August 29, 2010


Seen at restaurant entrance near 
50th Street and 2nd Avenue in NYC

As the U.S. economy understandably continues to totter along on a slow path to recovery from the recession, it seems like good working class Americans ... good middle class Americans have completely lost their minds and are being willingly duped again. 

The recession known as the Great Recession (now they don't just hand those titles out willy-nilly) as everyone knows was brought on by the collapse of the propped-up real estate boom in this country. A lot of dumb or otherwise unscrupulous salespeople, banks, lenders, investment firms, businesses, corporations, politicians, former chairman of the Federal Reserve and yes ... even ordinary joes had their hands in this mess. Greed as always trumped reason, intelligence and morality.

The easy thing to do now is for divisive personalities to point fingers - at efforts to right the economy, at taxes, at the national debt, at Americans losing their religious faith, at illegal immigrants, at the President. Let's form social clubs full of blockheads and one-sided cable networks and point fingers at everyone and everything but ourselves. Hmmm, Mr. Obama has been in office for a total of nineteen months ... but what's this ... even though the Republican machinery uncooperatively stands against and votes against every idea from the Democratic Party's side, why hasn't the President fixed the woebegone world?!?!?!!! How much time does one man need to undo all of the idiocy?!?!?!!! Look in the mirror friends, we are indeed a country full of blockheads

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Well, maybe not everyone is so stupid. As repeated before on this blog, it is said that in the United States, the top 5 percent of the wealthy controls nearly 50 percent of the nation's wealth. Even though we're all reeling from the Great Recession, the wealthy and their aspirational imitators (think of Paris Hilton's dog in a shoulder bag) aren't about to put macaroni and cheese or throwaway parts on their dinner plates. Not when they've got their buddy-buddy politician friends looking to continue Bush's infamous tax cuts for the uberwealthy. You should take a look ... economist Paul Krugman writes that the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates that "making all of the Bush tax cuts permanent, as opposed to following the Obama proposal, would cost the federal government $680 billion in revenue over the next 10 years." Sucks to be poor or from the working class and not have golfing buddies in high political places, doesn't it?

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Which brings us to the Tea Party's favorite television personality and product hawker Glenn Beck and his sidekick Sarah Palin. These servants have gotten a taste of flying first class and they ain't never going back! Beck and Palin are well aware of the filthy rich hands that feed them so reason be damned.

As Frank Rich writes in The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party in the August 28, 2010 edition of The New York Times:

"... This weekend, the scene shifted to Washington, where the avatars of oppressed white Tea Party America, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, were slated to "reclaim the civil rights movement" (Beck's words) on the same spot where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had his dream exactly 47 years earlier.

Vive le revolution!

There's just one element missing from these snapshots of America's ostensibly spontaneous and leaderless populist uprising: the sugar daddies who are bankrolling it, and have been doing so since well before the "death-panel" warm-up acts of last summer. Three heavy hitters rule. You've heard of one of them, Rupert Murdoch. The other two, the brothers David and Charles Koch, are even richer, with a combined wealth exceeded only by that of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett among Americans. But even those carrying the Koch's banner may not know who these brothers are."

Mr. Rich continues:

"Tea Partiers may share the Koch's detestation of taxes, big government and Obama. But there's a difference between mainstream conservatism and a fringe agenda that tilts completely toward big business, whether on Wall Street or in the Gulf of Mexico, while dismantling fundamental government safety nets designed to protect the unemployed, public health, workplace safety and the subsistence of the elderly.

Yet inexorably the Koch agenda is morphing into the G.O.P. agenda ... Their program opposes a federal deficit, but has no objection to running up trillions in red ink in tax cuts to corporations and the superrich; apologizes to corporate malefactors like BP and derides money put in escrow for oil spill victims as a "slush fund"; opposes the extension of unemployment benefits; and calls for a freeze on federal regulations in an era when abuses in the oil, financial, mining, pharmaceutical and even egg industries (among others) have been outrageous.

The Koch brothers must be laughing all the way to the bank knowing that working Americans are aiding and abetting their selfish interests. ..."

To learn more about the billionaire brothers David H. Koch and Charles Koch, follow this link to the article Covert Operations written by Jane Mayer for The New Yorker.

When in doubt ... follow the money.

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So let's see, according to the misguided members of The Tea Party, taxes, bailouts, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, healthcare and government intervention are wrong. But dammit, we still want good schools and good roads and gotta continue subsidizing the country's mighty military forces (to protect what's ours, right?!?). Selective in our reasoning, aren't we?

Let's just call a spade a spade. All the finger-pointing and all the mixed messages is about wealth and property and those who are fortunate enough to already own or are on the cusp of owning a piece of the pie. The election of the nation's first African American president (and coincidentally someone who promised to do good for the citizens of the United States) scared the bejesus out of those conservatives who never thought their privileged world could possibly ever change. The centuries-old scam was already in place, the land was already stolen, the different groups of servile subjects were already trained to hate and fight one another for table scraps.

But who would have thought that suckering the gullible public to buy into the real estate scam would turn into the Great Recession? Heavens! Who would have thought that the changing demographics in the United States could change the entire playing field (a vote for every citizen) within the next three decades? Time to call up Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and a large Fox-induced posse and put these people in their rightful place. God Almighty!

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In the words of Jack London from his short story Koolau The Leper first published in 1909:

"We know. We have it from our fathers and our fathers' fathers. They came like lambs, speaking softly. Well might they speak softly, for we were many and strong, and all the islands were ours. As I say, they spoke softly. They were of two kinds. The one kind asked our permission, our gracious permission, to preach to us the word of God. The other kind asked our permission, our gracious permission, to trade with us. That was the beginning. To-day all the islands are theirs, all the land, all the cattle -- everything is theirs. They that preached the word of God and they that preached the word of Rum have foregathered and become great chiefs. They live like kings in houses of many rooms with multitudes of servants to care for them. They who had nothing have everything, and if you, or I, or any Kanaka be hungry, they sneer and say, "Well, why don't you work? There are the plantations.' "

... "Brothers, is it not strange? Ours was the land, and behold, the land is not ours. What did these preachers of the word of God and the word of Rum give us for the land? Have you received one dollar, as much as one dollar, any one of you, for the land? Yet it is theirs, and in return they tell us we can go to work on the land, their land, and that what we produce by our toil shall be theirs. ..."

August 24, 2010

We Must Become Humble Persons

Sign seen at the Kapa'a Hongwanji 
Buddhist Temple in Kapa'a, Kauai 

"Being good is not good enough; we must become humble persons."

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Follow this link to Dick Cavett's opinion piece titled Real Americans, Please Stand Up in the August 20, 2010 edition of The New York Times. 

Mr. Cavett writes:

"All this talk about the mosque reminds me of two things I heard growing up in Nebraska.

I had a 6th grade teacher who referred to American Indians as "sneaky redskins" and our enemies in the Pacific as "dirty Japs." This abated somewhat after I asked one day in class, "Mrs. G., do you think our parents would like to know that you teach race prejudice?" She faded three shades.

The rest of that year was difficult.

As a war kid, I also heard an uncle of mine endorse a sentiment attributed to our Admiral "Bull" Halsey: "If I met a pregnant Japanese woman, I'd kick her in the belly."

These are not proud moments in my heritage. But now, I'm genuinely ashamed of us. How sad this whole mosque business is. It doesn't take much, it seems, to lift the lid and let our home-grown racism and bigotry overflow. We have collectively taken a pratfall on a moral whoopee cushion."

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The writer continues:

"I remain amazed and really, sincerely, want to understand this. What can it be that is faulty in so many people's thought processes, their ethics, their education, their experience of life, their understanding of their country, their what-have-you that blinds them to the fact that you can't simultaneously maintain that you have nothing against members of any religion but are willing to penalize members of this one? Can you help me with this?"