Posts from — January 2009
In my last blog, I said that greed has become so much of an addiction with Americans, it is impossible to see them kicking the economic habit .
That thought caused me to briefly look at American’s habits, addictions and obsessions, and see how they deal with them, and how many are broken.
In general, America is the worst place to break a habit mainly because Americans generally don’t want to take personal responsibility. They look to blame outside forces, friends, families, the society at large, the coke they’re shoving up their noses. They refer to some habits as diseases, and try to find some gene handed down by their parents as the reason why they can’t stop spending money on useless items.
Another issue is that many Americans think that they can get away with stupidity and arrogance because that’s part of being American. So stupidity becomes an addiction with them. Its embedded in the ‘I don’t care what anyone else says, this is what I’m doing’. Great if you’re a genius planning something scientific, not too great if you are an idiot trying to do a ‘jackass’ stunt.
Another powerful ingredient is the ‘Me’ mentality… ‘all about me’. I have been scrutinising some people in my neighborhood and am constantly amazed as to how they keep doing the same ‘carry-down’ things time and time again, simply because they are out seeking just for themselves.
I don’t know if you know this story… about the scorpion that wanted to cross the flooded river? Well, he asked the frog to give him a lift. “Do I look like an idiot?” asked the Frog, “You will only sting me to death”.
“Why would I do that?”, replied the Scorpion, “If I do that then I also die”. Bested by this logic, the Frog had the Scorpion hop on his back. In the middle of the raging river, BAM!, the Frog gets a load of deadly poison in the back.
“Why?”, he asked, “You’re gonna die too”.
“Why? Because I’m an American”, mused the Scorpion, “It’s in my nature”.
Ok, I made a slight modification to the story, but you get the point.
Now, what happens on the personal level also happens on a national scale. More accurately, let’s flip that script… what happens nationally is reflected in individual behaviour.
Here are some examples, in no specific order. Living beyond one’s means has become an American addiction. With credit cards and loans, many of us are living way beyond our income. But the federal and local governments, and big corporations, run deficits all the time so the tone is set there. We have long become a society of OPM, using ‘Other People’s Money’ to fund our needs and lifestyle. But there will be a judgement day, and it is now.
Greed and Envy are habits that Americans cannot kick… that goes without saying. For too long the American economy and way of life, were based on the exploitation of other smaller more vulnerable economies… the “we tell you what we want to buy from you and the price we will pay, and we will tell you what to buy from us at a price we set” mentality.
Granted the latter is not just an American affliction, but America is more afflicted than any other country, and has no qualms using military force to get their way. See Iraq amongst a multitude of others.
Interestingly, PM Gordon Brown of Great Britain is now saying that the IMF and the World Bank are out-of-date. Yikes! Michael Manley must be spinning in his grave.
According to reports, Brown ‘called on world leaders to set about reforming international financial institutions to prevent a repeat of the circumstances that led to the current financial crisis’. Oh yeah? Well what about when said institutions backed by you, were creating crises in small economies? “We were calling for change back then but you callously and contemptuously slammed the doors in our faces”, the ghost of Manley might be saying.
But I digress. Back to addictions and obsessions. America and Americans are addicted to power or the illusion of power “we are number one”. No, you aren’t… but no one can tell them that. Worse still, they are addicted to the ABUSE of power, from the white House, the Pentagon, the corporate boardroom, to the guy next door. Power is abused in relation to race, religion, sex, body features, class… whatever.
Look how many of the financial corporations who begged for a bailout, turned around and abused the money to either pay extravagant bonuses or splurge on spending on themselves? They are too long addicted to this way of thinking and can do little or nothing to kick it. A bad habit become a right, but it is nothing more than an addiction.
Habit is why Barack Obama is not going to make substantial change in foreign policy. America is to used to lecturing, moralising or even bending others to its will by way of force. Obama is wedded to the idea that Israel must be unconditionally supported. He as already formed psychological habits regarding Cuba, Venezuela, and Iran.
He like many Americans, particularly politicians, are addicted to looking down on the rest of the world instead of looking across to them, talking to them instead of with them.
Yet everyone but Americans recognise that this habit has cost them credibility. Obama recognises this disability but it is like me and cashew nuts… we can’t help ourselves. But me eating cashew nuts won’t get anyone killed or any war started.
The republicans show that they are addicted to stupidity and to a way of life that should have been in a museum long ago. They just can’t help being adversarial despite the stupidity of their position regarding the economy. They are obsessed with tax cuts despite the long history of failure.
The democrats can’t help trying to work with a group of people who have no interest with working with them irrespective of whether or not they are in a minority or majority position. In fact, one can argue that its the democrats that fosters their arrogance.
Habits, addictions and obsessions are difficult but not impossible to beat. The first step is recognition of the addiction/habit and taking responsibility which is the first problem for Americans. They fail right there. George Bush, addicted to failure, won’t recognise or take responsible for his failures. Put him in power again, and he will make the exact same mistakes.
One can also beat an addiction if one is faced with enough adversity, like losing a loved one because of the problem. But being a ‘me-centered’ society, makes even adversity not a strong enough incentive. So even with the economic fallout povertising so many Americans, financial pirates still want to enrich themselves. The same goes for the war in Iraq. Even with so many civilian dead, the war-hawks push for more deaths. Me safe, screw you.
Americans have good habits too but we aren’t too worried about those. Its those bad things that have become habitual, that Americans and the world are concerned about and that we will pay for, for along time. Americans on the whole need a massive 12 step programme for this country not to continue to spiral downwards due to the many bad habits and addictions developed over years of self-absorption and self-importance.
Will America kick their bad habits?
Here’s something that isn’t going to be habit-forming… the republicans just elected an African-American to be party leader. I’m sure that I’m not the only one cynically seeing this as a knee-jerk reaction to Barack Obama. The republican party has for so long neglected bringing black people into the country club, now they are making one the boss? Riiiiight.
How much power will Michael Steele really have in shaping republican policy? 0-none, I bet. He is going to be a figurehead, nothing more. Steele was never a leading spokesman, not even a leading ‘black’ spokesman in republican circles.
Republicans are trying to sell us that they can ‘change’. Overturning old habits don’t happen overnight. Forget about this.
And who hasn’t heard about the woman Nadya Suleman, who had octuplets? Well, it appears she is OBSESSED with having children, the word her mother used. Suleman had 6 previous children before the recent record births, no husband. In fact, no man was directly involved in insemination. She had in vitro fertilisation, implanted embryos. See what I mean. Another obsession. Just what we need, people with a habit for breeding.
January 31, 2009 2 Comments
President Barack Obama is quickly finding out that bipartisanship doesn’t work if one party is the republicans. The definition of idiot is to do the same thing time and time again but still expect the same result. I just don’t know how the democrats can again seek to work in a bipartisan way with the republicans and expect that one day the republicans are going to end up not stabbing them in the back.
Obama has reached out to the republicans on the issue of fixing the American economy. He even reached out to John McCain who during the election campaign, had no idea what was happening with either the American or global economy. Now even McCain is coming out with some garbled crap about why he is not supporting Obama’s economic plan.
The republicans is falling back on their old staple, more tax cuts. Tax cuts. Hmm, where did I hear that before? Oh yes, the same tax cuts that bankrupted the Clinton-left behind surplus within 6 months of Bush taking power in 2001.
Tax cuts don’t help the poor. It is part of the delusional republican-driven philosophy of’ trickle-down economics’… which has never ever trickled down. The rich never trickle-down anything to the poor. In fact, the more they have is the more they want, and that includes taking more from the poor in they can.
Obviously the republicans have not seen that just this week, another 70,000 employees will soon be categorised as unemployed, another group of people that tax cuts don’t help.
Obama had better forget the republicans. He cannot work with them because they will not work with anyone but themselves. They have a one-track mind, enriching the rich for whom they work… making the poor poorer, because they naturally have so much contempt for them.
The way things are moving, the fallout in the economic system is just an indication that capitalism is dying. Move along, folks. There’s nothing to see here but your usual train wreck.
Those like the republicans who want to hold onto stale and worn ideas from a stale, worn and predatory economic philosophy, will eventually fall by the wayside. The United States does need change. The new breed of ‘entrepreneurs’ are so addicted, so wedded to greed now, that they won’t be weaned of it.
Case in point: many banks filed for bailouts last September and years of mismanaging their customers deposits. They got a bailout from the Bush regime (with the complicity of the democratic houses), with little or no consequences for misuse.
The so-called insistence that the money given to them would be used to make loans to unfreeze the credit market and help the economy.. didn’t happen, won’t happen. The banks instead decided to hold unto the money, spend it on themselves extravagantly and use the leftover to take advantages of the worsen economic system.
Predatory advantage, no doubt… like instead of making a loan available for you to save your home or business, they will let you fail and buy your holding for cents on the dollar. Way to go guys. Big heart.
Just in. A 93 year old Michigan man froze to death when his utility company cut his electricity in a middle of a snowstorm. Now the company is going to re-evaluate its policy. Riiiiiiight.
Many republicans who had previously said that it was unpatriotic and un-American to criticise a sitting president, isn’t holding to that philosophy now that Obama is president.
Talking about McCain. It might just be me but if you had just got a beatdown like he got, shouldn’t he just shut up… at least for a while? One rule of sports is that ‘winners have all the right to speak, losers should shut up’. McCain is a loser. And part of the reason he lost was his total befuddlement where the economy is concerned. If I were he, I would take a backseat in the senate and let someone else do the talking. The American people have soundly rejected him, and he still has nothing new to say.
Obama has given his first interview to an Arab tv network. Shrewd move. Symbolic gestures like this are valued in the mideast. One can easily see that his interview could play well and be a foundation for his future diplomatic moves.
Bet there is going to be a backfire in the right-wing media… proof that Obama is anti-American. Woohoo.
But Obama is again making the same missteps. He is ruining his own credibility by stating the same mindless propaganda that those in the middle east have come to reject with contempt.
Muslims don’t see Iran as a problem, they don’t see Hamas or Hezbollah as the problem in the middle east. Lecturing about the evils of those dudes without admitting how f***ed up your policy has been for years is the problem. You want to dance?… change the tune.
Saw this story about a woman who had octuplets (8 pickney same time) which people were calling a blessing.. ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FREAKING MIND!
8 rugrats. No way Jose. That’s a curse. Does any of these people even consider what is involved, the logistics, the finances? Man, that’s a curse I wouldn’t wish on even my worst enemy.
The Jamaican dollar is sliding so fast it reminds me slightly of Zimbabwean currency where it probably takes 60,000 Zimbabwean dollars to buy a loaf of bread. The Golding government is making Omar Davies look like a genius.
Many had said previously that Audley Shaw was ill-prepared to manage the portfolio.. How true that now appears.
I’m not blaming anyone. Truth be told, Jamaica’s problems are far beyond the capability of even the wisest and most earnest of economists. We, and other small economies need a bailout.
Last year, high members of the World Bank admitted that its pushing of liberalisation and globalisation policies on small economies in states in Africa, South America and the Caribbean have reaped sorrow instead.
So, now that you admit wrong, why not liberally reverse the damage you have done?
January 27, 2009 No Comments
Well, there is no turning back history now. The inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States is too big to erase. History is written. Many people can now exhale, those who feared for Obama’s welfare.
Now he’s the Man, and like many people worldwide, I hope for his success. I have little doubt about his attentions for a domestic agenda. He will think and act big and boldly. I think he fully understands the question of accountability, a word totally missing from George Bush’s lexicon (ok, one of the billions of words missing from his very limited vocabulary).
But my main concern is Obama’s foreign policy. I have taken heat for my skepticism (I was born a skeptic) and I will admit that his inauguration speech was favourable. The speech might be an indication of what he wants to do, or then again it might be simply, a speech.
But his public statements on Iran, Hamas and Venezuela’s Chavez just previous to his inauguration indicate that he might not be so different from contemporary American jingoistic thinking.
If Obama maintains the same-old American delusion of its place in the world, then we will remain in deep trouble. If nothing else, his attack on Chavez, a democratically elected leader, is in fact not a defense of America, but a defense of George Bush.
Chavez’s belligerent attitude was almost always pointed at the Bush regime rather than at America itself. The difference between the two is immense. Chavez was only mouthing publicly, what most of the world’s leaders were thinking. Why can an American leader publicly attack another country’s leadership, but feel immune from a reply? The world has changed and Obama had better realise that.
By the way, within three days of entering the white House, there were 2 illegal American missile strikes inside the sovereign country of Pakistan… a policy he has previously sanctioned. The missiles killed 17 people. First blood on Obama’s hands.
Here is something else that is clearly indicated… politicians stick with their own. Obama is not going to allow the indictment of the George Bush’s fascist regime for war crimes or crimes against humanity… something that even many in America are demanding.
Obama’s inauguration did not strengthen the US stock market, an arena that hinges so much on confidence and good news. The rot is clearly too deep. Instilling confidence in the stock market is obviously not the strategy to use. The economic recovery is clearly not going to come through the stock market or the banks, but Washington and the people of this country.
The credo that the ‘market will save us’ is dead. Do not rely on capitalism. American greed has eaten away the insides of the system that brought it to world economic dominance. Capitalism has stopped being about the market creating profits but about manipulation creating super-profits.
The current oil-gasoline price scenario illustrates the point. I read a recent analysis addressing this issue, that tried to convince the reader that nothing is untoward. But the analysis did point out that clearly, manipulation is rife throughout the system.
It claimed that the oil companies were taking a beating on gasoline production (yet Exxon made record profits) and as such decided to reduce the the supply of the product. A clear case of manipulation, yet the author appeared to excuse it as an ethical way of profit-making. Since when does creating an artificial shortage qualify as ‘market-driven’?
Obama will have his hands full with this type of screwing of the American people. Greed is not a habit that goes away quickly.
Macy’s Inc (retail stores) recently reported that it will close 11 stores this year. In its release, the sense was given that Macy is losing money because of slow sales. But it was clearly stated that Macy’s issued returns on shares just a little bit below 2007. I’m sorry that I cannot give the 2007-08 comparisons… the story is on my now comatose hard drive.
The point is that the American capitalist has redefined what is a profit and what is a loss. A profit is anything above expectation and a loss is anything below expectations. It has nothing to do with original economic definitions. Today a business might make more money than it invested but if that ‘profit margin’ falls below predictions, then it is regarded as a loss. Weird.
Israel’s hope of gaining a morale boosting victory over Hamas has fizzled. Now Israel is now left to spin its way to a ‘victory’. Unfortunately, world opinion, even here is the United States, will deny them of that.
Israel is now looking at the possibility that its soldiers could be accused of war crimes. This is morale sapping. The unsuccessful adventure has boosted Hamas, the same way it had done for Hezbollah when they repulsed Israel in Lebanon a few years ago. This is not something that Israel could afford.
Your invincibility can only work if you keep winning. Two ‘losses’ in a row is bad. But Israel can rest knowing that any country that holds an Israeli soldier for war crimes will face the wrath of the US. That is not necessarily a good thing for the US as it will again prove that Israel wags the dog, and America will continue to lose its moral grounding.
January 23, 2009 3 Comments
Sorry for the outburst readers, but my dearly beloved computer finally went comatose despite weeks of me trying to nurse it along longer. I’m now in a communications dark ages, and as such my blogs are even going to be a bit more sporadic and or of less length. The hurtful thing is that I was editing the bestest blog of my life when my computer went kaput.
OK, it might not be the best one, but it was the most critical so far of incoming president Barack Obama. It might be a good thing that it never got published what with Obama’s popularity, but what the heck. But before I go back to that let me say that in a few long days (which can’t come fast enough), we will be seeing the back of the worst president of the United States in my history.
I can’t say goodbye as honestly as I can say ‘Good riddance. You won’t be missed’. Still folks, Bush has left many reminders of his incompetence and it will be way past my generation before his mistakes have been erased. When the Obama administration takes over the desks, many are going to exclaim ‘Holy sh*t’ once they buck up on another of Bush’s well-hidden misdeeds.
A long time ago, someone once encouraged me to vote for a black man simply because of his colour against a white man simply because of his colour. That is always pretty bad advice.
The election of Barack Obama for the office of president of the United States is symbolically very significant. But it is not in itself meaningful, unless Obama makes it so. So far, I must admit that some of his first moves make me uneasy.
I’m getting a deep feeling that there are policies that are gonna be left unchanged or with only cosmetic changes… things of supreme importance. Obama isn’t going to make major changes in the mid-east policy because his approach like that of Hillary Clinton, George Bush and previous administrations, will be heavily slanted towards Israel, irrespective of how badly Israel acts.
In this recent conflict, he calls Hamas a terrorist organisation, a designation put on that organisation by the US and Israel. But the US claiming someone is a terrorist is more a badge of honour in the rest of the world. If Obama doesn’t bring a world view to the US presidency then nothing will change. Hamas was elected to political leadership by the Palestinians in Gaza. To claim that the people of Gaza elected a ‘terrorist organisation’ to represent them is to completely disrespect them and to disrespect this ‘democracy’ Americans harp so much about.
I also think that his policy towards Iran is going to reflect only negligible change, but it’s gonna be for the most part the same aggressive stance. American interests dictate that a bogeyman be found in the region and Iran is it. Let me remind good folks that Iran has not shown any imperial ambitions in the mid-east. It has never invaded anyone and its only military actions was in defense when an American-backed and supplied Iraq attacked. Judge Iran’s record against two countries which are always continuously invading others.
But back to Obama. I fear he won’t make a fundamental dent to 50 years of policy failure with regards to Cuba. Yeah, yeah, he might ease travel restrictions but if he doesn’t totally lift the embargo, then he has done nothing. Cuba is the equivalent bogeyman as Iran, but now no other nation in the Caribbean buys into American propaganda. It’s time the US recognises that.
The world looks forward to Barack Obama because the world was tired of American shenanigans. It would be a great disappointment if we will be getting more of the same.
Change, dear people, might not be coming to a presidency near you.
Gasoline prices is going up, even as oil prices drop. What’s up with that?
And talking about the mid-east, see how the Israeli invasion of Gaza has more or less dropped off the front pages? Bet it wouldn’t happen if Israel was getting good press. One of the reasons for this invasion was to erase the stigma of defeat when it invaded Lebanon and was held to a stalemate by Hezbollah.
But the really disproportionate casualties is marring the PR scenario. As it is, Americans are no longer buying into the ‘support Israel irrespective of the cost or the immoral grounding’. The support of the American people is waning. How far behind is the support of its politicians?
America’s unconditional support of Israel is the biggest impediment to peace in the middle east. Not Hezbollah, or Hamas, Syria, or Iran.
Governor General Kenneth Hall has resigned. What’s up WITH that? The most obvious assumptions would be health concerns or a constitutional confrontation between himself and the Golding government.
I happen to know that the GG post carries with it a pretty good health plan with frequent available check-ups in South Florida. But it is still possible that there could be some condition that caught both the GG and his doctors by surprise. It which case it would be bad, very bad.
Not surprisingly, the heavy betting is on politics. And the fact that Golding could immediately announce a successor, means that he knew for some time. Hmmmm.
Has Americans ever given thought to the contradiction of being the world’s leading democracy, the foremost capitalist country, and, and, the country with the highest incarceration rate. America, with 5% of the world’s population has 25% of the world’s prisoners, leading ‘communist’ China, with the largest population.
By the way, America also uses approximately 25% of the world’s resources and creates just as much of the world’s garbage and pollution. Not a great deal to be proud of.
January 17, 2009 4 Comments
I watched as the Israelis broke the truce, Hamas launched rockets into Israel and Israel mindlessly bombed those living in Gaza. And for most part of the early hostilities (when has there not been hostilities), the American popular media simply avoided the issue.
But as the fatalities mounted up quickly on the Palestinian side, the confrontation is moving closer to front page. Following the sequence, one would think that the major media are horrified at Israel’s disproportionate attacks.
Not so fast my friend. Most of the opinion shapers are spreading a propaganda campaign justifying Israel’s actions with the rationale being that Hamas broke the truce by launching missiles into Israel. The latter part indeed is true.
But these blinkered pundits are not telling you that Israel was the first to break the truce by tightening the blockade around Gaza, cutting off supplies of money, oil, medical, humanitarian and food supplies. They were starving the Gaza strip to death in order to force Hamas out.
Now I’m not backing Hamas (do I look like a Muslim fundamentalist to you), but right is right and wrong is wrong. And again America is backing the wrong side… vetoing a recent UN resolution calling for an end to the fighting.
The American media is leaning over backward in order not to attack Israel. Last week, I watched appalled, as a CNN anchor in Atlanta downrightly contradicted her own field correspondent who confirmed that Israel had deliberately rammed a boat carrying humanitarian supplies to Gaza.
He was on the boat at the time, personally witnessed the attack but she said, “There are two sides to every story?” Hello. Pretty miss. What is the dude out there for if you are gonna make up your own story?
I read the popular papers as they shed alligator tears over the Gaza dead (last count 600 Palestinians, 5 Israelis in less than 2 weeks), and in the next sentence blamed Hamas. Usually the blame takes the form that Hamas broke the truce but now it is that the Palestinian civilian casualties of women and children are high because Hamas is operating from within the public.
While this is so, there is no justifying the huge amount of ‘collateral damage’. In the United States, a policeman intent on catching a dangerous criminal firing in a crowd, would be charged and dismissed. He would face legal charges if someone died.
The state department apparently doesn’t think that policy should apply as far as Israel is concerned. An only a fool would think that Israel doesn’t know where it is sending its missiles. They are after all using American-made laser-guided ‘smart bombs’ (a bomb can only be smart if it doesn’t detonate).
Interestingly, it appears that the American people, independent of the press and the politicians, are having none of it. Sentiment, while not with Hamas, certainly isn’t with Israel, and many of the non-press professionals are pointing out the continued one-sidedness of the United States being wagged by Israel. Some even go as far to point out that that Israel is carrying out an apartheid-like policy with those Arabs who are born and still living in Israel (former president Jimmy Carter addressed this issue in his book ‘Palestine, Peace not Apartheid’).
The other interesting thing is how the pro-Israel pundits always link Iran in the shadowy background… ’This is a proxy fight between the US and Iran’. Excuse me? Are you hawkish fools stopped bleeding long enough from Iraq to want to start a fight with Iran?
The point is that the American people on the whole are getting a whitewashed version of what is happening in the mid-east and both the media and the politicians are culpable. Israel barefacedly, are barring journalists from entering Gaza, defying a supreme court ruling. However, they gladly take journalists around to show the destruction linked to Hamas missiles.
Barack Obama will not be able to break the Israel stranglehold on the US, even though the US is shipping billions of aid, military aid, low interest loans, no interest loans, non-repayable loans to Israel every year for the past 40+ years.
He might be able to make major shifts in policy to Cuba, Russia, North Korea, perhaps even Venezuela, but not Israel and the Palestinians. And because too many of his cabinet members have tight ties to Israel particularly Biden and Clinton, it is difficult to guess how much he can shift the policy regarding Iran.
European Commissioner Commissioner Benita Ferraro-Waldner told Shimon Peres, “We have come to Israel in order to advance the initiative for a humanitarian cease-fire and I will tell you, Mr. President, that you have a serious problem with international advocacy, and that Israel’s image is being destroyed.” The meeting ended in failure.
Obviously Israel doesn’t care about world opinion, because it controls the one opinion it needs… the one to the American people.
It is considered under American law, that an accused is ‘innocent until proven guilty’. But more and more this phrase based on the American constitution, is empty.
Non-whites, particularly black people can testify to this lie. Under George Bush, this credo was systematically undermined. And now even the liberal democrats have caught the flu.
Illinois Rod Blagojevich governor is charged with corruption, but he has not been tried. He has the legal power to appoint someone to a vacant senate seat (Obama’s seat which made him the only black senator in the United States). Blago appointed a qualified African-American Roland Burris, but the now all-white senate led by democrat Harry Reid is blocking the appointment because any appointment by Blagojevich is tainted. Excuse me?
My question is ‘why this?’ days before Obama’s inauguration. Burris must be seated and the law backs him fully. Is Reid and others sending a message to Obama?
Oil prices are rising again. I can here the song, “Ain’t no stopping us now, we’re on the move.”
The flood of applications for unemployment benefits have jammed said offices of many states, causing electronic unemployment filing systems to crash. At the same time, temp agencies are telling people that nothing is going on as requests for temp staff are down.
About 4.5 million Americans are collecting jobless benefits, but this is not the true reflection of the unemployed. Most of those unemployed were never eligible for benefits or have long fallen off the roster.
The good news is that the above state agencies are hiring more people so as to be able to meet the rush of the newly unemployed seeking benefits. There must be an irony here somewhere.
Hard times are ahead.
January 7, 2009 No Comments