Wednesday, June 24, 2009

No Big Deal

Mark Sanford, one of very few on the great GOP hope list for a possible 2012 presidential run - today admits he's been dipping his stick in Argentina. I felt a twinge of sympathy watching his press conference, for a moment, how humiliating, but he did it to himself. Of course, we seem to live in a culture of it's no-big-deal and everybody-does-it, but it is a big deal and not everybody does it. Politico is said to be breaking a story on millionaire Sanford using State funds to fund his fun. No big deal, everybody does it?

And to leave a public trail of emails to his mistress for his family to see the details, what a thoughtless unfaithful viagra'ed peckerhead.

Sanford to "Maria" email: "I could digress and say that you have the ability to give magnificent gentle kisses, or that I love your tan lines or that I love the curve of your hips, the erotic beauty of you holding yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of the night's light -- but hey, that would be going into sexual details ..."

I'm sure in political circles Sanford's affair was known and gossiped about, affairs always are. Maybe his outing was payback for raising a stink about the "stimulus" money he didn't want to take for South Carolina. Maybe his office staff was disgruntled, forced to tap dance around questions to cover for his absences. Maybe his wife finally had enough - she didn't degrade herself by standing by her man at the press conference.

At 50 years old Sanford should be old enough to control lust and urges. Maybe the folks I know are old school but most of us learned self-restraint by 30, look but don't touch, fantasize - remember that word, fantasize? Where dear 58-year-old hubby in the fading glow of the night's light, with eyes slightly closed is still that big hunky bronze stud and everything on both of you is as perky and tight as it was at 21 or even 35. Where you look across the table at dear hubby, balding, bifocaled, less muscle mass to hold onto and more age spots than tan lines, and you're still turned on and there's never been anyone else?

It's called commitment folks. An obligation to life, love, work, family. Oh well, at least Sanford in his search for the perfect orgasm didn't hang himself as permanently as Carradine in Bangkok.

Blogosphere Warriors

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Audit the Fed

Ron Paul has introduced House Resolution 1207, to audit the Federal Reserve. I have not seen any chatter on MSM regarding this bill, but it is being discussed on some alternative sites. While I disagree with Paul on many issues, this one I can support.

Monday, June 22, 2009

White Blight

Holding on in East Harlem and Points West, North and South.

“Neoliberalism is the root cause of rampaging gentrification and displacement, from New York to New Orleans to Atenco, Mexico.” Keen observers of political-economy would agree with this assessment from Zapatista-inspired community activists in Spanish Harlem, who recently organized an “encuentro” with similar minded Black and Asian activists. All concluded that the issue is bigger than Harlem: “This displacement is created by the greed, ambition and violence of a global empire of money that seeks to take total control of all the land, labor and life on earth.”

The Zapatista-inspired activists of the Movement for Justice in El Barrio speak much the same language as their fellow New Yorkers (and Chicagoans and Atlantans). In the MJB's “International Declaration in Defense of El Barrio,” issued shortly before this month's gathering, the group said:

“This displacement is created by the greed, ambition and violence of a global empire of money that seeks to take total control of all the land, labor and life on earth. Here in El Barrio (East Harlem, New York City), landlords, multi-national corporations and local, state and federal politicians and institutions want to force upon us their culture of money, they want to displace poor families and rent their apartments to rich people, white people with money. They want to change the look of our neighborhoods, with the excuse of 'developing the community.' They want to remove from the street the street vendors, who earn an honorable and dignified living, the families that have their own small businesses and small restaurants, small clothing stores, and the small bodegas on the corners in our neighborhood. They want to displace us to bring in their luxury restaurants their expensive and large clothing stores, their supermarket chains. They want to change our neighborhood. They want to change our culture. They want to change that which makes us Latino, African-American, Asian and Indigenous. They want to change everything that makes us El Barrio.”

KAB says ---- Long before Europeans, Blacks, Latinos, Asians arrived in what is now East Harlem, the Wecksquaesgek Indians settled there. But, I suppose it was "greed, ambition and violence of a global empire of money" that displaced the Wecksquaesgeks. The Dutch, without permission from the Wecks settled and built in the area, then the Brits came in 1664 and eventually changed the name from Nieuw Haarlem to "Harlem"..

During the latter half of the 1800s the Irish, German, and Italians arrived to Harlem. Between 1870 and 1910 approximately 65,000 apartments were built in East Harlem, a testimony to the demand for new housing and the ability of the private economy to provide the supply. The German and Irish began "moving on up" and out. In the 1930s, the Italian community in Harlem was the largest in the country.

"At the same time, Puerto Ricans began to arrive with some African Americans and West Indians. "Spanish Harlem" had a name by the 1940s. It was the natural destination for the migration from those sources to meet the economic boom of World War II and the dress and textile industry postwar. These populations replaced the Italians and Eastern Europeans who were moving out to the Levittowns, etc. By 1950, East Harlem was predominantly African-American and Puerto Rican."

Of course, during those eras the neighborhood cultural changes were not seen as evil; the Wecks did not accuse the Dutch of gentrification, nor were the centuries of change blamed on "neoliberalism," as that word only came about around 1945, and only very recently has the Left used neoliberalism as the scapegoat for current economic policies, rather than the failure of massive social programs.

So, to be fair ... if you really want a movement for justice, to stop the "white people with money" ... then give Harlem back to the Wecksquaesgek Indians. If that's not doable, then perhaps you should expect those white German, Irish, English, Dutch and Italians who moved out, to move back and gentrify the place. And of course not all those "culture of money" people who return to Harlem will be white. During the early years of the last century half of Harlem was owned by black American businessmen and entrepreneurs; most moved up and on. Yes, there were cultural turf disputes in Harlem's history, but the evil "culture of money" was not the mantra until most recently.

Remember the 1995 "Freddy's Fashion Mart" incident when the United House of Prayer, a large black landlord in Harlem, raised the rent on Freddy's Fashion Mart. Freddy's white Jewish owner is forced to raise the rent on his subtenant, a black-owned music store. A landlord-tenant dispute ensues. Many blamed Al Sharpton's belligerence as he said "We will not stand by and allow them to move this brother so that some white interloper can expand his business" and his group, the National Action Network set up picket lines; customers going into Freddy's are spat on and cursed as "traitors" and "Uncle Toms." Some protesters shout, "Burn down the Jew store!" and simulate striking a match. "We're going to see that this cracker suffers," said a Sharpton colleague, Morris Powell. On Dec. 8, one of the protesters bursts into Freddy's, shoots four employees point-blank, then sets the store on fire. Seven employees die in the inferno. The employees were Black and Latino. I guess Al and Morris missed the part about being judged on the content of our character and not the color of our skins.

This is why I have pulled away from Left mentality - they have one rallying boohoo for all injustice: rich white folks, and while that may have been a major factor a few decades ago, the "blame the rich white folks" thinking no longer works on me.

The Left create a cultural racial divide with warm fuzzy words like "movement" and "justice." This cultural justice club is funded predominantly by white folks in the distance, who seem to loathe assimilation for colored folks - who they encourage to raise a fist in air and chant, down with rich white folks empire, while straightening and bleaching their hair and skin, wearing Tommy Hilfiger and slopping on a BigMac - encouraged to be disdainful and fearful of absorbing the "white" folks capitalist system (never mind that their lives literally depend on the system). If you want to see a good example of what becomes of a culture forced into dependence and which cannot, will not, or is not allowed to assimilate - look no further than the Native American reservations.

These self-appointed leaders tell you to resist, resist the empire. Why not just say death to America since the pot isn't melting? Resist the white culture of money my tribal friends, while expecting the same "government and institutions" of empire to pay for the bulk of neighborhood amenities, housing, schools, food, utilities, and create jobs. All while claiming they want barrios safe from murder, drugs, robbery but every other arrest is deemed harassment and/or brutality - don't be a snitch, blame the system. Maybe, Bill Clinton (first black president fairytale) can lead the way from his offices in Harlem.

The Left tell their followers not to let whitey's "culture of money" machine control them - and rather than help one another move up or out as centuries of displaced immigrants have before, they would rather cling to "... the look of our neighborhoods ... what makes us Latino, African-American, Asian and Indigenous" ... which apparently is ethnic food and piƱatas surrounded by crime, poverty and blight.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Best Slave Thinks He's Free

I have said for the past few years, under BushCo, while the leftwing blogosphere and progressive "leaders" incessantly fear-mongered that Bush would wage war on Iran, that I had no fear of war with Iran - it wasn't going to happen under Bush, and I reminded folks that both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Kosovo/Bosnia, etc. were all initiated by Democrat presidents. (Both republican Bush wars in Iraq have been an anomaly - are the Bushes closet democrats?)

Now, with current election protests in Iran, and a Democrat in the White House - I suspect the threat of US war in Iran is closer.

Watching massive doses of reports online and on cable, it's time for concern. Both left/right, conservative/liberal, dem/rep in the US are chanting support for the protesters in Iran because - the protesters want democracy, human rights, freedom. Hard to believe our government blabbers on and on about freedom and rights for Iranians while curtailing and interfering with our own at home.

When the US "right" holds up a photo of an Iranian woman being stoned for adultery the "left" accuses the right of using it as an excuse to go to war. When the "left" holds up the same photo it's issuing a demand for human rights. But it's political deceit and spin - because neither the democrats nor the republicans have a problem with dropping "smart stones" from the air on the same people - to free them of course.

The media is saturating us with the bloody images, arson, screams, fear, terror inside Iran, supposedly through twitter, facebook, etc. Why the Supreme Leader Khamenei and Ahmadinejad have not cut power to the www and cell towers is any one's guess, although initially it was reported there was a media blackout.

But let me point out a few things. Iran has a population of approximately 71 million, 50-60% said to be under 30. These would be the children of the 1979 revolutionaries who overthrew the Shah. It is very unlikely that these offspring have turned against the revolution of their parents and grandparents. The number of protesters has been cited as anywhere from tens of thousands to 1 million. Even if the number of protesters approached 1 million, say 710,000, that would be only 1% of the population, and it is likely the numbers are smaller. At 1% this is not a popular uprising - it is one political faction attempting a coup over the other faction.

Consider, 98% of Iranians are Muslim and the majority more or less support their theocracy - they do not seek a Western styled democracy.

I remind you too that whether Ahmadinejad or Mousavi was selected/elected - both men were handpicked by the ruling mullahs to run for office. Mousavi, contrary to what we are being told, is as much a hardliner as Ahmadinejad. And regardless how we as Americans feel about the system in Iran - it is the system made by Iranians.

The election protests in Iran are not about "freedom" as it pertains to the image conjured up by Bubba and Joe Blow - it's the equivalent of the Bush/Gore 2000 election. Had Americans responded with protests as the Iranians have, there would have been death and chaos - and troops, and Bush would still have been sworn in. Whether Ahmadinejad or Mousavi, Bush or Gore, they will always institute the policies of the ruling class, whatever that may be during that particular term of office.

Mousavi, has now stated he is ready for martyrdom. A martyr for what? Democracy, rule of the majority? 1 percent is not a majority.

Facts to remember regarding Mousavi:
• The son of a tea merchant, Mousavi, 67, was born in Khameneh, in northwestern Iran — also the hometown of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. According to a relative, Mousavi is the grandson of Khamenei's paternal aunt.

• Served as Prime Minister from 1980 to 1988, guiding the country through its war with Iraq and earning plaudits for his stewardship of the economy.

• While in office, he severed ties with Great Britain over the U.K.'s refusal to disavow Salman Rushdie, the British author whose The Satanic Verses spurred Ayatollah Khomeini to declare a fatwa calling for Rushdie's death.

• Was placed on the leadership council of Lebanon's Shi'ite militant group Hizballah by Ayatollah Khomeini when the group was founded in 1982. Mousavi does not recognize Israel, though he has condemned the Holocaust.

• Defended the seizure of 52 American hostages at the U.S. embassy in 1979. The hostages were held for more than 400 days; the two countries have not had normalized relations since.

• Has not served in the government since 1989, the year the prime minister's post was dissolved. Since then he has been a member of Iran's Expediency Discernment Council, which advises the Supreme Leader, and of the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council, which monitors artistic expression.

• Emerged as the leading challenger to Ahmadinejad after former President Mohammad Khatami, the leading moderate candidate, dropped out of the race in March, explaining that he did not want two reformist candidates to split the opposition vote. (Others have suggested his exit was spurred by fears of assassination if he remained in the race.)

Be careful, when the ruling parties and pundits on both Fox News and CNN agree on an agenda and are offering the same interpretation of events - especially tucking the words "democracy and freedom" in every other paragraph - it usually signals that the US is meddling and preparing to liberate someone at gunpoint.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

In Pursuit

Warning: No politically correct laws apply.

Too Poor to Make the News - Barbara Ehrenreich. This spring, I tracked down a couple of the people I had met while working on my 2001 book, “Nickel and Dimed,” in which I worked in low-wage jobs like waitressing and housecleaning, and I found them no more gripped by the recession than by “American Idol”; things were pretty much “same old.” The woman I called Melissa in the book was still working at Wal-Mart, though in nine years, her wages had risen to $10 an hour from $7.

“Caroline,” who is increasingly disabled by diabetes and heart disease, now lives with a grown son and subsists on occasional cleaning and catering jobs. We chatted about grandchildren and church, without any mention of exceptional hardship.

But then, at least if you inhabit a large, multiclass extended family like my own, there comes that e-mail message with the subject line “Need your help,” and you realize that bad is often just the stage before worse. The note was from one of my nephews, and it reported that his mother-in-law, Peg, was, like several million other Americans, about to lose her home to foreclosure.

It was the back story that got to me: Peg, who is 55 and lives in rural Missouri, had been working three part-time jobs to support her disabled daughter and two grandchildren, who had moved in with her. Then, last winter, she had a heart attack, missed work and fell behind in her mortgage payments. If I couldn’t help, all four would have to move into the cramped apartment in Minneapolis already occupied by my nephew and his wife.

Only after I’d sent the money did I learn that the mortgage was not a subprime one and the home was not a house but a dilapidated single-wide trailer that, as a “used vehicle,” commands a 12-percent mortgage interest rate. You could argue, without any shortage of compassion, that “Low-Wage Worker Loses Job, Home” is nobody’s idea of news.

----- God, I feel little compassion for the above cases Ms. Ehrenreich writes about. For one reason, I know too many Wal-mart Melissas, Carolines, and Pegs. Mine too are "increasingly disabled" by diabetes, heart disease, etc. of their own making, usually 100 pounds overweight and their only exercise is a part-time job. Does Melissa's "grown son" work? Usually not, or at least not often and most of that goes to alcohol, cigarettes or dope, or paying fines and restitution and child support.

I too have "multiclass" relatives, and some like Peg, working to support a disabled daughter and grandchildren. Although my Peg's disabled daughter gets a sizable monthly disability check and a check on each of her dependents, plus Medicaid/Medicare, foodstamps, yet they struggle to make their $300 a month trailer payment, and they have trashed the thing to the point that even they no longer want to live in it.

But my Pegs and Melissas struggle because they will spend $200 a month on cable TV and DSL which for them is a priority over the rent and utilities, although they know they need a roof for the TV. And their kids, no daddy around, must have name brand clothing and spending money, to make momma look like she can support a pack of kids 'cause she "don't need no man around" (although she always seems to have a new man around). And in her words, her "kids ain't wearing no Wal-Mart shit."

I too, here in rural Podunk, see the same gentrification with folks moving in together.

We have two sections, one called Hillbilly Heaven (mostly white) and one called Sunset (mostly black). Hillbilly Heaven was originally small homes built by WWII GIs - now mostly poor white trash and meth heads. Sunset is on the westside of town and years ago you had to be back here by sunset. My daughter made mention of this Jim Crowism at a city council meeting and the section has now been officially renamed to - drum role - Horizon.

But, here's how hope and change came about in Podunk: Integration saw the inhabitants of Horizon creeping across town. The whites kept selling and moving north and east as the blacks moved in from the west. For 3 decades most of the rentals in this section of town have been owned by local slum lords - taking what were once nice homes in good neighborhoods and creating a Section 8 Heaven. (There is some truth to "there goes the neighborhood.")

Over the years as one single momma after another (black and white) moved in and out, trashing the house and the lot it sits on, no one seemed to mind - upper class folks continued to build newer homes east and north, the landlords got their inflated rents paid by BigDaddy Government, putting little back into the house, and kept them continually rented. Every 3 bedroom on this side of town became a 4 bedroom home because landlords walled off the dining room to get a 4th bedroom - 4 bedroom being a bigger section 8 check from the government. And momma didn't mind, with 4 or 5 kids she needed another bedroom more than a dining room, and everyone eats from a sack and wrapper in front of the TV in the living room anyway, dining rooms are for fancy folks.

Both the Heavens here are crumbling. In the last 4 or 5 years approximately 160 homes have been bulldozed on this side of town (Horizon). BigDaddy doesn't have as many vouchers as he used to. Broke my heart to see so many old homes demolished. I tried to convince the city to let homeowners salvage some of the grand and original woodwork and brick, doors and windows, etc. but they said no - bulldozed it all. Those of us who own here welcomed the bulldozers - it could potentially mean there's one less threat, one less predator in the neighborhood. Ah, maybe compassion is an affordable luxury when your neighbor wears a suit and tie instead of a pimp hat and gold chains.

But, with a shortage of housing now, some folks are doubling up. Around here that means instead of 3 or 4 kids on the street meandering in front of my house it's 6 or 7 teen boys trying to hold their pants up, while the young pre-momma girls threaten to kick one another's ass, I guess to impress the boys with their toughness. (It's painfully funny watching a guy hold his pants up, run/ jump fences, while trying to dispose of little baggies of crack with an overweight cop puffing right behind him.) And then there are the dogs. Almost every renter here in the 'hood has a dog, usually pit bulls without the mandatory insurance, chained next to the house - not a member of the family or beloved pet - but as an alarm. To bark, when the po-lice might be tipping around because someone inside is a dealer; gives you about 30 seconds after the first bark to see the swat team and flush the dope. Oh, and don't walk the dog, just let him off the chain now and then - he'll come home when he gets hungry.

On the other side of town, the old Hillbilly Heaven section, life isn't much different. I know a 72-year-old woman there who lives with her 4 middle-aged children and a few teen grandchildren and great grandchildren. Half of them are on disability and the other half on crack and meth. She has owned the house for 40 years, but when she's gone it will be bulldozed, and should be as no one has maintained it for 25 years. It has busted sewer pipes and leaking like a sieve. It's not that they never had funds for repairs, they just never spent the funds on something that wasn't entertaining. She has 9 kids and tells me not one of them is worth a damn and her 3 dozen grandkids aren't much better. She goes to church and wonders what went wrong. I would tell her but it's too late. I'm certain her 40-year-old kids will be receiving some sort of Government housing when she dies and they no longer have her house to flop in. The house she and their dad bought when they married and where these kids grew up - means nothing to them.

I grew up in poverty, have watched poverty in the US for at least 5 decades, have seen third world poverty up close - and what Americans are experiencing is not poverty, nor even hardship in comparison to most of the world. Economically the US is not even as miserable as the 1980s indexes, yet. Poverty, Ms. Ehrenreich, is always in the news - especially around election time, or to promote a book or movie, or when Big and Little Nonprofits are fundraising.

What I see is a poverty of minds, a lot of wasted lives. A lack of willingness to delay gratification between what people want and what people need. A generation where getting something for nothing is prized over all else. A generation whose greatest boast is they "are not judgmental" which is the go-ahead to do whatever ya want when ya want and not worry about consequences, after all, no one is going to be judgmental - being "nonjudgmental" is actually appropriate for a large segment of society - they have proven beyond doubt they lack good judgment on anything at all. A generation convinced that being materially poor is the fault of someone or something else; while they piss away money and shit where they eat, as if there is no tomorrow.

Ironically, those who would do the most with a little help are usually not eligible in the Welfare State. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Too many Americans are no longer in pursuit.

Have you watched the movie The Pursuit of Happyness?, based on the life of Chris Gardner who spent a year sleeping in shelters, cheap motels, and subway bathrooms with his young son while interning at Dean Witter in 1981, the company and coworkers never knew. If you haven't seen it I'm going to spoil the ending. This is the ending of the movie; the real Gardner walks by and Will Smith turns to look at him.


Unchained Melody

He's Mine

When did I get this the Platters have really gotten old.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The End Is Near

Chris Hedges' - The American Empire Is Bankrupt

HEDGES: There are meetings being held Monday and Tuesday in Yekaterinburg, Russia, (formerly Sverdlovsk) among Chinese President Hu Jintao, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and other top officials of the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The United States, which asked to attend, was denied admittance. Watch what happens there carefully. The gathering is, in the words of economist Michael Hudson, “the most important meeting of the 21st century so far.”

It is the first formal step by our major trading partners to replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. If they succeed, the dollar will dramatically plummet in value, the cost of imports, including oil, will skyrocket, interest rates will climb and jobs will hemorrhage at a rate that will make the last few months look like boom times. State and federal services will be reduced or shut down for lack of funds. The United States will begin to resemble the Weimar Republic or Zimbabwe. Obama, endowed by many with the qualities of a savior, will suddenly look pitiful, inept and weak. And the rage that has kindled a handful of shootings and hate crimes in the past few weeks will engulf vast segments of a disenfranchised and bewildered working and middle class. The people of this class will demand vengeance, radical change, order and moral renewal, which an array of proto-fascists, from the Christian right to the goons who disseminate hate talk on Fox News, will assure the country they will impose.

I called Hudson, who has an article in Monday’s Financial Times called “The Yekaterinburg Turning Point: De-Dollarization and the Ending of America’s Financial-Military Hegemony.” “Yekaterinburg,” Hudson writes, “may become known not only as the death place of the czars but of the American empire as well.”

“This means the end of the dollar,” Hudson told me. “It means China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Iran are forming an official financial and military area to get America out of Eurasia.

---- In 2005 the US, along with Pakistan, India, Iran, and Mongolia, asked for "observer status" - the US was denied. If I didn't know better I would have thought the US asked to attend this year's party but was "denied admittance." SCO membership: Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, or basically the same ol' cold war Russia/China alliance.

Another noteworthy event to be held in Yekaterinburg, is the first BRIC meeting (Britain-Russia-India-China), June 16, and to cover issues including the world situation, a global financial system, the financial crisis, energy cooperation and environmental protection. Or ... how world leaders will transition to a global system where a tiny, tiny fraction of the human population will rule over the remaining 6 billion or so little people, and we will call it global cooperation. SCO is merely one bloc of the kumbayah campfire club. I call it the Rodney King Globalization/Can We All Git Along. And those who cannot git along will git their butts kicked.

Hedges believes the US will resemble the Weimar Republic or Zimbabwe - both suffered hyperinflation, one of course gave rise to Hitler. That's clever of Hedges, evoking Hitler without actually using the name Hitler.

This bankruptcy in turn will trigger "rage, hate crimes" and "engulf vast segments of a disenfranchised and bewildered working and middle class" who apparently Hedges believes are quite an ignorant class for they will act out, demand "vengeance, radical change, order and moral renewal" which will be imposed by the likes of Bible bangers and Fox News.

There's the subtle hint that these bewildered lower class folks will turn on one another with a vengeance - "hate crimes". Race-based. Obviously Hedges has no idea that down here in the 'hood, the trailers, the projects, the shanties, the blue collar tracts, and even the mostly white suburbs - there be a lot of race mixin'. Guys like the 88-year-old thug who gunned down a guard at the museum are few and far between, and even his family disown him.

I've disliked Hedges since his asinine article in 2007, Accustomed to Their Own Atrocities in Iraq, U.S. Soldiers Have Become Murderers. All his work is asinine though.

Hedges also states in the article above : The governor of China’s central bank has openly called for the abandonment of the dollar as reserve currency, suggesting in its place the use of the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights. What the new system will be remains unclear, but the flight from the dollar has clearly begun. The goal, in the words of the Russian president, is to build a “multipolar world order” which will break the economic and, by extension, military domination by the United States. China is frantically spending its dollar reserves to buy factories and property around the globe so it can unload its U.S. currency.

Ummmm, suggesting the use of IMF SDR? Would that be the same IMF that Barry O. wants to give a $100+ billion bailout? So ... lemme see ... we are going to fund our own dollar demise?

China "frantically spending its dollar reserves around the world" to unload US currency? Got a link? Because to my non-expert mindset, and reading, China itself has dropped from double digit growth to single digit in the last couple of years, even while spending massive amounts internally on factories and property, etc. According to Gordon Chang's book The Coming Collapse of China ... "There will be a time when China runs out of money to pump into the system."

Beijing spending those dollars to keep China afloat?

Chang also argues that "... the Chinese people are tired of their overtly regulated lives, dictated by a microscopic minority and enforced by crude coercion..."

Running out of money, regulated lives enforced by crude coercion - which is quite similar to where most of the world stands today.

But it makes me wonder, why do writers like Hedges directly or indirectly suggest the US is the world's problem child, when frankly all world powers have built their strength on the backs of their own and other nation's people. Why do these writers push the warm-fuzzy notion of a "multipolar" world where, if the US would just get out of the way, we could all get along.

The ruling class are not suggesting anything new with multipolarity - they want one umbrella to cover several centers of power dictated to by a few acronyms - the "all git along" policy, until the next butt kicking. Nothing new or unique; it's been used by kingdoms and empires since day 1.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

So So Sotomayor

Let us hash out Sonia Sotomayor's controversial statement, not that it's worthy or important but does the media ever give us anything that is?

I just saw a clip of Obama in a limo with some pundit, who when asked if he stopped to watch the talking head shows when he passed by the many TVs in the White House, Obama said, no, he doesn't bother listening to the cable chatter. I chuckled, because when passing by the cable TV covering an Obama speech, I too do not bother to listen to his chatter. Although god knows he is slightly easier on the stomach than GWB.

But back to Sotomayor. Some on the right say her comment is racist. Those on the left say it is not. Supposedly she has made the same/similar statements a few times in her career.

SS:"First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

According to Merriam Webster "wise" is having a deep understanding and the capacity for sound judgement, so contrary to the learned folks above - I believe there can be a universal definition. There are different types of wisdom, as in street wise, common sense wisdom, professional wisdom, etc. You may have an understanding of the street, the common, or a profession - that's not indicative of sound judgment though.

Is Sonia saying that she has street smarts, common sense, and professional wisdom? And a preppy Ivy league white man has less wisdom because he was born privileged? Being born of humble beginnings makes one reach a better conclusion because the humble experience is what ... enriching? Not so much enrichment that anyone wants to stay, and usually sounds good only to those who did not experience all the enrichment poverty can bestow.

What deep understanding does Sotomayor believe her humble Latina beginnings give her? What part of a Bronx childhood in the projects makes one capable of reaching a better conclusion than a white male who was born wealthy, or poor?

Sounds to me as if Sotomayor suggests her gender, ethnicity and social class bestow a richness of experience that the white male can never obtain. Would that also mean Sotomayor cannot understand the American black experience or Native American experience, etc. because she has not experienced them? Oh wait, Obama said her experience gave her "empathy." And we all know white men don't have empathy, in contrast to the inner city projects where humble folks empathize with one another (especially if you're seen moving in a flat screen that can be fenced).

Sotomayor is not Thurgood Marshall, neither is Clarence "Coke Can" Thomas for that matter.

Men and women like Marshall truly fought against the odds - opening doors for Thomas and Sotomayor, and even Obama.

Not to detract from Sotomayor's tenacity and accomplishments, but I do think she is of the generation suffering from affirmative action and "identity politics" - educated, employed, and appointed by white men, and now feeling a teeeensy bit superior to those who saddled the horse she rode into town on. (Put your foot in the stirrups honey, not your mouth.)

I once was a staunch supporter of affirmative action, not anymore. I've seen too many incompetents in positions they should not have been in simply because the white company/organization needed to meet a quota. And termination was out of the question as fear of a lawsuit forever loomed. The only hope was the employee would quit. There is nothing worse than a coworker who smugly knows they have management by the cajones. (Of course white folks also hire white idiots, look at George Bush.)

So, let's stop pretending we are led by people of great ability, "high caliber" men and women. It does not matter if Sotomayor is the best pick or not, black or brown, male or female. Her rulings will be geared to please that faction of the powers that be who groomed her ride.

What we have had for 3+ decades, regardless of race or gender or humble beginnings, are mediocre men and women. But the worst has been The Special Olympics of Politics - special because of the "handicap" of being black, brown, female, gay, or whatever politically unique card they can play, which has nothing to do with capability and talent. I know, I know Bubba you want to say - some of us have it harder.

Yes, and no matter who you are there's always someone else who has/had life harder. I have yet to find that one individual who has had the hardest life on earth, although when found he/she should be rewarded with something.

It's that old, old ploy of the humble public servant, the peanut farmer, the humble actor/comic in shirt sleeves,the blue shirt sleeves rolled up Bush clearing brush on the homestead, fatherless Obama on foodstamps, just like one of us Bubba, and they made it to the top, and by golly even as they gallop away to their new multimillion dollar townhomes or mini mansions and mix it up in New York, Paris, Rome, Brussels, ... in $4000 shoes and limos ... they're gonna do what's best for the commoners ... because they are one of us.

But you know Bubba, in a family as integrated as mine - black, brown, white, mixed, Jew and gentile, atheist and Catholic, millionaires to minimum wage - had Sotomayor made the above comment at the dinner table, we would have laughed long and loud.

Did she just say being a Puerto Rican woman from NY gives her a better understanding of the law? she's joking, right?

Laughing out loud, laughing out loud.

Bailing Out the World Ma

President Barack Obama's plan to give an extra $108bn to the International Monetary Fund was in danger of falling apart yesterday as Republican lawmakers opposed the extra funding and Democrat leaders scrambled to win enough votes without them.

Mr Obama has called for member countries to beef up the IMF to help it combat the global downturn. At April's G20 meeting he promised to increase the US contribution and secured similar promises from others. But he has run into problems in a Congress weary of bail-outs and concerned about the swelling budget deficit.

Ah, transparency. Perhaps you've read that the new era of candor in government spending has arrived. Except, apparently, when it comes to the $750 billion that the Obama Administration and other nations have agreed to provide the International Monetary Fund. In this case, it's all opacity all the time.

At the G-20 meeting in April, the world's big shots promised to provide $500 billion under credit lines to the IMF known as "new arrangements to borrow." The U.S. share was said to be $100 billion, which last week we learned is actually $108 billion. The Obama Administration is now asking Congress to appropriate the cash, except that the Congressional Budget Office is only scoring the cost at $5 billion. How so? Because the transaction is being called an "exchange of assets," which means the U.S. gives the IMF the $108 billion and the IMF gives the U.S. a promissory note. Which raises a question: If it costs so little, why not make it $200 billion. Or a trillion? It's free!

IMF History: The IMF has played a part in shaping the global economy since the end of World War II.

---- And a fine shape the global economy is in, heh?

Friday, June 05, 2009

Right In Front of Your Face

This is probably the most shallow junk I've read all year. From none other than Crooks and Liars, who, while I'm not a regular reader, I was under the misguided notion C&L was somewhat of an objective site. Silly me, I guess their name is appropriate, taken from the famous remark of horseface John Kerry when he was describing his bedfellows in DC.

C&L: Sarah Palin is on a new jag or an old one actually. She's ranting about some New World Order nonsense and while introducing wingnut radio host Michael Regan in Alaska, told the audience that the government wants to control the lives of "the people."

Via CNN: Alaska governor Sarah Palin let loose Wednesday on the Obama administration for enacting fiscal policies that "fly in the face of principles" and "defy Economics 101."

Palin: We need to be aware of the creation of a fearful population, and fearful lawmakers, being led to believe that big government is the answer, to bail out the private sector, because then government gets to get in there and control it," she said. "And mark my words, this is going to be next, I fear, bail out next debt-ridden states. Then government gets to get in there and control the people.

There's something pretty weird hearing the term "Economics 101," being uttered by Sarah because she showed little knowledge of economics on the campaign trail, but that being said...the right wing constantly is reaching out to the far depths of the conservative movement and are trying to instill more and more fear into that base which will only increase the violence that comes out of those merky depths. "People control," really Sarah? She should stop hanging out with nutty talk show hosts.

Just to help her out a little bit, it was under George Bush and conservative---neocon warhawks that the global financial markets melted down and led us down the path of being "afraid." And wasn't it under her governance that she took money from the oil companies and handed it out to her people?

CC's Indecision (Comedy Central blog): It should just sit back and let the free market do its thing and, um, dispense the lucre…

In Alaska, where Palin is governor, natural resources are state-owned, and Alaska residents receive yearly dividend checks from a $30 billion state account built largely from oil royalties….

When home fuel and gas costs soared this year, Palin raised taxes on oil companies and used some of the money to boost residents' checks by $1,200. Every eligible man, woman and child got a record $3,269 this fall.

Even the grammar-challenged Governor knows there's word for that kind of redistributive policy. Starts with S.

---- Hmmm. I don't think the word "starts with S."

To C&L: Michael "Regan" should be Reagan, Ronnie's son. I have never listened to him so do not know if he's a wingnut or not - but then I don't get my news from Colbert or Jon Stewart either, as many "progressives" seem to do. I did google on over to Reagan's website and read a couple of columns. In one he described Boy Bush's era as "big government and wild-spending."

Pssssttt we've been doing that for decades, spending just gets wilder with each president.

As to the sniplet from CNN by way of C&L: "Just to help her out a little bit, it was under George Bush and conservative---neocon warhawks that the global financial markets melted down and led us down the path of being "afraid."

I suppose it's best to blame those "neocon warhawks" (haven't seen that phrase in a while), rather than look aghast at the money Obamasiah is throwing on the flames of those melting markets (and ignore the fact that Barry O. isn't antiwar, he was pandering to the sheople). And if you want to pin blame there's enough to go around at least back to the Clinton era of come one come all for toxic lending. In fact, I would say HUD/Fannie and Freddie were pretty much the Clintonistas damage. And, wasn't the housing market the first domino in this meltdown?

The question asked by CNN blog: "And wasn't it under her governance that she took money from the oil companies and handed it out to her people?"

Are you serious? The Alaskan PFD is not simply "handed out to her people." The Fund has been around since 1976, overhauled in 1982.

The governor Palin replaced in 2006, Murkowski, sought sweetheart deals for oil companies and Alaskan voters put him out of office. Several of the governor's negotiators were later indicted, accused of making back-room deals with the industry. It was Palin who scrapped Murkowski's deals, stood up to big oil, and raised their taxes. But ... " "it would be an overstatement to brand Palin as an enemy of Big Oil. Her husband works as a production supervisor for BP. And her support for drilling in the Alaska Natural Wildlife Reserve, as well as exploiting Alaska's natural gas resources, certainly won't endear her to environmentalists. "Personally, I have respect for the industry," she said in an interview with Fortune last year, "for the contributions it's made to our state ... and great respect for what their CEOs are doing. We know their mission, to take as much as possible and leave as little behind."

I'm stumped I tell you, stumped - why would "progressives" diss a pol who obviously stood up to Big Oil, and taxed them? One who so accurately calls corporate CEO's mission "to take as much as possible and leave as little behind." And isn't that what we've witnessed from both parties in the Halls of Power for the past 3+ decades?

On the other hand some Alaskans believe Alaskan politicians, the Fund managers and their operating costs, the corporations the Fund invests in, all benefit too much from the fund while sending stipends to the people.

Stipends that range from $300-$3200 per year per eligible person. Felons are not eligible, and if you owe taxes, child support, etc. the state will be keeping that PFD. Alaska had a population of approximately 686,000, and a PFD fund of $38 billion in 2008. Even if all residents are eligible, which they are not, the total paid out in 2008 (a record $2080-2100) would be $2.1 billion - around 5-6% of the total fund. Sarah also passed out a $1200 resource rebate check that year because of high energy costs. Sort of like the Bushobama rebates and stimulus checks, except Alaska could afford to do it.

But tell me, how will that work with other states not as fortunate, not sitting on oil and gas? California is struggling even with all the wealth from tourism, energy, agriculture, hi-tech, etc. Will all or only a few industries have their profits placed in a California State fund for yearly stipends to the state's 37,000,000 residents? What about those poor states like Arkansas and Kentucky? What about illegal alie....oops, I mean undocumented workers, would they get a stipend if they meet the eligibility requirements? Will Alaskans be angry when their stipend goes down in order to help stipenders in states like po' Mississippi and West Virginey?

Every state would have funds collected, from State run industries of course, and then BigDaddy Guvmint will dole out the dividend stipends, and it would need to be the same amount for every individual, just as it is in Alaska. So poorer states will get some of theirs from the richer states. From each according to his ability, to each according to his need? I don't think that's called socialism, and the BigDaddy State will never wither away - that happens only in neoprogressive dreams and chat rooms, usually after a little Maui Owie. (And if, as in Alaska, a felon is not eligible - guess what color and rung won't be getting a dividend.)

You know Bubba, there may not even be a word yet for the Government that's coming to redistribute the stipends, but my best guess is ... it will start with a T.

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