Posts from — October 2008
Was an invited guest on this radio programme broadcasting from Delray Beach earlier this week, and though I was requested to come on to discuss the issue of the Americans invading Syria’s borders, I was practically bushwhacked by another topic, one that I hadn’t given much thought before, but which turned out to be interesting.
There was a discussion between the host Roy Miller and 2 others, about the consequences of Barack Obama losing the election next week. At my point of entry, it was mooted that there was a high possibility of violence and confrontation in the streets of USA.
My response was that though there would be a high degree of disappointment and resentment, I didn’t think wide-scale disturbances were anywhere likely.
One of the guests pointed out that Americans were so looking for hope and change that an Obama loss would result in violence. Somewhere the possibility of assassination (god forbid) was introduced, what with the arrest of 2 white wing-nuts allegedly planning the mass killings of black children and culminating with the shooting death of the presidential candidate.
That apparently ratcheted up even further the visual of the mass burning of American cities. Me, ‘I doan theeeenk soooo’.
The latter nightmare is actually something that is keeping a lot of folks away from the polls. Many have confided to me that they fear such an incident and don’t want to be a part of it.
But should such happen, then its timing would determine the level of violent disruption. I would agree should such happen (and it leaves me highly queasy to even contemplate as an academic exercise) close to November 4, then there is a higher probability for violence… in black communities.
Not only do they have more invested in Obama, they have seem similar occurrences over a long period of time. Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, the jailing of those like Marcus Garvey, and the assassinations and confinement of other black power activists and leaders.
But we know what happens when mass violence happens in such communities… they are contained to that community and really, not many people in this society mind if the ghettos ‘burn baby burn’.
But as much as this might happen, I don’t think that it would be widespread or long lasting. Beyond the black community, many people would feel devastated, but the most that would happen would be a few demonstrations in some streets, some tears, a rush to the technological media (blogging, writing to editors, calling talk radio), symbols and outbursts of outrage, some black armbands… and back to work the next morning. Ok the 2nd morning after (I’m really getting to cynical).
But for my peace of mind, let’s forget the worst-case scenario and look at an Obama loss at the polls and the possibility of violence by his supporters.
The frustration of the black community would be significant but not overwhelming. Blacks are only about 14% of the US population and contrary to what Sarah Palin might think, we are not all cooped up in ghettos. And as per usual, the police have plans of containment. The mess wouldn’t spill too far, wouldn’t last long. All the black church leaders, the Sharptons and the Jacksons would be rolled out to pacify the black masses.
Would white people riot should Obama lose? I think not. The main reason would be that Americans have largely lost the ‘fire in their belly’. Henry Kissinger once wrote about the ‘American culture of avoiding hardship’, and George Bush once referred to ’country club democrats’ (quoting Kissinger and Bush in the same paragraph must represent a new low for me).
In other words, it is well recognized that activism and revolutionary zeal are sadly lacking in this society. On more than one occasion, I have asked “What happened to America’s real revolutionaries”.
The dumbing down of America has something to do with this loss, but another answer is that most have been seduced by the bling, and have to meet mortgage and car payments. Just an aside, was it I who said that “Hunger can start a revolution but not sustain it?”.
Years ago, there were massive demonstrations worldwide against the invasion of Iraq. There were large ones in Washington, New York and California, perhaps Seattle. But not many other places raised much noise.
I attended one in West Palm Beach in 2006 that gathered less than 200 people, most of them women and most of them middle-age plus. That is representative of today’s activists, old and fading. And them folks don’t throw stones and set fires.
I can imagine that many of Barack’s supporters wouldn’t get past the first Starbucks, “STOP VOTER FRAUD! STOP VO… HEY, LET’S GET A FRAPPUCINO”.
Perhaps its unkind of me to judge the American spirit so unkindly, but there it is. Many of us have been neutered.
George Bush and the neo-cons are still out to prove that they are willing to leave America as damaged as possible, for the next president. First it was Pakistan, now it is Syria, where US special forces crossed the Iraq-Syria border to allegedly kill ‘terrorists’.
As justification, American officials said that they were operating “…under an expansive definition of self-defense that provided a rationale for strikes on militant targets in sovereign nations without those countries’ consent”. Does this sound very much like the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war?
Again this exposess the short-sightedness and hypocrisy of American officials. Not only because this is wrong and will be rightly condemned, but it will be used against other countries and eventually America itself. If you cross another man’s borders to kill someone, the least there is, is a case for murder, the most is invasion and war.
Since American illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq, at least 2 countries have invaded their neighbours citing ‘the doctrine of pre-emption’. One was Russia in Georgia. Can you imagine Cuba or Mexico unilaterally crossing American borders to even arrest a ‘bad guy’.
Unfortunately, in the debates, Barack Obama defended this policy which positions him right alongside George Bush and John McCain. One can only hope that this is election-speak and he will reverse himself if he is to direct America’s foreign policy.
Will race play a part in the election? Many say no (self-denial), I say yes, it will from open and deliberate to subconscious. Read this column “What? Me biased?” by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/30/opinion/30kristof.html?_r=1&oref=slogin and take the test. You might be surprised.
In Westfield, Massachusetts, at a gun fair, an 8-year-old boy, fired a fully automatic Uzi at a pumpkin and ended up killing himself (I’m almost tempted to say, Pumpkin 1, Boy 0, but that might not be in good taste).
The father (obviously a poster child for stupidity) who gave him the gun, exclaimed “This accident was truly a mystery to me… a horrible travesty, and I really don’t know why it happened”. The father’s name is Charles Bizilj and he is director of emergency medicine at a Connecticut hospital. Anybody want to give him an answer, please feel free to do so.
October 30, 2008 1 Comment
Has anyone heard the tale about the Scorpion and the Frog? Where a scorpion and a frog were living was about to be flooded. The scorpion asked the frog for a lift to drier ground. “Do you think I’m stupid Scorpy? You’ll just sting me to death”
“No”, intoned the poisonous one, “If I did, then I will drown”. With this logic winning out, the frog took Scorpy for the ride on his back. In the middle of the raging waters, Wham! Scorpy hits him with a full dose.
As he is dying and both start to sink, Froggy asks, “But why? You will die also”.
And the scorpion answers, “Why? Because I’m an American capitalist, it’s in my nature”.
And this, children, illustrates what is happening with the $700B bailout.
Something needed to be done. I had my doubts about this plan because there were no penalties, no responsibility, no consequences, no flagellation, no tar and feathering, no imprisonment, no head on the chopping block, nothing, if the banking sector used the funds inappropriately.
And they haven’t been using the money for the primary purpose of freeing up the credit market, if they have used any at all. It is becoming clear that the money is being used to buy stuff (other banks, mergers, acquisitions, to speculate in the stock market which right now means holding unto the money until a bargain appears), and to clear their own debts, feather their own nests.
“Why?” You the frog ask. Because self-enrichment is more in their nature than the economy at large. Making this country better is not in their game-plan.
By the way, did I tell you the consequence when these guys buy ‘stuff’?… branch closures, lay-offs, reduction in services, more lay-offs. The latter means families will have less ability to repay loans, leading to further foreclosures, more bankruptcies, more homelessness, greater burden on the government system to maintain shelters, more people will be going to jails (now there is a sure growth industry), and an increased burden on hospitals because the ‘po’ don’t have no health insurance.
Anything blessed by George W Bush, is a snow job, a con, a ruse, to make his cronies richer and the rest of the country suffer. You didn’t think he would be going without us getting banged, did you?
The democrats in the congress and senate, once again have fallen for a trap plotted in the white House, and all they are offering is to plead with the scorpions. Sorry, froggies, but a social conscience isn’t in their nature.
A few weeks ago I forecast that gas was gonna go under $3 a gallon before the end of October. It happened two weeks earlier than predicted. Recently, I postulated that the economy and the tilt-a-whirl in the stock market would start to steady off when gas reached about $2.65. Well, I’m already seeing $2.63… so much for my crystal ball. That goes out the window with the economy.
I also said that there were more deep shocks to come and so far, one has. But there will be more. It is far more messy than I thought and the D-word isn’t one that I will exclude from my lexicon.
The ‘experts’ say that unemployment is at 6% and won’t go beyond 7%. Don’t believe a word. These guys never leave their towers above the clouds, and their statistics are influenced by the need to put a smiley face on everything. To me, the figures are already popping 15%. No, don’t panic. Just be real.
The other thing with these rose-tinted prognoses, is the failure to recognize that capitalism is dying. They have exalted capital into god status and refuse to accept it can die. Well, welcome to history.
Capitalism was great for a certain time, when factories needed to be built, railroads needed to span the country, airplanes needed to be invented and so on. But now, let’s give it a gold watch, a handshake and send it into retirement.
What we need to prepare for is its replacement. That can be a benevolent society, some version of what some disdainfully and ignorantly regard as a mixed economy, or it can go the way the corporations really want, corporate feudalism. And the latter my friends, you will just (place sarcasm here) love.
Read 2 stories which highlights stupidity. One was in the South Florida
Sun-Sentinel about a white woman whose jewellery business is so floundering that she now has the time to go downtown Ft Lauderdale waving a poster supporting John McCain. Nothing wrong there. We should all support the candidate that means the most to us.
The thing is she describes herself as a life democrat. Uhho. She claims she turned against Obama because his health insurance plans will lead to the socialization of health care, and in regard to his taxes, she claims that Obama shouldn’t be increasing taxes on the rich because “… the top 10% already pay over 70% of the country’s taxes”.
Intelligent reasoning… except that she is not rich and her business is going down the toilet under the oppressive policies of this administration, and not likely to get any better under PaCain’s economic plans. The only way she would be tax-assessed by Obama, or benefit under PaCain, would be if she won the lottery.
And at this point she is likely to benefit better from Obama’s health insurance plans, since she might not be able to afford that luxury much longer.
This underscores my argument that one should not underestimate the capacity of Americans to be stupid and/or racist. This woman rationalizes her vote for PaCain, not because of what he offers, but what she doesn’t like in Obama’s plans. Worse still, she is clearly voting against her self-interest.
In a ‘letter to the editor’ of a national magazine, one guy spins Obama’s calm demeanour like this. ‘Obama is calm because he has nothing to say. McCain is angry because he has lots to say’. Good spin isn’t it, especially if you are in bizarro world.
It’s not easy to change people against things that are deeply imbedded in their nature.
October 26, 2008 No Comments
The Homeless. Have you given any thought to them lately? Homeless. The word conjures up images of people who are often referred as human detritus rooting through garbage, the lazy-dirty-shiftless-drug addicts or alcoholics who have wasted their lives and are now bothering us at stoplights.
My friend, you need to wake-up to a newer, frightening reality. The homeless have dramatically changed, particularly under the Bush administration. Not only are there many more of them, but old stereotypes no longer come close to fitting the reality. These faces are unexpected. The most vulnerable in society has expanded.
The first thing I would suggest is that we recognize that in these times, many of us, neighbours, friends, team-mates, workmates, casual associates… many are just one cough away from being homeless. If we look carefully at our own situation, we can even recognize that it can just take a few unfortunate circumstances to move us from one day Weston, the next a shelter in Ft Lauderdale with no choice in dinner menu.
We might think disasters like fires, hurricanes and tornadoes create temporarily homelessness with a quick to return to normalcy. But think again… divorce, major illness, job loss, depression, mild drug use, alcoholism, arrest but not necessarily conviction, automobile accidents, disrupted homes, lawsuits, bank failure, business failure, policy changes in government… any combination of these can drag almost any of us down that street.
Right now in America, it has been calculated that each night there are up to 2,000,000 people homeless, the fastest growing population… and the resources to help them are dwindling. Worse still in recent times, children are immensely affected. Whole families are tossed out on the streets because of the mortgage and credit crises, moving in a flash from Main St to Broke St, USA. Oftentimes there are no family support systems to fall back on, because they themselves are very near breaking point.
The royal statisticians claim that the jobless rate in the U.S. is just over 6%. I think 15% more likely. America has a way of hiding bad news in statistics, smoke and mirrors and a retreat into ignorance.
Here are some 2000 AD statistics that must now obsolete. Single men comprise 44% of the homeless, single women 13%, families with children 36% (the fastest growing sector in the fastest growing population), unaccompanied minors 7%. Blacks 50%, whites 35%, 12 % Hispanics. 68% have had problems with alcohol, drug abuse or mental illness. This is the one figure I know has changed dramatically. Many of the new homeless never or are hardly involved in drugs or alcohol, and at first, are quite sane.
The new homeless have nice cars, cell phones, laptops, jewellery, iPods… trappings of former lifestyles. Many adults, but particularly their kids, have not been able to come to grip with the abrupt physical and mental dislocation, and there is always the forlorn sense that they think that when they will wake up tomorrow, life will be back as they once knew it.
I have had occasion to see the fallen and their kids, and it’s a sad and humiliating sight… eye contact is rare, disbelief and stress are debilitating, and in kids, there is stunted growth. A loss of hope. Unconsciously blaming their parents for failure to protect. Many lapse into chronic depression and behavioural problems. Early-age suicides are not unheard of.
Their education gets stunted, friends gone, little niceties that they are used to, poof! More often than not, no father figures. He has long disappeared.
But he is not the only person that fades away. Our concept of the village has been eroded and we care for little for those who have stumbled, just rats booted out of the race. Ok, that’s unfair. But it’s true that we don’t recognize their presence either because we fear our own fate, or we‘re so caught up in trifling little things like Britney Spears’ love life, that we no longer want to be burdened by another man’s despair. We turn away more than our eyes. We can’t understand because we don’t want to understand.
But the homeless are our problem. One way or another. There are social costs and ramifications. Increased crime is one of them, but as a society, we shouldn’t be coldly turning our backs on human beings. Neglecting the issue of homelessness is destructive, even self-destructive.
Homelessness has become more complex and addressing it needs our understanding and caring… attributes this administration is grievously short of.
John McCain is part of this administration. With 7, 8, countless houses, he cannot understand homelessness. I think that Obama understands the problem but cannot make it a campaign issue. To raise its importance would be to alienate the middle class, who accepts his idea to share the wealth, as long as it is coming from the top. They have no inclination of having that wealth, or theirs, shared with the underclass. That would be socialism.
Sarah Palin remains the gift that just keeps on giving. This woman incurs controversies like it’s a way of life. This week alone she claimed that the real patriotic America is found in the small, rural towns, hinting that large cities are filled with unpatriotic people. She also misled third-graders as to the role of the vice president, “… they’re in charge of the United States Senate, so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better…”.
The thing is that contradicts the United States Constitution. Now Palin, who keeps John McCain on the verge of a panic attack, should know that when a camera is in the room, she is talking to the nation. Nobody bushwhacked her but her tongue.
And her aides are climbing all over themselves trying to justify why she charged Alaska for her daughters’ joyrides, listed as official business… things like each daughter drawing a raffle ticket… the equivalent of me taking Rover to a function as the official greeter just because he wags his tail, and having taxpayers pay everything from plane fare, hotel rooms, to spa treatments. You’re such a goood boy, Rover, good boy.
While it is not exactly illegal to have family tripping along as long as they are doing official business, the very specious reasons that Palin gives for bringing her family along on taxpayers dime, is borderline fraudulent.
Mrs Palin, like her cohorts, have the morals and social conscience of a crackhead.
October 23, 2008 1 Comment
For a 2nd or 3rd straight day, the stock market showed gains. I believe this is temporary and expect at least one or two more hiccups before some form of sanity returns (irony: expecting sanity in an asylum).
It was interesting to see an editorial by Warren Buffett exhorting Americans to jump into the stock market, saying that he is leading by example. It sent a message apparently been heard by many. Still.
That message will influence the lower ranks of shareholders but not necessarily the fattest cats. Of course there is a chance of the multitude following Buffett into the market, forcing the big guys to follow or lose out. We’ll wait and see, but I will stick to some uneasiness in the market for another week or two.
Interestingly, if Buffett’s call works, Obama will reap some benefits what with Buffett endorsing him and being his adviser.
But as I write this, gas prices continue to fall fast, telling me that money isn’t yet going into the market wholesale. My personal number is about $2.65 a gallon before trending upwards. I’ve seen it at $2.85 some places.
The Saudis want to look at cutting back on production to reduce excess, but I think this is just bulletin board material. It’s for show.
When gas reached near $4.00, supermarkets amongst others raised their prices quoting high transportation costs as the primary factor, but now that gas has dropped more than a $1.00, food prices aren’t budging. Well, part of the reason for that is that there is the expectation that the price will zoom back up, and they will make a nice tidy additional profit in the meantime. Consumers, don’t expect to benefit. Supermarkets aren’t charities.
Let me slip this one in before I forget. Kudos to FPL, Florida Power and Light. A few weeks ago I called them on an issue. My bill was due, I presumed, on a set date and I set up my alerts as such. Over the last few months, I have been paying late because the due dates were coming earlier and earlier. Each time I paid late, I’m slapped with a late charge.
I won’t bother to explain why the floating due date is, but suffice to say that the FPL returned my called, one Ms Clara Scutt, and provided a solution that should no longer create an issue.
I bring this to your attention because we all rant at the inability to breach the ‘great walls’ that service providers have fortified around them, leading to long and frustrating instances getting little or nowhere. FPL has proven to be different and I applaud them for it.
On the other hand, there is American Express. Actually, they are very reachable, but it is their customer practices that I have issues with. I have been a card member for some time, and have rarely paid late. Recently, AmEx took 2 actions that puzzle me. On one card, they reduced my credit limit tremendously, to just a little above what I currently owe them.
The other action is too convoluted to go into, but it in effect, reduces my credit… just what was feared coming from the turmoil in the banking system. Personally I am not unhappy because I’m only too glad to wean myself off credit cards. But I’m thinking of others for whom credit cards are a matter of survival. Not talking about the addicted spendthrift, but the I-have-no-money-in-the-bank-so-my-card-keeps-my-children-alive folks.
And one can only ask what is the reason for pushing people in debt over the edge. You kill a man, you recover nothing. You work with him, to recover something. But apparently that is not fashionable in the credit market. I hope someone will explain. I believe its part of the corporate conspiracy to impose corporate feudalism once capitalism is dead. But then again, I’m the one with aluminium foil on my head.
Colin Powell has endorsed Obama. Hohum. This he should have done long ago. Now he just cancels himself out. Already the reason advanced is because they are ‘brothaaaas’ as if Powell isn’t intelligent enough to think independent of race.
Ok, let me backtrack. Powell’s endorsement is of value because it adds momentum to Obama amongst independents. And it adds some gravity to the thought that Obama can reach across the aisle. But that is diluted because well, Powell is a ‘brothaaaaaaa’.
Still, if Obama wins, it would do him well to offer Power an important diplomatic post in either the UN, the mid-east (not Israel) or Europe. Nope, we won’t see Powell in his parents homeland, Barbados.
The new attack against Obama is that he is a ‘socialist’. We would wish. Americans have no real understanding of political terms and only bandy them about in the context of ‘good vs evil’. They don’t know what socialism is, only that it’s ‘evil’.
They are no better than the Jamaicans of the 60’s who turned their backs on Federation just because Bustamante told them that Norman Manley had brought Russian ships to take over the country, or those who fled in the 70’s because Manley was turning the country communist.
Ignorant people scare easily and are easier to control. That should have been one of the major historical lessons coming out of the Bush era, but we are apt to repeat our mistakes instead of learning from them.
This attack is not likely to stick either, but one cannot underestimate the stupidity and racism of the American voting populace. I advise caution and continued hard work to the end for those who support Obama. Do not put to much faith in polls and in hearing what you want to hear.
The long lines formed for early voting is usually a positive indicator for the challenging party, but this election has race as a component, and one cannot foresee its effects.
Picture caption: “Newly elected and first Jamaican woman to be elected as state representative in Florida, Hazelle Rogers, is joined by a trio of Beijing Olympic elites Sherone Simpson (silver medalist 100 metres), Michael Frater O.D. (4x100M relay gold medalist) and Nesta Carter O.D. (also 4x100M relay gold medalist) at a South Florida function (Oct 18) honoring the athletes”.
October 21, 2008 2 Comments
Here I go again, patting myself on the back. But then again, if I don’t, will you? Just a few blogs ago (October 9), I predicted that gas prices would be under $3.00 by month end. Well, I pumped gas at $2.99 yesterday.
Some acquaintances laughed at my prediction as well as the rationale that this was caused by speculators fleeing the market. So let me explain.
Even though government has thrown money into bailing out all these financial institutions, the stock market is still behaving like a drunken and unpredictable fool. Well, there is nothing unpredictable about it. At the end of this ‘crisis’, we will have several hundred new millionaires. If I had extra cash I would be doing the same.
When Washington Mutual went down, the shares immediately dropped. But as soon as Chase acquired it, shares went to $44.00. If you bought at $2, then you can calculate your great gains. Well, that is exactly what is happening. Speculators are holding onto their money waiting for quick buys. They are trying to gauge when is the best time to buy as against holding out longer. And this is why the market is so topsy-turvy.
It is no longer about confidence, it’s about gambling. Here’s how it works using oil as a sample. Despite all the crap about demand and supply, gas reached $4.00 simply because of speculation. It has dropped spectacularly even though in places like Atlanta, there is a shortage. Thus the price should rise according to the holy book of capitalism, right? Wrong!
Speculators have pulled their money for any of at least 3 reasons. One is that they are scared and moved the money in to metals like gold. Another is that they are waiting for better opportunities ala WaMu. The third is that they are waiting for better opportunities ala oil.
Lets say I had 100,000 shares of gas at $4.00 per share =$400,000 (if wishes were horses, I would be flying). The price starts dropping and at $3.80, I go, ‘Uhho, I better get out of here’. But if I’m smart, I hold unto my cash and watch the drop. Right now, I have $380,000 safe.
The market hits $3.00 and I still hold. Then somewhere I guess that it might be moving up soon. It might even start reversing by the time it reaches $2.60. That $380,000 will buy many more shares than I previously held. I jump in and wham, I’m much richer now than before. It climbs back to $4.00 (simply on speculation), and Paris Hilton’s ordering us (me and she fool, you are still poor) breakfast in bed.
Watch what happens when the market starts to pick up. It will do so fast. This is the reason for the small spurts. Moneybags are feeling things out. It moves up a little, speculators jump in, the market rallies more. But many still hold, shortening the rally and the next day, the market drops again. Until.
So if there’s anyone out there who wants to give me $1/2mK, feel free to do so, anytime soon.
But hey, there are several downsides… though that I haven’t fully figured out the specifics as yet. But this much I know. It’s going to be like the economy on steroids. Some are going to be filthy rich fast, others are gonna get screwed mightily. And when you throw an overdose of steroids into a body, it breaks down pretty painfully. The economy will crash worse, it’s a matter of time. Capitalism eats itself from the insides. And we the hoi polloi are the insides.
Man who fight with wife all day, get no piece at night.
Ok, so the market has hurt you. Your 401K is now 101K. All the experts have been proved wrong. What do you do with the little savings you have left? Well, let me recommend a new money management firm, al Qaeda.
Yes, you got it right. Al Qaeda. According to some experts, al Qaeda ‘… is likely to escape the effects of the global crisis’.
“A mobile and extensive military options unit with its fingers in non-western banks and money transfers, backed heavily by pharmaceutical funds, this stock is expected to rise as its main rivals which it continues to out-maneuver, go broke. Outlook for 2009, pretty good, stock rating high. Buy now”.
The recent history of voter fraud ‘allegedly’ committed by the republican party is, well, spectacular even by Jamaican standards. But there are more than 1 way to skin a cat, and currently one of the ways is the ‘systematic purging’ of the voting rolls so late in the campaign by the McCainanites, particularly in close states.
It’s clear that they have designed not to purge THEIR potential votes but democratic votes. Much of this purging is happening to blacks and Hispanic immigrants. And it’s quite clear that many innocent citizens (particularly those of ‘democratic suasion’) will be expunged. By the time the mistake is found and corrected, it will be ‘So velly solly we make beeeg mistake’… but the damage will be done.
This is why all legal voters supporting the Obama campaign need to turn out and make their voices heard at the polls. This is no time for complacency.
One sunny day in 2009 an old man approached the White House from across Pennsylvania Avenue, where he’d been sitting on a park bench. He spoke to the U.S. Marine standing guard and said, ‘I would like to go in and meet with President Bush.’
The Marine looked at the man and said, ‘Sir, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here.’. The old man said, ‘Okay’ and walked away.
The following day, the same man approached the White House and said to the same Marine, ‘I would like to go in and meet with President Bush.’
The Marine again told the man, ‘Sir, as I said yesterday, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here.’. The man thanked him and, again, just walked away.
The third day, the same man approached made the very same request of the very same U.S. Marine, who understandably agitated at this point, looked at the man and said, ‘Sir, this is the third day in a row you have been here asking to speak to Mr. Bush. I’ve told you already that Mr. Bush is no longer the president and no longer resides here. Don’t you understand?’
The old man looked at the Marine and said, ‘Oh, I understand. I just love hearing it.’
The Marine snapped to attention, saluted, and said, ‘See you tomorrow.’.
October 17, 2008 No Comments
The United States of America is largely about smoke and mirrors. And I’m not saying that to be demeaning, because it takes tremendous effort to maintain this illusion/delusion.
In this society, the most complex to the simplest most meaningful thing, can be an illusion, things that aren’t as they seem. Americans have come to be recognized as highly superficial people, the triumph of style over substance. The problem often is that style collapses quickly and where there is no substance, where the banality of one’s life is easily exposed, where the illusion of strength and comfort quickly disappear, then people stop trusting everything in the society.
I was recently talking to a dude whose former workplace is a national office supplies chain. For the sake of this blog, we’ll call them aah, Office Depot.
He told me that every week he printed new job application forms which quickly disappear as needy wanna-be workers are encouraged to apply for employment. Problem: Office Depot isn’t really hiring.
The dude told me that there are stacks of filled –out forms in the back, not even making File 13. That when employees leave, their positions aren’t filled. That the store that he was working, was grossly understaffed, that corporate has mandated a freeze on hiring. I went into a couple stores to check and found them practically deserted of employees, what I would think was an unhealthy ratio of manpower per sq.ft.
Now, one would ask why would any corporation pursue such practices? Isn’t there something sadistic about giving people hope of employment when there is none, or is it the thought that it is better to give a little hope than none? Is this the only corporation carrying through this façade and if not, how national is it? Is it a way of trying to deceive their own employees, the public, the shareholders or other competing stores?
I would love for readers to share their own perceptions, rationale and experiences. I would love for a retail manager to confirm or rationalise this phenomenon. Anyone.
Now this smoke and mirrors game isn’t limited to just corporations… it’s an American way of life. Go into a strip mall and look at the fancy facades with nothing behind them. Listen to the tv commercials, particularly those hawking drugs… 15 seconds of what miracles the drug will do for you and the other 15 seconds of how it can kill you.
Look at the political arena, even the presidential elections… wasn’t it John McCain’s campaign manager who proudly announced that this campaign won’t be about issues but perceptions? In a real world, shouldn’t someone have his head on a stick?
Look at the illusion that a president runs the country by himself. The president is subject to many influences including his advisers and party. People talk about Obama’s experience like it is really, really important. More important is his ability to lead, to create leadership within his inner circle, to take advice, and to some extent impose some of the things he personally wants to be done.
As front-man, he also should have the ability to dialogue with other leaders without giving them shoulder massages in public or attempting to exit through locked doors, also on camera. Duh!
By his very presence, he should be able to engender respect from allies and foes alike and this can only be done by someone with an overall empathy for the world. George Bush never had that, and with all his ‘experience’, neither does McCain. But back to the script.
Does anyone really believe 1/2 of what politicians tell them? Of course they do, which is why they get disillusioned with government so quickly and why the voting percentages have been trending Downsville for so many years. Hopefully that will be reversed this year, but then what?
Look at television… the ultimate tool of deception, where even the news only enhance perceptions, not deliver substance.
The collapse financial market: What were the players trading in… smoke and mirrors. Bits and bytes that didn’t really exist. No one was trading a book for a pen, a tractor for a house. Just numbers, on a computer, with nothing to back them. And that $700B? Just more numbers to be given away.
Why didn’t the congress choose take Wall St to a large field in Utah and show them 600 airplanes, 8,000 earthmovers, 80 ships, 10 million boxes of Lego, 1B chocolate bars, 300,00 boxes of pencils and say, “This is your bailout package”. Because Wall St wouldn’t know what to do with something that actually can be touched, something solid. It would be like giving Paris Hilton a pan, water and a stove. She wouldn’t have a clue. Like when George Bush first went into a supermarket, “I never knew places like this existed”.
Capitalism is also smoke and mirrors, as is democracy. Both, like the concept of American justice, works for some but really not the majority. ‘Work hard and you will succeed’ is another delusion millions have bought into and are in therapy blaming themselves for ‘failing’. Well, here is free and drug-free psycho-advice. Stop buying into the myth, your failure is not always your fault.
Even America’s bravery and intelligence are delusions, for on average, they are no greater or lesser than any other country. But for years the myths of these attributes have been built up by movies, superhero magazines and talking heads wishing the country not to know the real truth. And that rubbish could pass here and abroad because of the backative of America’s might, its dominance of the world economy and the strength of its weaponry.
But these myths have been unraveled and we in America are the last to know, and too many are futilely clinging to the delusions, without these self-acclamations we feel less than nothing.
America can only save itself by recognizing that the smoke is dispersed and the mirrors broken… we have no new raiment, we are naked, and we are not kings. Recognizing this, we can join the world community as an equal, not an overlord. We should accept that we can no longer say one thing and do another, that we are subject to rules and repercussions like everyone else. That our collective voices only count as one. That each sovereign state has its own destiny and must find their own way without our interference, or at most we can only join with others (not extort them), against truly rogue situations.
We will have to learn that we, 5% of the world population, cannot control and oftentimes waste, at the expense of others, 25% of the world’s resources.
We will have to teach our children from a world perspective, not from a racist, sexist, narrow-minded, jingoist point of view.
The United States is a great (not greatest) wonderful country, but one which has long chosen to live by sleight of hand backed by bombast and threats, rather than honesty and truth.
This is an opportune time for honesty and true self-awareness. This is one of the elements that Barack Obama might, repeat might bring to America and the world. I pray that he does and that Americans readily accept that new position in the world… an opportunity that can bring them true leadership and respect. Choose it, or lose it.
Interesting news just bust. Hillary Clinton says that she is not likely to run again. Hmmm. This can be good news in that there is a recognition that Barack Obama will win the presidency and would run again in 2012 unless he’s a complete bust. Short of that, it’s unlikely that his party would seriously entertain a challenger.
But she made this announcement on Fox News, which could mean that she is sending a message to her supporters that if Obama wins, their beloved Hillary is soooo history. Hmmm, indeed. Sorry, but I can no longer trust the Clintons.
October 14, 2008 No Comments
John McCain is now finding out that once you open Pandora’s jar, it’s not so easy stuffing back the evils that escape. Having ramped up the tension against Barack Obama in his recognition of falling behind, McCain might be suffering pangs of conscience… something unfortunately not shared by the Joe 6-packs types of Sarah Palin.
Ok, it’s a bit unjust in laying at her feet, actions of extremist republican supporters. But it is undeniable that the PaCains made a stated position to go after Obama not on issues but on character. The PaCains made their primary strategy to be insinuating nastiness about Obama and his associations no matter how fleeting or ridiculous.
It is these two who stood by at rallies as the crowd uttered false and derogatory remarks and threats against Obama’s life. And they did nothing but lead the cheerleading. Now McCain might be seeing what he is letting loose and trying to pull back. But his pit bulls are in a frenzy and out for blood, and McCain is now finding that he is standing in their way.
It is very likely that very soon symbols of lynching will turn up at PaCain’s parties, in a subtle (or not so subtle) way to remind everyone what Obama is. Race is about to be openly introduced and McCain’s advisers are already pushing the envelope, walking as close to the edge as possible without actually crossing the line.
So what if supporters do? …that is to be expected in the heat and passion of the American electoral process, they will say.
In his desperate quest for political power it will be seen if McCain has a crisis of conscience, if the ‘man’ that was once considered decent, will have even a shred of decency left intact. Or whether he will be swept aside by the creation of both himself and his running mate. If he does have a crisis of conscience, it wouldn’t be farfetched to think that some republicans will be calling for him to be replaced by the gun-toting, hard-shooting, rabble-rousing, lipstick-wearing, aaah, lady.
What is worse is that she has been found ‘guilty’ of ethics violation in using her abusing her position of governor of Alaska to try to force the firing of her ex-brother-in-law. No matter how they spin this as a democratic ‘kangaroo court’, the fact is that the overall committee that led to the finding is bi-partisan, and one republican who was against the investigation, has at least admitted that it was professionally carried through.
To deflect attention, we will see more incendiary attacks on Obama and more mobs going wild. It has been reported that at a Palin rally in Florida, ‘… a racial insult was hurled at an African-American cameraman.
My thinking is that Palin and her supporters are not averse to starting a race war, or at least go to the brink of that in order to get her ass in the Oval Office.
Her central strategy is class warfare as she shows disdain for the city folks and intellectual elites, advertising herself as Mrs Joe 6-pack and a hockey mom. As she continues in that stereotype, it wouldn’t take much assume her position on niggers, particularly uppity ones.
Having gone this far, it is difficult to stop. Consequences, at this moment, matter little to the PaCains, but of the two, Sarah Palin appears to be the more insidious. And having let her loose, McCain might not be able to push little Ms Genie back to Alaska… and that might mean his own premature exit.
Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.
Stories you might have missed
In Los Angeles, a financial manager recently killed himself and his family (not in that order, dude) due to stress over financial losses. The man, Karthik Rajaram, was a unemployed financial manager. Interestingly, he had a master’s degree in finance business administration.
Mental health counselors in LA are preparing for other ‘copycat killings’, what with the present economic crisis.
And while on the topic of suicide, the Pennsylvania widow of a 23 y.o. Iraqi war veteran is suing the United States government for negligence, based on her late husband committing suicide.
This is not the only lawsuit in veteran suicide cases, and there are other lawsuits alleging that the government had allowed the health care system for veterans to deteriorate. Just last year I think, John McCain voted against a bill to improve care for veterans.
But here is a startling fact from the report: More than 150,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have sought mental health care from the VA, while over 200,000 have sought medical care.
In 1998, two teenagers, then 11 and 13 (Mitchell Johnson), shot to death 4 students and a teacher at a middle school in Arkansas. In the story, Johnson, who was released on turning 21, was quickly in trouble being arrested on New Year’s day 2007 for possession of GUNS (note plural) and drugs.
According to the report, he was arrested days after being found guilty on those charges for theft and possession of ganja. Apparently, after his conviction (for guns) he was freed on bail.
October 11, 2008 No Comments
Are we still talking about the 2nd presidential debate? It must be a slowww news week. Me, I’m still watching the economy wander around like a drunk horse. Actually sink like a stone would be a better visual, but that hurts too much to even say it.
Stoking Wall St with a $700,000, 000, 000 viagra pill apparently isn’t getting things up. As every man should know, when you are nervous, then getting up it is difficult, frustrating and leads to depression.
The economy or Wall St isn’t responding for a number of reasons. People aren’t rushing out to shop, but hey, Christmas might show hope (I bet it won’t). Then those with money to invest are buying pillowcases instead, because they very nervous and unsure.
But this financial insecurity has one positive blessing. Oil prices are dropping, trying to find a natural level. By month’s end some of us might be pumping gas below $3. Why is that? Because the speculators have left the building. Next time, remember speculators when some BS artist tells you that speculation isn’t the cause.
According to pundits the hurricane-ruined oil platforms in the gulf would drive prices up… but that didn’t happen. Nothing else has changed to make the price drop, so why is it falling? No speculation. Alas, that will change. When people regain confidence in Wall St, it will be reflected in rising oil prices.
Again, while I agree that something needed to be done, the $700B gift package lacks 2 significant measures. Jail time and credit card reform.
America has long been addicted to irresponsibility and lack of accountability. Where there is no accountability or consequence for malfeasance or bad management, then the financial companies will revert to norm. The thought of a coupla years with big Bubba in a nearby bunk would at least give these CEOs pause the next time they decide to risk OPM… other people’s money. Ooops is not good enough.
Manywith mortgage problems, also have credit card issues… being that they sunk all their cash into the mortgages and had to use credit for daily living. Bailing out their mortgages isn’t really gonna take them away from the edge of the precipice.
Many others, w/o mortgages also have usurious credit card payments to deal with. You can point fingers at them and feel reeeeally sanctimonious a good deal of the time. Yes, some bought big screen tvs when they shouldn’t . But others are just buying the basics. Rampant inflation (which neither the government nor press is telling you) has wiped out purchasing power and credit cards are their only option. Credit card reform is a priority.
Which brings me to the ‘disappearing people’. In this election season, we hear about the rich, middle class and occasionally the working class (called Josephat 6-pack by Sarah Palin), but never the underclass… the dirt poor, the homeless, the indigent, the chronically unemployable, the ghetto youts, trailer parkers, those who would be joyous if they had income of $9,900 a year. And believe me there are many of them/us.
In the rival economic plans, they are not mentioned at all. I’ve heard nothing about protecting them, getting them jobs, health care, education, pension (lol) plans. It’s as if the underclass doesn’t exist, the disparu (fr.), the invisibles, those guys with signs “Will work for food”. Nothing!
Ok. You twisted my arm, I’ll mention the 2nd debate which I actually did watch. Like the vp debate, neither candidate gave the election away (yawn)… but that much was to be expected. If anything Obama picked up a few more points, PaCain didn’t lose much.
A few of the questions were plain dumb. “Who do you have in mind for the next treasury secretary?”. Huh? Which genius thought up that one? “Well, sir, it would be presumptuous of me to select a treasury secretary WHEN WE HAVEN’T HAD AN ELECTION YET!”.
“Is the economy going to get better before it gets worse?”. “Well, the fundamentals of the American economy are quite strong”. Ohhh, we heard that one before. OK. “Well, WE ARE GETTING THE SHI KICKED OUT OF US AND YOU’RE STILL ASKING STUPID QUESTIONS?”.
Interestingly, the panel of 25 people who were keying in their emotions provided much of the ‘where did these dummies come from’ moments. “Well, I didn’t think the candidates were specific enough”. “Hey DUMMY, yes you. Focus. How specific can we get in 2 minutes on foreign policy? It’s a big world with many countries, DUH? And you don’t even understand basic legislative, economic language much less for us to roll it all out here without you going into a coma. THAT’S WHY WE HAVE WEBSITES! GET A MONKEY TO NAVIGATE IT FOR YOU!”.
Then when they who were supposed to be a conglomerate of democrats, republicans and independents who had NOT decided who to vote for as yet… when they were asked who did better, the vote was Obama 12, PaCain 10, three no responses.
But when they were asked who would they vote for at that moment, it was PaCain 15, Obama 10. Now, either I’m el stupido or they have already made up their minds. Obama can’t have won the debate but you would still vote against him, if you haven’t already made up your mind. Unless uhho… you are a racist, an idiot, or both.
There was 1 point where PaCain outflanked Obama… the same place that has caused me to withdraw my support (but not vote ) from Obama. Obama, perhaps anticipating that PaCain would follow, endorsed invading Pakistan to catch bin Laden. PaCain pointed out that that would be rash, and an invasion. Oops.
Let me point out why Obama’s position is folly other than the fact that it positions him squarely in George Bush’s bosom. A recent investigation by the American military concluded that a recent airstrike in Afghanistan killed 30 civilians, note civilians. Of course the Afghans claim a higher fatality but we won’t quibble. What’s 60 or more dead Afghans?
This is not the first time that American ‘bomb in a barrel from 10,000ft’ philosophy has failed, killing the wrong people. It sucked (moreso for the ‘bombees’ than the bombers) during World War II when it was first introduced, going through the Korean and Vietnam wars to today.
This idiocy undermines Obama as it does George Bush. There is no guarantee that the intelligence saying that bin Laden is ‘there’ is accurate. In both arenas of action, many innocent civilians have been killed by ‘friendly fire’.
Obviously, this would be a touch of insanity doing so inside a country “YOU ARE NOT AT WAR WITH!”. “Oops”, Mr Obama, isn’t good enough.
Many people might not have noticed that the Wall St meltdown is having catastrophic effects on Iceland’s economy. The government there has been forced to rescue some banks.
The British government, using some anti-terrorism rationale, froze the assets of one of the banks ‘in order to protect British saver’s deposits’.
Who did Iceland call? The ghostbusters? No, they turned to Russia for a $5b loan. Nice round figure, because $5b is about the size of their economy.
Look at a map and see where Iceland is in proximity to the United States and Europe. Now kiddies, for homework, put this in the context of the recent Russia-Georgia skirmish, Venezuela and Mexico. To make it easy, you can even go back into a few of my blogs.
By the way, Iceland is a part of NATO, and is regarded as one of the world’s most egalitarian countries.
October 9, 2008 No Comments
After the hoopla and the eventual passing of the bailout bill, many felt that they could now settle back, drink a beer and go back to the normal life of watching tv and stuffing their collective faces with toxic hotdogs. Well, not so fast.
On the stock market’s first working day after the package passed in congress, the response was terrible. The market went in exactly the opposite direction that many predicted. It plummeted. Like a rock. And since the market is built on nothing more (note nothing more) than confidence, it means that the players aren’t confident… or, or, some big players are playing a might weird game with our lives.
Now they are blaming global recession for the lack of confidence, but the ‘crash programme’ was designed to shore up global confidence. The conventional wisdom was that once the American market got this injection, the rest of the world would automatically feel better. And there is logic in this. Unless something else is at play.
Everyone now is developing this ‘deer caught in the headlights’ kind a look. Very few seems to know what is happening or why. The holy market is supposed to correct itself, like one of those plastic thingies that when you hit it, goes almost to the floor then rights itself. But this doesn’t appear to be happening and fear is taking over. Perhaps Karl Marx was right… capitalism will self-destruct, unbridled capitalism will self-destruct faster and more explosive.
I’m no Marxist but it isn’t difficult to see from a long time, that capitalism’s demise can’t be very far off. The devolution will probably turn into some new form of feudalism.
Sidebar: Communism is just feudalism with government replacing the royalty and the church at the top of the hierarchical ladder. The feudalism where we are headed will have a small minority of corporations at the top, the state in a minor managerial role and the church as usual, as the controlled tool to suppress the unwashed by threatening their spiritual hereafter.
Capitalism has long passed its ‘use by date’. Globalisation speeded up the decline because of capitalism’s greed and over-reach. Globalisation was always about feudalism, colonialism and imperialism.
Globalisation was never really designed to help small states but more to turn such states over to the mercies of large states… to make these states more of a servile, while appearing to be trying to break down the major economic powers. But more than anything, globalization was firmly founded on the foundation of greed. Greed is Good. Greed is God.
Once the ‘greed is good’ mantra is the guiding philosophy, then all is corrupted. GiG means that some individuals and corporations will flourish while weaker, feeding vampire-like from less powerful states and individuals. When GiG turned into a religion, the world powerbrokers broke away from state loyalty and formed a clique, but one not loyal even to only themselves. Government not only lost control, they are now controlled.
Thus the philosophy of making enormous profits while the peoples of weaker states starved, gave way to one that started to prey on its own people… while giving them the illusion that this was done for their benefit, to maintain ‘our way of life’.
“Oh yes we are sending away your jobs, but look, you are getting your stuff cheaper!”… never explaining how the cheaper stuff would eventually be paid for by those without jobs.
People were urged one way or another, to spend what they didn’t have, because not doing so, ‘would make the terrorists win’. All this had to happen to maximize huge profits in the shortest possible time frame. These guys weren’t about to leech blood a little at a time. Nope. They were opening the veins to be a gusher.
The prevailing thought might have been that even at that stage there could be a weakened but continuous source of cheap labour. After all, if a man is barely surviving, made so by only getting mere scraps from the fat man’s table, he controllable. A revolution might be sparked by hungry stomachs but it can’t be sustained on such.
Either by accident or by design that fool and his administration went for the jugular, in an effort to speed up the process. Yep. They all failed Biology 101. You cut the jugular under unregulated circumstances and guess what happens. “Thar’s blood in the streets gentlemen and we aren’t able to stop the haemorrhaging”.
Now the American society might very well be on the brink of being what many routinely scorn as ‘third world’. The Mad Max scenario looms.
Impossible? Well if you told me this is where we would be today, I would have told you naaah… not in my lifetime.
Here is a thought. Could the primary purpose of this crisis be to destroy the European Union? As a Union, Europe has the monetary ability to stabilize itself but not the political resolution. Corrective measures would mean supporting weaker European states and institutions.
But asking the French taxpayer to fund a bailout of a Turkish bank, or the Germans to save a British financial house is politically unthinkable. “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost”. Just the type of situation that will break Europe apart. The euro will fall, the dollar will rise and ‘those frenchies will never frustrate our demands again’.
Naaah. That’s not it. Whatever I am not smoking, I need to not smoke more of it.
It certainly can’t be any surprise that the PaCains have turned to dirty fighting. The true American hero.
One of the long held myths in America is that if you play with honour, that you will win. But only the gullible democrats sing that tune. All the major players in the republican party are ‘win at all costs’ guys. “They end”, they will say, “Justifies the means”.
So now, it’s about going after Obama’s character. But what does it matter… he’s just a black guy.
Barack Obama and his family are the targets of republican-driven overstatements, known misinterpretations and of course, outright lies as the PaCains see their political future slipping away. They will prey on the fear, the racism, the religious fanaticism of the American people. They will set the tone not only for this campaign but for many to come.
Jamaicans have the history of the 70’s as their experience of the same type of tribalism. ‘Putting America first’ is meaningless in MudCain’s hands. The desperate PaCains are on a power-lust, scorched earth policy, which if they inherit, they have absolutely no capability of restoring.
Kash ‘n Karry
Isn’t it absolutely ironic that the man tapped to lead the bailout is named Neel Kashkari. Is someone playing a joke on us?
More worrying is the fact that Cash’nCarry (can’t help it) was a senior adviser to Treasury secretary Paulson (much good that helped us), and previously a vice president under Paulson in the same firm Goldman, Sachs and Co. By the way, Paulson used to work for Richard Nixon’s counsel and assistant for Domestic Affairs, John Ehrlichman, who was convicted of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and perjury for which he did jail time.
Paulson’s net worth is estimated at over $700,000,000, and his compensation packages from Goldman for 2005-6 totaled over $53, 000,000. It is said that Paulson is very pro-Chinese, visiting the country more than 70 times when he was at Goldman.
Goldman and Sachs was effectively bailed out of trouble in September by Warren Buffett, one of Barack Obama’s advisers. What an incestuous nest.
October 7, 2008 No Comments
Veronica Mendive talked about injecting her husband with drugs for his medical problems. The medication costs $180, and she and her husband, both retired, were hit hard by that bill. “My concern is that I’m retired from the county and I have a nice pension, and between that and his social security we’re over the limit.”
Ms. Vance saw her opening. “McCain is for big business.”
Mrs. Mendive nodded in agreement. “Well Republicans always are.”
Ms. Vance: “McCain will just make the health care situation in this country worse.”
Mrs. Mendive: “Oh, don’t I know it.” She paused.
“I don’t want to sound like I’m prejudiced,” she continued. “I’ve never been around a lot of black people before. I just worry that they’re nice to your face but then when they get around their own people you just have to worry about what they’re going to do to you.”
Ms. Vance skipped no beats. “One thing you have to remember is that Obama, he’s half white and he was raised by his white mother. So his views are more white than black really.” Ms. Mendive looked tentative. “Well, that’s true.” Ms. Vance said she was so used to looking at Mr. Obama, “I don’t see the color of his face anymore.”
October 5, 2008 No Comments