Saturday, December 08, 2012

"They all fall there so perfectly, It all seems so well timed."

Yeah, Mr. Dylan, I am beginning to think so, too.

It all just fits together so well--top to bottom and side to side.  I sometimes think I am just paranoid but, it is written, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they are not out to get you.

Shortly before he became a Supreme Court Justice--40 years ago--Lewis Powell wrote a memo to one of his clients, the US Chamber of Commerce.  In it he described how business was under attack (this was 1971) and needed to organize to defend itself from, among others, the environmentalists and the unions.  This memo lays out the detailed plan he devised to get that done.  Read it.   It includes:

  • Create institutions that will develop policy favorable to business, 
  • create propaganda outlets to sell it to the public, 
  • fund politicians who will implement it and 
  • organize the public to support those politicians and policies.

Although this memo resides in the official Lewis Powell archive at the law school of Washington and Lee university, it has gathered little dust there.  It has been well circulated and, it looks to me, well used as a blue print for action.   Like I say, read it and draw your own conclusions.

These are some of the things that make me wonder whether this strategy has been implemented gradually over the years.

  • The Heritage Foundation is but one of the institutes that develop and promote pro business  policies, as well as publishing studies and holding seminars for law makers and judges who apply the laws, and sending out experts to spread the word from Sunday talk shows to state legislatures,
  •  Fox News and right wing talk radio seem to be just two spokes in a wheel of propaganda.  And the recent scandal in Texas resulting in the recall of a "scholarly" study showing the safety of natural gas fracking and the early retirement"of the scientists who did the research could well illustrate how public universities are now used to spread the (false) good word for business and industry, 
  • the politicians who sit, for example, astride the House of Representatives are shielding business from regulations that protect workers, consumers and the environment, and they are refusing to change a tax system that has concentrated wealth into fewer and fewer hands since the memo was written, 
  • other politicians who now dominate state governments are dismantling unions and state government because taxpayers "cannot afford what that costs," while they are cutting state taxes on the wealthy and refusing both medicaid dolars and implementation of federal health care infrastructure, 
  •  the beltway grassroots organizations like Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works seem to fit right into the plan.  They funded and organized the Tea Party by, among many, many other things, creating their websites and providing written instructions to members about such citizen activism as disrupting town hall meetings, and
  •  Supreme Court justices do have roots deep in the Federalist Society and did select a president (a member of their own party, the Republican Party, the party of business) who was running on a platform of massive tax cuts and did later clear the way for unlimited corporate spending to influence elections.

These are a few examples of things that would be consistent with a hypothesis that the Powell Memorandum is being implemented.  It could be a coincidence, of course.

In his memo, Powell stressed that it would cost a lot of money to set all this up and to protect corporate interests in this way it would be necessary to dig deep to pay for it.  Although he seems to have envisioned a broad based funding from across the business community, big funders have came forward, for example the Koch brothers.  Not only have such big donors funded political campaigns but follow the funding streams for the other components of what appear to be this machine and at the source there they are, the Big Guys.  And it is so often the Koch brothers, themselves, who have a hand in things that some have taken to referring to them as the "Kochtapus."    

I am paranoid, no doubt about that.  But you read the memo and decide for yourself.

For me it's just that nagging experience I've had:  no matter how cynical I get, it's hard to keep up.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Wrecking Crew in Reaction

At the height of hurricane Sandy the radicals stick by their story that disaster relief should be a function of privater enterprise or returned it to the individual states.

The reason given is that the person quoted says he knows a "lot" of people who don't have a good view of FEMA.

This is like someone who chopped up the fire hose pointing to the the ashes to prove that the fire department doesn't work.

There has been a wrecking crew at work undermining every institution, public and private, that didn't conform to the ideology of how the world is supposed to work.   They launch disingenuous and false talking points and cut the budgets of institutions we need to hold the country together.

FEMA was such a victim--turned over under President Bush to people who began to dismantle it, crippling its ability to respond to Katrina and talking endlessly, now, about how that failure is more proof' of their "government can't do anything right" narrative.  

This radical wrecking crew has fooled a lot of people into an skeptical alienation of universal distrust and cynicism--creating a citizenry that can neither govern or be governed.  There is no where to which we can turn for leadership, according to their ideology, except the wealthy and our guns.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

You Can Look It Up

Why doesn't someone just say "No, he didn't?"

The noise is "The President had complete control of the Congress in his first two years and had everything his way."

No.  No he didn't.

The Senate majority of Democrats was not veto-proof.   The balance was in the hands of the Blue Dog Democrats, the so called "moderates," who voted with the Republicans.  They watered down everything he wanted to do or kept him from doing it.

You can look it up.

For example, the so called stimulus.  In order to get Blue Dog support the President was forced to make half of the amount tax cuts--the Republican notion of stimulating the economy.  That's right, tax cuts--half of they money in the stimulus was not really stimulus, at all.  Tax cuts are not stimulative enough of the economy to be considered anything but a joke.

You can look it up.

The stimulus is also relevant to confronting some other noise: "The President didn't try to govern in a bi-partisan way."

Why doesn't someone say, "Yes, he did?"

First, as I say, see note on stimulus, above.

Second, Obama put a number of Republican measures on the table and when he did the Republicans and their Blue Dog allies no longer supported them.  This happened so many times that I don't have time to complete the list.  Let the Dream Act stand for all of them.

Third, he encouraged alteration of his own and other proposals from Democrats to incorporate Republican positions (health care, for example) and still the R's and the Blue Dogs who originally  thought them up and once touted them refused to support them, anymore.

You can look that up, too.

When these claims get made the media people don't question them, even when D surrogates and office holders hear them made and don't challenge them.

Does no one but me remember all this?

If anyone else does, why doesn't someone at least try to straighten these people out?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I have not posted here for a while but I have to award a Lily, tonight, to Mike Huckabee. He is one of the least sensitive and empathetic of all who have stepped in front of the microphone in the past few days in Tampa, and that is saying something.  He has shown the depth of his cynical opportunism by giving a speech with the tag line of "We can do better."

We can do better.

Those are words that flip my heart over and back.

That was the title of Robert Kennedy's book in the late 60's, as he emerged from the dark shadows of mourning his brother's death and dared to challenge a war and a way of life/prosperity that was based on war.

It was the title of his book and it was the slogan of his last campaign.

In 1964 I had fire in my eyes, one of Barry's Boys, a supporter of Goldwater and of the very ideas that are sparking and arching in Tampa tonight, at the Republican National Convention, 48 years later.

By April 1968 with the eyes of a Marine Corps Lance Corporal, rather than the eyes of a high school sophomore, streaming tears for that guy who had earned the chops to quell a race riot in Indianapolis.  He stood on the back of  a truck on the night--only a few days before his own murder--when Martin Luther King was shot from ambush.  No other white guy on the planet could have done that in 1968. I doubt if any could do it today.

I am sure that Mike Huckabee, who had the nerve to steal Bobby's slogan tonight, wouldn't even think to dare  to climb up on the back of that truck and have a go at accomplishing what Bobby accomplished that night.

This RFK guy, whose slogan Huckabee stole, was the guy who lost the primary in my home state and went for a run with his dog on the beach in Oregon.  Then he, himself was dying on that hotel kitchen floor--after having said, moments before, having won the California primary, "Now, it's on to Chicago."

He was going to take on HHH and his own party establishment.  He was going to get us out of Vietnam, and he was going to ...

He was going to ...

And then he wasn't going to.

So, Mike Huckabee, you will never be buried beneath an eternal flame.  You will never be able to stand on the back of that truck and be heeded, you cannot quell the rage--you can only stir it up as you tried to do tonight.  You will never know what Bobby and his big brother learned in Appalachia, what they learned by staring down Nikita Khrushchev and George Wallace.

But you can steal his slogan.

So go ahead, Mr. Huckabee.  Take his slogan.  Squeeze whatever juice you can out of it for your hateful and divisive cause.

But you will never get his gravity or his integrity.  And your name will be forgotten long before his even needs a buffing.   Because, Mr. Huckabee, you can try to talk his talk but you can never, never, never, never, never walk his walk.

You can never had what he had...but you can have a Lily because, Mr. Huckabee, because you epitomize and personify the power of Lily Tomlin's simple truth--"No matter how cynical I get, it's hard to keep up."

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Lily for the Virginia House of Delegates

While many in the anti-abortion movement advocate that rape-induced pregnancy is not a ground justifying an abortion, the government of Virginia wants to make being raped a part of the process of terminating a pregnancy in that state.

Using an inanimate (or animate!) object to penetrate certain orifices of a person's body without their consent is a sex crime in the State of Virginia and now a woman trying to terminate a pregnancy will be required to submit to a medically unnecessary vaginal ultra-sound first.  

Non-consensual sexual penetration to discourage a woman from terminating a pregnancy, or punish her before she is allowed to exercise the right to do so--a Lily for sure.  

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Not Sure Where This Came From

The secret is our red Kool Aid,
Fox News is where the best is made,
But it’s an old and old old brew,
For all the way that it tastes new,
it tells them just who is to blame,
For all their anger, all their pain
All their emptiness and fear,
Draw them closer, so they hear,
Of course it’s never been our fault,
Of this earth we are the salt,
Here’s the answer, always same,
Obama, Obama is his name.
And once they know, once they’re told,
And once they get whipped into bold,
This good old brew, one we all know,
Tells them how this has to go.
We repeat it and soon, you see,
How we create reality.

That stim was just a great big flop,
Tho’ we took credit where it dropped,
Tax cuts make jobs, don’t you forget,
just ‘cause it hasn’t happened yet,
They will come, like heaven sent,
When an R is president,
Of course, they’ll pay the minimum wage,
We have to turn that union page.
It’s all clear, don’t perplex us,
We just turn the country into Texas,
We repeat it, and then you see,
It’s become what they believe.

Need FEMA help?  Oh, don’t be scared,
It will just cost your Medicare.
Teacher pay caused foreclosed homes,
So, leave our hedge fund guys alone,
EPA caused mine disaster,
Liberty is what we’re after,
Small government!  Spread news!
Except, of course, for right to choose,
Or building mosques or right to strike,
Or anything else we don’t like.
We know what’s right, there is no doubt,
But we will never kick you out,
Money’s speech, now, you know,
Talk all you want, we have the dough,
To drown you out, or say you’re a fake,
Reality is ours to make.
Climate change?  God’s will, you know,
Our money says it’s not our coal,
Repeat it and there you go!
Now what we say is all they know.

See, corps are now people, too,
A little different, from you, that’s true,
You’ll never get to see them fail,
Or spend a single night in jail,
Tax breaks they get, that’s a fact,
and big fat over-run contracts,
That’s not fair?  Oh, you’re shocked?
It’s all about we own their stock.
So we need you to pay tax more,
To fund the stims we call war,
Your taxes make us rich, it’s true,
And our own base has no clue,
Repeat it, it’s what we do,
Til they repeat, repeat it, too.

He wanted change, is what he said,
and we just beat him, on the head,
He tries so hard, that silly jerk,
But we will never let it work.
Can never give us enough,
So let him try to call our bluff,
That mandate was our’s first,
But now we say it is the worst,
Deficits that were fine, back then,
They’re now socialism, friend.
Now all you blues are throwing fits,
Not change, you want the same old shit!
You want him to fight us back,
You want him to slug and hack,
You don’t want different, any more,
You scorn him--doesn’t know the score,
Hope won’t do a bit of good,
He’s just a big babe in the woods,
You don’t believe in hope, do you?
Or change, we took that from you, too.
We bet on the surest hunches,
You’re too gutless to take the punches,
You talked so big, you great big fake,
You didn’t have what it would take.
Repeated you don’t even see,
You’re back in our reality.

Oh, you might vote us out again,
Despite the money we can spend,
And those voter ID laws,
and all the hopelessness we caused,
We split your blue from blue from blue,
Got you to blame Obama, too,
The lies and spin and crap we say,
Drove all your hope and change away,
So, hunt or fish or watch the game,
Or down load porn, it’s all the same,
You bellied up my big, blue fools,
It’s red, it’s red, the Aid that’s Kool.
‘Cause If you come at us, again,
We’ll have no fear of you, my friend,
You’ll copy us, in that we trust,
‘Cause we’ve made you just like us.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

The hamster might be dead, but the wheel just keeps on spinning...

The Wall Street Journal is a snake dining on its tail and never more so than in the editorial on why we should all ignore the ratings downgrade of US public debt.

Their conclusion is correct--we should ignore the down grade.  If we had ignored their grading of private debt (e.g., mortgage backed securities) our 401(k) accounts and the institutional investments of states and pension funds would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 40% stronger and the unemployment rate would be 4-6% lower.  Perhaps the Wall Street Journal should have given us this advice when all three ratings agencies were stamping AAA ratings on those junk securities.   Late to the party, they were.

Everyone knows--or should know- how the craven corruption of these ratings agencies was an indispensable  element in the process of looting our economy throughout the last half of the Clinton administration and all of the Bush/Cheney era.  It could not have happened if these agencies didn't make immense profits lying about the AAA safety of the CDOs, CDSs, CP3Os and whatever other "securities" are now lining bird cages and wrapping fish.  These three ratings agencies, although they were extorted into it by the banks who told them--literally--that if they didn't give up the big AAA one of their competitors would get the fee for doing it.  But they knew what they were doing.  They decided to be accomplices--accessories, as it were, before and during the fact.  These agencies  were as important in this massive criminal fraud as a gun is to a bank hold up.  (guns, on the other hand, don't have ethical codes--but, then, they don't need them.)

So give the Wall Street Journal credit for seeing--if too late for our economy--that the rating agencies are worthless parasites, public relations firms for grifters, at best.

But the Wall Street Journal completely runs off the rails when it says in this editorial that the best way to rate the safety is...wait for it...what's the best way to value everything?  THE MARKET!  The market, of course, that was led by the ratings agencies, Standard and Poors among them, right off of the cliff with mortgage backed securities (and the tech bubble and...I digress).

I have to give a cynical nod to people who can see reality diverge from their ideology on a daily basis and still hold onto it.   Like members of a cargo cult, having built mock-up airplanes in the expectation that supplies will be delivered, The Wall Street Journal is still promising us that the tax cuts we have delivered to the "job creators" at the top of our economic food chain are the best--the only--job creation strategy worth pursuing. They keep saying this while wasting away, we are, in our own little Hoover-villes.

Tax cuts for job creators will create jobs?  We have irrefutable quantitative evidence to the contrary from our era and eras past but The Wall Street Journal says we should pay no attention to that because "tax cuts equals more jobs is just common sense."  ideology shapes reality, at least on the editorial page, of the Wall Street Journal, like--in fairness--it does most every where else one looks in the "news" and among those who make it.

Here's something that is apparently not common sense:  THE MARKET snapped up those fraudulent mortgage backed securities that were rated AAA by all three rating agencies, and snapped them up by the bushel basket full.   When the karma turned bad and the defaults started happening on the underlying mortgages it became clear (again) that THE MARKET is predominated by greedy wishful thinkers (like us)  who largely make decisions based on what is most convenient and in our short term interest--and what most everyone else is saying is "common sense."

This is not rocket surgery and I'm not (as those of you who know me personally can testify) all that smart to know it .  it's our human/worldly nature--look it up in the literature of almost any spiritual--or "rational"--tradition to which you have access and with which you have sympathy. Or consult your own experience from which, by giving you this (truly conservative) wisdom sometime in your twenties (or for us late bloomers, in your thirties), I hope you are among those able to benefit from it in all aspects of your daily life)t.  It's why "sheep" and "the flock" is one of the most frequent and enlightening metaphors for humanity in the Christian tradition. 

The general moral condition in this country is this:  our leaders know (and we accept them basing decisions on) the current price of most everything and the true value of very little.  That's the context of market driven decision making.  Don't look under the hood, in the horse's mouth or behind the curtain.  Just do what everyone else is doing and you'll get what's coming to you in the end.

I've never given a Lily to the Wall Street Journal before--probably because I don't look at it very often.  But today it's theirs.  I wish them well with it.  I wish us all well with the consolation and faith they provide to that part of us too comfortable with and/or afraid to try to stop living in this world we have created for ourselves.

Because as a contemporary prophet once wrote, "You don't need a weatherman to know which way  the wind blows." 

As a young Friend of my acquaintance once put it "the hamster might be dead but the wheel is still spinning."