Tuesday, September 30, 2008


What's ailing Wall Street? Not only is it bipolar, but it appears now also to be suffering from borderline personality disorder.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Privatize the FDIC?

Now that the largest bailout in U.S. history may be history itself, what may we expect next? Since privatizing social security hasn't been completely ruled out, and won't be especially if the Republicans prevail in November, what about privatizing the FDIC?

After all, what will happen when the FDIC runs out of money? Who will insure the FDIC?

Not the U.S. Treasury which is too busy cutting dollar bills that are worth less and less; too busy taking high octane empire booster shots, and expending, by some estimates, as much as $3 trillion on an irrelevant war to worry it's pretty little head about the fate of the FDIC.

Who do we call when we get music on hold at the ATM, and not money? Do we call Herr Paulson, collect, and ask him if he can spare a dime, or $700 billion?

Look, it doesn't take a Ph.D in math to figure out that we spend, in 5 months, on the war in Iraq about as much as we have in the FDIC fund. So, while the hitherto impervious Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, along with WaMu, cower in fear of the future, the other financial behemoths run away with the prize.

What happens when the neighborhood bully can't stand up to a punch, and Citibank buys up every square foot of financial space on Main Street? Does this make for a freer free market? Don't expect to hear a peep out of the rogues on Wall Street, or the rogues in the mainstream press either. The news, these days, is decapitated, and every bit as manipulated as the market that got us into this mess.

The same way the media rolled over for Rupert Murdoch, the money markets will roll over for financial consolidation at the expense of the American consumer. It wouldn't be called a bailout if this were about taxpayers getting in over their heads; it'd be called welfare, and government handouts.

While we may question who's doing the regulating, nobody's questioning that regulating's got to be done. The past 20 years of a free ride for the corporate elite have come to a screeching halt, and Mr. and Mrs. Middle America are the ones who are screeching. There were plenty of people who got filthy rich during the Depression. There were carpetbaggers then, and there are carpetbaggers now; think Exxon, Chevron, and Halliburton.

Whether Congress elects to save Wall Street as if it were a wayward child or not, somebody had better start taking a closer look at the euphemism that is free market capitalism which, in the end, means somebody sticking their icy fingers into your empty pockets.

Quote of the Day

Quote of the day comes from the Associated Press, and Congressman Barney Frank who, while talking to reporters today about the House's historic vote to reject the Wall Street bailout, had this to say:

"The Republicans don't trust the administration. It's a Republican revolt against George Bush and John McCain," Barney Frank

Sunday, September 28, 2008

More on Paul Newman...

Paul Newman's daughter, Lissy, has this to say about her father: "He was an awesome guy, an awesome guy right to the end. His spirit will be with us forever, and ever, and ever."

And, from actor John Wesley: "Thanx for the memories Mr Newman, and thanx for your Humanity and this coming from a Black Man who watched you march with Dr King at a time when this was downright dangerous, there you were...God Bless Paul Newman and may he reside in our hearts forever."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ad Astra Mr. Newman

On a day when many will have much to say about a man who few understood, or took the time to understand; in this country where we celebrate celebrity, and divest celebrities of their humanity; humanity is, after all, the only thing that matters.

At a time when I, too, like many, can share my Paul Newman stories about his infinite kindness in responding to a query letter with a screenplay enclosed; I can share my own personal experience of his uncommon generosity in returning the script at his own expense, as well as his personal response to invitations I sent to attend writers' forums speaking out against the neo-McCarthyism that had already reared its ugly head back in 2005.

Lots of people have lots of stories about his great humanity, about large endowments to First Amendment activists, and his abiding concern for civil liberties; about his stand against Nixon and reactionary dogs of state, as well as his support for Barack Obama, and justice.

But, in the end, there is so much chatter, and so little truth, so anyone who tells us about the world as he sees it will win our hearts. Paul Newman's integrity puts the world to shame.

And, at a time when those who will benefit for generations the most from his philanthropy, too, have their stories to tell, the work he has done to benefit humankind must, and will, continue, and this is, above all else, what Mr. Newman will be remembered for as, in the end, even legends have a short shelf life.

The planet along with every sentient being says happy birthday, Mr. Newman, to your long life forever in our hearts.

"We are such spendthrifts with our lives. The trick of living is to slip on and off the planet with the least fuss you can muster. I'm not running for sainthood. I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer, who puts back into the soil what he takes out," Paul Newman once told a reporter for The New York Times.

To a good farmer, we say only, ad astra, Mr. Newman; to the north star, and others, that will surely look to you for light, as the planet will continue to look to you for heart.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Republican Guard?

In an election cycle which might well make the Guinness Book of World Records for gaffes, evidence of yet more confusion surfaces from the mouth of candidate McCain who says that we must go after the "Republican Guard of Iran."

Perhaps Sen. McCain was thinking of his own party when he said that, and not the Iranian "Revolutionary Guard" that allegedly causes an egregious, and growing, threat.

As you recall, the Republican Guard was an elite group of Iraqi ground forces that was dissolved in 2003, and functioned principally to guard Saddam Hussein. Oh, well, Iraq--Iran; same difference.

McCain got his Reagan reference right, during the debate, though. The gipper's famous slogan "Trust, but verify" was a timely reference indeed given McCain's penchant for chastising Obama over his openness with respect to making public any intention to take some kind of military action in Pakistan. For the McCain camp, covert action only need apply. Presidents think, and strategize about, but never discuss with taxpayers what military roller coasters they intend to embark on. Let the taxpayer pick up the tab, to the tune of $10 billion a month in Iraq, as Obama repeatedly reminded McCain tonight and, all the while, let the unitary president keep his mouth shut.

Rest assured, if John McCain becomes the next commander-in-chief of our military, we may expect the same news blackouts witnessed in Grenada, and Libya. And, if Sarah Palin, becomes his second in command, we can expect to see the same defiance of congressional subpoenas, the same claims of executive privilege, campaign of secrecy, and the same suppression of the press. If the next occupiers of the executive branch are McCain/Palin, we may also expect to see the State of the Union Address with photos only, and no sound.

With President Obama, we may expect to hear plenty of sound, some of which we may not like, of course, but he will be one president who knows how to talk.

And, when it comes to the vision behind the talk, think about this: while McCain speaks about increasing the use of nuclear energy, Obama's focus, when it comes to things nuclear, is on nuclear nonproliferation, with the recognition that nonproliferation is as much a necessity to the survival of the planet as an effective energy plan.

Think about this: while McCain said that he will cut back on governmental programs and services with the exception of defense spending, and aid to veterans, remember that, on Memorial Day, John McCain openly opposed Virginia Senator Jim Webb's G.I. bill that will increase benefits to service members who return from Iraq and Afghanistan. McCain used the lame argument that the bill would "encourage people to choose to become noncommissioned officers," and would thereby "hurt the military and our country." (WaPo)

When Obama disagreed with McCain's position on Webb's bill, McCain shot back by challenging Obama's experience, and knowledge.

Well, when considering things like knowledge, judgment, and experience, one can only hope that the next President of the United States will recognize the difference between a group that guarded a downed leader during a military coup, and a group with a similar name in a neighboring country.

When considering things like knowledge, and experience, one can only hope that those of us who are old enough to remember what it was like to hide under a desk during an air raid drill will also remember the 1950's mindset that brought us not only the Cold War, but the deep intellectual freeze known simply as McCarthyism, and the mindset of conformity at the expense of creativity, faux nationalism; a mindset that forced women into back alley butcher shops for abortions.

We're glad Sen. McCain sees three letters on Putin's forehead: "KGB" because maybe he will soon recognize that George H.W. Bush, and Dick Cheney have three letters on their forehead, too: "CIA," and that the FBI, under George W. Bush, has expanded its powers to include unwarranted surveillance on ordinary American citizens under this foolishness that goes by the name of the USA Patriot Act powers that will soon be expanded thanks to the efforts of Attorney General Michael Mukasey. This new plan to increase FBI powers such that agents, and informants, may hide their identity while conducting so-called "pretext" interviews while pursuing national security risks. (WaPo)

Hiding one's identity is, after all, not a whole lot different than the kind of hiding from plain view we've seen in the destruction of millions of White House e-mails, and the subsequent attempt of the vice president to secede from the executive branch to avoid accountability. Don't let anyone try to convince you otherwise: Islamofascism isn't the kind of fascism we need to worry about now.

When he spoke about Russia, during tonight's debate, McCain was prescient in demanding that those who want to return to Russia to its empire days must deliver "a country that respects international boundaries, and the norms of international behavior," as he asserts. The same must be true of the United States which, in recent years, has defiled international boundaries in the name of empire building, and defied international law, and the Geneva Conventions.
Senator Obama is right. The only leadership that can truly take us forward is one, as he contends, with the "foresight to anticipate problems." Anything less amounts to lip synching the failed policies of a presidency that confuses homeland security with destabilizing the Bill of Rights.

Yes, Sen. McCain is right about working to unseat the Republican Guard---not the one in Iraq, of course, which was dissolved five years ago, but the one that has insulated the President of the United States, and his cohorts, from accountability over the past eight years.

Make no mistake, the radical right neo-conservative agenda being pushed by McCain-Palin reflects the position of maybe a third of Republicans. Indeed, McCain-Palin is what happens when Republicans let their guard down proving only that the war on terror begins at home.


Late night talk show host, David Letterman, has been quite outspoken about Republican presidential candidate, John McCain.

But, as the song goes, "you don't need a Letterman to know which way the wind blows!"

from Michael Winship

courtesy of Bill Moyers Journal, and Public Affairs Television:

Franklin Roosevelt, A Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes to You

By Michael Winship

We thirst for leadership, vision, someone who can speak to us in a way that refuses to avert its eyes from the crisis, but shines a light of truth upon the problem, then offers hope and possible solutions. If this is indeed an economic 9/11, as some have suggested, we need that voice now. Right now. And so far it has yet to be heard. Not from McCain, or Obama, or President Bush.

After September 11, 2001, the President stood on a pile of debris with a megaphone and said that the whole world could hear the rescue workers and shared their grief. Soon, words of sorrow degenerated into bumper sticker rhetoric: Axis of Evil, Wanted Dead or Alive, Mission Accomplished. Nor, at a time when people were ready to do whatever needed to be done, was there a call for national sacrifice.

Instead, the President invoked not poets or statesman past, but variations on a tee-shirt slogan: when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.

Over the last two weeks, he has been seen infrequently and when he has spoken his words have rung false. This Harvard MBA speaks Economics as though he were phonetically reading a foreign language.

The President has seemed under-informed, disconnected and not, you should excuse the word, invested. In his address to the nation Wednesday evening, he said that the government was blameless for the financial crisis; it had done what it was supposed to do but had been victimized by overseas lenders, greedy banks and Americans taking on more credit than they could carry. And as he has done too often before, he tried to make us afraid.

"The government's top economic experts warn that without immediate action by Congress, America could slip into a financial panic, and a distressing scenario would unfold." President Bush said. "More banks could fail, including some in your community. The stock market would drop even more, which would reduce the value of your retirement account. The value of your home could plummet. Foreclosures would rise dramatically. And if you own a business or a farm, you would find it harder and more expensive to get credit. More businesses would close their doors, and millions of Americans could lose their jobs."

Contrast what he had to say with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt when he was sworn into office for the first time, in 1933, during the Great Depression. Rather than foster anxiety and panic, FDR proclaimed,"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," despite the fact that13 million were unemployed, nine million had lost their savings and a quarter of the banks had closed. Wages had plummeted sixty percent.

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" is the phrase that everyone remembers, but here's a little more of what FDR had to say: "This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure, as it has endured, will revive and will prosper..."In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunk to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income... More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment..."The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of that restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit...If I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize, as we have never realized before, our interdependence on each other; that we can not merely take, but we must give as well."

Idealism and truth-telling intersected in FDR's speech. There was no equivocation, no pass-the-buck. But as decades passed, the belief in government as an instrument to advance the common good was rejected.

Ronald Reagan became President, proclaimed that government was not the solution but the problem, and joked that, "The 10 most dangerous words in the English language are, "Hi, I'm from the Government, and I'm here to help."

Now, like a last-minute, battlefield conversion, the White House has rediscovered the value of government as backstop -- not to relieve the misery of the people but the agonized indigestion of financial institutions suffering morbid obesity because they ate too much at the big shot banquet.

In these bailouts, there is no altruism but cynicism, the same attitude that scorns the Constitution and tramples civil liberties, that uses national tragedy to advance an unrelated global agenda, that doesn't give a damn as it tries to game and subvert the electoral process because deep down it fundamentally disdains democracy.

Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing. We need solutions, not sound bites or pandering. We need inspiration and hope, not spin or cant. The way things are going we may have to find it within ourselves.

But in the next five weeks, if one of the candidates can discover how to articulate that hope without pandering, can define our national trauma and tell us how to try to make it better without terrifying us, can give us something to believe in without false expectations, he will be our next President

Michael Winship is senior writer of the weekly public affairs program Bill Moyers Journal, which airs Friday night on PBS.Check local airtimes or comment at The Moyers Blog atwww.pbs.org/moyers.

Barney Frank

Rep. Barney Frank said "Congress is trying to rescue the economy not the McCain campaign."

Thursday, September 25, 2008


If Joe Biden wants to come away the clear winner of the first vice presidential debate, he has to beat Sarah Palin at her own game.

Biden can accomplish this simply by saying he has his eye on Cuba from his timeshare in Miami.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"ancient history"

Funny, isn't it, how what used to be called "ancient history" now appears on Dr. Phil.

The Bible is like a person...

"The Bible is like a person, and if you torture it long enough, you can get it to say almost anything you'd like it to say," Episcopal Rev. Dr. Francis H. Wade

Courtesy of Philip Proctor

Monday, September 22, 2008

Don't Vote...

for Barack Obama because he is, as some assert, "the lesser of two evils." Vote for Barack Obama because he will make a great President, and he will!

An Irish Airman...

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

By William Butler Yeats

Sunday, September 21, 2008

From an American Airman in Iraq...

to a friend:

Dear Mike:

We have read your articles, and when I say we I mean myself with my fellow soldiers, and to be blunt, your (sic) pissing us off. You talk about war, the military, and government as if we're just screwin' the country and out for some laughs.

First the thing about oil in Iraq, GET A FUCKING CLUE! We found 100% pure pesticide...know what that's used for? BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS. They were moving the stuff out before we got there...well, most of it anyway. And a country that plans, encourages, or aids in any way to terrorism is a direct threat to the United States.

And on a positive note, the people over there are no longer under rule by a heartless dictator. Stop looking at the picture the liberals are trying to paint to everyone because they want the white house....people are happy over there...you drive around town and they still wave and smile at you saying thank you.

If only Americans were like those people...because they know how precious freedom is. And we are fighting for your freedom. We just happened to get in there before it became a larger threat...that's the way its done. If you think that what we are doing over there is nothing more than trying to get ourselves some oil, then I suggest that you put your boots on the line, gear up, and charge into the frontlines with us so you will then fully understand.

But that's the problem right there. Nobody can fully understand until they have been in our shoes and know what its like. I thought I knew but I was wrong. So all we ask is for your FULL support, a thankfull (sic) attitude, and your prayers for all the soldiers that are standing fast in the path of the enemy ready to kill for you.

Because of us you will never know what it is like to hold a weapon in your hand and have to kill for your freedom.

We don't enjoy killing, but we take great pride in why we are doing it. We are United States Soldiers (sic) and we defend your freedom wherever we go.

Airman Blake French
United States Air Force

Mike Palecek forwarded the above note to me along with his response which was:

"You and your fellow soldiers are murderers. Someone should have told you by now. Sorry to have to be the one. Mike"

My response to Mike and Airman French is...

You know it's funny (figuratively) how many of these air force guys enjoy their work. It's odd how the human mind is able to rationalize all kinds of things like why it's okay to look someone in the eye and shoot them, in Baghdad, and get a medal when putting a bullet through someone's skull in the South Bronx gets you a one way ticket to death row.

It's a kind of psychological boot camp that soldiers go through that makes the marrow in their senses harden, and calcify with no hope of detoxification when they return to home soil, but only more deeply entrenched pathology for which we all take responsibility. We, their teachers, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, classmates, pediatricians; we who replace the fillings in their teeth, and fill their childhoods with biblical axioms like "Thou Shalt Not Kill," we then turn them loose, and tell them anything goes in the name of protecting freedom; a freedom which has become yet another abstraction not unlike terror itself.

Guns and roses---no longer just a rock group, but a way of life, a mindset that eroticizes weaponry, and war, with a social infantilism that is as inescapable as it is chilling.

An old friend of mine's 27 year old son is in the air force, and he loves going back for more. I know him from when he was a scrappy four year old---a blonde, blue eyed boy who couldn't wait to crawl back into bed with his mother; now, he's off working on aircraft when he isn't on campaigns, loves it, says he never saw combat, but combat is in his eyes.

The problem with Airmen Blake French is that they never lose the combat in their eyes, not even when they come home to Connecticut, not even when they sleep in the back alleys of our inner city.
The soldiers who return from Iraq and Afghanistan do not think of themselves as murderers any more than those who returned from Vietnam, Korea, or those who saw combat in World War II.

We must never dishonor the service of those who, with good conscience, are guided by the belief, rightly or wrongly, that they are acting in defense of their country, and/or their liberty. We must acknowledge, too, that it is often economic inequity, and lack of opportunity, that drive youngsters of color, and of limited means, to pursue military life as all too often it is their only hope for opportunities that are denied them in civilian life.

But, for the most part, they have bought everything Airmen French wrote, hook, line, and sinker. They are the victims of war, too, every bit as much as those who come back to us in body bags. We must condemn those who give the orders, more than those who carry them out.

It is the war machine that murders. We must never confuse the machine with its parts. And, i
n this election year, we have a "war hero" candidate who wants to roll back benefits given, for generations, under the G.I. Bill. Is this how to support our troops? Indeed, the ones who support John McCain are the ones who can least afford to do so.

We must say to Airman French, and others like him, put down your weapons, and come home. We need you to start defending freedom here.

Scarless Surgery

According to today's Washington Post, doctors are experimenting with a new kind of surgery which doesn't involve cutting into a person's flesh. Instead, organs can be removed through openings in the body. Using this procedure, for example, a gall bladder may be removed through the mouth so that the patient won't have to go under the knife.

Good idea---this virtually guarantees that Dick Cheney's heart may be delivered through his rectum, and the president's brain through his right ear. As for Sarah Palin, since she appears to lack both, the birth canal will have to do.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

These are the folks

These are the folks who brought us bankruptcy "reform" which enables the credit card companies to collect their gargantuan fees from average working men and women in this country who happen to fall on bad times, and need credit to help them out.

These are the same folks who have profited from the sacrifice of more than 4,000 service men and women in the name of a war that they knew was irrelevant, and purported only to bring about profit, and gross capital gain to military contractors, and soldiers of fortune.

These are the folks who invented "extraordinary rendition," and who tweaked the Geneva Conventions such that long held practices like waterboarding were no longer to be considered torture.

These are the folks who came up with the Military Commissions Act to nullify the War Crimes Act of 1994, thereby granting themselves immunity from being held criminally liable for their war crimes.

These are the folks who will get to retire, and live out their lives, at taxpayer expense, and whose parting gift is saddling every taxpayer with more than $3500 to let those on Wall Street who have managed to elude accountability for a generation, or more, off the hook.

This is your President and Vice President, America. This is your President and Vice President on drugs---the drug of power. Hold them accountable before they ride off into the sunset with your IRAs; hold them responsible before they run off with your history to build their presidential libraries, and leave you holding the bag

Friday, September 19, 2008

from Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

The below comes courtesy of Bill Moyers Journal, and Public Affairs Television...

Moguls Steal Home While Companies Called Out

By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

From our offices in Manhattan, we look out on the tall, gleaming skyscrapers that are cathedrals of wealth and power – the Olympus ruled by the gods of finance, the temples of the mighty, the holy of holies, whose priests guard the sacred texts of salvation – the ones containing the secrets of subprime lending and derivatives as mysterious and elusive as the Grail itself.

This last couple of weeks, ordinary mortals below could almost hear the ripcords of golden parachutes being pulled as the divinities on high prepared for soft, safe landings – all this while tossing their workers like sacrificial lambs into the purgatory of unemployment.

During the last five years of his tenure as CEO of now-bankrupt Lehman Brothers, Richard Fuld’s total take was $354 million. John Thain, the current chairman of Merrill Lynch, taken over this week by Bank of America, has been on the job for just nine months. He pocketed a $15 million signing bonus.

His predecessor, Stan O’Neal, retired with a package valued at $161 million, after the company reported an eight billion dollar loss in a single quarter. And remember Bear Stearns Chairman James Cayne? After the company collapsed earlier this year and was up for sale at bargain basement prices, he sold his stake for more than $60 million.

Daniel Mudd and Richard Syron, the former heads of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – aka the gods who failed – are fighting to keep severance packages of close to $24 million combined – on top of the millions in salary each earned last year while slaughtering the golden calf. As it is written in the Gospel According to Me, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

But let’s change the metaphor for a moment and go to our sports desk, because if religion is no longer the soul of capitalism, as Max Weber once taught us it was, we have to venture somewhere else to try to understand the continuing follies of the new gilded age.

And so we travel just a few miles north of Wall Street to the House that Ruth Built. Babe Ruth – the Sultan of Swat – who ruled Yankee Stadium and sired generations of princes after him: DiMaggio and Gehrig, Mantle, Maris, Berra and Jackson. Yankee Stadium, as fabled a place to Americans as Ilium was to the ancient Greeks, about to be demolished and replaced next year by a brand new stadium.

On Opening Day in 1923, New York Governor Al Smith threw out the first ball and John Philip Sousa led a big brass band playing his famous marches. It was the Roaring Twenties, when the money flowed liked bootleg whiskey, the pride before the fall. In 1930, the year after the market crashed, as the Great Depression began, Babe Ruth was taking home $80,000 a year, more than the President of the United States, Herbert Hoover. “Why not?” Ruth asked. “I had a better year than he did.”

Yankee star Alex Rodriguez had a better year than both of them. This season, A-Rod is making $28 million, just part of an annual Yankee payroll of $209 million, the richest in baseball. Their owner, George Steinbrenner, is among the Forbes 400, one of the country’s richest tycoons.

But when it came to paying for the new, $1.3 billion pleasure dome, the millionaires on the field and King Midas in his skybox came up with some razzle-dazzle plays to finance their new wealth machine – tax-free bonds, requiring ordinary citizens to subsidize the construction, and hundreds of millions more for new parking garages, a train station and parks that supposedly will replace the ones seized by the city to make room for the new stadium. The Little League games that used to flourish on sandlots just outside the old ballpark have been moved miles away, sent down to the minors on a long road trip.

That’s okay, you may think, there will be plenty of room in the new stadium for the tax-paying public to come root, root, root for the home team – even the Coliseum in ancient Rome had bleachers for the commoners. But, in fact, there will be 5,000 fewer seats in the stands. And while the Yankees reportedly promise that half of what’s left will cost $45 or less, those seats that used to cost $250, right behind the dugout, will now cost you $850. And if you want to be near home plate, you’ll have to cough up $2500 – per game.

Meanwhile there will be more luxury suites and party rooms where fat cats can gather, safely removed from the sweaty masses. Corporations and wealthy individuals will be able to rent the luxury suites for anywhere from $600,000-$850,000 a year – tax deductible – assuming they haven’t filed for bankruptcy this week.

Why aren’t the fans and taxpayers giving the Yankees a Bronx cheer?

They did, but city officials rolled over them while making sure local politicians stay in the lineup. The pols are getting their own luxury suite at the new stadium for free – and first shot at buying the best available seats.

The new colossus will cast its majestic shadow across the South Bronx, one of the nation’s poorest neighborhoods. The residents will watch from the outside as suburban drivers avail themselves of 9,000 new or refurbished parking spaces.

Never mind all the exhaust, even though in this part of New York City, respiratory disease is already so high they call it “Asthma Alley.”

Not that the well to do in the infield seats will have to hear the wheezing. They’ll have exclusive access to a private club, a private entrance and a private elevator, totems of this gilded age. Let the games begin.

Bill Moyers is managing editor and Michael Winship is senior writer of the weekly public affairs program Bill Moyers Journal, which airs Friday night on PBS. Check local airtimes or comment at The Moyers Blog at www.pbs.org/moyers.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Revolution on the Installment Plan

If you're like me, you, too, are still waiting for the revolution we were promised, back in 2000, when the Supremes stole the election, and it was "fascists night out..."

Back then, those fundamentalists on the Left were certain that when we were robbed of our privacy, free speech, a dissenting media, and due process, when the credit card companies scalped us with their egregious 30% rates, when our bosses paid less in taxes than we did, people would show up in outrage.

Instead, they took to their trailers, and reality TV, with the result being that more Americans today think of Marx as the comic with curly hair. Even what's left of the Left was too busy reading Marcuse, or watching "Gunsmoke" in syndication; too many were text messaging to get off their air mattresses.

Instead of Che Guevara, we got "Sex in the City," and ruminations about revolution were replaced by striving for the perfect orgasm. The 1960's mantra "turn on, tune in, drop out" has been transformed, by Generation I-Pod, into tune out. Not listening has become an artform; not paying for anything is seen now as the first stop on the road to grace, and grace is a Ford Explorer with an endless trunk. By and large, our youngsters have been seduced by technology, and are apoplectic with neutrality.

But, there is good news, after all. We can stop waiting for something that already happened despite the best efforts of the mainstream media to sleep through it. There was a revolution back in 1994, the Republican revolution. Okay, so they bungled the spelling-- revolution became "revelation;" nevertheless a deranged bunch of apocalypse hackers have taken over leaving the rest of us in denial.

You thought only liberal fringe groups would revolt? The McCain-Palin ticket is living proof that Gingrich, Quayle, Frist, and other evangelistas have triumphed; proof that liberals don't have a patent on the revolution; proof that, while no one was looking, not only an election was stolen, but everything that our grandparents fought for, too.

Let's not kid ourselves: the radical change Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, and others had in mind may not come with Obama either, but with Obama will come an administration that can at least use spell check, and that will raise taxes on those who have been cannibalizing our paychecks, stock options, and IRAs, for the past two decades, not provide incentives for more gluttony.

Don't believe what he says: "deregulation" is John McCain's middle name, and the mere mention of the words "free market" make Sarah Palin salivate more than the sight of a saturday night special.

The Republican platform has long extolled the virtues of "free market" deregulation, and caused the trickle-down mess we find ourselves in today.

Don't let their populist agitprop fool you--just picture Palin shooting wolves from 20,000 feet, and calling for open season on deer.... that's the Kodac moment we all need to have come election day.

Don't be deceived: should McCain-Palin prevail in November "the land of the free" will become the home of the hunter, and the meek had better run for cover.

Karl Marx would tell you that revolution comes in stages, but even Karl Marx couldn't have predicted this one.

Waiting for the revolution is, indeed, a bit like "Waiting for Godot;" go-dot, go...

Feinstein's answer to "drill, baby, drill..."

The below article, by Sen. Feinstein, appeared in a recent issue of The Los Angeles Times...

The Distraction of Offshore Drilling

Bush is pushing a false promise. What we need is a long-term energy strategy.

By Dianne Feinstein

There is no quick fix to $4.50-a-gallon gas, no way to provide instant relief to consumers we know are hurting. Yet President Bush and others continue to push the false promise of offshore oil drilling.

Just this week, the president lifted the executive order banning drilling that George H.W. Bush put in place in 1990. And he's asked Congress to lift its own moratorium on oil exploration on the outer continental shelf -- which includes coastal waters as close as three miles from shore.
This would be a terrible mistake. It would put our nation's precious coastlines in jeopardy and wouldn't begin to fix the underlying energy-supply problem. And it surely wouldn't ease gas prices any time in the near future.

The vast majority of the outer continental shelf is already open to oil exploration: Areas containing an estimated 82% of all of the natural gas and 79% of the oil are today available to energy companies through existing federal leases. Federal agencies are issuing drilling permits at three times the rate they were in 1999 -- but that hasn't slowed oil prices during the climb from $19 to beyond $140 a barrel.

Meantime, energy companies haven't fully utilized their existing permits to drill on another 68 million acres of federal lands and waters. Exploiting these areas probably could double U.S. oil production and increase natural gas production by 75%.

Opening the protected areas of the continental shelf, on the other hand, wouldn't produce a drop of oil for seven years or longer. It takes a minimum of two years to process the new leases. Industry experts tell us that there's a three- to five-year waiting list for new drilling ships and other equipment.

And with any drilling, oil spills are a very real threat. Californians have learned the hard way how much damage -- environmental and economic -- can be caused by a major spill. A healthy coast is vital to California's economy and our quality of life. Ocean-dependent industry is estimated to contribute $43 billion to California each year.

We cannot drill our way out of the energy problem. Our nation doesn't need smooth talk and rosy scenarios. We need a clear-eyed view of our energy situation.

Oil markets are global. Economic growth around the world -- including millions of new cars in Asia -- means demand for oil is on the rise. With less than 3% of the world's oil reserves, our nation simply doesn't have enough domestic oil to dramatically lower the price.

A weak U.S. dollar and instability in the Middle East exacerbate the problem.

We need to forge a long-term energy strategy that takes these factors into account, moves our nation away from fossil fuels and invests in renewable energy resources. We need to promote conservation and develop clean technologies and clean fuels -- like cellulosic ethanol. We need to continue to raise fuel economy standards for vehicles and improve the energy efficiency of our buildings by 50%.

It's also time to crack down on excessive speculation in critical energy markets.

In May, Congress took a first step by closing the "Enron loophole," which brought more energy trading under federal oversight. Congress now needs to eliminate other loopholes and to get serious with large institutional investors who are trading energy futures with no speculation limits.

Changing our nation's fuel consumption pattern is an enormous endeavor. It will take years. But this is the reality we face. And there's no time to waste.

July 18, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


A recent blog asks its readers to come up with a psychiatric diagnosis for John McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, asserting that she could be borderline, bipolar, a sociopath, or any diagnosis of their choosing. The post cites descriptions for all of the pathologies taken from the Physician's Desk Reference.

This got me to thinking...far be it for me to defend Sarah Palin who, frankly, scares the wits out of me, but why is it that all the questions about mental health are landing on her when, for instance, we have a commander-in-chief who claims that he took orders from God to invade, and pummel Iraq, and that he's fighting a "war on terror" against an "axis of evil," (paranoid? schizophrenic? delusional), and a sociopathic Cheney-iac as his veep, who detaches himself from the executive branch whenever he's about to be held accountable for anything, and who allegedly hid out in cellars for months after 9/11.

Yes, and why all these aspersions cast solely on Ms. Palin when her running mate, John McCain, is legendary for his temper, and impulsivity, and who probably is still suffering from PTSD because it was never treated in the first place, (try spending as much time in solitary confinement as he did, and not having anger management issues).

Hell, there are some who find Sarah likable---she sure has charisma; she might even come across to some like Ronald Reagan in a dress (if you're Alfred Hitchcock, that is).

How about a little gender equity? If her name was Sal, for instance, she might be making sure the trains run on time in Sicily instead of running from the press in Denver, or firing troopers in Anchorage.

Okay, guys, so maybe the broad is a whacko, but she's got a lot of company; yes, some whackos in high places, so why point the finger at the bottom of the ticket when there's so much pathology at the top that still has yet to be addressed!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Not even a short-term solution

The Democrats are right. Not only is drilling not a solution, it's not even a short-term solution.

Moreover, the notion that drilling in Alaska, or anywhere else, will produce enough oil to relieve what is, for most of us, colossal pain at the pump applies the same logic as trying to put a bandaid on the trunk of a bleeding elephant.

This is thinking that is not only unsound, but is meant to be unsound because the goal is to deflect attention away from longterm solutions and instead put it on a free market fix. Well, hey, guys, we see where free market fixes got us, deregulation, and all the flawed economic policies from Reaganomics on down: the stock market has suffered its greatest decline since 9/11; the credit card empire is falling apart before our very eyes..

But, you ask, what does this have to do with drilling for oil? Everything.

Going back to the future, and undoing all of the efforts at environmental sanity made
in the past two decades just won't cut it anymore.

To those who have grown richer and fatter on our labor, and our sacrifice, I say: you can fool some of the people some of the time, but your 15 minutes of fame are up.

We have too many empty gas tanks, too many empty refrigerators, and toomany empty dreams as a result of those whose chief goal is to explore ways to enhance their own financial bottom line like Exxon, and Chevron while theaverage working man and woman in this country can barely come up with what they need to make it to and from work every day.

We need a vision, not just a plan. We need leadership that looks to alternative energy the way John F. Kennedy looked to exploring outer space. We need those who respect dreams, not those who worship schemes.

Give tax incentives, not to those whose gluttony has led to the all but certain decimation of civilization as we know it, but to those who look for alternatives for how we consume, and how we grow, energy.

from Michael Winship and Bill Moyers Journal

Lipstick on Polar Bears

By Michael Winship-

Where would politicians be without the Titanic? As metaphors go, it's far more majestic than putting lipstick on pigs or pit bulls.

Farm yard bacon and junkyard dogs may come and go but in the world of political rhetoric the Titanic sails on.-

The most famous shipwreck in modern history is the mother of all metaphors. Just last week, at a rally in Tampa, Florida, Hillary Clinton declared, "Anybody who believes that the Republicans, whoever they are, can fix the mess they created probably believes that the iceberg could have saved the Titanic."

A political cartoon shows the President at the helm, yelling, "I'm king of the world!" as the mighty vessel plows into bergs labeled "Deficits,""Unemployment" and "Foreign Policy." Democratic strategist Paul Begala writes, "Selling the old Bush line in this economy would be like trying to sell tickets for the return trip on the Titanic after it sank."

And, of course, there are infinite variations on the notion of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, or buying new ones, as metaphor for wasting time on a trivial task as disaster looms - an especially apt image when it comes to politics, Congress, or virtually any government agency. Heckuva job, skipper.

When it's functioning well, government is often referred to as a ship of state (See Longfellow: "Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State! Sail on, O Union, strong and great!"), so when it veers perilously off course, comparing it to the well-known leviathan that slipped beneath the waves nearly one hundred years, is a logical skip of the stone.

Titanic is an iconic symbol of hubris, a manmade behemoth built in defiance, and brought low by a random natural phenomenon. "God Himself could not sink this ship," sneers the villain in the James Cameron movie and at that point, even if for some unlikely reason you weren't aware of the outcome, you know for sure that this is not going to end well.

Humankind's ability to help bring calamity down upon itself is what makes Titanic such a powerful image, especially as we face the growing immutability of what we're doing to our planet.

Despite being distracted by the current campaign's side trips into sludge and triviality, with Karl Rove simultaneously telling Fox News the attacks have gone too far, but that the non-partisan, fact-check organizations that challenge falsehoods can't be trusted(!), we would do well to consider that the icebergs are still out there, rhetorically, and, in the case of Sarah Palin, very much for real.

In her new position as princess regent of the Republican Party, the vice presidential candidate has had to do some fancy skating, finding herself- with a team of Republican coaches at her ear -- positioning herself on many issues for the very first time and altering some of her existing views to more closely mirror those of her running mate. Climate change, for example.

In her interview with ABC News' Charles Gibson, Palin said, "Man's activities certainly can be contributing to the issue of global warming," although last December she was quoted by the Alaska newspaper the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner saying, "I'm not an Al Gore, doom-and-gloom environmentalist blaming the changes in our climate on human activity."

Her partial conversion along the road from St. Paul comes not a moment too soon, as a big chunk of the entire Arctic region appears to be melting, perhaps endangering the McCain/Palin campaign's boast that Palin is governor of the largest state in the union.

An Associated Press article noted late last month, that, "Federal wildlife monitors spotted nine polar bears in one day swimming in open ocean off Alaska's northwest coast, and environmental groups say the event is a strong signal that diminished sea ice brought on by warming has put U.S. bears at risk of drowning, or dying from effects of fatigue."

Palin is not the polar bear's friend - in May, when U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne declared the charismatic mega fauna a threatened species, the governor announced she would sue the federal government, and said state officials backed her belief that global warming was not affecting the bear population. Recently released e-mails from those same scientists actually said the opposite.

"She and other Alaska elected officials fear a listing will cripple oil and gas development in prime polar bear habitat off the state's northern and northwestern coasts," the Associated Press reported. "...Polar bears are well-managed and their population has dramatically increased over 30 years as a result of conservation," she said.

Secretary Kempthorne disagreed, and the figures back him up. A US Geological Survey study predicted Alaskan polar bears could be extinct by 2050, which is important because the bears are an indicator species -what happens to them is relevant to the entire food chain. And it tells us a lot about how quickly sea ice - which the bears use as platforms on which to live and hunt seals - is disappearing.

According to the AP, "Summer sea ice last year shrunk to a record low, about 1.65 million square miles in September, nearly 40% less than the long-term average between 1979 and 2000 and most climate modelerspredict a continued downward spiral, possibly with an Arctic Ocean that's ice free during summer months by 2030 or sooner."

In fact, the British newspaper The Independent reported August 31, "Open water now stretches all the way round the Arctic, making it possible for the first time in human history to circumnavigate the North Pole... the most important geographical landmark to date to signal the unexpectedly rapid progress of global warming."

The resulting opening of Arctic sea lanes creates a morass of issues that will affect American foreign and energy policy for years, and which neither campaign is significantly addressing.

As noted in this column a couple of years ago, "Melting of the Arctic ice cap would create a sea five times the size of the Mediterranean and shorten global shipping routes by thousands of miles."

The impact on maritime trade and commercial fishing thus will be enormous, not to mention the new availability of natural resources worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

Eight nations are fighting over territorial rights to the Arctic seabed- including not only Russia, the United States and Canada but also Norway and Denmark.

But among the many disastrous side effects is that south Florida, the Marshall Islands, and half of Bangladesh will be underwater.

The UN estimates that by decade's end around 50 million people will become environmental refugees. Because of global warming, we'll find ourselves in a manmade, hubristic mess of, um, Titanic proportions.

Michael Winship is senior writer of the weekly public affairs program, Bill Moyers Journal, which airs Friday night on PBS. Check local airtimes, or comment at The Moyers Blog at www.pbs.org/moyers.

And, if you missed Bill Moyers Journal Report on Shock Jock radio - check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZ3ap-BK0e0

the stock market...

is about to crash, and the bottom is falling out.

In the end, America has cannibalized herself in the name of profit.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

George W. Bush, the sequel...

Sarah Palin, the Republicans pick for vice president (er, president?) may someday be known as George W. Bush, the sequel.

Mind you, the comparisons to Dick Cheney wear thin in a hurry, given the Alaska governor can bluff her way through the Bush doctrine which is more than one can say about the current vice president.

Rest assured that the novacaine, from the Bush years, will wear off as quickly if McCain/Palin are allowed to triumph, and we are about to lose the few rights we have left like so many loose molars.

Yes, guaranteed, too, by the end of McCain/Palin's first term, the legacy of George W. Bush will be that of a "compassionate conservative."

Keep this in mind when going to the polls in November: a vote for John McCain and Sarah Palin is not a vote for Harry Truman, but for Joe McCarthy on steroids.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Running by the Numbers

After Thursday night's interview with ABC, one thing is clear--Sarah Palin is running by the numbers.

And, if you're Sarah Palin, running by the numbers means:

1) Repeating your interviewer's name, "Charlie" several times to show that you have that personal touch. And, more importantly, to deflect attention away from the fact that you still think Cuba is in the Balkans.

2) Plowing right through a question that you don't know the answer to without even blinking. If you blink, people will know that you have teleprompters everywhere, even in the bathroom.

3) Repeating keywords like "Islamic," "extremists," and "terrorists" as often as possible.

4) Being absolutely sure not to deviate from accepted party line when it comes to mispronouncing words like nu-cu-lar, and eye-rack (Iraq).

5) Invoking the name "John McCain" more than God (that is, until after the election)

6) Making sure to wear reading glasses, so people will think you really read, but never admitting to reading newspapers. We wouldn't want to distance ourselves that much from the current commander-in-chief.

7) Working to simulate dissent, so people won't see you as that yes man in a skirt. (keep in mind that Madame Payless declares her difference from McCain who opposes ANWAR. (watch for that flip flop, too, after --gawd forbid--inauguration day.)
Make "drill, baby, drill" the national anthem.

8) Employing catch phrases like government that is "on the side of the people" without clarifying which people you are talking about.

9) Calling Russia "our next door neighbor" while, at the same time, declaring the need to stand tough on Georgian autonomy. This gives just enough wiggle room for illegal breaking and entering, something the Bush doctrine doesn't expressly state, but something the administration clearly considers being neighborly.

10) Embracing the war on terror, yet admitting that some "mistakes" were made like, for instance, invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, and confusing Saddam Hussein with bin Laden, but, hey, this is a country discovered by a dude with a bad sense of direction.

11) Discreetly making inquiry in your local library about banning books, and asking a longtime library staffer how she would handle censorship, and when called on it, saying that any questions about pulling questionable books from the shelves were only hypothetical.

12) Violating your state's open records act as a dress rehearsal for breaking the presidential records act by refusing to turn over more than 1,000 e-mails that might prove ethics violations showing real aptitude for being our next Redactor-in-Chief.

13) Using the power of your office to strongarm anyone who crosses you, or your family, even members of the press, and never confusing a campaign ad with a Cialis commercial.

14) Saying you're for life, but meaning you're only for certain forms of life---for life of a fetus, but not that of wildlife, or that of your teenage daughter who chooses her own future over that of a one-inch embryo. Saying you're for life, but denying access to life-saving medications to clinics, worldwide, who refuse to cooperate with abstinence-only sex education.

15) Making sure to put trailer trash on the endangered species list, and to show just enough moxie, and twinkle, to suggest you have a mind of your own when really you are a hired mouth, and a good one.

After all, running by the numbers means counting on people not to pay attention to anything of substance, but only what will fill the front page of a tabloid, and is the only hope McCain/Palin have for victory in November.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"Royalty in Kind" Programs

Check out the below from McClatchy newspapers:

"It's bad enough that the government employees who oversee offshore oil drilling are literally and figuratively in bed with Big Oil, the rest of the U.S. government doesn't need to jump in bed with them," Sen. Bill Nelson, D. Fla.

Think of this the next time you hear the McCain/Palin campaign mantra, "Drill, baby, drill."


Apparently, scientists have come up with a cure for sex addiction...


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

93 today...

From Aunt Sylvia who you may recall from previous posts, and who turns 93 today:

"What do I do now? Eat my cereal. Wash the dishes. Think of what I should know. Read the papers, and tell all the columnists what I think of them."

To Sylvia, and another 93 years!

Watch out...

If McPalin win in November, be careful not to invite Sarah Palin to be your house guest. She's liable to bill the U.S. Treasury for every night she stays, and bill at about the same rates as any five star hotel in Beverly Hills.

Guaranteed, too, that the National Enquirer will be out to lunch on that one.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


new word for today:


the rightful combination of John McCain and chicanery...

the bridge?

Sarah Palin: she is the Bridge to Nowhere...

Monday, September 08, 2008

Some tightening race

Television networks now report that McCain is marginally ahead of Obama in the polls thanks to the bump he got from nominating Lady Sarah to be his veep.

Whether you're a Democrat, Republican, or Independent, when visiting the polls this November, remember this: a vote for McCain/Palin is a vote for the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party.

When John McCain speaks about being the party that brings change, think "back to the future" because that's the kind of change he has in mind; think Cold War, then fast forward-- think 1994---the Republican Revolution; think Newt Gingrich, Dan Quayle, and all things trickle down. By the time his pick for vice president is done with this country, Newt Gingrich will look like a flaming liberal.

Oh, yes, and when you think of Sarah Palin, think Mata Hari and Machiavelli combined. Some soccer mom who shoots wolves from 20,000 feet; some friend to the earth who thinks humankind has had nothing to do with global warming.

We're not shopping for a pair of pantyhose here; we're electing a president. The whole world will feel the aftershocks of this one.

McCain picked some spokesperson for a "culture of life," one who opposes stem cell research, and puts the life of a fetus the size of your ring finger above the life of your co-ed daughter, who will join in reinforcing abstinence-only education, in HIV/AIDS riddled continents like Asia and Africa, as well as in the inner cities of America while, at the same time, not bothering to instruct her own 17 year old daughter in abstinence.

With McCain/Palin, we'll make great headway: instead of trickle down economics, we'll have trickle down morality.

Do you want another lunatic fringe running your government?

Do you want a group whose views reflect those of less than a quarter of the population, who think that the apocalypse is a good thing, only a sneeze away from pushing the button that will blow us to hell and back? If so, then vote for John McCain.

With McCain/Palin, we get a culture of life that virtually guarantees a culture of death will follow in its wake.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Evangelical Lite

Let me be perfectly clear here--the only way Barack Obama is going to win the election, in November, is by standing his ground, and not becoming indistinguishable from the radical right wing platform with respect to two important issues: guns and choice.

In a segment, leaked by Politico from an interview scheduled for later this week, Obama tells George Stephanoulos that he regrets being flippant on the subject of abortion, at Saddleback, and that he now wants to clarify: “What I intended to say is that, as a Christian, I have a lot of humility about understanding when does the soul enter into … It's a pretty tough question. And so, all I meant to communicate was that I don't presume to be able to answer these kinds of theological questions...I think the better answer — and this was reflected in the Democratic platform — is to figure out, how do we make sure the young mothers, or women who have a pregnancy that's unexpected or difficult, have the kind of support they need to make a whole range of choices, including adoption and keeping the child."

A cursory look at the words italicized above will show that the Democratic party is in deep doo-doo unless it starts to stay out of the Bible belt, and push for separation of church and state, evolution, the right to choose, and the right to privacy. Compromising on these issues, by becoming Evangelical Light, will only lead to blurring the lines of demarcation between the two parties which, as you know, are already pretty fuzzy.

Obama would be wise to heed the words of another "first dude," Thomas Jefferson, "Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear. " Yes, and this, too, from T.J. : "Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law."

And, back in 1960, another candidate for president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy had this to say: "It's not what kind of church I believe in, for that should be important only to me, but what kind of America I believe in. I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute."

Now, nearly half a century later, the forces of repression, and religious intolerance about which Kennedy warned, are back again, and ready to pounce, in the form of a governor from Alaska: Sarah Palin.

The reason Sarah Payless has higher approval ratings than either of the presidential contenders is that she's not pandering to win votes. That may be because she's thinking about what she needs at Walmart, or maybe because she just doesn't give a flying fajita about getting the job, especially when she's not even sure what the vice president does. Americans are suckers for independents, even when they don't know what they're independent from.

Unless Obama wants his run for chief executive to end the way John Kerry's did, the best answer for him is to follow Sarah Palin, and stick to his guns, especially those that don't backfire. That's right, Obama needs to stand up for core values of the Democrats like religious tolerance, affirmative action, gun control, a woman's right to choose, and diplomacy over war-mongering.

Stand up, or stand down, Senator; anything else is pandering.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

And as for...

Sarah Palin, she spent more time in labor than in government!

Some Perspective...

Cindy McCain reportedly spent $300,000 on the outfit she wore the evening of her husband's nomination to be the Republican party's official candidate for president.

It would take the average American worker 10 years to earn what Mrs. McCain spent on one outfit.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Costume Changes

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee announced, at last week's Republican convention, that the media coverage of Sarah Palin has been "tackier than a costume change at a Madonna concert."

And, Mr. Huckabee ought to know a thing or two about costume changes. His party is responsible for the biggest wardrobe malfunction in U.S. history, the war in Iraq, which has proven to be an insult to the service of every man and woman in uniform.

We have some breaking news for Mr. Huckabee: When Sen. Obama talks about the need for change, he isn't talking about costume changes.

from Michael Winship

Courtesy of Bill Moyers Journal, and Public Affairs Television...

St. Paul’s Police Protest the Press

By Michael Winship

Chronicling his life as a journalist in the colonial British Raj, a young Winston Churchill wrote that “nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.”

Nor, I’d add, is there anything in life quite so discombobulating as to turn a corner and unexpectedly walk into a wall of tear gas.

It happened to me on a couple of occasions during the years of anti-Vietnam war protests, when I was a college student and young reporter in Washington, DC.

One time I was gassed while filming a counterdemonstration on Honor America Day, a nationally televised celebration hosted by Bob Hope.

As God is my witness, the gas hit just as Kate Smith was singing, “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.”

The following year, 1971, demonstrators came from around the country to shut Washington down during morning rush hour. A photographer, another reporter and I were on the scene covering a failed attempt to close the Key Bridge crossing of the Potomac.

Police in pursuit, we dashed uphill into the Georgetown neighborhood only to run smack into more police lobbing canister after canister of gas until it blanketed the streets.

I remember then Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell standing at the top of his townhouse stoop in robe and slippers, bewildered at the scene unfolding below him, clutching his rolled up copy of the Washington Post for dear life. Momentarily blinded, students took us in hand and led us to a makeshift infirmary in the basement of a university building.

So, attending the Democratic National Convention in Denver and watching events at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul via television, the sights and sounds of police and protesters were familiar. And that scent, the heavy, cloying smell of gas and pepper spray, as evocative as, but far less delicate than, a Proustian cookie.

In both cities, getting tickets to the big shindigs hosted by major corporations seeking to bend the ear of party VIP’s was a media challenge – they were blocked by sometimes heavy-handed attempts by police and private security to keep the press out.

A very few, like ABC News’ Brian Ross got in, recording, for example, the bash thrown for Republicans by Lockheed Martin, the American Trucking Association and the NRA, featuring a band named Hookers and Blow.

However, in Denver, one of Ross’ producers, Asa Eslocker, was arrested while trying to interview Democratic senators and donors leaving a private event at the Brown Palace Hotel.

What was different in St. Paul was that the police seemed especially intent on singling out independent journalists and activists covering the Republican convention for the Internet and other alternative forms of media.

Over the weekend, police staged preemptive raids on several buildings where planning sessions for demonstrations were being held, one of them a meeting of various video bloggers, including I-Witness Video, a media group that monitors law enforcement. Later in the week, I-Witness’ temporary headquarters were entered by police, claiming they had received news of a possible hostage situation.

Why all this interest? One can only speculate, but footage that I-Witness shot at the Republican convention four years ago in Manhattan has helped exonerate hundreds who were arrested and detained by the New York Police Department, their cases either dismissed or resulting in acquittals at trial.

In St. Paul, two student photographers and their advisor from the University of Kentucky were held without charge for 36 hours.

The ACLU of Minnesota ID’d several other journalists, bloggers, and photographers from Rhode Island, California, Illinois, Florida, and other parts of the country who also were arrested. Many others were gassed or hit by pepper spray.

Perhaps the most prominent arrest was that of journalist Amy Goodman, anchor of the daily television and radio news program, “Democracy Now!”

Police had taken two of her producers into custody as they were trying to cover the news. Goodman went out looking for them, but didn’t get very far. She was stopped, slapped into handcuffs, and hauled into a detention center, along with almost 200 hundred other people.
They had come to demonstrate, she had come to report on them.

Goodman was released a few hours later and back on the job anchoring her daily radio and TV show, a favorite of listeners and viewers who go to her for news they won’t find in the mainstream, or rightwing, press.

What has those in control worried is that despite what the politicians tell us from inside their fortified compounds where the party line rules, more and more people outside have cameras and laptops, and they’re not afraid to use them.

Forty years ago, protestors in Chicago shouted, “The whole world is watching.”

More and more, the whole world isn’t just watching. From Minnesota to China, citizen journalists are reporting what they see and hear, and the powers that be don’t like it.

Michael Winship is senior writer of the weekly public affairs programBill Moyers Journal, which airs Friday night on PBS.Check local airtimes or comment at The Moyers Blog at www.pbs.org/moyers.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Damn the Torpedoes Again

In her damn the torpedoes acceptance speech at the Republican Convention, last night, Sarah Palin, Alaska's governor, not only won her party's nomination, but she effectively auditioned for a remake of "Million Dollar Baby."

That said, the only reason, I can think of, for this dynamic duo is that both of their home states begin with the letter "A." While this may work for creationists, it doesn't cut it for those who'd like to believe we've made it out of the middle ages in one piece.

Among Palin's most memorable observations was that Barack Obama, at one time, was a community organizer. "Well," she said, "America is not a community, and we don't need an organizer."

Gov. Palin had a news flash for the American people. Well, we now have one for her: America may not be a "community," but it's not a congregation, either, and we, the people, won't allow ourselves to be steamrolled by a runaway executive branch again.

We face record deficits, and moral bankruptcy, thanks to the evangelistas of the 1990's, the Quayles, and Gingriches; the only ones who have benefited are the oil barons, and the credit card companies.

This country can no more afford someone within shooting range, or for that matter someone within shouting range, of the White House whose claim to fame is being able to gun down wildlife from 20,000 feet than we can afford to invite Edi Amin to a state dinner.

The folks who confuse shotgun weddings with shotgun diplomacy will put us one step closer to nuclear extinction whether they invoke the name of the almighty or not.

With McCain/Palin, the radical Christian right wing, not only has traction, they have teeth.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A Set Up?

Is the nomination of Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska, as running mate for Sen. John McCain a set up? Palin isn't even the official nominee, and there have already been more leaks than on the Titanic.

First, allegations that Palin tried to get her sister's ex-husband fired from his job as a state trooper in a bitter custody battle, then accusations that she redacted her Wikipedia entry, next revelations that her teenage daughter is pregnant despite Palin's posturing on abstinence-only sex education programs, and attempts to have sexually explicit materials banned from school libraries. The candidate who ran on ethics is now running from ethics concerns.

The pro-life feminist is, according to the McCain campaign, now portrayed as the victim of a "faux media scandal." But, more people in this country are concerned with faux elections than faux media scandals. Still, the McCain camp is trying to glean every last ounce out of the notion that it is the old boys' network that now seeks to sink the candidacy of the first female on the Republican party ticket.

Forget who this woman is, after all, like the fact that she recently told her congregation that American troops in Iraq were sent "on a task that is from God," according to the Associated Press.

After all, Republican strategists would have one think that it is the liberal press, the Democrats, and leftwing pundits, the old boys in the establishment news outlets, who are out to ruin Palin, not someone who is carefully timing the release of information about a candidate who is largely unknown. Can we afford to believe that?

Let's step back for a minute, and think about who stands to lose the most if more compelling smut on McCain's pick seeps out, over the coming weeks, and she is forced to tearfully step down. Look who then becomes the big, bad sexists standing in the way of the pro-life feminist free market earth mother?

As for vetting Palin, arguably, McCain did all the vetting he needs to do by finding the most implausible woman running mate so that when the well-timed, and carefully orchestrated, leaks come, her exit will logically follow leaving Obama, and the Democrats, scratching their heads, and trying to clean up after her category 4 hurricane.

Maybe the reason McCain only met with her once was so they could agree that she'd take the plunge, in November, and be in much better shape for victory in 2012. For all we know, there is already someone else, like Romney, waiting in the wings to step forward should the Palin fall from Graceland be fait accomplis.

Oh, of course, Big Mac, or Big Gaffe, doesn't have the headlights, or the deer, to mastermind a plan this quintessentially Rovian. But, consider this: Palin's already hired an attorney to represent her, so she's obviously got something in the oven besides a saturday night special.

Look how far we got underestimating Newt Gingrich. It's easier to get rid of fleas than neo-cons. After tonight's acceptance speech, Sarah Palin's face belongs in Webster's under the definition of "radical right."

And, in the end, those who doubt the power, or the competency, of McCain's pick may, ironically, end up enabling yet another stolen election.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Let Them Eat Moose

After eight years of the wild west, one would think we'd had enough of cowboys. Enter Alaska's answer to Annie Oakley to walk everybody's favorite, if ambivalent, maverick down the yellow brick road.

And, what better day than today, when we pay tribute to the contributions of the working man and woman of this country, to think about just who will be entrusted with a return to economic sanity. Arguably, Ma Barker, (nee Arizona Donnie Clark), would do a better job of this than Ma Palin.

When running for president, in 1960, John F. Kennedy suggested, in a campaign speech, that Republicans only think about labor one day a year. Well, that's not true of Gov. Sarah Palin. Palin thinks about labor every time her water is about to break.

If blue collar, Bible-thumping, gun-toters think they've found an advocate for the rights of working people in this country, rest assured: she may have married union, but she is 100% management. Moreover, she's not just interested in managing the human race, but the animal kingdom, too.

Yes, we can sleep a little better knowing, when that 3 a.m. phone call comes, we have a vice president who will be out shooting moose. If voters go to the polls in November, and vote for McCain/Palin, we'll have a vice president who has as her motto the "right to life." Wonder what the moose thinks about this idea of a "right to life?"

Wonder what Alaska wildlife, including wolves who have been subjected, for the past 18 months of her governship, to aerial hunting, being gunned down from helicopters and airplanes, and Alaska's polar bears, think of their governor's right to life position? Whose life anyway? The lives of the unborn over those of the polar bear?

Silly me, of course, moose, wolves, and polar bears don't think, so they're easy targets, but if all those who didn't think were to be targeted, we wouldn't have to worry about overpopulation, now would we, and when a wise man said that the "meek shall inherit the earth," maybe he was thinking about those wolves, and polar bears, not the hunters.

Amazing, isn't it, how Palin, and other members of the Rapture gang, support the notion of hierarchy of being. How can anyone claim to believe in life and, at the same time, boast of shooting moose, and skinning them to make moose burgers?

Are humans endowed by their creator with a great right to survive than animals? And, by extension, are some humans more worthy of saving than others? One has only to look at the demographics of the infant mortality rate, in this country, as well as that of death row, to see the hypocrisy inherent in the McCain/Palin notion of a "Christian nation."

Ms. Palin shows it's possible to be a Dominionist and dominitrix at the same time, but she confines her domination to the animal kingdom, to those who are hunted, and don't hunt back; to those who have no lexicon for acts of terror, but only for survival.

If the governor, and her fellow Dominionists, see divinity as the deregulation of nature, they're bound to put the human race on the endangered species list.

We're already on the endangered "specious" list. Better not think about what Europe will say with a vice president, lifetime member of the NRA, whose claim to leadership experience is that she was elected mayor of a small, red neck town population 9,000, served for less than 2 years, and contends that she's more prepared to handle delicate developments with Russia because Alaska is the state closest to Russia? Leaders of countries like Iran, China, and Venezuela will have a field day with her logic.

Selecting an obscure, obscurantist, governor whose years as a PTA member outnumber her years in elected office by a margin of 2 to 1 shows that John McCain is serious about who's going to be boss in his administration. He's confident that he'll stay on top because he picked a running mate guaranteed to stick to the bottom of the pan. Look on the bright side, he didn't choose another Cheney. Indeed, Palin is Cheney's idea of having the last laugh.

Lots has already been made of McCain's VP pick, and her adamant anti-choice stance, her "Big Oil" energy policies, her defense of fossil fuels, and her lawsuit againt the Bush administration for listing polar bears as endangered species.

We wouldn't want a little thing like wildlife to interfere with more drilling for oil, but what we don't know about Alaska's answer to Annie Oakley is that she hides behind being a woman in much the same way that others hide behind the American flag. Make no mistake, Sarah Palin has as much concern for women's issues like equal pay, childcare, choice, and equal opportunity as she has for the wolves she shoots from 20,000 feet.

While Palin will, undoubtedly, know her place in the passenger seat of a vehicle driven by a presumptive, and presumptuous, presidential candidate who "ordered" the Republican Convention all but cancelled, any attempts to portray her as dumb will backfire. Sarah Palin is dumb all the way to the bank.

She knows the right buttons to push, heaven help us, and if she ever becomes our next commander-in-chief, there won't be any question about that. She may stumble over the word "nuclear," but she'll point that firearm as if she were shooting at a rambling deer, and push us over the edge which is, after all, what the Rapture folks want.

Any comparisons to Dan Quayle are ludicrous. Dan Quayle didn't work to exploit his gender to gain leverage in a close presidential race. That Sarah Palin would play the Hillary Clinton card shows that she may well be Karl Rove in a dress.

The thought that this woman could someday be our next president is more terrifying than the prospect of a dozen bin Ladens marching down Broadway. Institutionalized incompetence, and mismanagement, pose a far greater threat to the average American than Al Qaeda ever could.

The kind of incompetence that thinks human actions have nothing to do with global warming, and that there's a place for creationism in the public school curriculum. But, if there were such a thing as "intelligent design," there'd be no need for this discussion.

If there were such a thing as intelligent design, the past eight years would have been the subject of an X rated horror movie, and not relegated to the overworked annals of history.

When the press corps does its job, Annie Oakley will be back home watching "Easy Rider," and we will have a president for whom Labor Day means something 365 days a year.