[W]hile watching the debates last night that it finally hit me: This is justice. What we have here are chickens coming home to roost. It’s as if all of the American public’s bad habits and perverse obsessions are all coming back to haunt Republican voters in this race: The lack of attention span, the constant demand for instant gratification, the abject hunger for negativity, the utter lack of backbone or constancy (we change our loyalties at the drop of a hat, all it takes is a clever TV ad): these things are all major factors in the spiraling Republican disaster.
Most importantly, though, the conservative passion for divisive, partisan, bomb-tossing politics is threatening to permanently cripple the Republican party. They long ago became more about pointing fingers than about ideology, and it’s finally ruining them.
The political left lashed out at the Administration of George W. Bush when he shredded the Constitution, but applaud in lockstep when Barack Obama does it. Glenn Greenwald comments:
Indeed: is there even a single liberal pundit, blogger or commentator who would have defended George Bush and Dick Cheney if they (rather than Obama) had been secretly targeting American citizens for execution without due process, or slaughtering children, rescuers and funeral attendees with drones, or continuing indefinite detention even a full decade after 9/11? Please. How any of these people can even look in the mirror, behold the oozing, limitless intellectual dishonesty, and not want to smash what they see is truly mystifying to me.
One of the very first non-FISA posts I ever wrote that received substantial attention was this one from January, 2006, entitled “Do Bush Followers have an Ideology”? It examined the way in which the Bush-supporting Right was more like an “authoritarian cult” rather than a political movement because its adherents had no real, fixed political beliefs; instead, I argued, their only animating “principle” was loyalty to their leader, and they would support anything he did no matter how at odds it was with their prior ostensible beliefs. That post was linked to and praised by dozens and dozens of liberal blogs: can you believe what authoritarian followers these conservatives are?, they scoffed in unison.
Funmentionables comes to the rescue of Newt, who reportedly wanted his second ex-wife to approve of an open marriage. Here is the Bible authority for the concept:
If he take himself another wife… —Exodus 21:10
If a man have two wives… —Deuteronomy 21:15
And here are the Bible characters who paved the way for Newt:
Abijah, Abraham, Ahab, Ahasuerus, Ashur, Belshazzar, Benhadad, Caleb, David, Eliphaz, Elkanah, Esau, Ezra, Gideon, Jacob, Jehoiachin, Jehoram, Jerahmeel, Joash, Lamech, Machir, Manasseh, Mered, Moses, Nahor, Rehoboam, Saul, Shaharaim, Simeon, Solomon, and Zedekiah.
Mark your calendars for The Fourth-of-January, the antipode of The Fourth-of-July.
The Fourth-of-January will be a new national date of remembrance. This new occasion will be about the United States of America, but there won’t be any fireworks and it’s not going to be a happy occasion. In fact, as happy as the Fourth-of-July is, the Fourth-of-January will be the diametric opposite. Citizens will somberly recognize the Fourth-of-January by gathering together to watch mock funerals wind through their city centers, where they will mourn the death of democracy. An American flag will be placed prominently on the hearse, serving as a symbol of the deceased.
On the Fourth-of-January, American citizens will actually bury these American Flags to recognize the fact that ordinary citizens of the United States have no meaningful input in how their federal government is run. At the destination of the funeral procession, citizens will carve these words onto the tombs:
Here lies Old Glory, destroyed by Citizens United and by the unwillingness politicians to pass a Constitutional Amendment and enabling laws to remove private money from the American political system.
States Constitution, lest they become deluded that federal politicians are public servants of ordinary citizens. It will be a day when, instead, mourners read proclamations that the existence of vast amounts of money in the political system has made it impossible to meaningfully debate even the simplest of political issues. It will be a day when Americans recognize that big corporate money has turned America’s politicians into psychopaths. It will be a day when Americans remind themselves that their every year their politicians spend more tax dollars to air-condition soldiers’ tents in the Middle East than they allocate for the total budget of NASA, to explore the mysteries of outer space.
The Fourth-of-January will be a date when Americans consider renaming of all of their major holidays based on fact that quest for corporate profits now dominate all celebrations, and that America’s news media celebrates this fact. On the Fourth-of-January, Americans will recognize that, contrary to the will of the People, America has become unstoppably addicted to warmongering, and that it has become a nation that doesn’t treasure safe food, medicine, chemicals, air and water. It has become a nation that allows big banks, fossil fuel companies, telecoms and insurance companies to write national laws that cause massive financial damages to the People. On this new Day of Remembrance, Americans will pause for a moment of silence to recognize the brutalizing and almost unstoppable financial and political power of America’s corporate-military-prison-industrial-Complex.
The Fourth-of-January will recognize that laws passed contrary to the wishes of the majority of citizens have resulted in sub-standard schools, catastrophic national debt, state sponsored torture, spying on citizens, governmental secrecy and abuses inflicted on citizens and journalists who are attempting to exercise their Constitutional rights. On the Fourth-of-January Americans will recognize that their highest court has become deaf to the needs of the People, and that the “rule of law” is rapidly becoming available only to those of significant financial means. The Fourth-of-January is a day when we warn our grade school children that much of what they are reading in their American civics textbooks is stunningly false.
The Fourth-of-January will be celebrated every year unless and until the corrupting force of private money is removed from the American political system.
[Photo credits: Derivative work funeral photo by Erich Vieth, incorporating flag photo by Tarajane at Dreamstime.com (with permission) and Original funeral photo, which is a public domain work. Corporate flags photo by Erich Vieth, photo taken at the 2011 downtown St. Louis Fourth of July celebration].
I’m in Chicago for a consumer law conference. While walking to the conference site a young woman approached me on the sidewalk, asking me to donate to the Red Cross. I told her that I’m not interested, because too much of the money I would donate would go to over-paid executives. She quickly responded that the head of the Red Cross only makes a bit more than $600,000. I told her that this was outrageous.
She asked, “So you would never give to a charity where the person in charge makes $600,000?”
I said, “Never.”
The Red Cross is not alone in paying huge salaries to its executives. Here is a list of the salaries of some of the executive salaries of some of the biggest charities in the United States. Many of these charity leaders earn less than $200,000.
I know a lot of teachers who work every bit as hard as any executive, yet they are paid a pittance compared to $600,000. I know many people who believe in a cause enough to work untold hours for the cause for no pay at all. It seems to me that charities ought to work harder to find leaders who believe in the cause enough that they will do it for outrageous salaries. For comparison, the salary of members of Congress is $174,000 per year. A justice on the United States Supreme Court earns $223,000 per year. Ralph Nader lives off of $25,000 per year. The average chief executive (charity and non-charity) in the United States earns less than $300,000/year.
The following information is from a mass emailing I was recently sent by LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition):
Late Friday night the White House issued a typical evasive rejection of the several marijuana legalization petitions that collected more signatures than any other issue on its “We the People” website. Even though recent polls show that more voters support marijuana legalization than approve of President Obama’s job performance, the White House categorically dismissed the notion of reforming any laws, focusing its response on the possible harms of marijuana use instead of addressing the many harms of prohibition detailed in the petitions.
One of the popular petitions, submitted by retired Baltimore narcotics cop Neill Franklin, called on the Obama administration to simply stop interfering with states’ efforts to set their own marijuana laws.
It’s maddening that the administration wants to continue failed prohibition polices that do nothing to reduce drug use and succeed only in funneling billions of dollars into the pockets of the cartels and gangs that control the illegal market,” said Franklin, who serves as executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of cops, judges and prosecutors who support legalizing and regulating drugs. “If the president and his advisers think they’re being politically savvy by shying away from much-needed change to our drug policies, they’re wrong. The recent Gallup poll shows that more Americans support legalizing marijuana than support continuing prohibition, so the administration is clearly out of step with the people it claims to represent. President Obama needs to remember his campaign pledge not to waste scarce resources interfering with state marijuana laws and his earlier statement about the ‘utter failure’ of the drug war.
United States spends $52 Billion every year attempting to enforce prohibition, a demonstrably futile endeavor. From a recent article in Esquire Magazine, we get to know the “War on Drugs” by the numbers: “15,223 dead and $52.3 billion spent each year.” Don’t believe the White House numbers that claim we’re spending more on treatment than law enforcement–those are cooked numbers, and they are shot down by the numbers in the Esquire article. Therefore, the “war on drugs” is, indeed a matter of good versus evil, but not in the way the federal government preaches. Ken Burns’ recent documentary, “Prohibition,” shines a bright light on every mistake we are now making regarding street drugs. I’ll conclude with a quote by Albert Einstein: ”Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
At Common Dreams, former bank examiner Bill Black has written of a terrible (though anticipated) new development at the Bank of America. The bank has taken on enormous toxic debt from its holding company (BAC) in order to saddle American taxpayers with the bill, as the Federal Reserve winks and nods.
BAC continues to deteriorate and the credit rating agencies have been downgrading it because of its bad assets, particularly its derivatives. BAC’s answer is to “transfer” the bad derivatives to the insured bank – transforming (ala Ireland) a private debt into a public debt.
Bloomberg has been aggressively reporting the story. Here’s a short description by Jonathan Weil:
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is objecting to the transfers. That part is easy to understand: More risk for the retail lender means more risk for FDIC-insured deposits, which ultimately are backstopped by the U.S. government. The Fed, however, has signaled to the FDIC that it favors the transfers. Shifting the derivatives to the commercial lender may let Bank of America avoid collateral calls and termination fees stemming from the rating downgrade. Some Merrill clients may prefer having their contracts with the higher-rated unit. In short, the Fed’s priorities seem to lie with protecting the bank-holding company from losses at Merrill, even if that means greater risks for the FDIC’s insurance fund. . . . The entire story would be playing out in secret were it not for some unidentified whistleblowers who seem to have this crazy idea that the public should be informed about what the regulators and Bank of America are up to.
In his article, Weil makes it clear that all roads lead to American taxpayers picking of the tab, and it could run into the trillions. In fact, check the comments to Weil’s article and you’ll see the desperation, because the number being suggested is $75 TRILLION in derivatives, which Ben Bernacke has approved to be dumped on taxpayers, who don’t have this money in any way shape or form (the U.S. only takes in $2 trillion in tax receipts each year). Thus, the Fed, a covey of criminal bankers, is in the process of attempting to destroy the FDIC and the American economic system in order to buy a bit more time for its big players (BAC is not alone; Morgan Chase is holding another $75 T in these fraudulent derivatives). What are “derivatives,” the source of this immense debt? Bloomberg’s Bob Ivry explains derivatives in his article that broke this scandalous decision to move Merrill derivatives to BAC’s taxpayer insured banking unit:
Derivatives are financial instruments used to hedge risks or for speculation. They’re derived from stocks, bonds, loans, currencies and commodities, or linked to specific events such as changes in the weather or interest rates. Keeping such deals separate from FDIC-insured savings has been a cornerstone of U.S. regulation for decades, including last year’s Dodd-Frank overhaul of Wall Street regulation.
In these times, as the credit ratings of the big banks continue to slide, the objectives of the banks is always the same, but more intense than ever: Privatize the profit and socialize the losses. The so-called banks have armies of corrupt accountants, lawyers and lobbyists working hard to find yet another way to make innocent taxpayers foot the bill for the the banks’ immense amounts of debt that resulted from irresponsible gambling. As William Black explains, the banks happily took on this gambling debt sharply, but now they want to dump in on people like you and me. The Fed has given the nod because it is wholly corrupt in this adventure, contrary to the protests of the FDIC. The bank management is giving the nod sharply contrary to fiduciary duties they owe to their shareholders and customers. This entire charade needs to be reported on the front page of every paper in America. If Americans were better informed about the depth and scope of how they are being fleeced, we’d see hundreds of millions of Americans joining the #Occupy protests.
Jon Stewart pulls out many video clips to illustrate the Republican version of divisiveness: