Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bobby "Boom-Boom" Jindal

For the last couple of days the Repugnants had been telling anyone who would listen that after Obama's Congressional Address they would introduce their new powerhouse to America by having this person deliver the party's response. Liberals, Progressives and others were shaking in their boots. From the sounds of it, the Repugnants were going to be sending in someone equivalent to Mr. T to knock that skinny Obama kid back on his heels. They were gonna show us!

It came time for the response and out walks this guy looking for all the world like Caspar Milquetoast or Arnold Stang and he says: "Good Evening America & Happy Mardi Gras..." In this timid voice, as if he is apologizing for interupting...AND his speech went downhill from there...Basically he trotted out the same old Repugnant themes of lower taxes, less government and the free market...To bolster his argument he cited the governments response to Hurricane Katrina! Hello!?! Uh, Governor, that was a fuck-up by your own party. Why would you bring that up?

Then of course he went to the nitpicking of different aspects of Obama's proposals. He didn't think the government should spend money to monitor volcano activity. Sort of like saying that the government shouldn't spend money on levees...

Even the right wing commentators on Fox News got on his case. Someone said having Jindal follow Obama was like having the Rolling Stones open for Air Supply! More like sending in a one-legged man into an ass kicking contest, if you ask me...Naturally, Rush Limpdick was standing by Jindal...Next we'll hear that it's racist to criticize the guy...

The Republican Party is on the ropes. John McCain crashed and burned. Sarah Palin was some Republican version of eye candy gone awry. Michael Steele, chair of the RNC, recently promised that the GOP is going to come out with a message that will electrify the electorate by appealing to the urban multi-ethnic population. The GOP is going hip-hop. Word. The rest of us will just have to get jiggy wid it. And then they tried to foist Bobby Jindal on us....Are they on acid???

I have no reasonable explanation for the actions of the GOP in recent days. They're sounding more like the Reverend Jim from the old Taxi TV series...It's as though they are divorced from reality. People used to talk that kind of crap when they were unduly influenced by drugs and people sort of sniggered up their sleeves and walked away from them. I think that is what is going to happen to the Republicans if they don't hurry up and do a serious gut check.

Now, probably more so than any other time in our history we desperately need an opposition party that can contribute to the national discourse. That can offer practical, workable solutions to the problems we face. Haven't we learned anything from the days of Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay and Dick Armey? If you don't have serious opposition, if you don't have reasonable alternatives--you're going to get crap legislation and you're going to have to live with it. In the long run, it hurts us all. The Republicans seriously need to get their shit in one sock. They are floundering.

That's not to say that the Democrats in Congress are any better. If I were Obama, I'd get Pelosi, Reid, Barney Frank and Chris Dodd (to name a few) in a room and knock their heads together and tell them to quit posturing and get to work.

That's it in a nutshell: The election is over, now get to work!

The real shame is that neither party in Congress has anyone of stature. There doesn't seem to be anyone who is speaking for the little guy or even to the little guy. We aren't even an afterthought to most of them.

At times like these we need someone who can be the conscience of the Congress. Like Everett Dirksen or Sam Nunn or Howard Baker. They spoke for the Republican Party and they worked with the Democrats and passed legislation that helped the entire country. I mean, LBJ and Everett Dirksen hammered out the Civil Rights Act of 1964. How would you have liked to have been in the room when those two were working that out??? Somehow or the other they put party politics aside and produced a piece of legislation that was good for the whole country. I'm not seeing that with the clowns we have in this session of Congress. It seems as though they are all posturing for the next election. They are not in the here and now. They aren't keeping their eye on the ball. They're acting more like neutered autistic puppies and they sound shrill.

What is lacking is a serious debate on the issues. All these clowns are still in campaign mode. They do all of us a disservice by not working out the merits of any proposed legislation.

Anyone who has ever been in any kind of an elective office knows that in order to achieve anything worthwhile you have to work with your counterparts and even those who seriously oppose you. Sometimes you have to give a little, to get a little. It sounds trite but it is true. It's called working out a compromise. We aren't getting any kind of compromise legislation from this Congress. And it's not like any of them are fast learners. They hustled through the first bank bailout legislation and forgot to put in any accountability for the money they doled out to the banks. That should have been a wake up call to all of these Bozos.

I'm not a Republican by any stretch of the imagination but I find myself feeling sorry for them. They have an opportunity here to act in the interest of the American people and to bolster their image and they are letting it slip away.

Both parties need to shitcan the theatrics, the posturing, the finger-pointing--the sideshow antics AND get down to business. If they don't, they will become irrelevant and will leave the door open for third and fourth parties to emerge on the scene. I don't think the American people are going to stand for too much more of this clowning around.

That's it. I'm outa here. I'm going out on the back deck, have a smoke and a cup of coffee, watch the sun rise and listen to the birdies sing. Maybe later I'll go take a walk and clear my head. Okay. Go have a cup of strong coffee and make the most of your day. Later.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Nationalizing the banks

Well, they're at it again. The Repugnants are decrying the stimulus bill by saying that it will nationalize the banks. Excuse me, but nationalization is when a government seizes all the assets of a company and runs the damned thing. They can't even get the terminology right. No wonder they ran the government into the ditch when they were in power...

They sort of remind me of way back in grade school when one of the teachers would name the biggest dork in the class the hall monitor. As soon as they put the belt and badge on nerdboy--the power would go right to his head and he'd become a virtual tyrant. That's what the Repugnants did when they won with their Contract on America back in the early '90's. They bullied everybody and their pet rat from their first day in charge. They forgot what happened to the little assmunch of a hall monitor. Sooner or later someone would get in nerdboy's face, knee him in the gonads and put the little puke in his place. Naturally he'd go running to the principal, the teachers and anyone who would listen. He'd be crying how he was only trying to do what was right and all he got for his trouble was a bunch of grief and now everybody hates him. When no one would show him any sympathy, he'd up and quit. They'd put someone else in as hall monitor--usually somebody with a few more functioning brain cells and things would get back to normal. Except for the dork. You'd hear him pissing and moaning that the new guy was letting things slide. And how he did such a good job. And things just weren't right without him in charge. Eventually he'd just snipe around with snide remarks--as he was walking away. The truth was nobody missed him and eventually he'd fade into the woodwork from whence he came...

The Repugnants are in that sniping stage. They can't come up with any viable solutions to the shitstorm they caused so they stand on the sidelines showering anyone who will listen with their off the wall comments. Like John "Crash&Burn" McCain griping about the Presidential helicopter. WTF? What does that have to do with the economy Uncle Fester? At least try to be relevant--you're a United States Senator for the cry-eye! Or John Boehner? He looks like some lounge singer that's gone to seed. He's got that bloated alcoholic look to him and that fake George Hamilton tan. And he's from Ohio! When the hell's the last time the sun shined over there???

More than anything right now this country needs statesmen--not political hacks. We need people who are going to sit down together and hash out the problems that are facing our country and come up with coherent, viable solutions that will benefit everyone. Not just their wealthy contributors. This really is the time for someone from the Republican Party to step up to the plate. If they offer good, constructive solutions people will listen. Not only will they listen but they will follow you.

Or you can be like the failed hall monitor and fade into the woodwork and years from now someone will be asking: "Wasn't there some kind of party called the Republicans at the turn of the century?"

On one of the news programs the other day they had a guest say that 92% of people are paying their mortgages and show no sign of going into default. If that's true, why are we in such a hubbub over the 8% that are delinquent? And most of the defaults are concentrated within five states. Something doesn't smell right. I don't think we're getting the whole story.

For those of you who are interested in trying to find out more, go to the website The Baseline Scenario. They have a nice set of links that will illuminate some of the fuzzy things you hear on the news. Their glossary is especially helpful.

The best news of the day is that Tiger Woods is back in the game! Now if he'd only disavow his relationship with Nike. I mean he has kids, you'd think he'd be against child labor violations by one of his sponsors. And sweatshops. I mean it just kills me that Nike will pay slave wages to the point where it costs them 19 cents to make a pair of shoes and then will turn around and charge upwards of $200 for the same pair of shoes. Worse yet--people will buy the freaking things! Who was it who said: "Nobody ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American buying public."? We're the same people who bought Pet Rocks, Beanie Babies and Lava Lamps....

I'm outa here! I want some kinda dessert with lots of whipped cream on it. Go get yourself some too. Later.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Flotsam & Jetsam

Well paint me blue and call me Quincy. It's been a bizarre week in the news. Dick Cheney issued a statement from his fortress of solitude (undisclosed, underground location) that he believes the US will see a terrorist attack in the near future. This from a guy who couldn't foresee the 9/11 attacks, the bank meltdown, screwed with intelligence reports in order to start the Iraq war and was part of an administration that was inept, incompetent and insane when it came to governing. Geez Dick, you held prisoners without charges for years, played a part in the killing of thousands upon thousands of civilians and left the survivors without the basic ammenities. Do you suppose those people just might have a grudge against you and the country you represented?

Rush Limbaugh declared that he was the leader of the Republican Party. Mind you the RNC had elected Steele to head the party. Apparently that wasn't good enough for Rush. Like a power-mad despot he claims that he is the one in control and will dictate the direction of the party. To cap things off, one of the Senators who criticized Limbaugh did a one-eighty and apologized to the windbag. So we can be assured of hearing his particular brand of bombast for the near future...

The economic stimulus package got through the Senate. The watered down version stinks to high heaven. Gutted from the bill were provisions that would have helped the states deal with their budget shortfalls, aid to education, aid to childcare and those with special needs--basically any program that was pinpointed towards helping the average Joe was eliminated. Left in place or added were provisions to give tax cuts to US corporations who repatriate their profits back to the US, tax cuts for flipping houses to your relatives, tax cuts for all the usual suspects...This only serves to underline what a growing number of Americans are coming to believe: Our government is broken. We need fundamental changes in our to get our house in order. Our elected representatives don't have a clue how to fix what they have broken. They can't seem to pass legislation that serves the common good. They can't resist handing out our money to their "friends". Maybe it's time to reform the whole notion of how government works. What we need is the ability of the people to foster initiatives, reforms and referendums that will get our government working for us.

We're supposed to be getting ready for the other shoe to drop with regards to bailing out the banks. The Obama administration is supposed to come out with guidelines for distributing the next $350 billion dollars of the TARP. I've got a suggestion: don't give it out until the SOB's give a full accounting of what they did with the first $350 billion! The bankers are supposed to go to Capitol Hill for hearings on Wednesday. Do yourself a favor; either watch CSPAN that day or Tivo the proceedings. It's the only way you're going to be able to watch the interaction between the bankers and our elected leaders. I wonder if they will let them off with a slap on the wrist and hand them another bag of money that they can sit on. Knowing the bankers, they will schedule a whole slew of "getaways" at taxpayers expense. If we're pouring all these billions into the banks--we should own them. Not the other way around. I'd like to see the bankers grilled, fried and fricassed. They owe us answers and a full accounting of their activities. It's time for our representative to quit making nice with these outlaws. Maybe they should seriously consider a top to bottom reformation of the entire banking industry. Make banks behave like banks are supposed to. Banks should protect the assets of their shareholders, depositors and investors. That should be their prime function and they have failed miserably in protecting that trust. Bring back the Glass-Steagall Act--only make it tougher and more stringent. Regulate them into submission and above all, hold them accountable for their actions of the last decade...

The Sunday talk shows are becoming a joke. Conservatives rant and rave that there is a liberal bias in the media. Where?!!? All of these shows will have guests that represent the right wing and then they will have some middle of the road buffoons that supposedly represent the left. Puh-leez! If you are going to have someone from the left, why not invite Amy Goodman from Democracy Now???? Or someone from the ACLU? Or someone from Vets Against the War? Greenpeace? The Socialist Party? Here's the deal: they don't invite them because it just might engender an actual discussion of the issues. It wouldn't be a series of ten second sound bytes. The right would have to actually delineate what there positions are. AND the media would have to work at doing journalism. By only airing the opinions of the right and the middle of the roaders they can do these short-hand interviews and not tax their brains. Plus they don't have to fear offending their sponsors or their corporate owners. The injustice is that we only wind up hearing one side of the story and the discussions are like listening to five year olds argue in the playground. How can anyone formulate a valid opinion when facts are ignored in favor of name-calling?

And what's going on with gas prices? Did a butterfly fart in Brazil? Is that why the price of gas is going up? The price certainly isn't following the dictums of supply and demand. Demand has gone down and suddenly the price is going up again. Is it because the oil companies figure we're distracted by other things and they sense that they can get away with it?

It was somewhat encouraging to see Obama finally start to call Congress on the carpet in order to get them working on the stimulus package. He just didn't go far enough. He should call out the Doormat Democrats and remind them why they were elected. People want them to stand up for the little guy. I think the Democrats are so used to being rode over roughshod by the Republicans that they have lost their spines. Sometimes it's good to have a knockdown, drag out fight. The Democrats should highlight the fact that the Republicans stripped away any programs that were good for working folks. Let people know that Republicans are against education, child care, special needs people, aid to the states and anything that even remotely is designed to help the average working person in this country. Take the fight to them! Don't let them gain the upper hand with their usual pithy bromides....

Since this financial meltdown began anywhere from 3.4 million to 4.1 million people have lost their jobs. 4.1 million! That's the entire workforce of the state of Virginia! And expectations are that it is going to get worse. Economists are predicting double digit unemployment by mid-year! Wouldn't you think that this would be incentive enough for the Congress of Clowns to actually do something? Why do they insist on conducting business as usual? Don't they get it? Don't they understand or comprehend that we are in unusual times? Are they so lost in their ego trips that they can no longer function in the interests of the country? It's past time that they put aside jockeying for position. It's time they roll up their sleeves and get to work. I don't think they are up to the task. The media, instead of exposing them for what they are, just encourages them by giving airtime to their most inane arguments.

I hope Obama sticks it to all of them! I hope he gets on a rant in Indiana and Florida today. I hope he gets his audiences good and riled up. And when he does his press conference tonight I hope he gets the entire country riled up. Riled up enough that they jam the phonelines to Congress in order to tell them that "Clowntime is Over"...

I wish Obama would read the first couple of stanzas of "IF" by Rudyard Kipling.


If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you

But make allowances for doubting too,

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting.

Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,

Or being hated, don't give way to hating.

And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream--and not make dreams you master,

If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build 'em up with worn out tools...

Oh yeah. On top of everything else that's going on, the media gives airtime and oodles of print to the fact that Jessica Simpson has put on a little weight! And the media wonders why there poll numbers are in the same neighborhood as Congress...

Keep you eyes and ears open. Watch what your Congressperson is up to this week and call and give him a performance evaluation straight from the heart...

Friday, February 6, 2009

Here They Go Again

Watching the debate in the Senate about the economic stimulus and the Republicans nitpicking I was reminded of old Ronnie Raygun: "There you go again!" The Republicans (who got us into this mess with their deregulation and free market nonsense) are trotting out their same old arguments against government intervention as though it were 1994. They want less government, less taxes but more debt. Their big gripe with Obama's stimulus package seems to be that their friends are not getting a big enough piece of the pie. It's as though the last two election cycles were decided in their favor. Jeez, they lost both Houses of Congress and the White House. That should tell them that people aren't buying their lines of BS anymore.

But there they are, on the Senate floor, making impassioned pleas for more taxcuts for the rich. Making the Herbert Hoover pitch that "the business of America is business." That didn't make sense in the '30's and it's making even less sense now.
Senator Thune was trotting out graphs of $100 dollar bills and how high they'd reach if you stacked them end on end or how many times they'd circle the globe if you sewed them together. Shades of Ross Perot! That's all fine and dandy but what does it contribute to trying to resolve the problem? Nothing! It's a distraction and that seems to be the only card the Republicans have left to play. Mitch McConnell was on the Sunday morning talk shows complaining that there was money in the package that would benefit condom makers. Actually there is money that is targetted at stemming the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. I don't know why the Democrats don't pick up on this and point out that apparently the Republicans are in favor of the clap, crabs & chlamydia. Maybe that would shut them up.

I think it's time for the Democrats to quit being doormats with these bogus arguments foisted by the Republicans. Expose their arguments for the red herrings that they are. Show the public that once again, lacking ideas, the Republicans choose to throw mud.

The Republicans have an opportunity here to regain some of the luster that they have lost in the last couple of elections. They could come up with some realistic solutions to the problems we face. They could offer meaningful alternatives that would contribute to the national discourse. The Republicans could rise to the occasion. I wish they would. It's past time for the Republicans to abandon the failed policies of Reagan, Rove & Norquist. Now is the time for them to stand up and make their case with the American people that they want to be a part of the solution. They need to show that they are the "loyal opposition" not just a bunch of nit-picking naysayers.

A friend of mine has come up with a unique idea to raise money: tax any transaction on Wall Street at the rate of one percent. Let the players pay. That seems fair and it is a relatively painless way to boost revenues. Much better than constantly shifting the burden to the little guy. I forget how many millions or billions of dollars my friend projected that this would make but it was substantial. I'm in favor of anything that puts the onus on the people who got us into this mess in the first place. Why should the public be footing the bill for private losses? These clowns sure didn't share their profits with us. Hell, they tried to pay as little as possible to the federal government. Now they want to maximize their gains by getting bailouts.

I have a sneaking suspicion that because of all the media hype we are starting to be held hostage by the banks and major corporations of this country. They saw how much money the banks got in the first bailout and they don't want to be left out. So what do they do? They start laying people off and the media leads off every newscast with how many thousands have lost their jobs on that particular day. It's like some perverted law of supply and demand. These companies, by laying off their employees, are creating a demand for monies from any bailout package that is going to be enacted. Why wouldn't they? The government is going to be handing out money and if they can make their industries look like they need an in fusion of cash, they stand to gain billions. What's it going to cost them? Little or nothing. And they'll look like heroes when they re-hire the people they let go. Once the government starts throwing free cash around it becomes like a feeding frenzy of sharks. These banks and businesses can smell free money from miles away. Look at all of the lobbyists circling the halls of Congress. It's not only the usual suspects but now they are having lobbyists from foreign countries honing in on the governments largesse. I can almost hear Pete Seeger singing: "The rich man gets the elevator and the poor man gets the shaft..."

What I'd really like to see is someone explain in detail the necessity of any kind of bailout, TARP or economic stimulus. It just seems like a lot of hype. A media created frenzy. I don't understand how going into more debt is going to get us out of trouble. Trouble that was created by going into debt in the first place.

Two people to keep an eye on in the Obama administration are Elizabeth Warren and Chris Orzacg(sp?)....They seem to have a good grasp of the problem. I wish they would have them on the Sunday talk shows to educate the rest of us.

Well that's my thoughts for today. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Rambling on the economy

Like a lot of people I'm confused about the economy. I've seen the news that Wall Street is in a mess and banks are on the verge of collapse but what does it really mean? We are told that we need to act fast in order to get this under control and restore some semblance of order to the chaos. Supposedly this crisis came about because of the housing bubble, bad lending practices and a lack of confidence in the markets. Back in October Congress pushed through a bailout package and gave banks some $350 billion dollars in order to get credit flowing. Congress forgot to put any limitations, restrictions or accounting procedures in place so that banks would have to report on how they are using the money. Now we hear that the banks refuse to tell Congress how they have utilized these funds. What?!!? Now that takes some gall. Why isn't Congress telling these yahoos to give the money back if they don't want to account for it? Why is Congress, the President, et. al. pushing to give these clowns even more money? Didn't they ever hear the old adage: "Once burned, twice learned."?

It doesn't seem like anyone has taken the time to investigate exactly what is going on with the economy. We are treated to a bunch of meaningless phrases like "money is in short supply, banks have tightened credit and the market is suffering from a lack of confidence"--what does any of it mean? No one has come forward to educate the public as to the need for the stimulus package. We have the same old players who got us into this mess offering the same old bromides and hysterically insisting that something has to be done quickly. I'm not falling for it.

Why should we be bailing out the buffoons who got us into this situation? Where are all of the "free marketers" who kept yammering to keep government out of their business? Why not let the free market decide who fails and who survives? That is the point of the free market system, isn't it? Ever since Reagan these yahoos have been saying that they need less regulation, the market knows best and only the strong will survive. Okay, let's let them live up to their philosophy. Why are they looking to the government for a bailout? Why shouldn't the public be telling them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps? That's the line they gave us during the various recessions since the Reagan years. Give them a taste of their own medicine, see how they like it.

But here's the real killer; Congress would have us believe that they are somehow going to get us out of this mess. These are the same bad actors who got us to this point in the first place. We are supposed to have faith that after all these years the same guys who were legislating deregulation, repealing the Glass-Steagall Act, promoting trade schemes that sold off our manufacturing plants to foreign countries, giving no-bid contracts, contracting out every conceivable job and basically selling our country down the tubes have now suddenly seen the light and are going to make things right. How are they going to do this? By printing more money and pushing for more tax cuts! Wasn't it the tax cuts that got us here in the first place? Won't printing more money lead to inflation and a higher deficit?

I'll be the first to admit that my education in economics is lacking. I'm from that old school where you pay cash and only go into debt when you have a reasonable expectation of being able to pay off whatever loans you take out. I didn't get the memo after 9/11 to go on a decades long shopping binge. I didn't go out and purchase one of those McMansions. I didn't go out with a credit card and buy a bunch of stuff that I didn't need. If I signed a contract, I lived up to the terms of that contract and paid on it until all of my obligations were met. I can't believe that I'm the only person who handled my finances in such a manner. There has to be millions of people out there who paid off their debts, saved for a rainy day and lived within their means. So why are we being asked to pay for the irresponsibility of others? Whatever happened to "You made your bed, now lie in it."?

I think it would behoove all of us if someone would sit down and explain in layman's terms precisely why it is necessary for us to go into hock for generations to come. Why should we be bailing out people who of their own volition went in way over their heads? Why should we subsidize the greed and incompetence of CEO's, banks and anyone else caught up in this fiasco?

Is there a pressing need to hurry through legislation that may strangle us for the foreseeable future? Why can't we think on this for awhile and see where we're at when the dust settles? They keep saying that banks won't lend. Okay, how long can they keep from lending? How long can the banks survive without lending money? How long can they not make money by not lending? Maybe it's time to hold their feet to the fire. Sooner or later they'll have to lend money. It's the only way they can continue to survive. If they just sit on the money they'll be writing their own death certificates and have nobody to blame but themselves.

So maybe there's other reasons for the rush to throw money at all of these institutions. What could it be? Political cronyism? A chance for the politicians to give back to their supporters? Look at the first bailout. It didn't get passed until it included provisions to give money to bat makers, rum producers and a whole list of other equally dubious recipients. If it were truly dire needs driving that legislation there shouldn't have been a need for earmarks.

Maybe it's time for a people's march on Washington. Maybe if a couple of million people showed up on Congress' doorstep and demanded an end to politics as usual we could get their attention and have them do the work of the people.