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Truth To Power

the strong do as they wish, and the weak suffer as they must

Archive for February, 2011

Wisconsin, don’t back down

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

When you saw the masses crowding Tahir Square in Cario, what was your initial impression? Did you side with the people, or the power?

When you see the crowds standing up for their rights in Wisconsin, again, what was your initial impression? The people, or the power?

Republicans in Wisconsin said the collective bargaining rights for public employees needs to be limited so the state can avoid laying off workers due to a short-term budget gap of $137 million.

Now, this is simply nonsense. Bargaining in the future has no impact on a budget now, of course. The union has agreed to Scott Walker’s budgetary demands, making his tyrannical gesture plain. He has been hired- seemingly by the Koch brothers- to destroy unions. He lied about why it was necessary, and he’s continued to lie about the situation as his laughably buffoonish pranking by phone showed us all, and Fox News helped, by yet again lying about the facts.

Now, people can have legitimate disagreements about the role of unions in our society, fine. To me, anytime a group of people band together to conserve the rights of the individual, I’m all for it.

If every person has the right to defend — even by force — his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Bastiat

So I say to Wisconsin, don’t back down. Already your protests have scared off some folks:

Republican Govs. Rick Scott of Florida and Mitch Daniels of Indiana on Tuesday opted not to follow in Walker’s footsteps, and abandoned plans in their states to close their budget deficit by curtailing the rights of unions, which could signal a shift in momentum.

Now, Walker is going to lose this battle. Bad timing, for one thing. Try not to squash the rights of common folk while fattening the coffers of power with CNN still showing marchers in Cario, for starters. Secondly, don’t continue to lie about what you’re doing when you’re so easily contradicted. The only way Walker will win is by increased use of force to outlast the thousands surrounding the capital. Nice visual, that.

Of course the apologists for force, statists to the core redstate.com loathes the union, but then again, they always deflect to brute force and suck up to big money. They are republicans, after all.

I understand that people are upset that their unsustainable sweetheart deals are about to go belly-up. I do, truly. But they are sweetheart deals, and they are unsustainable, and the country can no longer afford to ignore the fact that government employee unions have been raiding the public treasury in exchange for tawdry partisan political patronage.

It’s not the public unions that have been raiding the public treasury. It’s Wall Street. It’s Lockheed Martin. It’s the top 2% writing the laws that have kept middle class wages stagnant for 30 years. It is, as it always is, us vs. them.

And the question, as it always is, is this. What side are you on? Better yet…are you the 2%?

I think I already know the answer. Wisconsin, don’t back down.

The real redistribution of wealth

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

So Obama has released his version of the budget, which claims to reduce the deficit by 1.1 trillion over the next decade– which is of course utter bullshit- but still, its probably more likely than the GOP plan of overstating numbers and killing NPR which they claim will cut $100 billion in this years budget– again, bullshit. We can safely ignore the GOP dribble, since all they have is the House sandbox to play in, well, there and the national media. They can make stirring speeches about slashing federal funding for abortion, or the EPA, or basically any sort of regulation at all, but its just chin music for the masses. It won’t go anywhere, or mean a thing.

But when you listen to their propaganda arm, Fox, all you hear is “redistribution of wealth“. Somehow, despite the lowest tax rates since Truman, the rich in this nation are being held up at gunpoint by an Obama-led progressive, socialist army intent on taking their hard-earned goodies.

We should be so fortunate.

Because we are, and have been since St. Ronnie, redistributing wealth- up. Reagan began the notion that fiscal restraint by force of law was only applicable to the middle class and the poor. The remaining 2% of America, be they in the energy industry, or defense, or financial services have watched their net worth skyrocket while the people who do the work, buy the shit, and fight the wars, they are slowly being strangled. The middle class paid for the bailouts, that could cost as much as $23 trillion dollars– and still, we allow Wall Street to play 3 card Monte with our money, fearful of “offending” the Goldman Sachs crowd if we dare attempt to regulate what they are doing with OUR money.

So instead of chipping away at the social safety net that the majority of this country has overwhelmingly endorsed since the days of LBJ, how about we attempt to even the score a bit? Now, I know this will generate howls of indignation from the Rand crowd, and in theory I agree with them. We never should have started Social Security, or Medicare, or blah blah blah, but such discussions are pointless exercises in Heritage Foundation masturbation and are oh so tiresome. And I’m not some statist cheerleader either- our government is corrupt, inept and beholden to the very few at the expense of the majority- but it’s the one we’ve got. So before we all eating dogfood while some Exxon exec moves his money further away from the country he relies upon for his profits, how about we attempt to at least make this fucked up system at least somewhat fair?

For example. Why do I pay Social Security taxes on 100% of my income (which believe me, is well below the $106k income cap) while Bill Gates only pays it on the barest fraction of his nut a year? Eliminate the income cap entirely. I’m not asking for Gates, or Neil Cavuto to pay anything different than I do- just the same. If they worked hard enough and prospered to the point of having higher income, great. That’s laudable. But they did it in my country, using my resources, and they should be treated the same as I when it comes to funding Social Security.

Secondly, if Wall Street continues to piss away taxpayer dollars in the unsustainable and nonsensical derivatives market, make ’em pay for it. You gamble in Vegas, the house gets a cut. Enact a financial transaction tax on each market event, each sale, each re bundling of toxic assets, so that the people who bailed you out, and who generally see no real world benefit to your Gilded Cage Socialism will at least get some good out of you looting our national wealth. I have a feeling it won’t change their behavior in the least, they’ll still sell the same worthless bit of stock or bad mortgage a dozen times because its the best game in town, as it should be, since they’ve rigged it from the get go.

Nobody should have a problem with people earning vast amounts of money, at least I don’t. What I do have a problem with is shouldering more than my share of the burden- both in stagnant wages as well as a bankrupt infrastructure- while that jowly fat bastard atop Exxon pays nothing for the privilege of gouging us at the pump, for example. Fox was right, up to a point- there is a redistribution of wealth in this country. But as they are paid to do, they identify the wrong victims, as they do on everything.

The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”, – Alexis de Tocqueville

I think if de Tocqueville were wandering our nation today, he’d sing a different tune, because its not the public that is getting bribed in our system, is it?

Put another way, are you in the 98%- or the 2%?

Ever been cold, Mr. President?

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

You ever been cold, Mr. President?

I have. You remember it.

I lived for a number of years in a house where the main furnace died, and all the heat for the drafty frame structure was furnished by a small space heater in the front room. I began sleeping on the couch, and even so I fell asleep watching my breath form clouds in the air. Cold, Mr. President. Cold that hurts.

So when I read the following, all I can recall is how I felt those winters, shivering under a quilt:

White House to Cut Energy Assistance for the Poor
Budget proposal would cut billions from aid program.

President Obama’s proposed 2012 budget will cut several billion dollars from the government’s energy assistance fund for poor people, officials briefed on the subject told National Journal.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, would see funding drop by about $2.5 billion from an authorized 2009 total of $5.1 billion. The proposed cut will not touch the program’s emergency reserve fund, about $590 million, which can be used during particularly harsh cold snaps or extended heat spells, three officials told National Journal.

Pointing to the increasing number of Americans who made use of the grants last year, advocates say that LIHEAP is already underfunded. The American Gas Association predicts that 3 million Americans eligible for the program won’t be able to receive it unless LIHEAP funding stays at its current level.

Now, we can debate all day whether the government has the right, or the obligation, to keep people from freezing to death. Me, I’m all for it. Nobody makes a choice between a big screen TV and heat. They make the choice between food, or gas, or medical bills and heat. Tough choices.

How about you make some tough choices, Mr. President? Instead of attempting to appease the GOP-led house, who would slam you for curing cancer, how about you stop our wars of choice in the Middle East? How about you choose to shut down the vast network of military bases we have spanning the globe, fostering anti-American feelings world wide?

Now, this may well all be political theater, a ruse to show you’re “serious” about the deficit, which of course you’re not. Nobody who extends the Bush tax cuts should be allowed to discuss deficits. And maybe once this notion of making an insignificant cut in our budget on the backs of the lessor among us raises enough of a stink, you’ll back off it and then aim your sights at what you really meant all along, but I sort of doubt it. No, this is yet another callous example of the utter disregard you and Washington have for the voiceless. Cold people don’t rally. They can’t hire lobbyists. Now, they might stage a sit-in of government offices, because you know, those places have heat. But ultimately they’ll be ignored while you kneel and gobble at the feet of big business.

How about you trim off a bit of the rampant fraud that infests DC? Such as this, from the Treasury Department:

Buried in the Department of the Treasury’s 2003 Financial Report of the United States Government is a short section titled “Unreconciled Transactions Affecting the Change in Net Position,” which explains that these unreconciled transactions totaled $24.5 billion in 2003.[2]

The unreconciled transactions are funds for which auditors cannot account: The government knows that $25 billion was spent by someone, somewhere, on something, but auditors do not know who spent it, where it was spent, or on what it was spent. Blaming these unreconciled transactions on the failure of federal agencies to report their expenditures adequately, the Treasury report concludes that locating the money is “a priority.”

I’m sure this hasn’t been corrected, nor is it the only example. It was just one that a 30 second search found. How about you find more, Mr. President. Or how about you visit a cold frame house in East Atlanta and talk about choices- while your breath hangs in the air.

But somehow, I doubt you’ve ever been that cold in your life. Maybe that’s the real problem- you just haven’t got a clue.

So, you made me watch this bullshit

Monday, February 7th, 2011

It’s a once a year ritual, a total immersion in America on display, the Super Bowl. To show how far removed I was from it, I had to purchase hardware at Radio Shack to even hook up the cable. But once I did, oh what a spectacle awaited me.

What images will linger with me the most?

Would it be Christina Aguilera yelping her way- incorrectly, natch– to the end of the National Anthem?

Perhaps the eye-popping orgy of NOTHINGNESS that was The Black Eyed Peas?

How about the exploitation of Tibetian misery to hawk Groupon?

Bad, but not bad enough.

I don’t watch TV, except on Hulu, and I never watch sports, save a few moments of the World Cup every four years. So I am largely exempt from what passes as “popular culture” as it is played out upon cable TV. I didn’t watch Bill O’ Reilly “interview” Obama, although I can’t understand why Obama couldn’t find something constructive to do instead of dodging feces from the monkey cage, but hey, whatever.

No, this is what I’ll take away from Super Bowl Sunday, the juxtaposition between this:

bushsb

And this:

Litigation threat forces Bush to cancel Swiss trip

US’s former President George Bush canceled his intended visit to Switzerland to talk in Geneva, after Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a New York based non-profit group and other human rights organizations threatened to bring a complaint in Switzerland under the Convention Against Torture for sanctioning torture of terrorism suspects.

There was our national shame, war criminal George Bush, his vapid wife, and just for grins, his partner in the grotesque, Condi Rice all sitting pretty in the luxury box, instead of shackled to the floor of Camp X Ray. If Bush spends out his days in some sort of Kissenger-esque American house arrest because he’s too scared of prosecution to leave, well, that will be something I suppose. It won’t be justice, and it won’t bring back those he slaughtered and tortured. It won’t teach our arrogant, ignorant country a thing about right or wrong, because of our remarkable talent at self-deception.

Because you see, George Bush is a criminal. A war criminal, if that term means anything anymore- I’ve seen scant evidence that it does. He should not be feted, lounging around with John Madden and drinking O’Douls while a bunch of lumbering freaks in tights play a game before him. While millions of people risk death for their freedom in Egypt, trying to get out from under their dictator, the closest we’ve gotten in modern times sits in a bad sport coat and looks bored. George Bush should be hounded everywhere he goes until he just finds it easier to sit in Dallas keeping a low profile, venturing out for 100k talks on the rubber chicken circuit, spewing lies to those “good ‘Mericans who don’t get nauseous at the sight of his smirking, pathetic visage.

See, you made me watch this bullshit, if only for one day a year. Was it too much to let me enjoy a margarita, some great wings and stupid ads and be done with it? Then I could chat with co-workers about “The Game” and laugh about the ad where Rosanne got flattened, and then forget all about it until next year. But no, you just had to rub my nose in just how odious our “popular culture” really is, and just how complacent to horror we’ve become.

Yes, Super Bowl Sunday was a series of images. Socialism beat capitalism on the field, and a war criminal sat warm and cozy in an insulated booth, while millions suffer from his wrecking of the economy, cold in their about to be foreclosed on houses, or shivering in the bitter desert air in Afghanistan, one of them the last man to die for a lie. Yeah, you made me watch this bullshit in some vain attempt to “fit in”.

I’ll tell ya this. I’m cool with the entire spectacle of obscene consumption, talentless hacks at half time, and our national obsession with “our” team. But I’m sorry, I can’t really stomach a man that robbed us blind, committed treason, and became the face of Ugly America to the world. But what is really galling to me is, somebody is going to tell me to “get over it”.

Tell that to her:

child

Ain’t it funny?

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Ain’t it funny how those who yarp the loudest about freedom and justice can’t actually stand it when it occurs?

We have one party who has run on nothing but More Freedom! Less Government! for thirty years. They never meant a word of it.

We have another party who claims to support the lessor against the stronger, but sells them out every time.

Together -as Lewis Black wisely stated, – one side has a bad idea and the other goes “Wait! I can make it shittier!”

And what about the man in charge?

For all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice.

BARACK OBAMA, Nobel Lecture, Dec. 10, 2009

Well, there are about 2 million Egyptians in a plaza with tanks aimed at their heads who would like you to bend some damn history into the direction of justice. And if not justice, then at least direct Mubarak to the airport. Because those 2 million- and the rest of Egypt behind them- are right. If you are willing to stand for freedom with a tank pointed at your head, you are right. Even if you’re wrong, and end up with some ooga booga Islamic whatever, you’re still right. Because you are willing to die for your freedom. In America we’re willing to die under the heels of an unemployed mother of 3 for a $39 dvd player at Wal-Mart on Black Friday.

Here in America we prattle on about “Bringing democracy to the Middle East”, and then piss ourselves when it actually occurs. And now, with signs of hope in Tunisa, Yemen, and now Egypt, all the staunch defenders of freedom are running for the exits:

This virus is spreading throughout the Middle East.
John McCain

“Mob riots like this,” she warned, “have never led to something good.”
Ann Coulter

Be it gay marriage, or drug laws, or revolution, those that spray the most spit about freedom can’t see to actually, you know, allow it. Because they fear freedom, because freedom means they aren’t in control. And they crave control. Left to our own devices, we might not elect them again. Or bail them out. Or fight in their wars. Or grow their crops for shit wages. And that is simply unacceptable. So when two million people crowd a city square in Cario, they think Times Square and shudder. But they need not worry. Despite the lunatic ramblings of Glenn Beck, this nation doesn’t have what it takes to revolt.

It is said that Chinese prison camps are remarkably easy to control. See, they put a thousand or so inmates in a yard, watch who the men gather around- and kill them. Without leaders, the rest are easily manageable. We are a nation without leaders. We have cheerleaders, and thieves, and despots, but we have no leaders. Not someone to control us, but to inspire us, and the rest of the world toward a more just future. Someone who doesn’t accept the Nobel Prize with empty platitudes about freedom while sending drones over Pakistan.

We need the strength of will, and commitment to freedom exercised by those two million in a square in Cario. That a nation that is as potentially great as ours cannot seem to find it within in self to be as exceptional as some trumpet it to be, well, that ain’t funny at all.