Street, have stolen almost every penny that working Americans have managed to put away; they have been silent as Americans were thrown out of work and their jobs taken overseas, cheered on by Bob Rubin and Bill Clinton as co-sponsors with George W. Bush of the "Throw Americans Out Of Work" organization; they have cheered as the government waged an illegal war they supported and have continued to fund; they either cheered or turned their backs as the government kidnapped, tortured, and murdered perceived enemies; they were silent when learning that Bush had placed illegal wiretaps around the nation (did he get something really juicy on each of them); they didn't care when corporations abandoned pensions; they did nothing to stop (such as by eliminating the write-off or raising taxes to 90%) the looting of businesses by insiders paying themselves billions of dollars in bonuses. When Paulson brought in a ransom note from Wall Street saying "Give Us Every Dollar Of Taxpayer Money Or We'll Blow The Whole Place Up," the Democrats' response to the angry citizenry was "It's a rescue, not a bailout," and their response to Paulson was "Would you like that in ones, tens, or million-dollar bills?"
For all that carnage, pillaging, laying-low of the nation, the Democrats were silent. But now, for some small-time nobody with a big mouth and a bad hairdo, they're suddenly up in arms. Demanding he step down. I don't know if the Democrats in Congress are all just hypocrites, stupid and corrupt, lazy, conniving, manipulative -- it's hard to say. But most of them take money from rich people and businesses and sell their votes, getting rich through their own corruption, and they have no grounds to distinguish themselves from this cheap thug in Illinois.
Therefore, as the foul-mouthed Republicans in Congress demand that the auto unions be disbanded in their entirety, I have a modest proposal: Let's demand concessions from Congress. Let's cut their wages down to what a normal American earns -- about $40,000/year. Let's eliminate their healthcare and pensions. No more taking money from people either -- not for campaigns, not for lunch, no more junkets, no gifts, no jobs for the spouses and useless parasitic kids. No more money for the prostitutes and the special little undies they buy for the pages for those nocturnal visits. Nothing. They get what the average American gets: Not enough money to pay the bills. A kick in the teeth, financially speaking.
After all, they keep telling us that we all have to make concessions. Let's take them at their word.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tropical nights in Central America,
with moonlit lagoons and volcanoes
and lights from presidential palaces,
barracks and sad curfew warnings.
"Often while smoking a cigarette
I've decided that a man should die,"
says Ubico smoking a cigarette . . .
In his pink-wedding-cake palace
Ubico has a head cold.
Outside, the people
were dispersed with phosphorous bombs.
San Salvador laden with night and espionage,
with whispers in homes and boardinghouses
and screams in police stations.
Carías' palace stoned by the people.
A window of his office has been smashed,
and the police have fired upon the people.
And Managua the target of machine guns
from the chocolate-cookie palace
and steel helmets patrolling the streets.
Watchman! What hour is it of the night?
Watchman! What hour is it of the night?
(The rest of the poem can be found at http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poem.html?id=180094)
Why did the Prosecutor decide to reveal such personal information about the Governor's Cursing Wife, a woman accused of nothing? Maximum lethal potential. Shock and Awe. Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine writ small. Like the death squads: take the whole family unit out. If they've got kids, they'd better look out because some schoolyard bully has probably been wearing a wire, and we'll soon see our leading newspapers, front page headline: Governor's Gal Wets Bed. Or maybe Governor's Son Pervert: Likes Nude Girlie Photos. That's if the kids are in grammar school. If they're older, then the Bush folks will really get tough.
The farse approaches tragedy. I've never seen the Democrats quite so three-stooge-ish in their approach to this latest misuse of the Department of Justice to prosecute Democrats for minor charges while covering up massive Republican crimes.
Just like when the Bush regime wanted to go after Joseph Wilson for writing the article saying Hussein did not have WMD, and they took out Wilson's wife Valerie Plame as revenge, the Prosecutor in this matter has gone after the Governor's Cursing Wife and taken her down. Supposedly she has a series 7 license to sell securities. Well good luck getting a job or keeping that license. By violating her constitutional rights of privacy, by parading her personal and private comments into public light, onto the 6:00 p.m. news and onto the headlines in all the major newspapers of the country ("Governor's Wife Has A Foul Mouth"), they've pretty much ruined that lady. A woman who swears is the worst thing in our sexist, hypocritical, ridiculous society in which mass murderers get medals and pensions.
But the Governor's Cursing Wife has not been accused of any crime. No complaint against her, no pending indictment. Nobody is claiming they had grounds to wiretap her home to eavesdrop on her, listen in on her conversations. Yet the Prosecutor copied and publicly disclosed, by attaching to the complaint, a portion of a transcript of the wiretap which says that Governor's Cursing Wife was heard in the background using the Bleep Word.
The question is this: under what possible theory can the Prosecutor claim that it is within the realm of justice to publicly humiliate this woman, intrude on her most personal conversations, hold her up to ridicule, possibly destroy her reputation and make it impossible for her to ever find work. What's the theory there? Isn't it called the Valerie Plame Theory? Doesn't it come out of the Godfather, or Scarface, or some hoodlum and gang movie: kill the wife, or at least maim her in order to hurt the husband, make it too risky for him to try to defend himself, warn all the other Democrats that their families are at risk too? Isn't that really what's going on?
A few other questions about the Crime of the Century. When Denise Rich wanted her husband pardoned, she paid $450,000 to Bill Clinton (or some entity he set up) and "someone" else paid $1.0 to Bill Clinton or his entity, and then the pardon was issued. Is that the same thing as the Governor's Trash Talk? http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,99302,00.html http://archives.cnn.com/2001/ALLPOLITICS/03/02/clinton.library/
When Obama went to the Clintons after Hillary was out of the race, and met with them repeatedly seeking their support, they supposedly wanted (1) Obama to get somebody to pay off $25.0 million of Clinton's campaign debt. What do you call that? And (2) maybe they wanted Hillary appointed V.P. or Secretary of State in exchange for the Clintons telling their rich friends to give money to Obama. What do you call that?
Look at Wall Street. They got deregulation which allowed them to steal most of the money in this country. And they paid the politicians, and paid and paid and paid, and they got exactly what they wanted. What do you call that?
I don't have any particular interest in this Governor. I'm just more than a bit appalled at how the media and the public is piling on without question or analysis.
Take a breath and think back for a moment. Why did all those Republican attorneys get fired from the Justice Department? Because the Bush administration was directing them to file flimsy or bogus lawsuits, before elections, claiming Democrats were corrupt. Patrick Fitzgerald did not get fired. He appears to be in solid with his peeps in the Bush white house.
Why would the Bush people want this lawsuit filed right now? Well, they've already got the moronic Democrats agreeing to hold an election, giving the Republicans a shot at taking another seat. The Republicans were well organized, as if they knew in advance, and issued their demands and allegations saying Obama is corrupt, right off the get-go. They get to dirty the Democrats, start the process of undermining Obama. And maybe create a dust cloud to cover all Democrats in dirt, or at least many of the leading ones, right before Bush pardons the key Republican criminals in the country -- all 2 million of them or so.
Is the Governor sleazy? Appears so. Has the Government even with all its drama, fireworks, nasty personal attacks, prudish recitation of the Governor using the "Bleep Word," has the Prosecutor even come close to pleading facts which support a criminal indictment, never mind the Crime of the Century as the Prosecutor suggested? Not even close. The guy Talked Trash. That's it.
According to the Prosecutor, the Governor called up a newspaper that was critical of him, and tried to get some people fired. Hasn't the Bush administration done that, at least indirectly through their mouthpieces at Rupert Murdoch's whorehouses? Didn't the Clintons go after almost every single person working at msnbc at various times during the campaign? And didn't the Republicans, through their mouthpieces at Fox, try to get Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews barred from covering the elections?
Better still, Attorney General John Mitchell threatened Katherine Graham (then-publisher of the Washington Post) when that paper was disclosing details of the Watergate scandal, by saying that somebody better tell her that she was going to get her tit caught in a wringer if she didn't watch out. That's an actual threat of torture. But I don't remember any indictments.
It may be unsavory, but politicians trying to harm the careers of newspeople is not a crime.
As far as the conspiracy charge goes, it's as flimsy as Sarah Palin's knowledge of international affairs. In general, a person cannot be liable for "conspiring" to commit a crime if the person is legally incapable of actually committing the crime. A person cannot, for example, "conspire" to steal their own money -- it's their own money, they can do what they want with it. In order to have a conspiracy, you need to show at least two people, both of them legally capable of committing the crime, agreed to commit the crime. With whom did the Governor agree? Nobody. How about if John and Joe "conspire" to take all of Joe's money, to "steal" it. There is no crime of conspiracy because Joe is legally incapable of stealing his own money. No conspiracy, no crime.
How can the Governor's aides be held liable for "conspiring" to sell the Senate seat when the aides had no legal ability to commit the crime -- they did not have the ability to sell the Senate seat. The aides have no legal authority to determine who gets the seat, only the Governor can. What did the aides do other than listen to their boss talking trash? And if the aides did not conspire (there was nothing in it for them) then with whom did the Governor conspire, with whom did he agree? A conspiracy is an agreement between at least two people to commit a crime, with each of the two people being legally capable of committing the crime. With whom did the Governor agree? Nobody.
The Government and the Prosecutor both know their claims are flimsy. That's why they had the big fireworks show, lots of drama, so much focus on the Bleep Words, going after the Governor's Cursing Wife to take her down. They want to distract the public from realizing what a horrendous misuse of our justice system this represents.
The Governor may be sleazy. I see nothing wrong with his wife yelling at him or using the Bleep Word, whatever that may be. I'm aware of no law which criminalizes the act of men talking bullshit and women swearing, and if there is such a law we'd better start building more prisons.
Even if people don't like the Governor, we should all object to the misuse of our justice system. Just look at what Mukasey, the AG, Ashcroft, Gonzalez have done during the past eight years, letting the Republicans and those who own them loot the country, commit international war crimes, commit mass murder in Iraq, kidnap, torture, murder, destroy our country, lie us into war, let Americans die in New Orleans while the privileged went shoe-shopping and ate birth-day cake. Yet from our justice department we hear not a peep. It seems like the only thing they did during the last eight years was cover up the crimes of the Bush regime, and fire the attorneys who refused to do go along. And now, in these last days, they rise up and go after the Governor and his Cursing Wife, and try to convince the public that they've got bin Laden. Well, they don't.
Has the Bush administration mis-used the Justice Department to harm their political opponents, and bring pointless and baseless lawsuits to distract the public from Republican crimes? You bet they have. Is this another example of the same old thing? Fool me once .....
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Well, actually yesterday they indicted a few (alleged) murderers from Blackwater, probably Republicans, the Christian mercenary organization run by the ever-so-Christian Eric Prince and receiving that most-generous Christian benefit from the Bush administration: no-bid multi-million dollar contracts to go into Iraq, kill, maim, torture, destroy, and do whatever they choose to the people, with complete immunity from prosecution in Iraq. So yesterday the Department of In-Justice indicted a few of the Blackwater thugs for murdering unarmed innocent civilians in Iraq. The mercenaries and thugs all got together and decided to "surrender" to authorities in Utah, which is really wonderful.
The Mormons have spent the past six months sending roving gangs of drooling heterosexual homophobes wandering through the streets of California terrorizing homosexuals and demanding that they be outlawed -- or at least their marriages be outlawed. Now that the election is over, there are gangs of black panted-white shirted Mormon youth on bicycles all over California wandering aimlessly, wondering what they are supposed to do now, other than sell memberships and get people signed up for the automatic deduction from their bank account. So now they have a new cause: save the mercenary murderers. I love Utah. They have nothing to do except try to think up bizarre new ways to destroy the country. That's why it's Bush country. These guys were indicted right now so that Bush can pardon every person in Blackwater when he leaves office. Watch. Talk about selling government influence -- but the Department of Injustice only goes after Democrats.
So now the Department of Injustice makes an enormous show this morning -- did you see the fireworks -- big press conference, that guy Patrick Fitzgerald standing ramrod straight with that sincere boyscout tone in his voice trying to sell the public on the idea that this is a big deal. They've got Al Capone!! They've brought down the mob!! They've arrested Bush and Cheney!! Well, not that big of a deal.
Instead, they have indicted the Governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich for Talking Trash. That's it. Remember the Bush administration ran an illegal wiretap operation for years. Many people assumed they had bugs in every Democratic politician's home and office. They definitely had wiretaps on the Illinois Governor's home and office. Did they wiretap every Democratic politician in Illinois to try to intercept information about Obama's election strategy?.
Whatever the illegality of the whole thing, they claim they have recorded Governor Rod Blagojevich, Democrat, Talking Trash. Count One: Talking Trash with an aide. Count Two: Talking More Trash with another aide. He allegedly says things like "Well, maybe I should just appoint myself as Senator to take Obama's seat." And he says things like "Why shouldn't I get something out of this? Why can't I get appointed to some good job where I can make some money?" He's awfully worried about somebody getting his wife a job too -- get her out earning her own living. I wonder if the esteemed prosecutor Fitzgerald will be going after Sarah Palin too? Didn't she use her political position to get $300,000 worth of free clothes and goodies for herself and her family? Sauce for the goose and all.
I guess this prosecutor never spent much time around men, because all they ever do is talk trash. Big shots, big plans, big ideas, they're all going to be millionaires, they're all so slick, so clever. Or watch Survivor if you want to see how conniving people are in trying to get money.
This Governor may be a real jerk. He may even be corrupt. But Talking Trash is not a crime, unless you're a Democrat in a country with a corrupt justice system. This indictment is a crime, the Department of Injustice is a crime. But Talking Trash is not a crime.
Technically, I understand they have charged the Governor with conspiracy. That's almost worse than the Talking Trash allegation. A conspiracy is what the prosecutors charge when they don't have a real crime. No crime required. Conspiracy generally is defined as an agreement of two or more people to commit a crime. There are a lot of problems with charging someone with a felony crime based on the person just talking with other people, particularly when no crime ever took place. Other than Talking Trash. Beyond that, of course, the aides he was speaking with apparently were his advisors, kind of like he was talking out loud or talking to himself, and they certainly had no personal motive in any discussions other than to do their job, listen to the guy talk. So I don't think they really have a legitimate charge here. With whom did he agree? Let's see if there's a non-public deal that's quietly worked out. No fireworks or carnivals, but dismissal. This whole thing smells.
I noticed that the esteemed prosecutor Fitzgerald (remember, he declined to charge Cheney, sticking with the towel-boy instead), this boyscout, had to read aloud to the public in his press conference the "allegations," of the complaint. Allegations were -- well, actually, he wrote them, or someone in his office did. But by reading them aloud, it makes it sound like it's the truth, this is what happened.
And among the more dastardly charges that the prosecutor Fitzgerald wrote are that the Governor used the Bleep Word, over and over again. So the ever-so-proper Prosecutor Fitzgerald loudly cries out to the multitudes in the press, proudly amplifying his words with sophisticated microphones: "The Governor said ..... Bleep...." And he also used a bad word about Obama. Oh boy, that should get the Democratic support for this charade.
I don't know what the Bleep Word is. If it's the F word, then why doesn't the prosecutor join the 21st century and say "the F Word." Or better still if this Governor is accused of committing a crime, why not mention what he did. You know, what's the crime, where's the beef? All we heard is that he was Talking Trash and he used the Bleep Word. I do that every day. With my first cup of coffee.
Then Prosecutor Fitzgerald has the astonishing nerve to justify this injustice by claiming that he is doing it now, going public, having the fireworks and the carnival, because it is time that the public rises up against corruption in government. He really said that. And I thought: Buddy, look behind you, look at the people you work for. Look at Bush and Cheney. Look at everyone you have served during the past 8 years. That Clown Ashcroft, writing his own neo-nazi songs and then performing them to a captive and terrified audience. Holding Christian group meetings in federal buildings and "inviting" his employees to attend, terrorizing people to sit somewhere and listen to his delusional rantings in the hopes of keeping their jobs. And let's not overlook Alberto Gonzalez, the man who never saw a torture he didn't love. Mr. Prosecutor, do not pretend that your office is offended by corruption: your office defines the word.
So now I guess we'll see. Will this all go away. Is it just some heavy-handed threat to Democrats, maybe to force them to keep Republicans in charge of the Department of Injustice? Remember, J. Edgar Hoover survived many Presidents, Republican and Democrat, by misusing his office to spy on politicians, create dossiers on their sexual and financial patterns which could be embarrassing if exposed, and blackmailed them to keep himself in power. He also had a fabulous wardrobe of taffeta, lace, and 3" heels and is rumored to have been the inspiration for Sarah Palin's shopping binges: "I want to be just like Edgar."
Look at Elliot Spitzer: the #1 guy in the country when it came to filing securities violations lawsuits and making the Wall Street Boys pay back the money they had stolen. The Federal Government used wiretaps to follow this guy around, made up nonsensical stories about how they happened to start bugging him, and nailed him with a prostitute. They got him out of the way so he wouldn't be in a position to stop Wall Street and Congress from completing the looting of this country -- what they call the Bailout. What the rest of us call Hardtimes Ahead.
What's really going on? Is this just a warning to the Democrats? Back off. We've got wiretaps on all of you, and we'll use them if you don't let us keep our people in control of the Injustice Department?
Do we have a new Attorney General yet? Will we ever?
Monday, December 8, 2008
The workers decided to go into the plant, have a sit-in, refuse to leave, take it over, and demand their rights. Which they have now done. They say that whatever is in the factory is collatoral for what they're owed. I don't really care what their theory is -- I just love the fact that they're standing up for workers' rights.
Standing up against a bank of all things, the same institutions that have been looting our country for the past 8 years, throwing so many people out of work. Is there anybody out there who doesn't yet understand that the banks have stolen all our money? The term "bank robber" has a new meaning today -- the banks steal money from the people. And they do it by electronic transfers, public auction of houses, don't even need a gun.
"Robbing a bank is no crime compared to owning one." (From "Happy End," by Bertolt Brecht.)
President Elect Obama was asked about this over the week-end, and he said the workers were right. Let me say that again: the President of the United States took the side of the workers. When's the last time you heard that?
It reminds me of the auto workers' strike in Flint Michigan in 1937. They sat in too -- refused to leave the factory. It was a huge rallying point for working people around the nation. They would hang out the factory windows with big signs. Their children came out in the freezing cold and carried home-made signs, in the worst of the depression, asking the company bosses to let their daddys go back to work. The wives came out and snuck food and beverage through the broken glass in the windows into the workers so they could hold out for awhile longer.
Here are the men in Flint, 1937, marching in the streets.
Here's a picture of supporters bringing in baskets of food and beverage to the striking Flint workers.
Here are some of the Flint women supporters, wives, mothers, sisters, neighbors.
The Flint Michigan strike lasted for 44 days. The workers went on strike because of speed-ups, a refusal of the company to pay any overtime or benefits while demanding that workers put in long hours. And to make things worse (and more similar to today) the company was beginning to move some equipment out of the plant because they planned to take jobs out of the state. At one point, the police charged the factory with tear gas and guns, but the workers fought them back, then followed the police out into the street and overturned some of the police cars and set them on fire. When the strike was finally over, GM had been forced to acknowledge the UAW as the union which would be representing the auto workers and negotiating on their behalf.
Supposedly, when the strike was over and the workers came out of the factory, the streets of Flint rang throughout with the voices of workers singing "Solidarity Forever." I don't know if that's true or not, but it's a heck of a story. So here's to the working men and women of Chicago, in solidarity.
"Coal-fired power plants will no longer be required to install pollution controls or clean up soot and smog pollution." What is the purpose of that other than to destroy the air we breathe, turn control of everything over to corporate polluters, leave Americans to die from bad air.
As for perchlorate, there's a history there. http://www.organicconsumers.org/perchlorate.htm
Perchlorate is found in water, milk, lettuce -- in the majority of states in the U.S., it is an environmental concern. Cause: mostly dumped by defense industries. You know, George's friends. Soon after George W. Bush took office, he began running interference to prevent the continued exposure about the potential health effects of industries dumping perchlorate across our nation. At one point, Bush forbade government employees from discussing it or releasing the results of studies.Instead, industry rushed in because they saw mass toxic tort liability headed their way. And they hired scientists to come up with absurd little stories saying it's good to have them dump toxins into our groundwater. Yeah, sure.
How do we defend ourselves against a government that gives industry the legal right to dump poison in our water? Who do we see about that?
The Looting Continues: Did Paulson Contribute $300 Billion of U.S. Taxpayers' Money To The Wall Street Holiday Bonus Fund?
Nonsense. That's middle-American pap generated by the PR machines to keep the natives down on the farm while the country is being looted by the politicians and the Wall Street Boys. While we're counting our blessings of the non-monetary form, they're finishing the looting of this country which has been the primary goal of the Bush administration.
Exactly what have the Wall Street Boys and the politicians they own done to our country? They've looted it. They've stolen grandma and grandpa's meager savings by hacking interest rates to below 1%, forcing seniors to give their houses away to the predators who sell reverse mortgages -- at a hefty price. They've manipulated the stock market to run it up, get your average person to invest, then the big boys sell quick and the average American loses half of their money. They've done that several times. They don't pay taxes, hiding their money in private equity funds off-shore. They bribe politicians to make laws that allow businesses to take all our jobs to third world countries to be done by child, prison, and slave labor. They manipulate the currency, holding down interest rates to create a bubble in the stock market, then one in real estate, and they steal many people's life savings.
Our economy is either teetering on the edge of a depression or maybe we're already there, and the Republicans are having fits about the fact that unionized auto workers with 30 years' on the job earn $60,000 plus medical and a pension. Which is what every American should be earning to have a decent life. But these people think all the wealth should go to the upper class, the top 5%, the insider, and working people should work for nothing.
Back to the gratitude list: It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year. Christmas lights and trees, colored paper, presents, cards, carolling, holiday parties and cheer, cookies and fudge and turkeys and excited laughing children. That's for the working people. But for the richest people in the country, it's even more exciting and lucrative, because: It's Holiday Bonus Time On Wall Street!!
I'm thinking that so many Americans are broke and can't really afford the Christmas lights, or they've lost their home so have nowhere to put them. Can't afford a Christmas tree. No presents. No parties. No cheer. Unemployment, maybe absolute paralyzing terror at what lies ahead. So maybe we should go to Wall Street and stand outside, in the street, and give a shout out to the Wall Street Boys who will be getting so much money in the next few weeks as a special reward for -- Best Looter? Best cheat, thief, liar. Best traitor. Best house-stealer. Best stock manipulator. Best performance of a criminal stealing everything that's not nailed down? Best politician-briber? The possible awards are endless. Maybe they'll throw us a few pennies as they dash from their high-rises to their chauffered limousines which will take them to the heliport so they can quickly get to their private jet at the airport and arrive just in time for the party in their own villa at Lake Como. Maybe they'll throw us a few pennies on their way out the door.
Did anyone think that there would be no bonuses for the Wall Street Boys? Don't be silly. Why else did they send the Secretary of Goldman Sachs, formerly known as the U.S. Treasury, to Congress with that ransom note -- the one that said "Give me $700 Billion Or We'll Blow The Whole Place Up?" Why is it Paulson refuses to tell the country what he did with the $300 Billion that our corrupt politicians just handed over to him like he was a trick or treater and they were giving him a bag of Good 'N Plenty? Paulson refuses -- refuses to tell Congress, or tell the public, who he gave that $300 Billion of taxpayer money to. How is this even possible? How much of taxpayers' money is going directly into the pockets of Paulson's friends on Wall Street? And why did Congress turn over that money without so much as a peep of protest? Are they getting kick-backs? Is everyone who's running our country corrupt?
"Some observers, such as financial expert and reporter Stephen Gandel, say bonuses are expected to be down, but not as much as they might have been without the bailout. Gandel, who's a Money magazine senior writer and contributor to Time.com says, 'Compensation should be down 70 percent but, because all this new money is coming from the government, the firms are now saying they can pay more, and so they're only going to cut bonuses by 40 percent.'"
We learn that John Thain, the CEO of Merrill Lynch, has just demanded a $10 Million Holiday Bonus for himself. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122870455251587405.html?mod=testMod For what? Most efficient at destroying a company? Merrill Lynch was rumored to be on the edge of failure just a few months ago, and was only "saved" by being bought out by Bank of America. Good job John Thain. How much of the $300 Billion goes into your pocket John?
The office of Goldman Sachs located on Wall Street -- as opposed to the office located in the U.S. Government and formerly known as the Treasury Department -- has reportedly set aside $6.8 billion dollars to be paid out to its insiders in bonuses. That's Billion -- with a B. Morgan Stanley, another Wall Street firm, has apparently decided to cut back, and they only have set aside $6.5 Billion -- with a B -- for Holiday Bonuses for the Wall Street Boys. The average investment employee is already earning $400,000 per year in regular compensation, ten times more than the average American working person earns.
Apparently the billions in bonuses to be paid out in the next few weeks to the Wall Street Boys, possibly coming from the $300 Billion of Taxpayer money handed to Paulson, may not be as exciting as the $60,000/year the unionized auto workers make, which we've been hearing the Republicans scream about for weeks now. You can barely turn on a news program without hearing some right-winger screaming about the auto workers. Particularly the old ones and the sick ones who worked 45 years at a plant doing tough physical work and now get healthcare and a pension, which really outrages the right-wing. They hate old people. They really hate old sick people because they're bad for the bottom line. And hate the children of union workers, hate paying for them to get an operation if they're sick. I wonder if the auto workers get a frozen turkey as their bonus? More likely, they get nothing.
If the Republicans have their way, the union workers will all be thrown out of work and cars will only be made in third world countries by slave labor. But the Wall Street Boys will keep their jobs right here in the good old U.S.A. I can't imagine another country in the world that has such corrupt politicians that they would allow this type of theft.
How could Congress stop this looting of our businesses and our treasury, this destruction of our economy, the theft of the meager assets and savings of the majority of the people? A lot of these Wall Street insiders structure their compensation in such a way that they can claim it as capital gains instead of ordinary income. That means they pay a maximum tax rate of 15% of the money they earn from their job. Congress does nothing to stop this. Actually some Democrats tried to change the law to close that loophole, but Chuck Schumer, another huge recipient of money from Wall Street, worked with the Republicans to make sure his "generous" friends on Wall Street didn't have to pay taxes like the auto workers do. That's right. Chuck Schumer -- a Democrat. A Democrat who gets lots of money from Wall Street.
Congress could also cap how much compensation can be a tax write-off for a business. They've done that for business meals. Some little salesperson on the road is scrutinized by the IRS to make sure he's not claiming too much on his lunch write-offs -- can't get the turkey and cheese, just the turkey by itself. But for the Wall Street Boys, who give so much money to Congress, no cap. If a business could not write off any compensation in excess of $250,000, for example -- meaning income, benefits, retirement, stock options, the whole bit -- then pursuant to basic corporate laws, these businesses could not pay these obscene levels of compensation. Or, if they did, then the business would be taxed on let's say Mr. Thain's $10 million bonus first, and then Mr. Thain would be taxed on it too. It would eliminate the practice of corporate looting. Which is one of the reasons we've got the Wall Street Bailout -- the insiders looted their companies.
And finally, of course, Congress could reinstate a progressive tax system to end the practice of insiders looting their companies, stealing the wealth from our nation, then hiding it in overseas private equity funds. We're being looted just like third world nations were looted by the European colonial powers. If we reinstate a progressive tax system, we could end this.
For example, $250,000-$500,000 should be taxed at 50%; $500,000 - $750,000 should be taxed at 70%; $750,000 - $1.0 million 80%; everything above that 85%. That would accomplish so many things. The tax burden has been shifted more and more over to working people and away from the rich, with many corporations paying no taxes, and the wealthy often paying lower tax rates than does the modest-income working person. This would allow real tax relief to your average working person, since the rich would have to pick up a bigger share of the nation's taxes.
This would also allow the country to pay down the enormous debt run up by the Bush regime. It would allow us to fund the services we need, including free national healthcare and dental care for all citizens. It would probably eliminate this obscene corporate looting which has characterized the Bush regime years. It would also eliminate so much of the corruption in business and finance which has plunged our country into a recession or depression, take your pick. People don't spend as much time and effort coming up with fraudulent schemes when they know the profits of the schemes will mostly go to pay taxes. It might eliminate much of the corruption in Congress because the people paying the bribes wouldn't have the money to pay the bribes.
Most of the top people on Wall Street should have been indicted already, assets seized, possibly sitting in Attica because they can't make bail. Instead Congress has handed them $300 Billion (with an additional $400 Billion promised). What a bitter loss for the American people.