Friday, February 27, 2009

Marines: Why Are They Called JarHeads?

The Marines: "The Few, The Proud."

President Obama gave a speech this morning to the Marines at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. As I watched these tough-guys tear-up as Obama said his administration would end the war, would increase medical care, would increase their pay (biggest applause line), did respect their service, would update the GI Bill to provide real benefits for those who serve, I thought about the Marines. And all the other people who join the military. Military families share much in common with each other: not too much money, lots of transfers from lonely place to lonely place where the other people who are "like" you are also military families. Blankets, towels, sheets all stamped "Property Of U.S. Navy, Army, Marines." Shopping at the Ship Service and the Commissary, and medical care provided at the sick bay.

I thought President Obama's biggest line was when he said (essentially) that the most privileged people in our country have spent the last 8 years stealing, lying, cheating, lining their own pockets while destroying our nation, but these people in the military had done the right thing, signing up to serve the country and put their lives on the line to defend it. Corny, but think about it. Most of the people who have been engaged in massive looting, pillaging, raping of our nation, stealing grandma's retirement, and having no feelings of compassion for the other people in this country whatsoever, are educated, wealthy, privileged, connected people. And that is how they behaved. It's quite a contrast with the very poorly-paid yet much more honorable people in our military services.

The people in the military are neither as noble and honorable as the politicians claim, nor are they as limited as the Wall Street Criminals believe. They are just people. Not as rich as some others, often with a lot more integrity. But some of them are racist, sexist, violent. There's that part too.

The Marines were formed in 1775 to serve as a naval infantry. They are responsible for providing force from the sea. They are a component of the Department of the Navy, and rely on the Navy for training, transportation, and other logistics. So the Navy takes its ships full of Marines to the landing site, and the Marines go onto the beaches to attack the enemy. While the army might travel by land. The Marines, of course, were critical in the U.S. war in the Pacific during World War II. There are today 200,000 U.S. Marines, with 40,000 reservists.

And the language. Like all other special, somewhat isolated groups in our society, military people have their own language, much of it way too crude to be repeated here. Each of the separate branches reserves their greatest scorn for the other branches, and have special derogatory terms for the non-warriors. Some of the terms are now a part of our mainstream language, but the origin is fairly interesting. Here are a few words for those who would like to learn how to speak Marine (I've omitted some of the most offensive from the list):


An insulting word meaning Marine. Generally spoken behind their backs, and never to their face. Origin of the term is unclear. Some say the Marine haircut makes the men's heads resemble a mason jar. Some say that a Marine's head is empty, just like the jar is. Some say the term came from WWII when the Mason Jar Company went into war production mode and manufactured helmets for the Marines.

Here are some others:

Air Force salute: when someone shrugs their shoulders.
ARMY: Aren't Ready for Marine's Yet;
Aren't Really Men Yet
Battle buddy: sarcastic euphemism deriving from orders for Marines to not go on liberty alone when stationed overseas.
BCGs: Birth Control Glasses. Unattractive military issue glasses.
Bird farm: aircraft carrier.
Boondocks: isolated area. From the Tagalog word "bundok," which means the mountain jungles of the Philippines.

Boot camp: recruit training for enlisted Marines. Supposedly it comes from the fact that recruits wears boots every day of their training.
Brain bucket: helmet.
Bus driver: Air Force pilot.
Canoe U.: United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, MD.
Chair Force: derogatory term for the US Air Force.
Chairborne ranger: someone who works in an office.
Cinderella liberty: liberty expiring at midnight.
Death by PowerPoint: long and boring briefing.
Disneyland East: Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps at Arlington, Virginia.
FNG: Fucking New Guy.
FUBAR: Fucked/Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition.
FUBIJAR: Fuck yoU Buddy, I'm Just A Reservist.

GI: Government Issue
GI can: garbage can, also known as circular file.
GI house: place where garbage is stored until it is hauled away.
Gung ho: Chinese phrase meaning to "work together."
Hollywood Marine: graduate from the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego.
Honcho or head honcho: person in charge, from the Japanese word for "boss."
Irish pennant or IP: loose thread or string on a uniform.
Jesus slippers: government-issue flip-flops for sanitation in showers.

Joe: coffee. Named after United States Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels who eliminated beer and wine from naval ships, declaring nothing stronger than coffee would be allowed.
Lance criminal: derogatory term for Lance Corporal.
Leatherneck: nickname for Marine. The Marine uniform once included stiff leather collars to protect their throats from swords.
Lost Lieutenant Finder: hand-held GPS unit; a joke based on the reputation of new lieutenants for being incompetent in land navigation.

MARINE: Muscles Are Required, Intelligence Non-Essential or My Ass Rides In Navy Equipment.
Meat Gazer: observer who watches the Marine pee into a cup for drug testing.
MRE: Meal, Ready-to-Eat, standard U.S. field ration. Or, sometimes called "Meals Rejected by the Enemy."
NAVY: Never Again Volunteer Yourself
No Such Agency: National Security Agency (highly secret spy agency)
REMF: Rear Echelon Mother Fucker, a derision for someone who serves in a non-combatant role.
Red death: corned beef with cabbage.
Red lead: ketchup/catsup.

Remington raider: typist.
Sandbox: Iraq or other desert area.
Semper Fidelis: Marine Corps motto, meaning "Always Faithful."
Semper I: selfish or self-centered behavior.
SNAFU: Situation Normal, All Fucked Up.
Swab: mop. "Swabby" is an insulting term for a sailor. Supposedly this comes from the practice of sailors in old wooden ships having to swab the decks to keep them from warping.

USMC: United States Marine Corps
Uncle Sam's Misguided Children
U Signed the Motherfucking Contract
U Suckers Miss Christmas
Unlimited Shit and Mass Confusion.

WAG: Wild-Ass Guess, sometimes prefaced with the word "Scientific".
Weekend warrior: reservist.
Wilco: Voice procedure term shortened from "Will Comply".
Zoomie: pilot, usually an Air Force pilot.
Zoomie U: United States Air Force Academy

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

President Obama's Not-Quite-State-Of-The-Union Speech

For technical reasons, President Obama's speech wasn't really the state of the union speech (that comes in January and this year was given by what's-his-name, the moron who lived in the white house during the dark days). So President Obama's speech last night, although in most respects a state of the union speech, wasn't really a State Of The Union Speech. But it was pretty darned good anyway. And it was certainly a delight to see a president who was not George W. Bush.

As an aside, I saw John "Stutterer" Roberts of the famed Supremes leering at Obama when he came in. And I have this one question: did Roberts really become semi-illiterate, or develop tourettes, or come down with the problems of a stutterer, at the exact moment when he had to read a few simple lines to swear in President Obama? Or did he twist those words around deliberately and on purpose in order to give fodder to the extreme right-wing groups in this country, and the deaf dumb fat drug-addicted guy on the radio, so they could spend the next four years arguing that Barack Obama "wasn't really" our President?

I'm going to support President Obama and give him every benefit of the doubt as long as he continues to inspire the nation and move in the better direction. Such as his commitment to shut down Guantanamo and to stop torturing people. He didn't really say "we will stop torturing," he said "The U.S. does not torture," which was not a true statement because we've been doing it from the Dark Side, the nether regions of hell in which Dick Cheney dwells. So Obama ducked and bobbed and weaved on that one, and I think he will on other issues as well. I'm willing to let him. I believe he knows that if he can't get this economy stabilized, we're all going down. Dancing on the Titanic indeed. So we need to cut him some slack, give him some leeway.

But not necessarily be stupid about it.

So here are a few areas of my concern from President Obama's speech last night:

Never Say You're Going To End Cancer In Our Life Times.
"Our recovery plan will invest in electronic health records and new technology that will reduce errors, bring down costs, ensure privacy, and save lives. It will launch a new effort to conquer a disease that has touched the life of nearly every American by seeking a cure for cancer in our time."

I thought that was a long-standing tradition, that all Presidents are warned: never say in your state of the union speech that you're going to cure cancer.

But then again, on the other hand, if anybody can do it, I think he can.

No Charter Schools
"And we will expand our commitment to charter schools."

Charter schools are privately-run schools. Sometimes run by profit-seeking morons, sometimes by profit-seeking religious morons, but they're not part of the public school system. Anybody who wants to send their kids to private schools should do so. But not with my money. Public funds should go only to public schools. Period.

Strengthen Social Security, But Do Not Privatize It
"To preserve our long-term fiscal health, we must also address the growing costs in Medicare and Social Security. Comprehensive health care reform is the best way to strengthen Medicare for years to come. And we must also begin a conversation on how to do the same for Social Security, while creating tax-free universal savings accounts for all Americans.

I don't know what he means about strengthening Social Security, but it worries me when he mentions savings accounts apparently as some kind of an alternative. We already have tax-free savings accounts: they're called Roth IRAs. People put money in, and the earnings are tax-free. If they want to increase the amount people are allowed to put in, that's fine. But it should have nothing to do with Social Security. People should not be given the option, for example, of having a savings account instead of participating in Social Security. The banks pay nothing on savings accounts. Most people would end up turning their retirement savings over to the criminals on Wall Street, the money would all be stolen, and pretty soon we'd have a whole bunch of 80 year olds sleeping on the park benches -- not just in the daytime.

If we need more money in Social Security there is a simple way to accomplish that: raise the cap. Right now, only the first (I think it's $90,000) of income is subject to social security taxes. Raise that to $150,000, or $250,000 for that matter. That is a simple way to get more money into the fund. And it's only taking money from rich people who cheat on their taxes anyway, so it's fair for them to pay more.

End The Wars Now
"We are now carefully reviewing our policies in both wars, and I will soon announce a way forward in Iraq that leaves Iraq to its people and responsibly ends this war."
"And with our friends and allies, we will forge a new and comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan to defeat al Qaeda and combat extremism. Because I will not allow terrorists to plot against the American people from safe havens half a world away. "

I think we need to end both wars now. They never should have been started in the first place, and dragging them on is wasting billions of dollars at a time when our country is broke. Get out of Iraq and Afghanistan. If Obama wants to go get bin Laden, then send some Green Berets to do the job, not Halliburton and the steroid-rage-monsters from Blackwater. Send a trained team, find him, kill him. But don't waste billions of my money.

Why Expand The Military If We Are Going To End These Wars?
"To relieve the strain on our forces, my budget increases the number of our soldiers and Marines. And to keep our sacred trust with those who serve, we will raise their pay, and give our veterans the expanded health care and benefits that they have earned. "

I'm all in favor of a pay raise for the military and for fully-funded benefits for the veterans. I think it should be paid for by a special tax on Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Condi Rice, and George W. Bush, because they're the ones who created this new generation of veterans.

But I do not see any reason to increase the number of people in the military. End the wars. That's the way to do it. Bring them all home.

The Free Trade Mantra
"And to respond to an economic crisis that is global in scope, we are working with the nations of the G-20 to restore confidence in our financial system, avoid the possibility of escalating protectionism, and spur demand for American goods in markets across the globe. For the world depends on us to have a strong economy, just as our economy depends on the strength of the world's."

Screw the rest of the world. The federal government represents us, the citizens of the U.S. I really don't want them spending their time worrying about Japan's economy. That's what got us into this mess in the first place: politicians devoting their attention to everybody in the world except the one group they are responsible to represent: the citizens and working people of the U.S. So let's figure out how to make the lives of our citizens the best possible, and let the rest of the world develop without the continued oppression, attacks, occupation, market control by U.S. corporations.

For example, I would prefer eating food grown in the U.S., and I surely do not want food imported from any other country. It is obvious that people in this country are not well-served by allowing the grocery stores to import cheap poisoned crap then sell it to us for a premium. It would be better to eat locally-grown food, and scale back on the whole processed food insanity that is probably responsible for much of the cancer Obama wants to cure, as well as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Eat locally.

And stop flooding other countries with the trade crops grown in this country. We grow corn then sell it to everyone, puffed up, sweetened, nutrients stripped away, filler, feed for the world. We flood other countries with cheap starch, like rice, put local growers out of business by undercutting them, then raise the prices through the roof and let the local people starve. The entire idea of a "global" food production system designed to maximize profits for a few rich Americans must be ended. Let everyone grow locally and feed their own people, and get rid of everything else.

So let's re-think this whole nonsense about "free" trade. It's not free. It's just that the costs have been ignored. Environmental destruction by corporations gone mad. Selling food that is processed and has no nutrition, and sometimes is poisoned. Putting local farmers out of business so that entire countries starve to death. This has gone terribly wrong.

Same for clothing. Let Americans buy 1 locally-made shirt instead of 10 pieces of crap imported from China and made by child labor. Let's buy local bedding instead of fine Egyptian cotton sheets woven so tightly that some poor Egyptian child went blind just making the top sheet for some rich American's pleasure. End the corporate destruction of the world.

Here's the link to the full text of President Obama's speech to Congress, February 24, 2009.

People Are Weird, Chapter 387: Painted Ceilings and Floors

This is the painted ceiling in a smoker's lounge.

This is a painted floor in the bathroom of an apartment on the 10th floor in an apartment building. Scroll down slowly.

Thanks to Kathy for sending this to me.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

We Love Our Handsome And Charming President Obama.

Our handsome, charming, and quite amazing President Barack Obama went to Congress tonight to address those mere politicians, and to speak to the citizens and the world who, I am certain, we will learn turned in by the billions to hear our wonderful President. And he was charming and made terrific points, such as that we will end the war in Iraq, we will close Guantanamo, the U.S. will no longer torture people, that we will reform healthcare and education to help our own citizens, and we will become a better citizen to the world. He even had the Republicans standing up and applauding when they thought that deaf dumb fat guy on the radio might have taken a drug-break from the TV.

The TV stations offered to allow the Republicans to have time to respond to our wonderful President Obama's speech. But there was a problem. You see, the Republicans could not find even one Republican politician in Congress to respond on their behalf. It turns out all the Republican politicians in Congress are either under indictment, or under investigation, or have been involved in public sex scandals, or have been stealing money from the public and funneling it to their rich friends for 8 straight years now, and otherwise were completely covered in dirt.

So they had to go way far away from Washington D.C. to find a Republican who could speak on TV for the Republican Party. They asked the Governor of Lousiana to do it. Apparently nobody looked at the calendar, and realized the speech would come right in the middle of Mardi Gras. But the Governor was a good sport. He didn't mind being seen in his finest duds.

So he came on TV and said a bunch of really stupid things that nobody listened to anyway. I mean he's from Lousiana, the most corrupt state in the nation. He's defending Republicans by saying "Well, look how well we did in Katrina." This guy must have gone to the same school as George W. Bush. Maybe his family was bussed to Texas after some other hurricane drowned his poor neighbors. Lousiana, which I believe is competing with Mississippi for poorest state, worst environmental controls, completely failed schools, cops who are murderers for hire on the side. Lousiana which has sucked millions out of the federal government and the people in this country and taken all that money and put it into the pockets of the rich Republican politicians while their own people sleep in poisoned trailers. Lousiana which hasn't even bothered to pick up all the dead people that drowned during that great Republican triumph known as Katrina. Yeah, good choice. Way to go Bobby.

It's Fat Tuesday ("Mardi Gras")

The term "Mardi Gras" is French for "Fat Tuesday." In Spanish it would be Martes Grande. Mardi Gras has been celebrated for hundreds of years in countries throughout the world. The celebration takes place within a few days before today, Fat Tuesday, which is always the Tuesday right before Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday is a holy day in the Catholic Church (and some other religions), the beginning of Lent, 46 days before Easter Sunday. On Ash Wednesday, members of the church go to mass and palm fronds are burned, with the ashes smeared on the foreheads of the church members. Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, which is considered a period of repentence. Many Catholics give up something during Lent -- like candy for the children, meat for some adults -- as a sign of repentence for their sins, and sacrifice. Putting ashes on the forehead signifies repentence, a reminder that we will all return to ashes some day.

Remember, O man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return. Genesis, 3:19

The days (and sometimes weeks) leading up to Ash Wednesday are celebrated in many countries, and notably in New Orleans, Lousiana, with a city-wide carnival, people dressing up in costumes and partying through the nights, parading through the streets, enjoying their last days of celebration before the 46-day period of Lent.

"Jolie Blon," sometimes called the Cajun National Anthem:

President Obama Commits To A New High-Speed Rail Train System In The U.S.. Hallelujah!!

"All Aboard? Obama's Stimulus Plan Includes $8 Billion For High-Speed Rail...."

By David Rogers - Politico (From
Posted: 02/17/2009 12:01:00 AM CST

"Railroads made Chicago, and now a Chicago-rich White House wants to return the favor: remaking rail with a huge new federal investment in high-speed passenger trains.
The $787.2 billion economic recovery bill — to be signed by President Barack Obama today — dedicates $8 billion to high-speed rail.... "

"It's a sum that far surpasses anything before attempted in the United States - and more is coming. Administration officials told Politico that when Obama outlines his 2010 budget next week, it will ask for $1 billion more for high-speed rail in each of the next five years. "

.... "As a candidate for president, Obama spoke of high-speed rail as part of his vision of "rebuilding America." Campaigning in Indiana, he talked of revitalizing the Midwest by connecting cities with faster rail service to relieve congestion and improve energy conservation."

"The time is right now for us to start thinking about high-speed rail as an alternative to air transportation connecting all these cities," he said. "And think about what a great project that would be in terms of rebuilding America."

"[C]onservative Republicans ... painted the whole funding as a scheme by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on behalf of Las Vegas interests seeking a rail link to Los Angeles. "Sin City to Tomorrow Land" was one description."

"It's amazing. I'm stunned," [HARRY REID] said in an interview Friday, hours before the bill passed Congress. " "I'm glad I get the credit in Nevada, but this is Obama's No. 1 priority. This is his legacy issue out of this bill, because we need these high-speed corridors. ... I'll take credit but frankly didn't have much to do with it other than carry forward with what Obama wanted."

"[I]t is a landmark transportation investment with regional effects in almost every corner of the nation. Just last October, former President George W. Bush signed a bill authorizing up to $1.5 billion for high-speed rail through 2013. Obama's commitment in the same period will be eight times that."

What a difference to have a President who does not belong to the corporations, and do their bidding to the disgrace of the nation. Why don't we have public transportation and a decent rail system? Because the automobile industry destroyed public transportation to force Americans to buy cars. It's really just that simple. The profit of the car industry was put in front of the reasonable needs of the citizens. And the results are a disgrace.

In many major metropolitan areas, people are unable to travel to work, or into or out of the city, or out of town, without spending at least an hour sitting on a freeway with thousands of other people, inhaling poisons and wasting their lives. Not to mention all the car-related expenses every individual has to bear in contrast with a decent public transportation system which provides reasonably efficient and affordable transportation.

NPR had a piece on the proposed new light rail system this morning. One person said that the system would include a light rail train between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The trip would take 2 hours and 40 minutes, and would cost $55.00. I hope that whoever is in charge of this will put the light rail stations outside of Los Angeles, far from the airport. The problem with air travel from LAX is that you can't get to the airport. It costs over $50 just for a van service to the airport from surrounding communities. The cost of getting to the airport is sometimes more than the cost of the airplane ticket. Yes, that's just how crazy it is. Because of the cars, and because there is no public transportation system for most of the people on the freeways.

I don't know if California is the worst state in the country for traffic, but it must be right up there. Here's a link to a blog about light-speed rails for California.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Button Up Your Overcoat, Baby. It's Cold Out There.

It's like the elephant in the living room. Nobody wants to talk about it, stir something up, so they just walk around it, or put a slipcover over it, pretend it's a sofa.

But here's the thing: what if those Wall Street Criminals, the Financial Cartels, have stolen so much money, looted so many businesses and moved the rest off-shore, that all of us plunge into severe poverty. For the rest of our lives? What then?

I don't want to hear about perseverance in the face of troubles. I'm too old to jump onto boxcars. And besides, where can we all go?

What are the new unemployment numbers? I think they said 7 million collecting unemployment compensation. And about 7 million more who have either exhausted their unemployment compensation or only have part-time work, when they want full-time. That means the real unemployment level is around 14%, and it's still early in the year. They've said to expect layoffs to continue through 2009. So if we get 20%, or 25 or 30%, will the Republicans finally shut the F**k up about whether we should help our own citizens?

FDR's Second Inaugural Address, January 20, 1937 (excerpts)

Old truths have been relearned; untruths have been unlearned. We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics. Out of the collapse of a prosperity whose builders boasted their practicality has come the conviction that in the long run economic morality pays. We are beginning to wipe out the line that divides the practical from the ideal; and in so doing we are fashioning an instrument of unimagined power for the establishment of a morally better world.

But here is the challenge to our democracy: In this nation I see tens of millions of its citizens - a substantial part of its whole population - who at this very moment are denied the greater part of what the very lowest standards of today call the necessities of life.

I see millions of families trying to live on incomes so meager that the pall of family disaster hangs over them day by day.

I see millions whose daily lives in city and on farm continue under conditions labeled indecent by a so-called polite society half a century ago.

I see millions denied education, recreation, and the opportunity to better their lot and the lot of their children.

I see millions lacking the means to buy the products of farm and factory and by their poverty denying work and productiveness to many other millions.

I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.

It is not in despair that I paint you that picture. I paint it for you in hope - because the Nation, seeing and understanding the injustice in it, proposes to paint it out. We are determined to make every American citizen the subject of his country's interest and concern; and we will never regard any faithful law-abiding group within our borders as superfluous. The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.

India Celebrates Slum Dog

Bollywood Crushes Hollywood could have been the headlines in India. But they weren't. Instead, the nation of India is holding celebrations across the land because "their" movie, Slumdog Millionaire, won 8 Oscars. In Hollywood, self-proclaimed center of the movie world, a small movie about a poor kid from India ended up winning Best Director and Best Picture. And quite a few other awards as well. The top government officials in India were falling all over themselves congratulating everyone associated with the movie. At last, Bollywood has arrived.
It really was just a pretty traditional western story. But maybe it's the same for a story from India. Poor child in the slum with no hope, no opportunity, nonetheless gets a chance to get rich quick and marry the beautiful girl. Another young man chooses the path of crime and sure destruction. It's an old story, but we fall for it every time, and cheer the young poor kid as he takes on the rich folks and emerges victorious.

I don't know if I should be appalled that the India film industry calls itself Bollywood, so self-identified with Hollywood. I'm sure someone could make an argument about the elimination of ethnic identity, eradiction of culture. But it's also possible they just use that name as a sign of pride, like "We're as good as ....." Just using the term "Hollywood" to mean the most successful film-making center, not necessarily the best.

But it's kind of fun to watch the Oscars and see the mixture of nominees and winners. The straight white male Sean Penn who, as Robert DiNiro said, had somehow managed to convince people to give him roles as a straight man for all these years. Sean Penn receiving the Oscar as Best Actor for his title role in "Milk," and also being celebrated by some for his outspoken acts on behalf of other human rights issues. There was another white male, this one a gay mormon, which was really wonderful. I'm sure the mormon church just cringed: "There Are No Gay Mormons." Actually, I used to know a gay mormon. He was an alcoholic. Don't let those mormons fool you. They've got the same things going on that everyone else does. They just like to think they don't.

Then there was the Indian music guy, apparently quite celebrated in his own country but relatively unknown to us. That's one of the problems with U.S. culture: we don't respect other countries' music, film, art. We're very isolated.

The director of the film, Danny Boyle, is an Irish Catholic born in England. You could certainly tell he was not an American since one of his biggest goals for the Oscars was to bring as many of the cast members to the U.S. as possible for the evening. Many of the cast members are relatively poor, and could never have afforded that trip on their own. Seems like a pretty nice guy, and everybody had something nice to say about him.

Then we had the best supporting actress, Penelope Cruz, from Spain. Best Actress, Kate Winslett from England. Who else? Somewhat of an international tone for the evening. Best documentary was a film about a little girl in India.

I won't say it was the best year for movies, but there were some that were worthwhile. I loved Rachel Getting Married, for example. I haven't seen Frozen River, but I love Melissa Leo so look forward to seeing that.

"Slumdog Millionaire team walks the red carpet at Oscars." (from The Times of India)
"British director Danny Boyle shepherded the extended ``Slumdog Millionaire'' family down the red carpet Sunday to the Kodak Theatre for the Academy Awards ceremony. ``Some of the cast are from very poor backgrounds but it's wonderful to have them all here because we treated them all as equals throughout,'' Boyle told an interviewer for the E! cable television network. The nine cast members - who played the three main characters in the rags-to-riches fairy tale - were all on hand for the Oscars ceremony. The two youngest cast members, who still live in Mumbai's slums, were making their first trip outside India. Freida Pinto, the Mumbai-based model who made her screen debut as the hero's love interest in ``Slumdog'' described her experience as ``career-changing.'' ``This is the happiest moment ever because all nine of us are here ... and it's wonderful to have everyone back together in one big `Slumdog' family,'' Pinto told ABC television. The six younger stars of ``Slumdog Millionaire'' - the boys dressed in tuxedos and the girls in formal dresses - were greeted with cheers and blew kisses as they walked the red carpet. ``It's unbelievable,'' said Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala, 15, who plays the hero's brother as a teenager in the film. ``We never thought we'd be here but we are.''

From India Times, reprinted from Economic Times:
"God Save Rahman. That's what Allah Rakha Rahman means. And that's what the country said Monday for the man who became the first Indian music director to win two Oscars for his score in the globally appreciated film "Slumdog Millionaire" and for the film's theme song "Jai Ho".

"Rahman, a household name in India for his contribution to Bollywood, as well as regional cinema from the south, has been the cynosure of all ears since 1992 when he burst on the Indian musical scene with his refreshingly different tunes for the Tamil film "Roja". He has moved on from being a celebrated composer in India to a global music supernova who has entered the record books as the first Indian to get a Golden Globe, the first Indian to get the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award for music and the first Indian to bag a golden Oscar statuette. With "Slumdog Millionaire", Danny Boyle's rags to riches drama based on a book by Indian diplomat Vikas Swarup, the 41-year-old Rahman has stuck gold - and so has India and Indian music. The film had 10 Oscar nominations, including three for Rahman - he was nominated for Best Original Score and two for the Best Original Song for a motion picture with his songs "Jai Ho" and "O Saaya".

"It was another first for an Indian. For India, the "Slumdog" awards story, which some say is as improbable as the film itself about an 18-year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai who goes on to win a staggering Rs.20 million ($410,000) on India's "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" game show, is not just about the BAFTAs and the Oscars. It is also recognition of popular Indian cinema in the West that for long has shunned Indian movies as too long and too full of song-and-dance sequences. Rahman's exuberant score has shattered all those perceptions, and shown that the West likes the sound of India. "It's a moment of pride not just for me. India has done it," Rahman said modestly. "

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Top-Level Insiders From The Financial Cartels Are Habitual Offenders, And Should Be Imprisoned For Life.

We always say that we are a nation of laws. That means that we have a set of laws, and they are applied fairly to all people, to the king and the peasant, to the millionaire and the pauper, to the powerful and the weak.

But that was not true during the Bush years. Many of the insiders in the Bush administration committed international war crimes and caused the deaths of over one million Iraqis. Will they ever be charged, tried, brought before the law? And many of the wealthiest people in this country, along with our political leaders in Washington D.C., have committed financial crimes, robbing the poorest, the weakest, those who have no safety net, yet the criminals have not yet been charged or apprehended. And so far, it looks like they're going to get away with it.

If we are not a nation of laws, if we do not arrest, try, and imprison these people, then we are just a failed police state in which the laws are used to punish poor people while the rich get away with murder.


Back in the 1990s the right-wingers once again diverted the public from their real problems (frozen wages, foreign trade laws giving other countries rights to dump products in the U.S., the beginning of the massive inequality in wealth in the U.S.) by saturating the airwaves and newspapers with lurid stories of crime, preferably of the type involving dismembering or mutilation and lots of blood. These crimes were the focus of so much media attention that many isolated and fearful suburbanites began telling the tale of the Serial Killer Next-Door. No one could be trusted. Everyone was a suspect. Particularly the kids. And anyone who wasn't white.

Politicians always love to see the public obsessing about street crimes, because it usually means nobody is paying attention to the politicians as they take bribes and spend their days sitting on their corrupt asses and doing nothing for the public. So the politicians fed into the media-crime-wave stories by introducing one new bill, new law after the other, with lots of press conferences, each new law more ridiculous and punitive than the last.

Many states adopted what are commonly referred to as "Three Strikes" laws. Others call them "habitual offender laws" and call the people to whom those laws are applied "prior and persistent offenders." The laws are ridiculous and if our courts weren't packed with right-wing hacks, they would have all been overturned. Here's the idea. Let's say the law provides that if somebody robs a business, takes money or property, they may be sentenced to 1-5 years in prison. The Three-Strikes Laws provide that if somebody has been convicted of a felony at least two times before the current charges, and the defendant is found guilty on the current charge of robbery, then the judge should sentence the defendant to life in prison without the possibility of parole, even though the law says that for a robbery, he should only get 1-5 years. And there is usually no requirement that the crime involve violence. Just taking money, or products, qualifies for life imprison.
Among the problems with this ridiculous law is that you have kids in this country who get off on the wrong foot, with little education, no family support. And they can easily rob a gas station or pizza parlor, or be with somebody who does, 3 times before they are even 21 years old. That's because they're kind of stupid. But it doesn't really mean they are hopeless. It's just that they are young and stupid, and have no direction. But even if there was no violence associated with these robberies, some kid can get life in prison.

Remember Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon yelling "At-ti-ca, At-ti-ca," while the crowd cheered. He was referencing extreme police brutality in a riot in Attica. Nothing has really changed in the past 40 years except that the building and operations of prisons has become big business. They still are mostly designed to hold and punish poor people. Our society is more unforgiving and punitive when it comes to crimes committed by the poor, but the wealthy and powerful are rarely held accountable for their crimes against society.
Someone should go through the dockets and see how many Wall Street Criminals have been given life imprison for being repeat offenders. Or any rich person, for that matter, any politician, anyone who wears nice shoes or maybe a suit to work, anybody who owns a home, anybody with a college education. I don't think there are any.

Instead of calling them Three Strikes Laws, they should call them Poor People's Laws, because they're only applied to poor people who commit street-level crimes. The public doesn't want to know this, but most murderers are one-time killers only. They do it once, never again. So the Three Strikes Laws are generally used against poor, uneducated, unemployed, usually not too smart low-level non-violent thiefs who, if somebody would just give them a chance, would probably never commit another crime, but they've got nothing else going on. Throw-aways. High-school drop-outs often from alcoholic or violent and abusive homes. Out on the streets, on their own, drifting into petty crimes.


What is the purpose of having criminal laws? The government identifies certain conduct which is considered not just harmful to the immediate victim, but harmful to society as a whole because it is a threat to and disruptive of the entire community. If Tom slaps Mary in the face, but Mary really isn't hurt, Mary nonetheless can sue Tom in civil courts and seek to recover damages for battery. If Tom smacks Mary in the head with a steel pipe, and Mary is seriously injured, the government (the District Attorney) may step in and "sue" Tom by charging him with a criminal law violation, and seek to put Tom in prison. So we have two sets of laws: civil laws for individuals to use to recover when they have personally been injured; and criminal laws which the government uses to punish people, or fine or imprison them, for their conduct. Often the same act will give rise to both a civil law claim for the victim and a criminal law claim that can be brought by the district attorney.

But why do we have criminal laws? Theoretically Mary could sue Tom for money damages regardless of how serious her injuries were. So why involve the government? Why have jails and prisons?

There are different theories about why we have criminal laws, prosecutions, fines, and sometimes imprisonment enforced by the state. Here are a few of the reasons:

1. To punish the wrongdoer. Simple and clear.

2. To protect the members of society from the dangerous person. Under this theory, Tom might go around hitting other people in the head with a pipe, so the government will arrest him and, if he is convicted, put him in prison so he cannot hurt other people.

3. Deterrance. If Tom is in prison, he will be personally deterred from doing this to anyone else. By putting him in prison, it also sends a message to other people in society that they should not engage in this type of behavior, or they too will end up in prison.

4. Reinforcing social mores. Societies have general attitudes and beliefs about good and bad, right and wrong. If citizens look around and see that nobody else is following the law, or people like Tom do whatever they want and there are no consequences, it has the corrosive effect of wearing down all of society's written and unwritten understandings and agreements about how we should behave towards each other.

5. Revenge. For the injured individual and for society as a whole. Sometimes people just want to get even, and putting the offender in prison is a form of revenge.


How does all of this apply to the financial criminals? There is a small group of people who have looted our country. They have defrauded many of our citizens, they have bribed our politicians, they have looted businesses and state and business and private pensions, stolen our savings accounts and the funding to buy desks for our children's schools. If it wasn't nailed down, they stole it. Mostly they hauled it out of the country in their private planes, and they have hidden the money in private banks and private equity funds. The country is broke, but these few people are now the wealthiest people in the world. They took my money and I want it back.

Each one of their transactions can be charged in a separate complaint as a separate felony, and two convictions obtained before bringing the last set. Then go for the three-stikes, and put them in prison for the rest of their lives. And of course take back all the money. If they won't tell us where the money is, then go find it. It won't be that hard to get somebody in their organization to flip and tell us where they put the money.

You can leave your expensive suits at home, boys. You won't need them where you're going.

Just think about it: they're probably all Republicans, probably all love the idea of Three-Strikes Laws being used against 17-year-old high school drop-outs, probably loved all those Republican Law & Order candidates. Payback's a bitch.

Then go after the politicians. Make them pay back every penny they took from the Financial Cartels into a public fund to use for public purposes. For the worst of them, charge them, try them, throw them in prison too.

This is a rather mild suggestion compared to what Bill Maher discussed on his show on Friday night. He mentioned that China executes the corporate heads who harm the public by, for example, mixing poison in their foodstuff to increase their profits. Maher thinks we should just pick two men from Wall Street, kill them, cut their balls off and stuff them in their mouths, hang their bodies outside the New York Stock Exchange for everyone to see. That would serve all of the important reasons we have criminal laws: (1) Punishment; (2) Protect society (they won't be stealing my money ever again); (3) Deterrance; (4) Reinforcing social mores (there would be dancing in the streets); and (5) Revenge. Yes, I think that would be enough revenge.

But I don't believe in the death penalty. So I offer this humble alternative. Indict the top 25 insiders of each Wall Street institution and any part of the Financial Cartel. Take back the money they stole from us. Send them to prison for life.

I'll send them a postcard with a picture of Attica on the front, and this message: Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The New York Post Promotes Violence And Murder.

The New York Post is owned by Rupert Murdoch or some corporation he owns, is controlled by Rupert Murdoch, and is used by him to advocate the maiming and/or murder of certain Americans. The Post promotes hatred and violence, using a member of whichever weaker group happens to be available: women, minorities, people who advocate for justice and decency, they're all fair game. When Murdoch bought the Mets and Mike Piazza wouldn't bow down to kiss his feet, Piazza moved to L.A. and was given a hero's welcome. But Murdoch didn't leave it alone, instead using the Post to attack Piazza in his personal life, pursuing a vendetta worthy of a despot or criminally deranged monster. The New York Post is a disgrace to yellow press journalism everywhere.

So this week they published and circulated a drawing showing a monkey being murdered, shot, by a group of policemen, and a saying that he won't be able to pass anymore stimulus bills. This drawing clearly was intended to, and did convey to the public at large, and to the extreme right-wing in this country, that Obama was dangerous and should be murdered. There is no other way to read that racist communication.

When the public was appalled, and spoke out against this racist drawing and communication being promoted by the Post, the Post originally claimed they were absolutely right to promote this violence, but eventually issued a non-apology form of apology (we did not intend to offend, but if we did, we may kind of regret it in some cases).

New York Post's Official Statement:
"The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit
the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks
Washington's efforts to revive the economy. Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself
as nothing more than a publicity opportunist."

"The New York Post is a clear parody of a current news paper,
to wit pretending to be a daily newspaper, it broadly mocks journalism's efforts
to revive the profession. Again, Rupert Murdoch reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist."

Here's a citizen (above) outside the Post building, letting Rupert Murdoch know that some of the citizens object to the New York Post promoting violence and murder, and will not be silenced any longer by Murdoch's bullying tactics.

Remember this face below. This man, this ugly, wrinkled, red, saggy old man, who wasn't even born here, who came here and has taken advantage of this country to line his own pockets and to promote hatred and violence and racism and sexism, this man who must be quite old, should be considering the fact that he is closer to a coffin than he is to youth or vitality, this man chooses to spend his last days or years on earth promoting hatred and violence, trying to destroy the United States and its people. This man is evil.

Don't Worry About The Dow, Or Real Estate. Worry About Jobs.

Since 1980, the federal government, the richest people in this country, the CEOs, Wall Street, and the Bankers have largely been working together to make themselves richer and make the rest of us poorer. They've been remarkably successful in their quest, by freezing wages, cutting funding for every social program including education and healthcare, packing the courts with right-wing hacks who rule against workers, injured consumers, defrauded investors, in all lawsuits, eliminating job security, passing laws to encourage businesses to send their work overseas to be done by slave, child, or prison labor, and by authorizing businesses to import cheap, shoddy, defective, sometimes poisoned products and food into this country without any restrictions or limitations.

Every single law that is passed is designed to take more rights away from working people, and give more control to a small group of the wealthy elite. If there is a conflict between the working people of this country, and the elite of some other country, our government and our upper classes always side with the rich people from the other country. They are traitors.

For example, when George W. Bush took office, he went to Mexico to his good friend President Vincent Fox, another corporate elite insider. Fox wanted to send millions of the citizens of Mexico to the U.S. to do work, because the rich people in Mexico steal all the money for themselves, and leave their own people with nothing. Bush said fine, and as a result, at least 20 million, possibly as many as 40 million illegal immigrants were brought into the U.S. with the specific approval of the Bush administration, to take jobs from Americans. One of Bush's last big pushes was to try to get a law enacted that would have allowed Mexican truckers to come into the U.S. and take all the trucking work away from the Teamsters, to bust the unions in this country, and to further enrich businesses by allowing them to pay very little money for trucking.

But Bush wasn't alone. They even have a name for it, a model. This is all intentional. The goal has been to crush American workers down to the point that they are the same, same income, same level of poverty, as all other workers throughout the world. In other words, if you think things are bad now, just wait and see what it's going to be like for your kids.

If all workers live on starvation wages, work day to day with absolutely no rights, then the rich people are free to roam the world, set up shop wherever they want with no unions, no environment controls, no worker protection, no goggles or hardhats or protective shoes required. Just rape the people and the resources of any country, and at the first sign of rebellion, move on. If the people are poor and desperate, they will take whatever the corporations are willing to give them. That is what the U.S. corporations are doing to the people of this country. On purpose. With the assistance of much of the federal government.

Bill Clinton got various trade laws passed to let the corporations do just that -- send jobs to third world countries, import crap and dump it here in the U.S. With no rights for workers. Bush extended and expanded what Clinton set up. In the recent stimulus bill, there was a huge ruckus over language saying that we need to use this money to buy materials here in the U.S. In other words, there is no point in spending billions to re-build our infrastructure to try to help our country if the materials (i.e. steel) are all bought from China, and the labor is all brought in from Mexico. That does not help Americans at all.

Yet everyone in the federal government said we can't have "buy American" provisions, because it would anger some foreign country. Screw the foreign country. If our government says we legally can't have provisions requiring buy American and hire American, then we need to rescind those laws. Who will stand up for American working people if our own government won't? Yes Bill Clinton and George W. Bush (and Reagan, and Daddy Bush) have set up a terrible system. But we need to start undoing that. Now would be the right time.

The people who own everything in this country have a very sophisticated PR machine to fool the public while our lives are being destroyed. For awhile we had the tech bubble. Remember, everybody owned tech stock, all we heard about were secretaries becoming millionaires overnight with stock options, everybody was investing in tech. Then it all collapsed, the CEOs and the financial media walked away with all the money the public had invested, and the public lost a bundle.

Then we had real estate. Suddenly the public was told: Don't pay attention to your frozen wages, ignore the fact that you have no job security, that your employer no longer pays for your health insurance or pension, that you have no employment future: buy a home, get rich. And the media started telling us that all you had to do was buy a home, no matter how tough it was to make the payments, no matter how expensive the house was. Get in, survive for a year or two and you can refinance, take out a bunch of money, pay off everything else. It would never stop. And don't worry about the no pension problem, because when you're 55 you can retire, sell the house, and take the money and buy something cheap, live on the rest.

Who was building all these houses? Real estate developers financed by banks, hiring illegal immigrants at $8/hour, and selling homes for two to three times what they had sold for 5 years before. Developers got rich. The entire building trades unionized American workforce was thrown out of work and replaced with poor and desperate illegal immigrants. Banks got rich making huge loans and then selling them to Iceland. And then that bubble burst too.

And now we all spend our days fearful of Dow. Dow is holding its breath and turning blue. Dow is angry that Obama's stimulus package didn't include even more billions for Wall Street. Dow is angry that some suggest hearings to question what in the hell these Wall Street Criminals did with the $350 Billion they stole from us last year. Dow is angry that some suggest every single employee above clerical from Wall Street should be thrown in Attica for life. So Dow is having a fit. I say let them. Because Dow is just another diversion. Unless you're a multi-millionaire, your problem is not Dow. Besides, they've already stolen half our money, what more can they do?

It's all about jobs. All Americans, at least 90% of us, work for a living. We need to work in order to have shelter, food, clothing, medical care. We will likely work our entire lives, from very young until slightly before we die. We need job security. We need to have rights in our jobs, to prevent employers from moving to China to use slave labor. We need a living wage. We need health care, education, and fully-funded pensions. As consumers, we need safety in all products. As investors, we need protection against those who would defraud us, and who do so again and again. And we need an honest government, and we need to stop our politicians from taking bribes.

But mostly we need jobs. All the obsession about Dow is a diversion. It's like saying the Queen is unhappy with her pearl necklace and wants diamonds. Most people have more concrete worries, like how to pay the bills, buy food, get through another day. Jewels are the trivial obsession of the rich, not a proper concern of most working people. The same is true of the Dow. Look over here (while they steal more jobs). Look over there (while they loot Social Security). Look behind you (while they start more wars to allow the oil companies to steal more resources).

My suggestion is that people keep their eye on the ball. We need jobs. If Dow was at 20,000, but we have 20% actual employment, most of our lives will be horrible. A few rich people would be happy, but the rest of us will be desperate. Ignore Dow. We need jobs.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Rupert Murdoch: Right-wing Racist Scum.

Have You Seen This Bigot?

Most of the terrorism in this country comes from our own streets, not from overseas. The most frequent victims of violence are women, beaten or murdered by husbands and boyfriends; blacks or minorities or gays assaulted by bigots; and the unfortunate on-going children's violence fueled by organizations which glorify violence and hatred of others.

As most people know by now, Rupert Murdoch is an extreme right-winger who has used his wealth to gain a monopoly control over television and newspapers in the U.S., to peddle trashy, violent, anti-human hate-promoting programs on television, to support ultra-right organizations including the Bush regime in their destruction of our constitution and democracy, and in the waging of wars against people across the world.

To no one's surprise, Rupert Murdoch is also a bigot, deserving of an honorary membership in the Ku Klux Klan, the American Nazi Party, and the Aryan Nations.

Yesterday one of his rags, the New York Post, published racist hate-speech intended to incite others to violence, what they called a "cartoon," but what really was pictoral race-hatred similar to that of the southern white racists of long ago, similar to that of the Klan and the Nazis. This drawing showed a monkey being shot to death by the police, and the caption said something to the effect that he wouldn't be able to pass anymore stimulus bills. Of course President Obama had just signed the stimulus bill yesterday morning. So the drawing clearly was intended to, and did, convey to the public the idea that Obama is a monkey, a Klan/Nazi mantra, that he has passed a stimulus bill which is so horrible that he should be murdered by the police or by anyone else who is willing to step up.

That's what this drawing is promoting: murder. Or, in more technical terms, it is a conspiracy by the person who drew the hate-speech picture, the yellow-rag Post, and its bigotted owner Murdoch, to incite violence.

Rupert Murdoch should be charged with conspiracy to incite violence against all black people and more specifically to incite violence to cause great bodily injury or death to the President, and to encourage others to commit hate crimes against a specific minority group in this country.

He should also be sued in civil court by representatives of black people in this country whose lives are endangered by this type of hate speech and violence-promoting propaganda.

His right to own any media in this country should be taken away by law, and if he owns media in other countries, they should be prohibited from selling inside the U.S. Would we allow a pedophile-promoter to circulate newspapers advocating the rape of children? Of course not. And we should not allow this despicable bigot to own newspapers and use them to promote the murder of our elected officials, and violence or murder of all non-whites in this country.

Finally, he should be deported. Send him back to his country of origin, if they'll take him. Revoke his right to live here. He's scum.

A few years ago the Southern Poverty Law Center sued the Aryan Nations in Hayden Lake, Idaho, and got an enormous judgment against them based upon that group's promotion of violence to their members which had contributed to some of the members committing an act of violence against innocent outsiders. The Aryan Nations group promoted the same type of racist hatred being pushed by the bigotted Rupert Murdoch, and had been called a "terrorist threat" by the FBI. (See Wikipedia, Aryan Nations).

The same type of theory could be applied to Rupert Murdoch in a civil proceeding to seek a judgment against him, seize all his ownership of media. Then tell the Justice Department that their 8-year vacation from civil rights enforcement is over, and they need to indict this guy.

Is Rupert Murdoch a terrorist? We've got some fairly insane laws on the books that have been used to imprison people for being stupid. As long as Murdoch has been such a big supporter of the all-encompassing "war on terrorism," maybe those laws could be used against him. He's probably not an international terrorist. But is he guilty of domestic terrorism? See (5) below: term "domestic terrorism" means activities that - (A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State; (B) appear to be intended - (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; ....

Does the publication of a racist drawing depicting and portraying as proper, maybe necessary, imperative, good, the murder of the president of the United States constitute a violation of any of the criminal laws of any state in this country? Some states have laws prohibiting hate crimes, or crimes targeting a specific group of people who are members of an unpopular minority. How about a conspiracy to violate those laws? Would that be enough?

And if so, maybe we should re-think that whole issue of closing Guantanamo. There would be a certain ironic fun in sending Murdoch there for the rest of his life. Hopefully he could spend his days whining to Bush and Cheney, if we ever get around to war crimes tribunals.

United States Code
U.S. Code as of: 01/19/04
Section 2331. Definitions
As used in this chapter -

(1) the term "international terrorism" means activities that -
(A) involve violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended -
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, or transcend national boundaries in terms of the means by which they are accomplished, the persons they appear intended to intimidate or coerce, or the locale in which their perpetrators operate or seek asylum;

(2) the term "national of the United States" has the meaning given such term in section 101(a)(22) of the Immigration and Nationality Act;

(3) the term "person" means any individual or entity capable of holding a legal or beneficial interest in property;

(4) the term "act of war" means any act occurring in the course of -
(A) declared war;
(B) armed conflict, whether or not war has been declared, between two or more nations; or
(C) armed conflict between military forces of any origin; and

(5) the term "domestic terrorism" means activities that -
(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended -
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mas destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

PBS's "Inside The Meltdown" Misses The Point: It's A Crime Story, Not A Human Interest Fluff Piece.

I watched "Inside the Meltdown" on Frontline, on PBS, last night. It was a thriller and nail-biter, going from one nearly-collapsed major financial institution to the next Oh My God Will We Survive moment, Indiana Jones in the Concrete Canyons, but without any rational discussion or analysis of how we got here, and who stole the money. Instead, they mindlessly recited the current cover-up story that nobody knew, nobody saw it coming, everybody was stupid (Oh yeah -- if they're so stupid, how come they got all the money?). The one-hour coverage was exciting but ultimately the equivalent of vaseline on the lens to make the aging movie stars look pretty.

For anyone planning to do more documentaries on this subject, here's a clue: IT'S A CRIME STORY, not a human interest story. They would put more intensity and passion in a one-hour story about some 14-year-old kid who stole $20 from a pizza parlor. But for this, they present the criminals as if they were sympathetic characters who we should all support. Yeah. Poor Guys. I'd like to see every one of them in prison.

What did Bonnie and Clyde say (at least in the movie)? "Hi. We're Bonnie and Clyde. We Rob Banks." That would have been a better title for a story of how Wall Street, the Financial Cartels, and the Bush government, along with too many of the politicians in Congress, looted our country and left most of us broke.
This program presented the whole plundering and looting of our country like it was some sensitive human interest story. Lots of black and white studied photos of Paulson and Bernanke and Wall Street Insiders looking serious. Just like the photos we're used to seeing in historical coverage of things like the Cuban Missile Crisis. So now we're supposed to think the criminal enterprise that has stolen all our money is somehow dignified, worthy of hushed tones, respected people? Give me a break. If these people were good people, they would have stood up on a platform and said: "Go seize the assets of these Wall Street Criminals and throw them in prison. Stop them, quick, before they get away." But they didn't say that. Instead they said "Who knows what happened, or why, we're all stupid."

Instead of showing us carefully-selected black and white or sepia-toned photos of these men who participated in one of the biggest crimes in the history of our country, they should have peppered the tale with photos like this one, of Billy the Kid, which is certainly a better example of these Wall Street Criminals:
Another title for the program could have been: "We're All As Stupid As A-Rod." A-Rod had a press conference yesterday in which he kept trying to convince the public that he was really stupid. He convinced me. But I don't think that means he didn't know he was taking steroids. Come on Alex, fess up. And somebody needs to go back and look at the list of demands when he went to Seattle, which I believe included a private area for his personal use pre-game with his trainer. To do what? Shoot up?

Among the most annoying aspects were the man-crush still photos of people like Paulson and Bernanke. Over and over again, the black-and-white headshot, Hank Paulson from a certain angle almost looking handsome, certainly looking sincere and concerned. A very man-crush photo. Whoever picked it out wanted the viewer to think: Thank God for Hank Paulson. Thank God he was there to save us. Yeah, sure.

They also essentially repeated the story that the Democrats started putting out a few weeks ago to quell the angry mobs forming in the streets -- the unemployed and broke, near homeless angry mobs. The new story is that Congress had no choice but to give the Wall Street Criminals $350 Billion last fall. If they had not done it, the entire world would have come to an end. No. Really. The whole world.

How stupid do they think we are?

Paulson is a Wall Street representative, a Goldman Sachs man who made $800 million for himself on Wall Street. He went to work for Bush. What does that tell us? He signed on to the neocon wet-dream of stealing everything from the U.S., turning it all over to the elite few. Then he goes to Congress with a ransom note from Wall Street that says: "Give Us All The Money Or We'll Blow The Whole Place Up." And shrugs his shoulders, as if to say "What can I do?" And Congress says "OK."
If Congress really believed we were on the edge of a financial meltdown, all the Wall Street and Financial Cartels were almost broke, why did Congress keep taking money from these Wall Street Criminals right through to the end of the year? If Wall Street really was on the eve of destruction, why did they take $18 billion off the top and pay it to the insiders as bonuses. Walking-around money. And again, how stupid do they think we are?

I hope somebody (I know Danny Schechter is trying) does a real film, real coverage of what has happened to our country. Because here's the thing: somebody got the money. It didn't disappear. A few people stole most of the money from the people of the U.S., from our Treasury, and even from many countries in the rest of the world. They have hidden that money in what they call secret "Private Equity Funds." Off-shore. Billions, maybe trillions of dollars. The money didn't disappear. It just ended up in fewer pockets. Our government needs to seize that money, bring it back here for the benefit of our people, and throw the thieves in prison.

How much funding does PBS get from Wall Street? How could anybody make a one-hour program about what has happened to the people of this country and fail to mention that the top 10% have grown amazingly richer under this same system, that the money did not disappear, it was just taken from most of us and stolen by the few. But then again I sometimes think the people who are covering this melt-down just lack a basic understanding of economics. Not so much that they are trying to mislead -- they just don't understand.

For example, one of the companies they discussed was Lehman Brothers. The head guy was someone that Paulson supposedly really really really didn't like. So Paulson let Lehman Brothers go down the tubes. Does that sound like crisis decisions or somebody using his powerful position to get revenge against an old competitor and apparently an enemy? But the thing is, what happened to all the money Lehman Brothers earned? They were selling bundled mortgages, essentially, and got lots of money in the door from doing that. I believe the program said they were also selling insurance, essentially -- insuring or guaranteeing that some other investment would never default. They got money for the insurance they sold. Where did all the money go? The insiders took it.

These are the kind of photos we should have seen in last night's PBS offering about the plundering of our country by the Wall Street Criminals and the politicians they own. Al Capone would have been in awe at this massive theft of the public's money by Wall Street and some corrupt politicians.

At the conclusion of the program, the viewer is left with no understanding whatsoever about what happened. The evil spirits did it, or maybe it was terrorists, or communists, or just bad luck. No explanation that:

(1) Bob Rubin and Bill Clinton, during the end of the Clinton administration, promoted policies to eliminate laws that controlled and regulated the financial institutions. Rubin immediately went over to an extremely grateful Citicorp, got a nice office and a big desk and reportedly over $100 million. And we all know that Bill Clinton left office and has been given hundreds of millions of dollars from, among others, the major financial cartels, presumably grateful for having all the laws changed to let them plunder the country.

(2) The Financial Cartels defrauded the public by making loans knowing full well the borrowers could never repay, would default, and would end up in foreclosure.

(3) The Financial Cartels then took millions of dollars' worth of mortgages (like a surprise box at an auction), bundled them together, hid the really stinky ones inside and put a few good ones on the outside, and sold fractional interests in the bundle to an ignorant public who were told that the loans were 100% secured, a sure thing.

(4) The Financial Cartels charged hundreds of millions of dollars for this activity.

(5) As the hundreds of millions of dollars came into the front door of the Financial Cartels, the insiders shuffeled it out the back door, out of the country, and into secret private equity funds where no one can ever trace it, knowing they were looting the country and their own businesses.

(6) The Financial Cartels paid hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to Congress to make sure they would look the other way as the entire country entered a period of grossly inflated real estate, grossly obscene interest rates being charged to average Americans for non-secured loans (i.e. credit cards), while the rich paid less and less in taxes, and working people earned less and less.

(7) Congress and the Financial Cartels have worked and are working together to sell the country on a cover-up to hide their own liability for what they have done.

How could they quote Barney Frank chastising Wall Street without reporting that Barney Frank takes a lot of money from Wall Street. Isn't that information really necessary to tell the whole story?

Here's the only truthful statement in the whole hour. Some guy said that when Paulson went to Congress with the ransom note from Wall Street saying give us all the money or we'll blow the whole place up, "It was like Shock and Awe." Yes indeed, it certainly was. And brought to us by the same people, and for the same purpose. Paulson and Wall Street were just carrying out the final act of the Bush-Cheney neocon plundering of our nation. The "crisis" was as legitimate as were the so-called WMDs that Bush-Cheney claimed Iraq had, which allowed Bush-Cheney to steal $800 Billion from the American taxpayers to use to turn control of Iraq over to the U.S. oil companies.

Naomi Klein has written extensively about this in her book "The Shock Doctrine." The premise is that they start with shock and awe -- a truly dramatic, horrifying, threatening act (like telling the people the entire world's financial system will collapse) then quickly, before people have time to examine the claim, they move in and steal everything. That's what happened. When will somebody tell the truth? And more important, when will somebody seize assets and throw these criminals in prison?

Now that I think about it, maybe they should have titled their one-hour program: "The Godfather Part IV."