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Monday, March 30, 2009

The Wake Of The Auto Workers.

It is inaccurate to say that the U.S. auto industry has collapsed. That suggests some forces other than the owners and their Wall Street pimps brought this about -- say termites chewed through the wood floors, earthquakes and time eroded the foundations. That's not what happened here.

Instead, the Financial Cartels that run this country set up an intentional and deliberate program to send manufacturing out of the U.S. to third world countries to be done by child, slave, and prison labor. The criminals on Wall Street screamed for labor cuts, rewarded outsourcing by bidding up the stock, punished investment here in our own country by supporting competing businesses from other countries.

I don't mean to be overly simplistic, but if the "leaders" of the U.S. business world had any loyalty to this country, to the people of this country, wouldn't they have fought to support our auto industry? Instead of screaming that the owners should shut down the factories, throw all the Americans out of work, take the jobs to China to be done by 12-year-old girls who live at the factory and work 7 days/week, 12 hours/day for about twenty-five cents? Aren't these Wall Street people guilty of treason? And what about our politicians? Shouldn't they have been working for us, for the American people, instead of just taking bribes from Wall Street then turning their heads and pretending they could not hear the screams of American working people whose lives were being butchered?

Just look at the malice from the Wall Street criminals in recent months. Faced with the complete devastation of Detroit and much of the rustbelt, millions of Americans thrown out of work, losing their jobs, desperate, without any hope, the Wall Street criminals have piled on the workers, screaming that they deserve to be unemployed and poor (because they're black?), they make too much money anyway (compared to whom?). Why do the Wall Street criminals hate Americans?

This wasn't a death by natural causes, nor an accident. This was murder.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Nick Cave - "Suzanne" (Leonard Cohen)

What is it Leonard Cohen said? "I never found the girl, I never got rich. Follow me." He certainly can write.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Devil Went Down To West Virginia. Contact West Virginia Republican Delegate Craig Blair And Tell Him To Kiss Your Unemployed Ass!

(Craig Blair, Enemy of the People, With Mitt Romney, Enemy of the People)

Craig Blair, a white male Republican delegate to the West Virginia Legislature, is sponsoring a bill (and a nationwide effort) to increase violence against women, and to force more working Americans into homelessness, hunger, and severe poverty. He wants to take away all food stamps, food subsidy assistance through WIC, and unemployment compensation, from any American that does not test clean for drugs.

There is a famous saying from the Bible that goes something like this: "They attributed unto man what God had given them." There was some group of people that ended up living in a fairly cool place with clean water, good weather, an abundance of crops and animals -- everything anybody could want in order to have a good life. But the people who lived there were arrogant. They went around bragging all the time about how terribly clever they were to be born rich and lucky. So God got really mad at them, and killed them all.

It seems so applicable to so many of the politicians and business leaders in this country.

The Republicans are very traditional in their hate speech. They always go after the same groups. Women with children are top of their list. They hate women, hate children and babies. The Republicans wish all women and children and babies were dead. Except for the fetus -- they'll go out and picket, march around with signs, for the fetus. But once the fetus becomes a baby, the Republicans hate the baby. Hate the mother, hate the baby. Throw the father out of work or into prison. That's Republican Family Values.

Actually, the Republicans hate women who look like real women. They like the pipecleaner women: not an ounce of flesh on the bones. That's what that whole Meghan McCain flap was about. Megan looks like a real woman, unlike her mother who looks like someone who is starving herself to death. The Republicans like the starving (weak, pathetic, dependent) woman, and hate the daughter who is stronger. The Republicans' official dogma is premised on pediphilia, loving only women who look and act like young girls. Except they like the woman to look like a young girl -- 8, 10 at most -- but with enormous breast implants. That is the ideal Republican female. And preferably mute, and maybe a little "slow." It's probably tied in with some desire to rape, and the belief that young girls would be easier to overpower. Toothpick with balloons. An obedient one. Subservient. But real women, they hate.

And they hate children too, even though they like to have their pictures taken with the little dears. Probably looking for souls to steal.

(Craig Blair, Enemy Of The People, In Photo Op With Children. If their parents are poor and smoke a joint, he thinks these children should be deprived of any food. Let the little brats starve.).

So now, desperately clinging at any straw to try to attack and undermine President Obama, the Republicans are at it again, attacking poor women and children. Nobody, no matter how poor, how desperate, how hungry the children, nobody gets a dime in "welfare" (not corporate welfare -- they give away billions of that) -- no "people" assistance unless mommy tests clean. Drug testing for welfare recipients.

Actually, they also want to cut off unemployment insurance benefits and the meager sustenance provided to infants under the program Women, Infant and Children (WIC). The WIC program gives powdered milk, cheese, grain to the poorest women in the country who have infants that are likely to suffer from malnutrition due to the extreme poverty of the family. And these Republican men want to take away that little bit of food so these babies will go hungry. Is there some level of hell that is sufficient to punish these pigs?

They work with the top 5% of the wealthiest people in this country to freeze the wages of American working people. Then they work with the deadly Bush duo, with Clinton in-between, to sign over all our rights to control our lives in favor of allowing corporations to dictate everything -- such as by allowing them to take Americans' jobs out of this country, to be done by slave and child labor, and to import technical workers from other countries to take American jobs here at home. They eliminate pensions, healthcare, and job security, while throwing millions out of work, and charging 25% for unsecured short-term loans. And now they want to punish us by taking away our unemployment compensation and food stamps.

Will they ask the deaf dumb fat guy on the radio to take a drug test? Will they cut him off -- turn the dial -- if he "fails" the test? Apparently not.

The assumption is that women are poor because they're drug addicts? Funny, I thought they were poor because they were systematically excluded from equal opportunity at hiring, promotion, in compensation, and in benefits, in any employment in our society. Silly me.

(Craig Blair, Enemy Of The People, With Fred Thompson's Child-Bride.)

But okay, let's get tough. Sauce for the goose and all that. Let's take back all the Billions with a B that has been given to the cocaine-snorting meth-eating champagne guzzling whore-loving pigs on Wall Street and the politicians they own. Let's make them all take not just a drug test, but also a lie detector.

How about it? We could make it a game show. On TV. Guess the biggest junky liar.

Everyone in Congress has to appear and submit to thorough drug testing. Pull their hair out by its roots and check back for a year to see if anywhere along the way they might have used drugs. If so, take away all their assets. No more paycheck for you. Seize their homes and the secret offshore accounts where they hide the bribes they were not supposed to accept.

Do the same for every single person above the level of receptionist who has worked in the Financial Cartels for the past 8 years.

Maybe the reason the banks and brokerages are broke is because they're run by crazed junkies. Ever think of that?

But the problems in our country today have not been caused by women, drug addicts or not. Cutting off food stamps, welfare, and WIC assistance for women and children is simply blaming and punishing women for economic problems caused by men.

In addition, drug addiction is not primarily a woman's issue. The current problems in the U.S. have not been caused by women, and certainly not by poor women. There is no evidence that women are poor because they're all drug addicts. But as soon as the Republicans start screaming about punishing women and children by cutting off the meager assistance given to the poor, it immediately increases violence against women by men, because it encourages bashing of women. This is a sexist anti-female hateful baseless diversionary tactic designed to convince the public that women should be punished, and/or that children should be starved, and/or that the unemployed should be left to die for the sins of the rich white Republican men who have looted our country.

_______________________________

"Want government assistance? Just say no to drugs." (Tom Breen, AP)

"Lawmakers in at least eight states want recipients of food stamps, unemployment benefits or welfare to submit to random drug testing."

"The effort comes as more Americans turn to these safety nets to ride out the recession. Poverty and civil liberties advocates fear the strategy could backfire, discouraging some people from seeking financial aid and making already desperate situations worse."

"Those in favor of the drug tests say they are motivated out of a concern for their constituents' health and ability to put themselves on more solid financial footing once the economy rebounds. But proponents concede they also want to send a message: you don't get something for nothing.

'Nobody's being forced into these assistance programs,' said Craig Blair, a Republican in the West Virginia Legislature who has created a Web site —
notwithmytaxdollars.com — that bears a bobble-headed likeness of himself advocating this position. 'If so many jobs require random drug tests these days, why not these benefits?'"

"Blair is proposing the most comprehensive measure in the country, as it would apply to anyone applying for food stamps, unemployment compensation or the federal programs usually known as "welfare": Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Women, Infants and Children.
Lawmakers in other states are offering similar, but more modest proposals."

"On Wednesday, the Kansas House of Representatives approved a measure mandating drug testing for the 14,000 or so people getting cash assistance from the state, which now goes before the state senate. In February, the Oklahoma Senate unanimously passed a measure that would require drug testing as a condition of receiving TANF benefits, and similar bills have been introduced in Missouri and Hawaii. A Florida senator has proposed a bill linking unemployment compensation to drug testing, and a member of Minnesota's House of Representatives has a bill requiring drug tests of people who get public assistance under a state program there. A January attempt in the Arizona Senate to establish such a law failed."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090326/ap_on_bi_ge/states_welfare_with_strings

________________

Contact Craig Blair, Delegate to the West Virginia Legislature, and tell him to Kiss Your Unemployed Ass!!

Craig Blair
47 Wasser Drive
Martinsburg, West Virginia 25403-0884
Phone: (304) 754-5121
Fax: (304) 754-5121
E-Mail: craig@delegatecraigblair.com



Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Song For Wall Street


"A Song For Wall Street"

Why it's good old reliable Bernie, Bernie Bernie Bernie Madoff,
It's the oldest established permanent floating crap game in New York.



Wrong Again, Hillary. It is not American's "Insatiable Appetite" For Drugs That Is Causing The Slaughter In Mexico.


As most people know, Mexico is an extremely corrupt country. Almost as bad as the U.S. Their rich people pay little in taxes, steal or sell off to U.S. companies all the resources of Mexico, refuse to even invest in a water system, sanitation, housing, education, or a medical system to help their own people. They have an amazing country with abundant resources, terrific coastal areas, a young and hard-working population, but the rich people suck that country dry and leave their citizens with nothing.

That is why the drug trade is such a problem in Mexico. The same reason that the drug trade is the only "profession" available to many young black males inside the U.S. The same reason that sex work is the only "profession" available to many young black females inside the U.S. For them, this is a failed nation. For the people of Mexico, they live in a failed state in which the government exists solely for the purpose of further enriching the rich.

So now we have drug cartels ruling many regions of Mexico, and engaged in some territorial battle which has resulted in the slaughter of 7000 Mexicans in the past year. Finally, it caught somebody's attention. And now we have cross-border violence as well. And in addition to the drug fights, the other indicia of a failed state are taking form such as kidnapping for ransom. Inside Mexico and inside the U.S. Of course they don't spend so much time robbing banks these days, because the banks don't have any money.

In a way, the U.S. is responsible for many of the problems of Mexico. We corrupt their government and rich people, entice them to be just like us, to get private planes and bullet-proof cars with armed security, to leave their poor hungry in the streets to die, to spend their free time traveling the world to all the hotspots, hobnobbing with the other rich. We taught them all our bad habits. Now the chickens have come home to roost.

But today Hillary Clinton said that the problems in Mexico are caused by the U.S. citizens' "insatiable appetite" for drugs. Nonsense. How many drug addicts do we have in the U.S.? Three million. A tiny percentage -- 1% of the population. It's miniscule, should not even warrant one second's concern in the nation. A few junkies. Make treatment available, but don't turn the entire nation around because of a few junkies. And before we go invading more countries in the oldest established permanent floating "war on drugs," remember that many of the biggest "pushers" in our country have an M.D. after their names with seven-figure incomes and cushy offices inside the glass and steel hi-rises of our nation. Is somebody going to use bunker busters on the doctors' offices on main street? Or do we only use bombs and bullets on poor non-white "pushers?"

[See my comment here, Monday, February 2, 2009 Is Marijuana the Breakfast of Champions? and citations therein: an estimated 3 million Americans have a serious drug addiction, and 17,000 Americans die every year from drug addiction (compared to 435,000 Americans who die from tobacco every year, for example)].

This bogeyman that "all our youth will become drug addicts" is just a theme and variation on the old anti-communist song, re-hashed and thrown out to terrorize the citizenry and allow the defense industry to steal our money, and allow the government to take away our rights. No Hillary, it's not an "insatiable appetite" for drugs. Some people like to smoke dope. Some people like to drink beer. Some people like to eat donuts. The three things are remarkably equivalent: not so good, but not so bad either. National studies show the total number of deaths inside the U.S. caused by marijuana each year are: ZERO, NONE, NADA. So knock off the bologna.

In the meantime, using this anti-drug propaganda, the U.S. has troops invading, occupying nations all over the world. Not really there to stop the drug trade. Just to make sure that the drug cartels that survive are "our" cartels, paying bribes to "our" governments. Like Afghanistan. Remember that whole story that we needed to stop the opium growing, which is now even bigger than ever? And Columbia: we're not really in there with our troops to stop the drug trade. We're there to protect "our" friendly drug cartels, wipe out the others.

Oh God I can see where this is going. The U.S. is going to militarily invade and occupy Mexico to get control of their drug trade. Oh boy, another war.

I've got a better idea: (1) Legalize marijuana, take the profit out of it. (2) Tell the government of Mexico to tax their rich people, and use their resources to help their own citizens. (3) Secure the border in both directions. (4) If we're going to give any money to Mexico, then control it completely such as saying it can only be used for building a school, hospital, housing in some area (how about a border town), with the work done by Mexicans, the housing for the benefit of Mexicans. (5) Then maybe set up a joint economic development zone and provide an incentive for investment, but strictly controlled so that the profit goes to benefit the people of Mexico, and any U.S. "investors" just get a fair but not obscene return. Shocking idea. And if that works, (6) maybe do the same thing in our own failed cities.

From McClatchy Newspapers, Warren Strobel: "The United States is at least as responsible as Mexico for the violent drug wars that are roiling its southern neighbor because of an insatiable U.S. market for narcotics, the failure to stop weapons smuggling southward and a three-decade "war" on drugs that "has not worked," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday."

"Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade. Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians," Clinton said."

"How could anyone conclude any differently? . . . I feel very strongly we have co-responsibility," she said."
http://news.yahoo.com/s/mcclatchy/20090325/wl_mcclatchy/3197764

The articles goes on to say the U.S. is sending an additional $700 million to Mexico for "security" purposes. I wonder if that means another Blackwater paid mercenary assassin contract in the making? Those Christian mercenaries clean up anywhere there is killing in the world. I wonder if their business cards have the slogan: "We love death."

UCLA Forecast Predicts California Jobless Rate Will Be Double-Digit Through 2011.

AP (Michael R. Blood), 3/25/09:

"UCLA Forecast Predicts [California] Jobless Rate Will Be Double-Digit Through 2011."

[NOTE: THAT'S ANOTHER 2 YEARS].

"California’s jobless rate will climb to a staggering 11.9 percent from April to June next year, and double-digit unemployment will linger in the nation’s most populous state at least through 2011, according to a new economic forecast."

"The somber outlook in the quarterly Anderson Forecast from the University of California, Los Angeles, to be released today, came as the state struggles with a housing meltdown, budget crisis in Sacramento and slack consumer demand that has hurt the retail, manufacturing and trade sectors at the heart of the state economy."

"The projected jobless rate would grow to 11.9 percent from April to June 2010, and average 11.7 percent for that year. The figure stood at 10.5 percent in February. Forecasters say it will average 11 percent for 2009."

....
"Housing prices continue to spiral downward, putting more homeowners at risk of owing more on their homes than they are worth. "

"A rebound will hinge on consumer buying bouncing back, which would improve the demand for products from California’s factories and Asian imports that come through California ports. Construction needs to pick up, and the retail sector must grow, it concludes."

[HATE TO BE A WET BLANKET, BUT HOUSING CONSTRUCTION WILL NOT PICK UP FOR MANY YEARS BEYOND 2011 BECAUSE THERE HAS BEEN GROSS OVERBUILDING IN CALIFORNIA].

Here's a link to the Los Angeles Times report on the same forecast. http://www.latimes.com/news/la-fi-ucla-econ25-2009mar25,0,21645.story?track=rss

Also see my post here on Friday, March 6, 2009, link below. The reported unemployment rate is often about half of the "actual" unemployment rate, which includes people who have already exhausted their unemployment compensation benefits but still do not have a job, and also includes someone whose hours have been cut against their will, so they are not getting enough work hours to pay the bills. Using those figures, and the ones from this Anderson forecast, California's unemployment by next year will be 25%. Nobody knows how many illegal immigrants live in California without any "official" presence or records. But it certainly is millions, if not tens of millions. If they were previously working (which is why they come here) and now have no job, they are unemployed even though they may not be included in the "official" record of unemployment. And they usually have no cushion to hold them through any unemployment. I don't know if they can even apply for unemployment benefits. So you need to consider millions, if not tens of millions of residents of California who will be sleeping on the streets, homeless, and hungry in the near future because of the loss of jobs. The percentage of unemployed in California by next year, using these figures, could be as high as 30%.
U.S. Department of Labor Reports 8.1% "Official" Unemployment Rate, But An "Actual" Unemployment Rate of 16%.

I don't know if these people have a magic ball. But I'm pretty suspicious of forecasters. They generally get their money (and the forecasters get fame, and maybe jobs in the private sector) by skewing their reports towards one group. And when it comes to business forecasts, which side is their bread buttered on?

In other words, the deaf dumb fat guy on the radio is leading the fanatics in a new movement to destroy the U.S. and hope that President Obama cannot succeed in saving the country from economic ruin. By issuing these types of forecasts, one might argue that they might be helping by quickening the withdrawal of money from the economic engine of the U.S., the state of California. One of the reasons I'm suspicious of this group is that their website has a blurb claiming that California taxes its rich excessively. That's ridiculous. California does not tax people enough. The Terminator got elected by whipping the public into a frenzy about a $100 car tax, and he immediately hacked that baby down to nothing. Of course now the state raised it up again, because it turns out that if you have no revenue, because you slash all the taxes, then you go broke.

But on the other hand, the state of California is certainly in deep trouble. And it has in recent years relied largely on the real estate bubble to create wealth. Many of the Wall Street Criminals came to California and bought up all the coastal property. And that property will remain valuable, although likely will take a big hit. People have paid $2.0 million for a postage stamp piece of land near the ocean with a tear-down on it, and it's not likely those numbers will hold up, although coastal property will continue to have extraordinary value based on its location.

But what about the rest of the state? California has been grossly overbuilt. The fed hacked interest rates so developers could borrow money cheap and buy land, get construction loans cheap, build housing. They also, thanks to Bush's side-deal with Fox to have essentially open borders, were allowed to hire coyotes to bring truckloads of illegal immigrants into California to do all the construction work, often at $8/hour. American building trades people were earning $18-25/hour twenty years ago, but now their jobs have mostly been turned over to illegal immigrants who are paid little then deported when the tract is done. The immigrants also send much of their money back to Mexico to support their families ($25 Billion/year) instead of spending that money inside California, so the loss to the state is compounded by the use of non-resident labor.

Developers made a fortune. Banks made a fortune. Houses were sold for three times their fair value to people who could not afford to buy the home and did not qualify for the loan. Those people default when they run out of money, and/or lose their jobs. And now the state is covered with abandoned poorly-constructed track homes. Who will buy those houses?

Without real estate construction, the devastation in employment is horrifying. I know real estate brokers and mortgage loan brokers who have had no income for two years now. Of course anyone who worked in the field in construction is unemployed. The contractors are shut down. The developers are up at the country club because they got theirs. We know what the banks are doing.

An enormous industry rose up in the past 10 years in California of independent contractors working in real-estate related fields. For example, floor installers are generally independent contractors. They go either sign up with the business that sells the flooring (tile, carpets, linoleum) and do work for that business. And/or they solicit business from the community directly. Kitchen contractors who put in entirely new kitchens tend to be small independent contractors. They're all out of work now.

And of course all the defense manufacturing which used to form a solid base of jobs in California has mostly been sent elsewhere. The former well-paid defense manufacturing worker with a good income, health care and 401k ended up working in retail for $11/hour, but now they've lost those jobs too. When they can't pay their mortgage, and can't sell their homes for enough money to pay off the mortgage, they will also end up homeless.

Not much to cheer about in California. You can't eat sunshine.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Scary Thought For The Day: Is "Too Big To Fail" The Same As "Terrorists In The Omaha Mall."

Naomi Klein's book "Shock Doctrine" talks about how organized mobs of rich people have succeeded in going into countries around the world, stealing all the resources, and essentially enslaving all the people.

Her central theory is that first a "crisis" occurs or is created (such as by the Henry Kissinger-directed military coup in Chile and kidnapping, torture, and murder of thousands of their people). When the "crisis" occurs, and immediately thereafter, the citizens are terrified, confused, panicked, and desperately seek safety and protection. Therefore, it is good time for the mobs to move in, take over, get the government to declare martial law, for example, pass new laws taking away the people's rights. Maybe throw lots of people out of work so they are desperately poor. Murder people. Spread terror across the land so nobody will stand up to the government.

Then the organized capital mob moves in and takes over all the resources. That was Paul Bremer's job in Iraq. The U.S. actually sent him into Baghdad in the early days of that war, and gave him a paper saying that he was the "pretend" ruler of Iraq, and anything he did would become the law of Iraq forever. So for example, his criminal gang brought in all sorts of laws which he signed, and which now theoretically will control Iraq forever. Mostly financial laws. Such as laws saying that the right to own or operate utilities belong to private companies (American ones). One law says that if anybody in Iraq makes a widget that is similar to a widget that is patented inside the U.S., then the Iraqi citizen has to pay royalties to the U.S.. One law says that any seed planted in Iraq which is patented will force the Iraqi farmers to pay royalties to U.S. chemical companies (they're the ones who are chemically altering seeds).

In Chile, they passed laws eliminating all rights and freedoms of the people, eliminating all social spending. Thirsty? Too bad. The water which used to belong to the people is now claimed by some corporation. Schools? Closed. No money for any public services.

Then the rich people own and control everything and get all the money.

That's the basic theory.

In the 1950s, some very bad groups in this country created a national hysteria about communism. Sometimes called a "commie under every bed." People were led to believe that everyone was a communist, intent on a violent revolution to overthrow the government and kill all the people. And so we had Congress taken over by clowns who led national witchhunts, people across the land blacklisted, careers destroyed, lives destroyed, by allegations that they were communists. And many laws were passed which were very repressive, took away people's rights.

More recently, we have the religious right peddling their form of insanity, telling people that anyone who is not like them, not a member of their church, does not believe like they do, is a bad person, turning neighbor against neighbor, state against state, dividing the land and creating a weakness in the nation. Which then was exploited beginning with Reagan who got elected claiming he was the great white savior, he hated gays, he hated everyone who wasn't just like him. And he did it all with a cheerful little smile. And at the same time, and over the next 30 years, the financial mob has been looting the country. Wages have been frozen at 1970 levels. All the money, all the growth, all the tech, all the "we're such a successful nation" -- all that money went into the pockets of the top 10% in this country. Working people's wages were frozen or they actually lost ground. No more employer-funded pensions, for example. No more employer-funded healthcare. No more job security. All gone.

Then we've had the Bush Reign of Terror in which the new commie-under-the-bed was the Terrorist in the Omaha mall. Yes we did have a terrible attack on 9/11. But no, it turns out, Iraq had nothing to do with it. It was a gangland hit. bin Laden's gang. They murdered 3000 people. We should have gone and gotten bin Laden, lit him on fire, then thrown him off the tallest building in the country. On live TV. That's what we should have done. Instead, we started wars against the poorest people in the world (Afthanistan) although nobody seems to know why we are still in that country. Other than that major oil companies have wanted to run a pipeline across Afghanistan for years, but the government wouldn't agree. (Want to bet that will be the outcome of this war?). And we invade Iraq to steal their oil and build permanent bases so we could occupy the country for the next 30 years, until their oil is gone.

And the Terrorist in the Omaha mall worked to let the Bush Cheney government turn over public resources to the private equity mob, eliminate rights and freedoms of the people, loot the nation.

So what's next? What is the next crisis that will be used to accomplish the final nail in the coffin of our country?

Is it the "Too Big To Fail" doctrine? Can't they use that to take all our money forever. Isn't that just like anti-communism? (We need more money for the defense industry, to stop the commies). Or The Terrorist In The Omaha Mall (you must give all your rights and freedoms so we can "find" the terrorists and "stop them").

Too Big To Fail: we actually have 30 year old silk-shirt-wearing cocaine-sniffing criminals in Six Hundred Dollar shoes who are telling us that they refuse to work unless they get at least $2.0 million in bonuses. It sounds like a joke, but everyone is pretending it's serious.

These Wall Street criminals should be grateful if they walk away with their lives. Fire them. Hire people who are smart, hard-working, and competent. And ethical. Fire every person in management. Then indict them and seize all their assets.

Is it possible that Congress is so spineless? Or is this just corruption as usual?

As for the whole argument that the AIG bonuses (admittedly small potatoes compared to the big pictures) are "Contractual," so nobody could stop it. Nonsense. If AIG is so broke, as they claim, throw them into bankruptcy court and the judge will say no bonus. Then do a re-organization, under public scrutiny, and go from there. These people are not so stupid that they don't understand how to take care of this.

And here's another idea: put somebody in charge of the economy who has no relationship with Wall Street, and make all communications public. No more Wall Street secret threats or bribes.

Why does Wall Street get to run our country?

Wall Street to Congress: Give Us All The Money Or We'll Blow The Whole Place Up. Part II.

Remember last fall when Paulson, the Secretary of Goldman Sachs formerly known as the Treasury Department, went to Congress with a note from his bffs on Wall Street that said: "Give Us All The Money Or We'll Blow The Whole Place Up."

Remember that? Another new low for Congress. Because they said: Okay.

Well guess what? Wall street thinks Congress is so corrupt that they can do it again.

So this morning Tim Geithner, the "new" Paulson, went to Congress with a note from Wall Street that said: "Give Us All The Money Or We'll Blow The Whole Place Up."

He said that that the biggest financial businesses in this country, headquartered on Wall Street, which have looted and plundered our country, stolen our money, bankrupt our nation -- those businesses are such an integral part of American Life that we simply cannot afford to let them fail. And they are threatening to hold their breaths and turn blue if we don't just keep giving them all the money we have. And then some.

TOO BIG TO FAIL. That's what this ransom note said.

I say: they've already failed. Why do we keep pretending. They've already failed. Send them into a bankruptcy court where somebody has experience in how to pick the carcass of these failed institutions. At least let the attorneys for the creditor's committee and the bankruptcy trustee get in on the looting. Let somebody other than the Wall Street Criminals profit from this crime.

THEY'VE ALREADY FAILED.

NO MORE BAILOUTS.

I think Congress should be renamed. Let's call it the Department of Gran Venta (Big Sale). They do nothing. They sell their votes and peddle their asses to Wall Street and anybody else who is buying. They tell us, with a sincere look on their faces: "I just hate this system, but you know how it is. If I don't "fundraise" every single day, the Democrats/Republicans will not be able to get our agenda passed."

You know what is the real agenda of the Democrats/Republicans in Congress? For them to get rich taking bribes. The people, the citizens, the nation does not even make the top 10 on their lists.

And I just love this complete violation of our Constitution, abdication by Congress of every single responsibility they have.

The Constitution says that only Congress has the power to send this nation to war. There's a good reason for that. The framers of the Constitution were afraid that some moron like George W. Bush might fool enough people to steal an election, then decide he's King and start sending the military to nations far away to plunder their gold (oil), for his own personal enrichment and aggrandizement. They were right to be concerned.

So the Constitution provides that only Congress can send this nation to war. It's not an unclear provision. Nothing uncertain about it. The President has no legal authority or right to send the country to war.

So what did Congress do? The Moron Emperor Bush decided he wanted to start wars, send our military abroad to steal other nation's gold (oil) for his personal enrichment and aggrandizement. So he went to Congress and said: "I want a war. I want to build an empire." And Congress said: "Well, whatever. I mean if you think so. You decide."

Every person in Congress who voted for that authorization to let Bush decide whether to go to war should be thrown out of office. No, Hillary, that didn't make it better. Remember she was mincing words, saying "I didn't really vote for war -- I just voted to let Bush decide." She thought that made it better. But it made it worse, because eventually these Bush wars will end. But now we have the Congress destroying our constitution and giving all future presidents the precedent to claim that they are legally entitled to declare war whenever they want. Come to think of it, every person in Congress who voted for that should be in prison. Along with George and Dick. And Don.

The AP article I read said that when Geithner and Bernake went before Congress, they were afraid they would be "scolded." Who comes up with these words? It's like they are children, and the most Congress might do is be a bit peeved. Isn't that because they all are on Wall Street's payroll?

Congress does nothing. And now Tim Geithner is back asking for the same authority Paulson did: let me (another Wall Street Insider) run everything, give me all the money, no questions asked. For example, he could take control of a "failed" bank, sell its assets off to his friends, let the government pay all the liabilities. Which is exactly what Reagan did in the S&L scandal: every privileged white man in American owned his own S&L, loaned millions to their friends in fraudulent deals, let their friends default, took a piece of the loan money themselves, then had the taxpayers pay off their obligations. White men are not that creative. Because this is exactly the same con.

I've got a question for Geithner, Bernake and Congress: ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FREAKING MINDS?

No Tim. Nice try, but no.

Congress needs to get up off their corrupt lazy asses, get educated, and take control of this nation. Like their job says they should do. The only thing Congress did during the past eight years, other than taking bribes to sell out our country, was to invite some Major League Baseball players in to sign autographs and "scold" them about using drugs. Party's over folks. Your nation is dying. Can't you put down the champagne fluted glasses for just a few moments and at least pretend that you care?

"Geithner seeks new powers over financial companies"
(JEANNINE AVERSA)


"Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner called on Congress Tuesday to grant him new powers to regulate huge financial companies like insurance giant AIG, whose failure would pose a grave danger to the U.S. financial system and the broader economy."

"Specifically, Geithner wants powers similar to those of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which has authority to seize control of banks, take over their bad assets and sell good ones to competitors."

"Much of the discussion centered on ways to help the government better deal with future AIG-like companies whose failure could devastate the financial system and the drag down the economy."

"Geithner made it clear he believes the treasury secretary should be granted unprecedented power, after consultation with Federal Reserve Board officials, to take control of a major financial institution and run it. "

"Bernanke and Geithner were braced for a scolding before lawmakers over the handling of bonuses at American International Group Inc., which has become a symbol of reckless risk-taking on Wall Street."

AIG is a globally interconnected colossus, with 74 million customers worldwide and operations in more than 130 countries. The government decided it was simply too big to let fail.

"Its failure could have resulted in a 1930s-style global financial and economic meltdown, with catastrophic implications for production, income and jobs," Bernanke told the panel.

"As a result, the government has bailed out AIG four times, to the tune of more than $180 billion altogether. The company recently paid at least $165 million in bonuses to employees who worked in the financial products division that has been blamed for the its near-collapse. The bonuses came even as AIG reported a stunning $62 billion loss, the biggest in U.S. corporate history."

Monday, March 23, 2009

Damon Runyon: He Could Spot A Shell Game.

Damon Runyon was an American writer and newspaper reporter from early in the last century, and made his name writing about the criminals and mobsters of his day.

"I long ago came to the conclusion that all life is 6 to 5 against."

He moved to New York City in 1910, and began hanging around with the criminals and low-lifes on Broadway, getting to know the local crews and gathering colorful material for his writing. The characters and stories later were published in a series of books, made into movies and theatre productions such as "Guys and Dolls."

In the 1920s, the country was riveted by a murder case covered by the newspapers in lurid detail, known as the Snyder/Gray Murders. Runyon covered these murders and the trials. Years later, the basic story of the Snyder/Gray Murders became the basis of "Double Indemnity" (book by James M. Cain; film by Billy Wilder in 1944). Basically, the wife and her boyfriend murdered the husband by poisoning him, choking, and beating him to death. Here's how Runyon described the two killers:

"A chilly-looking blonde with frosty eyes and one of those marble you-bet-you-will chins, and an inert, scare-drunk fellow that you couldn't miss among any hundred men as a dead set-up for a blonde, or the shell game, or maybe a gold brick - on trial for what might be called for want of a better name: the Dumb-bell Murder. It was so dumb!"


If Damon Runyon was here today, he'd call today's Treasury Department proposal to buy up the toxic assets from the banks for what it is: a shell game in which the citizens are always the losers.

Here's the deal: the banks knowingly made bad loans, loans they knew were likely never to be repaid. They tried to doctor their records to hide the fact that these were bad loans, because as quickly as they could, they bundled the loans and sold them in huge packages to Wall Street businesses which, in turn, sold fractional interests of the bundles to blind, greedy, and stupid investors. The idea was to have gotten rid of all the loans before the system crashed. But they did not succeed, and therefore, they are stuck with lots of bad loans.

Let's say Citizen wants to buy a home, but finds housing has gone up by 300%. Citizen only takes home $1600/month in her paycheck, but wants to buy a condo for $250,000. Lender makes the loan with 100% financing. Special gimmicks are used to keep the payments down to $2100, but that's still $500 more than the total income of the citizen.

Citizen defaults. It's just a question of when.

In the meantime, the housing bubble bursts so the condo is now only worth $150,000.

If the bank forecloses, generally they just take back the condo. They can't get anything more from the citizen/buyer.

So if the bank forecloses, they now have a situation in which they loaned $250,000, did not get repaid, and instead received a piece of property only worth $150,000. If they sell the foreclosed property, they receive $150,000, and take the loss of $100,000. Which is how it should be.

Why? Well, they made the bad loan, and either they did it on purpose figuring they would sell the loan so they didn't care if it defaulted. Or they were incompetent. In either event, they should take the loss. But you know what? When you make a loan to someone that will require $2100/month in payments, but the borrower only takes home $1600/month in total, that's not incompetence by the lender. That's intentional fraud. The lenders made bad loans on purpose, planning to bundle them, sell them off quickly to the ignorant, and get their money out up front.

Another reason the lenders should take the loss is that the price of housing should be allowed to drop back down to a fair number, which in this scenario is about $150,000. Once housing falls, more people will be able to buy houses. As long as the bubble is propped up, nobody can afford to buy a home. Let's say the taxpayers buy up that house and try to sell it to someone for $250,000, stabilize the market so the other condos in the area can continue to be listed for sale at $250,000. But, no one will buy at those prices. Just because the taxpayers are stupid enough to come in and pay $250,000 for one condo does not mean that normal buyers will follow suit. Not if they know the condos in the neighborhood are really only worth $150,000. So the properties will be un-sellable. They will simply sit there, listed, but never sold.

Eventually (studies have shown) enough properties sit there long enough, everybody panics, and everybody will drop their asking prices radically, maybe to below fair market value. So that just means by propping up the real estate market now, we are simply putting off for another day yet another huge drop in that market.

What the Treasury Department is proposing to do (which cheered Wall Street so much that the Dow jumped 500 points today) is to buy up the bad loans on defaulted properties from the banks. Using mostly taxpayer money, with a tiny little bit of money from the same criminals that have stolen all the money to begin with: offshore, secret, private equity hedge funds. The government's idea is that they will go into a "partnership" with the same people who robbed us blind.



Ask Naomi Klein about this. See what she thinks. I think that these private secret equity hedge funds which are holding money off-shore, mostly money that was stolen from the rest of us, have just been waiting to come back in and buy everything up. And when they do, they will have even more control over our country that they already do. They will buy up all the excess housing, for example, and sell it back to us in 10 years, or rent it out now for grossly inflated prices.

For the citizens and taxpayers, what's our upside? Apparently if the "toxic assets" sell for a profit, the private equity funds keep all that. So the citizens are underwriting the continued speculation in the real estate market, taking over the losses of the banks, and getting nothing in return. It just doesn't make any sense at all. A shell-game. Tim the Tainted is trying to sell us swamp land.

Paul Krugman Is Just So Darned Cute. And Smart, Too.


It's kind of strange how popular tastes change over the years, the decades.

Frank Sinatra made girls "swoon" back in the 1940s. Elvis made girls faint in the 1950s, and the Beatles made girls and boys weep with love and adulation in the 1960s.

Of course we've also always had that bad-boy thing. Marlon Brando in The Wild One. Robert Mitchum in anything at all. Johnny Depp, Sean Penn -- that slightly dangerous, slightly bad boy that draws the eyes of all the girls.

But never before in our history have so many of us, men and women, developed almost obsessive crushes on -- economists. For heaven's sake, these are the males who dressed with pocket protectors and carried slide rules in first grade. They weren't chosen last to be on the baseball team -- they weren't chosen at all. They may have been nerdy or geeks, but they didn't even take the computer-billionaire off-ramp. Passed that one right by. Probably had their nose buried in some book or another.

Yet here we are, in the 21st century, a nation in despair, and who do we look to for salvation? Not Superman. Not the white-haired well-dressed silver-tongued politicians who have broken our hearts by selling out for bribes. Not the business leaders who, as it turns out, have looted our country, stolen Grandma's wallet and dad's car, forged a deed and even sold the family home, left us all unemployed, hungry, penniless. So who do we turn to?

Economists. The unlikeliest heros.

I can't read any article anymore that doesn't include a reference to Paul Krugman, and the most recent brilliant thing he's said. He's on all the TV shows. I swear I expect him to be doing a guest appearance on Gossip Girl any week now. And to show up on Dancing With The Stars -- he probably does a mean Tango. The man is just too smart, too accomplished, and too cute for words.

There's one photo montage I keep seeing on-line that shows Paul Krugman and George Clooney right next to each other. Hint hint: Paul's just as good looking as George Clooney. But I think that was put together by the President of the Sioux City Chapter of the Paul Krugman fan clubs, and they're all pretty fanatic Klugmanites in Sioux City. But decide for yourself:



Here's a link to his blog, and through there to articles and books. http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/ Here's another link to his New York Times articles and his impressive credentials. http://topics.nytimes.com/top/opinion/editorialsandoped/oped/columnists/paulkrugman/index.html

Here's a link to Democracy Now, Amy Goodman interviewing Paul Krugman about the Treasury's plan to pay $1.0 Trillion of taxpayer's money to buy garbage assets from the Wall Street Criminals. http://www.democracynow.org/2009/3/23/the_zombie_ideas_have_won_paul

President Obama: are you listening? We like Paul Krugman. We want you to choose him and get rid of the Wall Street insiders who have been running things. (You know -- the same people who stole the money in the first place).

You know how the banks put exploding purple ink inside the bundles of money, so when the bank robbers open up the bundle they get purple ink all over them? I sometimes think that all these people, the insiders, must be wearing heavy pancake make-up to cover up the purple ink all over their faces and hands.

Let's bring in someone who is not so much a Wall Street Insider. Like Paul Krugman. Are you listening, President Obama?

See? Don't they look good together?



You always get the feeling that Paul Krugman is actually trying to help the country. Isn't that what we want? And strangely, I do not agree with him on all the issues. But he just seems like he's using his abilities to try to provide the best analysis he can. As opposed to so many of the insiders who lie all the time, and only promote ideas that they think will make them richer.

I guess it's the difference between someone trying to serve their country, and someone trying to rob it blind. It's kind of sad that there are so few public figures anymore who, like Mr. Krugman, honestly seem to be using their best efforts to serve the country, advance its interests, instead of just trying to line their own pockets. This is kind of like one of those disaster films: the ship is about to sink, building to burn down, airplane to explode, and the frantic citizens desperately turn to one man to rescue them: THE ECONOMIST! I don't know what the costume will look like, but I'll bet the story would be a real nail-biter.

President Obama: you should choose Mr. Krugman now. Bring him in as your official advisor. Do it soon, just like so many of us have been politely, so far, asking you to do. Do it now, before the Paul Krugman National Fan Clubs have their rally in August. I'm concerned that if you have not recruited Paul Krugman to join your team by then, those fans could get really ugly.

Pearl Fryar's Garden.

When factory-worker Pearl Fryar and his wife moved to Bishopville, South Carolina, over twenty years ago, they looked at homes in a certain neighborhood, but were told that nobody would sell a home in that area to a black person. The reason given was that the white people figured that black people would not keep their yards up properly. And the local (white) ladies in Bishopville were very concerned with yards. They even had a garden club which toured their small city regularly, and every month gave out a plaque for "Yard of the Month," which the winner got to display in their yard for the whole month.

(Pearl Fryar's "yard" in Bishopville, South Carolina)

So Pearl Fryar and his family bought a home in another neighborhood where black people were allowed to live. He decided that he was going to make his yard look so good that the local women's garden club would have to award him and his family with the "Yard Of The Month" plaque. And he did win that award. But that was just the beginning.

Years later, he said: "There's always gonna be obstacles. The thing is, you don't let those obstacles determine where you go."

Today Pearl Fryar and his family live in the same small town of Bishopville, where they own 3 acres covered with 400 plants which he has carved and shaped into an artistic and gardening wonderland open to the public. His work draws busloads of people to the tiny town of Bishopville, and has earned him a national following not just for his gardening, but also for his wisdom about life.

Pearl Fryar, close to 70, is retired from his job at a local can factory, and he spends most of his time working on his topiaries. Some of his projects can take years to complete.



His yard has been "adopted" by The Garden Conservancy, an organization dedicated to preserving gardens.

When the owner of a small local restaurant in Bishopville named the Waffle House told Pearl Fryar how much she liked his work, and asked him if he could do something with the little tiny spot of land in front of her restaurant, he said absolutely. And he did. In exchange, the restaurant owner offered Pearl Fryar and his wife free breakfast for life.

Pearl Fryar has been written about in national newspapers including the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. He also is the subject of a charming documentary film called "A Man Named Pearl."

From the Los Angeles Times, 7/24/08, review of the film "A Man Named Pearl":

"The film explores the passion and philosophy of tree sculptor Pearl Fryar. Born to a sharecropper and retired from the Bishopville, S.C., can factory where he worked for 36 years, Fryar rescues trees from the compost heap of his neighborhood nursery and nurtures them in his garden. "

"Armed with an electric hedge clipper, he goes to work, often at night with the help of a spotlight, a rickety ladder and a jury-rigged lift. He can invest years into perfecting an arch, a spiral, a box atop a sphere or a cone atop a box. Some trees take on the shapes of fish skeletons; others are fantasy forms from Fryar's imagination."

"The artist's foray into topiary began in the 1980s, when Fryar and his wife looked for a new home. One neighborhood spurned them, fearing that an African American couple wouldn't keep up their yard. In response, Fryar set his sights on being the first black recipient of the local garden club's Yard of the Month award.With no training in art or horticulture, Fryar followed an instinct that soon became a passion. Today he carves more than 3 acres of amazing topiaries, attracting other artists, gardeners and national media."

"'It may seem that a man who does topiary is an unlikely superhero, but Pearl is a hero to people in his town and people who come to visit him,' said Brent Pierson, who produced and directed the film with Scott Galloway. 'His message about how to tend your garden and tend your life is touching people.'"
http://www.latimes.com/features/home/la-hm-pearl24-2008jul24,0,3463056.story

(Picture of Pearl Fryar, standing in front of some of his work, and one of his garden sculptures entitled "Pot Head.")

The documentary movie about Pearl Fryar is named "A Man Named Pearl." It was an audience favorite as well as winning several awards. Here's a link to the movie website for more information: http://www.amannamedpearl.com/

See also, Washington Post article on Pearl Fryar and his gardens: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/10/AR2007081000790.html

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Mr. Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach was born on March 31, 1685, 324 years ago. His birthday will be celebrated this week by performances of his music in cities around the world. Deservedly so.

Here is "Air" from Suite No. 3 in D major.

Never Ever Ever Say "Special Olympics" Without Kneeling, Bowing Your Head, and Doing The Sign Of The Cross.

I'm sorry, I don't buy it. This whole nonsensical uproar we've heard in the last two days because Obama made a joke that his bowling is so bad, it maybe belongs in the Special Olympics.

And OH MY GOD. You'd have thought he'd murdered a million people, like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney did.

And OH MY GOD. You'd have thought he'd just looted and bankrupted the entire country, raped, pillaged, decimated our economy and left our people broke, homeless, unemployed, desperate, in despair, like the Wall Street Criminals and the Financial Cartels have done.

And OH MY GOD. You'd think he'd done nothing but peddle his cute little ass for the past 8 years like every single person in Congress does, sashaying around with their cheap perfume and easy ways, standing on streetcorners and yelling out at CEOs who pass by: "Hey Sailor, Want To Have A Good Time?" Then taking the money, sticking it up their secret accounts, going back to Congress and voting to betray the citizens and the public again and again and again, without remorse. You'd think he was like those criminals and whores who unfortunately are "Our" Senators and "Our" Representatives.

And OH MY GOD. You'd think he'd casually threatened, for political advantage, to annihilate and obliterate another country, an unpopular one, like Hillary Clinton did.

And when someone read the "Newspaper" to Sarah Palin, and she heard President Obama had used the term "special olympics," she immediately figured he must be talking about her, so she got all up in arms about that, insisting that anyone who is in the Special Olympics is the most important person in the entire country. Oh, give it a rest lady.

It's not the Olympics. These people will never be in the Olympics. It's more like Little League. If Obama had said it looked like he was in Little League, would we have heard this nonsense? Of course not.

People got all up in arms because they like to pretend that we are such a compassionate and sensitive nation, that we cherish, protect, care for every retarded and disabled person in the country. But of course that's just silly. For the most part, once their parents die, if they are unable to care for themselves, they'll end up in some dirty institution, tied to a bed, hidden away from polite society because people always demonstrate and protest when anyone wants to build "housing" for "special needs" people in their neighborhood. No, must put those "special" people in the ghetto. And the citizens also cheer when the politicians slash the budget for public assistance. "Get a job," they scream at the disabled and incompetent. Sure, we're as compassionate as an executioner.

We, as a nation, do not care for anyone. Sink or swim. Steal, lie, cheat, deceive, betray. Murder.

One million Iraqis murdered.

Four million Iraqis forced out of their homes, out of their country, refugees in a hostile world.

30% of black American men unemployed, and nobody gives a shit. Maybe they're not "special" enough for the Republicans.

Millions of Americans thrown out of work by American businesses which are sending their jobs to Asia to be done by child and slave labor. And nobody cares. Maybe unemployed Americans aren't "special" enough.

Millions of Americans' retirement and savings stolen by Wall Street, yet all we hear from Republicans is a strident defense of the right of those criminals to receive their multi-million dollar bonuses. I'm going to guess there's a kick-back involved to the politicians. With their perfumed little asses peddled all over Wall Street for a buck.

Don't tell me that the churches help, because it's not enough. Don't tell me some individual put a dime into a bucket at Christmas because it's not enough. Don't tell me about a thousand points of light, because you can't eat light.

Our country, since the Reagan era, with the full-throttled support of Bill Clinton, and through Bush the Moron, has completely disassembled the entire social-safety network that used to exist to help and protect and provide care for "special" Americans along with the rest of us. We are not compassionate, and we do not care. Sarah Palin doesn't care about anything except money and her own ambition. She carried that kid around the campaign trail like a sack of potatoes, so please, cut the crap.

"Special" or not, when the cameras move on, and the hysteria dies down, most Americans will be left to fall, starve, die in the gutter without one bit of assistance from any Republican. And not too much from any Democrat either.

That's why we need "Change."

Friday, March 20, 2009

We Need A Progressive Media Alliance And Trust.

We need a progressive media alliance and trust.

Why do progressives tell working people that they must have a union, they must organize and act together as a group because when they're on their own, they have no power? Yet the progressive media is largely separated and acting as individuals, and seem confused why they have no power on their own. The answer is the same thing: we need to get organized.

For example, we need progressive radio, yet it has been relatively unsuccessful apparently following the traditional model of relying mostly on advertising. But we need people like Peter Werbe, Mike Malloy (who's trying to go it on his own for now), Randi Rhodes, and I'm sure many others. As for blogs and investigate research, there is common dreams, truthout, Danny Schechter's group, truthdig, the Nation, Z magazine. I would say the members should be people or groups who did not have traditional sources of funding, or don't have enough to keep going.

There should be a progressive media trust fund. A board which consists of progressives from the community level as well as maybe a couple of well-known names. Members of the progressive media alliance would be established at the beginning with a certain number of magazines, radio, blogs, movie makers, documentary filmmakers, maybe book writers. Each member would be required to devote time to public fundraising activities (like Habitat) and would be entitled to receive a share from the trust fund. For example, they could go speak at a local group, but the funds raised would go into the trust. New members would be considered as additional funding became available.

Who gets how much would be determined by some formula. For example, depending on the funds raised in a six-month period, each member could receive some percentage of their operating expenses. Each member would have to submit a CPA-audited expense and income statement for their media, verified, to support their receipt of funds.

Local chapters would be formed and hold monthly get-togethers which could be something as simple as a discussion group with a $5 fee per meeting (read some article from the Nation, discuss), could be cultural such as poetry, readings of new writing, could be music, could be food, drink, and half the profit would go to the local chapter, half to the national trust fund. People would have to find local places to use, but with the economic downturn places like churches might rent their halls out cheap. Or community centers can be used. Or meet in a pizza place, or at somebody's home, or in a park in the afternoon. The local groups would serve two purposes: (1) organize locally to develop local forums for progressive voices as well as just something to do with other progressives, and (2) commit to funding progressive media which is in danger of being destroyed.

I also think we could get Move-On to set up a move-on progressive media group. They could raise millions with one e-mail, if we did it right. I would suggest one written statement to be carried by everyone on their own web-page, then announcements sent out to all your e-mail lists asking people to set up a local chapter, and schedule a date for the first meeting, with people to report back on the ideas they generated, or decisions they made.

The activities for a local group could be something as simple as this: a few meetings a year will be a book group, read some progressive book and discuss, meet at someone's home; a few meetings a year will be a movie group, go see some progressive movie or watch a DVD in someone's home; a few meetings would be more current and topical, meeting in a pizza place or in a park to discuss bigger issues like "the Wars." Then hopefully some public outreach also, at least 2-3 times a year, such as find local music groups or artists who are progressives, and work with them to set up a public function, or bring in some local speaker such as a progressive from a local college or university.

We could even try to get some groups like DFA, for example, to participate. Or any of the many progressive groups that have sprung up in recent years. There could be a swap: the Progressive Media Alliance members would donate advertising space or time to the progressive groups to help them, and the progressive groups would encourage their members to join or set up a local chapter of the Progressive Media Alliance.

I see the trust fund as a non-profit, so there would be some administrative responsibility. The money would have to be held in a trust account with a big institutional bank, requiring multiple signatures for withdrawal etc.

If Rupert Murdoch and a few similar creeps end up owning all the media, there will be no progressive thought because it will be extinguished; no progressive books because no one will buy or publish them; no progressive radio, TV. Soon they'll take control of the internet and charge so much for websites that progressives will be eradicated from on-line too. Then politicians will be barred from even advertising on the media during campaigns unless they sing the Nazi hymn and extol the virtues of Murdoch, O'Really, and the fat guy on the radio.

Everyone is excited and hopeful about Obama being our president, but I see the right re-organizing, re-grouping, beginning their counter-assaults. And remember, they've already stolen most of the money from this country, which they've got parked in secret private equity funds off-shore, just waiting to swoop back in and buy up everything. They will buy up our homes for cents on the dollar and sell them back to us in 10 years. I think they're poised for the final attack. We need to get ready to fight back.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Natasha Richardson (1963 - 2009)

Natasha Richardson, a member of the famed acting Redgrave family, died yesterday at the age of 45 after a head injury sustained while skiing. She is survived by her husband, noted Irish actor Liam Neeson, and their two children, and her mother the amazing Vanessa Redgrave.

Her father, Tony Richardson, noted director and producer, predeceased her.

Natasha Richardson was both a stage and movie actress, winning a Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her performance as Sally Bowles in "Cabaret."


Ask Rahm Emanuel If He Knows Anything About The AIG Bonuses.

This week the public's rage about the Wall Street Criminals and the destruction of our country is focused on the AIG bonuses. Which is small potatoes compared to the bigger picture. But nonetheless, it is symptomatic of the massive corruption and the intimate relationship between our politicians in Congress and the criminals on Wall Street.

Apparently some of the Senators and Representatives had specifically required that the stimulus bill must include a provision that would make it illegal for any of these companies to pay bonuses with taxpayer money. But guess what? Somebody removed that prohibition at the last minute. And now there's a speculation about who removed it, how, and when. Supposedly neither Obama nor Geither knew about it until last week. So who did it then? What's with all the secrecy?

I'd suggest everyone go back and read the Wall Street Journal article of February 12, 2009 (link below) in which Rahm Emanuel trashed Obama and claimed that he put on his magic red cape, worked all week-end, changed stuff in the bill, and that's why it got through. If anyone should know what happened, Rahm Emanuel should.

To be more precise: did Rahm Emanuel remove from the bill the prohibition on AIG bonuses? Or did he have any involvement? Obama's being remarkably unclear when asked if the "White House" was involved. Obama simply said he is President, he is responsible. Yeah, okay, but did someone in the White House make revisions to the bill so that the Wall Street Criminals could keep taking bonuses. Remember, Rahm Emanuel was known as Wall Street's favorite politician, big recipient of money, and supposedly is just in the White House for a brief stay until he goes back to Chicago to run for Senate (then on to his own White House bid with the full funding of Wall Street behind him?)

At the time I read this article, I thought Rahm Emanuel was shockingly arrogant in publicly blaming the President for any problems they'd had, and claiming for himself all the credit for the success. Not a team player at all. But now I wonder if those words will come back to haunt him.

FEBRUARY 12, 2009 (WSJ)
"Emanuel Says Obama Team Lost Message on Stimulus" (by Jonathan Weisman)

....."Speaking volubly about the stimulus package, Mr. Emanuel offered new details about the White House's involvement in bringing the legislation to the brink of passage. The framework for the bill was set at a Dec. 12 meeting during the transition, he said, but White House aides decided against drafting a detailed proposal. That decision has elicited criticism from Republicans and some Democrats who said it allowed members of Congress to bulk up the measure with extraneous provisions of questionable economic value. "

"On Friday night, after Senate Democratic leaders and three Senate Republicans struck a deal ensuring Senate passage, Mr. Emanuel, White House Budget Director Peter Orszag and others went to work on precisely the kind of detailed proposal many had been calling for, laboring through the weekend."

On Monday morning, the president met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D, Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D, Calif.) to inform them after Senate passage, the White House would deliver a proposal that he hoped would form the bulk of a House-Senate compromise. That proposal contained some measures not included in either the House or Senate version ...."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123449249590080699.html'>http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123449249590080699.html">http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123449249590080699.html
So as I read this, the Senate reached agreement on a Friday night, then Emanuel and someone named Orszag "and others" worked all week-end writing up some details. They also added some "measures" which had not been included in the Senate or the House's version.

So what about it Rahm? Know anything about the AIG Bonuses, how that little thing just slipped on through. If he is going to step forward and claim credit for things, then maybe he can explain exactly what happened. No one else is.

CNBC: Stupid and Arrogant.

Back in the early 1970s, the oil-producing nations, working together through OPEC, radically raised the price they charged for oil, and cut-back on oil production. All of a sudden, people could not get gasoline for their cars, and the nightly news would show cars lined up for blocks trying to get some gas. Some stations rationed the amount each person could buy. The oil companies also radically increased the price they charged to consumers, which meant people's home heating costs went through the roof. The public was in an uproar.

Some oil companies decided to lay low. They pulled all their advertising hoping that when the public looked around for someone to blame, they'd pick someone else. One oil company chose another course, and increased their advertising. They created lots of sympathetic-sounding commercials, long-winded emotional print ads placed in the major newspapers op-ed with headlines like "We Feel Your Pain."

The oil company that kept advertising, just kept talking, full of excuses and spreading b.s. around the nation is the one that got blamed by most consumers. When people were asked who do they blame for the gas shortage, for some reason that oil company was the first name that came to mind.


A lesson lost on the morons at CNBC who are out in force, blanketing the airwaves with their salespeople (i.e. on-air talent) everywhere to sell the nation on the idea that they, too, are "just folks." Well guess what. Nobody's buying it. And more and more, when people are asked who they blame for this looting and plundering of our nation, they think: CNBC. Duh. They send their billionaires out in shirt sleeves, or send cute little Erin Burnett out for ribbon-cuttings to try to tell everyone that they are just like us. But they're not. They made money off of this plundering, while the rest of us lost it.

Now I understand the temptation to defend themselves. After all, if things don't turn around soon they'll all be out of work. But I think somebody inside the NBC organization might want to re-think their current approach. It's like they've tied the noose, found the tall branch, brought a ladder, and now they're yelling at the whole country: Come over here, help me climb up this ladder.
(Reuters) – "NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker fired back at comedian Jon Stewart on Wednesday, saying it was 'unfair' and 'absurd' for the funnyman to criticize CNBC and question its coverage of financial news."

"'Everybody wants to find a scapegoat. That's human nature,' Zucker said during a keynote address at a media industry conference. 'But to suggest that the business media or CNBC was responsible for what is going on now is absurd.'"

"'Just because someone who mocks authority says something doesn't make it so,' Zucker said, describing the comedian's comments as 'completely out of line.'"

"It's unfair to CNBC and to the business media in general," Zucker said. "I don't think you can blame what happened here on the business media." To which I reply: Okay Mr. Zucker. If it's not CNBC that's to blame, "The Place For Business," then who? QVC? Do you think Joan Rivers sold one broach too many and that sent the world's economy into a tailspin?

Let's look at this proclamation of innocence by NBC. First of all, what did Jon Stewart say? He said (I'm paraphrasing) that lunatic Cramer is selling the stock market like a character out of Damon Runyon sold swamp land in Florida, convincing every Joe Dick and Harry that they too can make millions and be a really cool guy just like him. That allegation by Jon Stewart is undeniably true. Cramer is an entertainer-salesman. He's selling himself, selling a false belief, conning people, and a lot of people have lost a lot of money believing they can get rich in the stock market. So why argue?

"'Listen, you knew what the banks were doing, yet were touting it for months and months,' Stewart said during his March 12 show. 'The entire network was. Now to pretend that this was some sort of crazy, once-in-a-lifetime tsunami that nobody could have seen coming is disingenuous at best and criminal at worst.'"

That's also a true statement.

Stewart is clearly correct in his statements. So why is CNBC in such an uproar? Why is it that every single person in the business world has to lie all the time? They knew what was going on. Yet they told no one. They just kept selling the story, singing their jingles, conning the public. And if they refuse to be truthful, why don't they at least have the brains to keep their mouths shut?

Jim Cramer showing up on The Daily Show is like Scarlett O'Hara showing up in the crimson red low-cut ball gown at Melanie Wilke's house, right after Scarlett had been "seen" kissing Ashley. What was Cramer thinking?

There appears to be a legitimate basis right now for a class action lawsuit against CNBC. They are not "reporting" financial news and providing an intelligent analysis. They're selling swampland. They sell sell sell no matter what. Does anyone doubt that behind the scenes this place sounds a lot like Glengerry Glen Ross? They're selling the public on the idea that the public, individual investors, can outsmart the institutional investors and make money. It's like telling some gambler in Las Vegas that they can outsmart the dealer and get rich. Not really. The game is rigged so that the house always wins in the long run.

What the people at CNBC know is that individual investors are more likely to lose everything than to make money. They also know when businesses are going down. They also know who advertises on their programs, who essentially underwrites their paychecks. There is nothing independent in their reporting on or analysis about the people who pay their bills: Wall Street.

CNBC is just one big Info-Mercial, selling Wall Street. They might as well be selling cocaine. At least with cocaine people might have a few happy moments, a couple of really big nights, before they die miserable, in the gutter, dead broke.

I hope there is a class action lawsuit against CNBC and its on-air salesforce. And anyone who has been directing them, including the arrogant Mr. Zucker if he was involved in directing this channel. At a minimum, I would say there are legitimate claims for negligent misrepresentation and for intentional concealment. Both of which carry not just actual damage but punitive damage claims.

If these people want to run 24-hour Info-tainment, then each "reporter" should stand behind a bar that has a juicer, an electric fry pan, and a mini-chicken-roaster on it, and be required to demonstrate new recipes at the same the same time they are gushing over their boyfriends on Wall Street. And wear aprons, too.