Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired of the American Election Process



If anything more closely fits the title of this blog, it’s the American election process. Where else on this planet do we have election cycles that never seem to end? Where on Earth do you get a candidate who can utter the first thing that creeps into his addled brain? As an amateur historian I have difficulty remembering any presidential hopeful that boasted that they could shoot someone on a major New York street, and not lose a single vote. Hitler may have offered something similar in his 1932 Chancellor campaign, substituting Rosenthaler Platz for Fifth Avenue. 
We finally move into the 21st century nominating a woman to run on the ticket of a major political party. Has she made some questionable choices in her long career? Is she unique among her peers on that issue? She has certainly put in her time, beginning with First Lady of the state of Arkansas, then of the United States, followed by U.S. Senator for her adopted state, and finally Secretary of State. She has the credentials, and when we compare them with that of her GOP challenger, it’s really not much of a contest. 

Hillary worked tirelessly, during the early days of her husband’s first Presidential administration, in a vain attempt to get decent medical care for most Americans. But, in this great corporatocracy we call America, if the pharmaceutical industrial complex doesn’t go along, it just can’t happen. That’s why ObamaCare, which her opponents have labeled ObamaDon’tCare, is a joke when compared with the way healthcare is handled in real democracies. Bernie wanted a single-payer system, but his candidacy was destined to failure owing to slick behind-the-scenes operations by some of Hillary’s cohorts, including the now shamed Debbie Wasserman Schultz. 
There are numerous acts, committed by the Democratic nominee, that I find abhorrent, not the least of which is her signing off on the Bush-Cheney’s war for oil (certainly not the only Democrat to do so). But I like to think of myself as a realist (please stop snickering), and understand that once the primaries are over, in our less than-democratic-republic, the electorate is given few choices.
She has been described as a shill for the banking industry, something not unique to her or other politicians. Could she dispel that notion by revealing the contents of her Goldman-Sachs speeches? Dunno. That might hurt her campaign, which could possibly explain her failure to do so.  Is that any worse than The Donald refusing to show his tax returns? What is he hiding? That maybe his claim to be a multi-billionaire is a sham (which wouldn’t be his first)? Or are there some profit-making items in his portfolio he would prefer not to share with his disenfranchised supporters?  It makes me wonder why not a single journalist has asked either of them these questions in the past several months.
If Hillary wins the election and is ruled by Big Bank, won’t we be as well? Will she follow in the footsteps of her husband and the current POTUS, by looking the other way as the banking industry continues to have its way with us?
Obama’s first Treasury Secretary was Timothy Geithner, was rewarded with the presidency at Warburg Pincus, a highly-leveraged financial entity that benefited greatly from the bailout Geithner engineered in ‘08 and ‘09. These benefits far out-weighed what the average non-financial firm received, or the average taxpayer (which wouldn’t have taken very much). And to ensure that banks were to big to fail and their executives too big to jail, Obama’s first Attorney General, Eric Holder, who had the revolving-door experience, did not prosecute a single banker (He’s now back at the Wall Street firm that employed him prior to his A.G. stint). I assume Holder worked under the direction of Obama, who had accepted Wall Street campaign funds in 2008, according to OpenSecrets.org. Incidentally, if you believe this has relevance, Goldman-Sachs was Obama’s second largest campaign contributor. #44 simply followed the campaign practices of #42 (who just might become the first First Gentleman). Bill’s Treasury Secretaries were Robert Rubin, followed by Lawrence Summers. Did they follow the path of the first to serve in that position? I don’t think a ticket to Broadway’s most expensive play will reveal the answer.
Rubin, during the campaign of 1992, was hired as a financial advisor, where Bill could take advantage of Rubin’s Wall St. connections. This would help create the symbiotic relationship that the banking industry that ultimately led to the repeal of Glass–Steagall. I think we all remember the result that followed.
Below is a quote from the Moyers and Co. blog (read the whole article here):
“This practice of giving private paid speeches to big corporations was nothing new for Summers. Before joining the Obama administration, he received hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees (sound familiar?) from financial institutions that the White House was involved in bailing out and then shielding from more intense regulation. For Summers, the speech at the outsourcing conference was simply a relapse.”
G.W. Bush followed the Clinton lead, using Goldman has his recruiting center, thus explaining the hiring of Hank Paulson to head Treasury. Paulson, to his credit, says he cannot bring himself to vote for Donald Trump, hardly the only Republican to abandon their party's nominee.
Just so this doesn’t look like an attack on just Hillary, let’s spend a few moments addressing the foibles of that other candidate.
Pulitzer Prize winning Politifact maintains a website that keeps track of candidates (on both sides) statements, evaluating them as fact or fiction. Below is how The Donald fared.
 
Donald recently claimed that Hillary rigged the debate schedule with her then primaries opponent, to guarantee the lowest possible turnout resulting from the football schedule conflicting with debate dates. Turns out, that the schedule is fixed by an independent bi-partisan organization.
Trump has gone back in forth on how well he knows Vladimir Putin. Depending on which date the subject was mentioned, his relationship goes anywhere from “Putin has said some very nice things about me.” to “I have no relationship with Putin.” His claim of having great knowledge about Russian business is similar to Sarah Palin’s, claiming to be able to see Russia from her back porch. He boasts about his ownership of the Miss Universe Pageant (held in Moscow in 2012), which was “a great success, a really great success, believe me.”
There was also that flow of drivel about David Duke, leader of the KKK, and also a candidate of the Reform Party.  Despite an occasional disavowal of Duke from Trump, Duke praised The Donald’s acceptance speech at the convention’s conclusion. When asked by reporters, Trump said he didn't remember if he actually ever met Duke.
Trump has been trumpeted as a successful businessman. If by “successful” you mean he’s figured out ways to screw more people who were taken in by his promises, then hail to the Trump! If you think three bankruptcies of his gambling enterprises is indicative of his business acumen, you may need to read a dictionary definition of that word. Trump University is probably not offering this course.
Trump tells his disenfranchised supporters that taxes are too high in this country. Since taxes are the last thing the unemployed, or underemployed should worry over, the applause he gets after making statements such as these are baffling, indeed. To be specific, he does want to lower the tax rate for millionaires. Warren Buffet’s statement, about his secretary paying more taxes than he, does not strike a familiar note with The Donald. The U.S., incidentally, has the 36th highest maximum tax rate in the world.
We are always left with the meager choice of the lesser of the two evils.  If you agree with Trump (and most Republicans) that Climate Change is a Hoax, then by all means, vote for him.  If you like the Supreme Court the way it was composed before Scalia rose to heaven; if you think the minimum wage should be lowered; if you own stock in a wall-building company, if you like the idea of excluding immigrants based on their religion - then, by all means, vote for Trump.
That’s why I’ve adopted the motto: HYNFH  (Hold your nose for Hillary), because with all of her flaws, which candidate is actually qualified to lead this country?

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sick & Tired of Being Sick & Tired of the Political Debates


If quantity makes the difference, the GOP definitely wins. They have the numbers, fourteen to be exact, and those are just the ones you’re likely to recognize (there are twenty-one others). The Dems are down to a paltry three, not counting the twelve unknowns who have announced their candidacy. So if there were a street fight today, no question, the Democrats would get their lights punched out. 

Fortunately, the 2016 Presidential race will not be decided by how many gang members you have, but on  who shows up to vote in November. 

We call ourselves a democracy, a word dating back to ancient Greece, and means “Rule by the people.” But if only one side makes a convincing case for their members to vote, and that side happens to be Republican, it will be rule by the minority.  

This seems to be the case for off-year elections, where the majority party would rather attend a weinee roast than vote for candidates and/or ideas that might actually serve them. Women who stay home on election day do themselves a particular disservice, and could explain all of the misogyny that exists on the books today, with more to come. 

Tea Partyers and Evangelicals sacrifice their weinees and show up in significant numbers. This is what contenders like Ben Carson and Ted Cruz are banking on, and explains why they make statements that have zero validity. Carson wants us to have an all Christian Army, as did King Richard the Lion Hearted and many other participants in the Crusades of the Middle Ages. But, Doctor, with all due respect (or maybe not), these are not the Middle Ages, although that might be a tough position to sell to some of our enlightened electorate. 

The tone of the debates is so different that it’s sometimes hard to believe that both sides are striving for the same goal. Among the Republicans, there are still significant numbers who don’t believe President Obama was born in the United States, and continue to insist that he show his birth certificate to prove he is native born. But by the way some GOP candidates act, maybe they should show their Earth certificates to prove they are not from another planet.

The Climate Change issue is a big separator of the two parties. Republicans have gone out of their way to forget that this is one of the greatest threats to humankind since Duck Dynasty. I’ll let you in on a little secret: Pretending something doesn’t exist does not make it go away. If that were the case, I’d pretend most of the GOP doesn’t exist. There hasn’t been a single world mentioned in the Republican debates about this monster that is getting ready to kick the crap out of us, our children and our children’s children.  They do, however, guarantee that they will approve the XL Pipeline on day one of their presidency, probably before their morning bowel movement. 


The Democrats are a little gentler with each other than their GOP counter parts. They don’t accuse one another of failing to show up for votes, or criticize a perfectly well-thought-out plan to deport 11 million Mexicans.
Instead they talk about their accomplishments. Although, in the Saturday night Democratic debate, Hillary had some mud slung at her for her association with Big Bank, and her vote to sanction GW Bush’s ISIS call to action. Bernie was bludgeoned for voting against the Brady Bill, and other anti-gun legislation. O’Malley took credit for keeping the peace in his former mayoralty, conveniently forgetting that Baltimore has one of the highest crime rates in the U.S. I guess he never watched HBO’s The Wire. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Politics and the Press

Politics and the Press

I’ve been sick and tired for a long time, and what keeps me feeling that way? Well, I don’t think we have the band-width to list them all, but let me start with our political system, and how the press helps keep it in such foul condition.

One cannot hear the name “Hillary” without it being followed by the world “email.” Like the only problem facing our nation today is Hillary’s email account.” There are many things we can say about Madam Secretary, including some very successful achievements while serving in that role for four years. And, yes, mistakes by our 67th Secretary of State were made, which will fuel much of the anti-Hillary talk in the upcoming election. But distinguished members of the press: move the hell on.

If you want to discuss her shortcomings, how about her and husband, Bill’s, love affair with the banking industry?  During her Senate campaigns, she collected 2.9 million from such notable Wall Street Firms as Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Lehman Bros, and Credit Suisse. As a presidential candidate, she received 91k from Morgan Stanley, over 75k from JP Morgan Chase, 58k from the Blackstone Group. Yes, that’s a paltry 224k, but it’s early. Those figures do not include massive contributions from Wall Street law firms in her campaign history.

We probably shouldn’t blame her for the repeal of Glass Steagall, that occurred during Bill’s presidency, which resulted in the financial collapse of 2007 -2008. But let’s hope, that if she survives the primary season (likely), and goes on to defeat the largest cadre of clowns to ever vie for the presidency, she will not surround herself with the likes of Robert Rubin or Larry Summers.

It’s catching, by the way, Obama was no better, from his selection of Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary, who now, according to Wikipedia, serves as president of Warburg Pincus, a Wall Street private equity firm, and Attorney General Holder, who, incidentally, is back with his former law-firm, serving guess what industry? http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/eric-holder-former-attorney-general-returning-covington-burling-law-firm-n387331 . Mr. Holder, you might have a valid reason for not putting a single banker behind bars, but I can’t think of any.

And speaking of clowns, then, of course, there is (children hold your ears)… Donald Trump, a man who received comb-over lessons from a flannel moth (pictured below).  Wait until he learns that it migrated from Mexico, and rapes American flannel moths.




Now I thought Trump was bad, but if you listen to enough speeches from his GOP competition, he doesn’t quite win the award for lunacy. He’s had mixed positions on women (none can resist him), he’s not as homophobic as most of the field, and as of 3pm today, doesn’t hate socialized medicine. Ooops. It’s now 3:05. New position on that one.

This tirade wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the misogyny of most Republican candidates. It makes me wonder how any self-respecting woman can vote for any of them, let alone stay married to them.

According to Ballotpedia.org, almost all the GOP candidates either want to defund Planned Parenthood, or boast of having defunded it while Governor of their respective state.  They all justify their hatred of that organization by claiming how rich it gets selling body parts from dead babies. These pro-fetus ignoramuses (or is that ‘ignorami?’), ignore the fact that many of these women have no other access to family planning counseling.  Planned Parenthood also provides screenings and other vital health information to women in a ‘family way.’ Also, they make no money from passing along the costs of delivering fetal tissue, which has paved the way for important genetic research. Bet you won’t hear that on Fox Noise.

Dr. Ben Carson was probably the most moderate on the issue of abortion, except for being steadfastly opposed to it. As of this writing he is second to the Donald in Iowa straw polls (Iowa does have plenty of straw). But Dr. Ben called Obamacare the worst thing that’s ever happened to America. I could think of a little thing called ‘slavery’ that just might be considered worse. And Ben, I could be wrong, but I don't think I'd lose money betting on whether or not you had slave ancestors.

Chris Christie (who?), said he would treat it like he did Ft. Lee , in the infamous Bridgegate scandal.  

Ted Cruz, would permit abortions when the mother’s life is threatened, but not if she is a rape victim. Carly Fiorina forgets her gender and pretty much goes along with the good old boy crowd.


But the Press, the Press. Where are you on these issues? True democracy hinges on a robust press. Both of those elements have been missing in our country for quite a long time. Walter Cronkite? Where are you now that we need you the most.
For more on politics, and candidates positions on Climate Change, I invite you to visit my website:

Monday, December 29, 2014

Sick & Tired of Those Damn Regulations

Nothing like one of my Congressman Vern Buchanan’s Insta-pols to make a sick and tired guy even more so.

This is the latest example.


I voted "No", putting me in a minority of his enlightened constituents, 80% of whom voted "Yes".

Well, any critically thinking person knows that it’s the regulations that have caused a failure to create jobs and hampered economic prosperity - except for a few sad facts:

Certain sectors of the economy have prospered due to a distinct lack of regulation. I’m talking about the banking business. Bertolt Brecht said it much better than I could: “What is the robbing of a bank, as compared to the founding of a bank?”  That line appeared in the 1931 film, “Threepenny Opera.” Some things never change. One difference is that when those committing the former are caught, they usually spend a fair amount of time as guests of the state. Bankers and Wall Street Execs who have milked the system, committed acts that would be punishable with jail sentences in most democracies, are enjoying lofty salaries and bonuses and are not required to live on the food that gives correctional facilities such high culinary marks.

Thanks to Repubicrat William Jefferson Clinton, who signed off on the repeal of Glass Steagall, permitting these modern-day highwaymen, to have their way, Wall Street was free to commit virtual rape of the economy. Since the statute that could have prevented that no longer exists, we can’t even call it “Statutory Rape.”

The newer Republicrat, Barack Obama, who took money from Wall Street to help win the 2008 Presidential race, has done nothing to let his benefactors sample some of that prison fare. American taxpayers were called upon (I never got such a call, did you?) to bail out the banks. Screwed homeowners, were sucked in by adventurous Wall Street and banker speculator's offers of garbage investments and unlimited credit, lost their homes and saw their credit ratings fall off the roof.

Then there was “Quantitative Easing”, a scheme by the Fed allowing those same bankers to borrow at practically zero interest rates, and could then lend at real interest rates. You might also be aware that this interest rate structure conveniently did not apply to student loans.

And who says regulations (besides my Congressmen and his cronies) impede growth? The latest rules for banks to follow were written by Citibank (who surely has no vested interest), and signed off by guess who? Not only doesn’t he have his Attorney General Prosecute these villains, he approves legislation that permits the very behavior that caused the 2007-08 collapse to happen again. See the Mother Jones article:
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/12/spending-bill-992-derivatives-citigroup-lobbyists

Now, let’s talk about the other point. Vern thinks it’s regulation that prevented jobs growth. What’s wrong with this assumption? Everything. There has been more job growth in 2014 than there has been in the last decade. What has not happened is wages keeping up with inflation (except for Wall Street).  M.I.T. has something to say about this: http://livingwage.mit.edu/ The article talks about, among other factors, the difference between a living wage and the minimum wage.

Those millions forced to live on minimum wages that have not been adjusted in decades.  In 1968, the minimum hourly wage (in 2013 dollars) was $10.71. Today it is roughly (very roughly for many)  $8.51. Ask Wall Street how many of their executives earn that sickening wage. The results of these slave wages is that many are forced to work multiple jobs, including single parents. Many are forced to go to Uncle Sam for food stamps, can’t get health insurance (yes, it’s those tough regulations that brought that on), and must depend on emergency room services for survival. You may want to think about that the next time you have an uncontrollable hankering for one of McDonald's beef-substance products (their pay-starved employees are not "lovin' it",  I'll wager)

So, Congressman, I would have sent this to you in a letter or email, but you are notorious for not responding to constituents opinions (at least never mine). 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Presidential Talking Points
Why I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired, today.

The President is on a collision course with a congress that is even more do nothing than anything Harry Truman ever faced. 

He has announced two initiatives that are designed to work around the obstacles laid down by Boehner and that other boner, Mitch McConnell. 
Is it evolution or just a messed up job of cosmetic surgery?
In order for his efforts to have any shot at success, our very uninformed electorate needs to understand the issues. Fox Noise gets around complicated explanations by the use of buzzwords that Roger Ailes distributes to his Noise Team each day. If you're one of the millions who depend on this  source for your Noise, and stay on that channel for a good part of your day and/or evening, you have heard these repeated ad nauseum




SPOILER ALERT! Just because Fox Ditto Heads say the same things over and over again, it doesn't make them true. 

The progressive movement lacks the simple language to get our message across to those who prefer a bunch of modern-day gladiators maiming one another on the football field, to learning about what really effects their lives, and that of their families. 

Let's first talk about Climate Change:
If I were the President, I'd use the Bully Pulpit to explain, in a language even a third grader could understand, exactly what the failure to wean ourselves off fossil fuels could mean. 


What if over 90% of the scientific community is wrong about anthropogenic causes of Climate Change. What if the population doubling in the last forty years has had no impact on fuel and food consumption, and the unsustainable dependence on cattle, deforestation leading to lowering the Earth's ability to absorb CO2? Anthropogenic: There’s a word you probably won’t hear from the Ailes minions. 

What about the health implications of the use of fossil fuels, especially by those people too poor to live a safe distance from a coal plant? In the case of China, which has announced an executive decision to reduce their noxious emissions 20% by 2030. Executive, because they don't need no stinkin' congress to approve it. 
Another delightful day in Paradise

Beijing residents are sick and tired of having to wear filter masks, and being unable to see beyond a few feet in front of them. And if you think wasting a trillion bucks in Iraq to safeguard the oil supply (petroleum and not olive) was worth it, along with the casualties on both sides have suffered - not to mention the opportunity that ISIL has had to grow their numbers, easily blaming the U.S. for much of the region’s troubles.


The other story that needs selling is the immigration issue. 
Don't you just wish you had this job?

The Republicans are betting that the electorate is too ignorant to realize why we need workers in this country for the jobs Americans won’t accept. They may be correct in their assessment , but unlike stupidity, ignorance can be remedied. Americans are not reproducing at the rate of previous generations. If our Social Security system is to survive, it needs workers at the bottom of the pyramid. If our crops are not to remain fallow in the fields, we need people to do the back-breaking work that most of us will not do. We need to pay these people a living wage, so that we don’t continue the pay race to the bottom. We need to crack down on companies that hire these undocumented laborers with the advantage that they can be paid slave wages, or be reported to the Immigration Service if they protest. Within the population of these undocumented are talented children, who could make educated U.S. citizens if permitted to stay. The alternative is to return them to a country with which they can no longer identify. Have we lost our souls? Can we not empathize with these young people who’ve accompanied their parents across our borders through no fault of their own? 


So, Mr. President, those are your starting talking points. Get your supporters out there to spread the word. The Republicans are putting out merde and we have to set them straight.