Archive for August, 2011

Thank Heavens For Green Chile Roasting

By Thomas Wark

They’ve started roasting the green chile here in southern New Mexico.  This produces one of the great food aromas in the world, like baking bread or fresh-brewed coffee or grandma’s roladen.

All great chefs understand the importance of the olfactory element in  food.  So, too, do dogs, often with results that displease their human companions.

A few fortunate folks have developed keen olfactory skills for political odors, as well,.  In this country they’re called liberals.  Every now and then they catch a political aroma like green chile roasting.  More often than not, in these United States, what they smell is rotten meat.

They are underwhelmed of late by a really bad stink on the wings of the winds out of Texas.  Gov. Goodhair, as he was dubbed by the late, great Molly Ivins, wants to be our President.

Honest Injun!  THAT Gov. Goodhair.

The one whose only policy decision about the state’s record, impoverishing drought was, “pray for rain.” (It didn’t work.)

The one who brags about the “Texas miracle” of increasing jobs during the recession, whereas in fact in true job creation data Texas ranks last among the 50.

The one who has compelled the state’s history teachers to tell their pupils that Newt Gingrich and Phyllis Schlaffly are “great Americans,” whereas Martin Luther King and Caesar Chavez are not.

The one who primed his base for his presidential run by staging a great pray-in featuring some of the most whacko, racist, ill-informed Christofascists on the face of the earth.

The one who set the all-time gubernatorial record for executing prisoners who suffered from mental disability.

Ramblin’ Rick thinks he can pull Texas out of the union with a stroke of his pen; calls Social Security and Medicare unconstitutional and — get this — thinks the way to get this country moving again is to suspend ALL Federal laws and regulations. And one of his lesser gaffes: Fed Chief  Ben Bernanke commits “treason” when he takes even mild regulatory action to keep the country solvent.

In Iowa, a handful of kooks got together in Ames to eat pork tenders and proclaim Michelle Bachmann, a Minnesota congressperson, their favorite for the Republican presidential nomination. This makes her Gov. Goodhair’s principal rival.

What a pair!

Bachmann could improve her knowledge of her country’s history by studying even Goodhair’s cockeyed version of it.  Last I heard she thought Paul Revere crossed the Delaware to warn Manchester, NH, that the British were comin’, which alerted Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain boys to win the battle of Lafayette, Ind.  Something like that.

She and her hubby made their little fortune by praying homosexual people into heterosexuality, the way God intended it.  Maybe her contest with Goodhair will come down to a praying contest.  What a choice to inflict on God!

Meanwhile, vile odors waft unto us from Minnesota and from Texas.  Fortunately, they come together right at the point of heavy green chile roasting, which neutralizes them.
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Start Over

A commentary by Craig Barnes

On a Monday in early August, troche 2011, capsule AIG (American International Group) filed claims in federal court against Bank of America alleging losses of $10 billion. The insurance giant claimed that the bank had intentionally disguised the risks of products to be insured. At the same time, Bank of America was already being sued for $82 billion in a multitude of other suits.  According to The New York Times, JP Morgan was also being sued for almost $40 billion, Wells Fargo was being sued for $35 billion, Citigroup for over $2 billion.  All were alleged to have marketed securities as solid investments when at the time of the sale they knew that these representations were untrue. In legal jargon, when a person makes a deal based upon a fact that he knows to be false and intentionally disguises the falsehood, that is fraud.  The giants of American capitalism were therefore this August in a hugely costly family quarrel, suing one another for throat-choking amounts of fraud.

Humongous enterprises are suing to protect their balance sheets because—contrary to the theory of capitalism—the free market has not made everything right.  Worse, when the American congress decided on August 2nd that the way to solve the problem was for the government to spend less, resulting in less economic activity overall, the U.S. stock market in a few days lost 1,500 points.  Not only were the giants of finance suing each other; they were losing confidence in the market as their security.

At the same time, French bank stocks were pressured on the fear of default spreading from Greece, to Portugal, to Spain. Further, U.S. banks hold huge loans interwoven with those French banks and as a result of the European scare in three days the U.S. stock market fell at first, 600 points. Then the gambling started and the market rose hundreds. By then marketeers were only betting against each other and the market fell again hundreds, rose again, fell again, in a game of guesses and risks, hubris and chicken.

America’s free market capitalism has, over the last 30 years, failed to put more income into the hands of more people, has failed the middle and lower classes driving them under water, and now is, for the first time, failing those at the very top.  While they sue each other the stock market staggers and rises, staggers and rises, manufacturing stalls, people who already work two jobs cannot work more, or borrow more, and the governments of the U.S., Britain, France and Germany have all determined that they are going to help them less.

Capitalism provides no theory to explain why it is failing from top to bottom.  The oligarchs are searching out more people to blame, more to sue, and different momentary heroes to elect to high office.  Blame is, however, not a solution for bad economic theory.  Someone is going to have to think new.  Not just about stimulus.  About corporations. About property. About plutocracy.  About monopoly.

American government is also a mess.  In the words of former republican congressman Tom Davis, “The political system, Republican or Democrat, over the last decade has delivered two failed wars, an economic meltdown, 20 percent of homes underwater, [and] stagnant wages.” (NYT, 8/8/11, The Caucus.)  In other words, the American political system is also stalling out.

Anyone who has watched the minority party in the first two years of the Obama administration, and the stalemate of the last months over the debt ceiling will agree.  The American political system is dysfunctional at best, failing at worst.

While capitalists sue capitalists and everyone blames the politicians for not being able to fix the capitalists, and while the capitalists spend billions to elect people who will prevent their being fixed, it is clear that this is a political and economic culture that is in deep trouble.

Some effort will be made to change politicians in 2012.  But changing the incumbents in the congress or the presidency will have little effect if no one has a better story to tell, or something more promising than killing either government or corporations.  They do not need to be just killed.  They need to be newly understood and reframed in a world of scarcity, a world of limits to clean water and air, limits to growth, limits to greed, and limits even to the rights of property.

It is time to move beyond Adam Smith and Ayn Rand or misleading slogans like survival of the fittest.  It is time to start over, and this time to follow some new instinct that appeals to the heart and not just the sword. Start over, and if the heart leads to feminine principles or to generosity and community, have the courage to follow on. Start over, and touch the earth and when we touch it try not to everywhere make it sore. Start over, as if life mattered, as if it mattered more than the fear of death.  Start over as if to live for each other and as if the future mattered.  Start over.

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The Reverse Midas Touch

By Thomas Wark


It’s Like Having a Reverse Midas Touch; All That’s Gold Turns to S—
Paul Krugman (whose name Kidglove can’t even pronounce) said it, and said it well: “The real question facing America, even in purely fiscal terms, isn’t whether we’ll trim a trillion here or a trillion there from deficits. It is whether the extremists now blocking any kind of responsible policy can be defeated and marginalized.”

If even the President of the United States won’t stand up to them, who’s going to lead the effort to “defeat and marginalize” these idiots? I’ve cupped my ear, my friends; the answer isn’t blowin’ in the wind.

What’s really depressing for intelligent, visionary, progressive Americans is that the extremists of whom Krugman speaks won’t be satisfied until they’ve destroyed and dismantled everything good the federal government has done in the last 100 years.

When Kidglove caved in on the phony deficit “crisis,” he opened the door for them to destroy Social Security (“the dole”), Medicare (“socialized medicine”) and Medicaid. No doubt the Cato Heritage squad is already putting the plan for this into the hands of the corporate puppets in Congress, something enabling us poor suckers to put roughly the equivalent of our Social Security payments into their beloved Market, so the hedge fund managers who pay no taxes can steal billions more.

Meanwhile, at the back door, the wolf has already entered the house of environmental protections.  Goodbye, clean air.  So long, potable water.  Hello,  cancer.  Goodbye, Grand Canyon, Arches, Vermillion Cliffs and a thousand other beautiful and wonderful places owned by We, the People.  Hello poisonous mining, fracking, drilling, coal burning and mountain top removal.  Goodbye green landscapes, blue skies and sweet-smelling earth.  Hello mercury run-off, fiish kills, oil spills and black lung disease.  They’ve already slipped a rider into H.R. 2584 (the 2012 appropriations bill) to severely weaken many environmental regulations.

In time, they’ll eliminate or emasculate OSHA,  the EPA and what shred of manhood remains in the NRC.  Fukushima II, anyone?

Here’s a sample of what they’ve already got in the legislative pipeline:

–Natural gas and oil drilling in and around Arches National Park.

–Uranium mining in the Grand Canyon.

–Increased amonia emissions from power plants.

–Ending requirements for better gas mileage in automobiles beginning in 2016 and reducing limits on carcinogens in exhaust emissions.

–Allowing chemical companies to dump pesticides into waterways and publish false information on pesticide labels.

–Repealing health-based air quality standards fior offshore oil operations.

–Eliminate regulation of mountaintop removal water runoff into streams, ash from the burning of coal and  hard rock mining.

There’s more.  Much more.  ALEC, the right-wing source of Koch- and Exxon-friendly state legislation, is propagating  laws to make it virtually impossible for environmental groups to sue polluters.

And then there’s education.  Besides cutting  funding for public schools they will in effect subsidize (with taxpayer money) private, religious schools through things called vouchers.  Any inducement for our best and brightest to become teachers will be doused by cutting teacher pay, benefits and pensions, a la Wisconsin.

The concept of trust-busting and regulating corporate crime is as old as Teddy Roosevelt’s presidency.  Deregulation, depending upon the Holy Market to regulate itself and allowing corporations to run the country is the new, raw deal.

Defeat them?  Marginalize them?  Not in Dr. Kidglove’s U.S.A.

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