Archive for January, 2012
by breadandcircuses on Jan.27, 2012, under “NEWS BULLETS: The truth is like objects in the mirror. It’s closer than it appears.”
“NEWS BULLETS: THIS JUST IN!”
Vol. 6, Issue 4
January 21st- January 27th, 2012
In the news this week:
- The 700 Blood Diamonds Club: Charles Taylor has friends in high places
- American Gladiators: Presidential politics is a spectator sport
- River of endless returns: Goldman Sachs and the White House connection
- Collateral damage in Iraq: Massacre at the hands of American soldiers
- The new man in the moon: Newt’s vision of America is out of this world
- Alan Greenspan’s revival: The truth about the Fed Chairman’s legacy
- Flying on a wing and a prayer: Sarah Palin flies the faithful skies
- The 700 Blood Diamonds Club:
In 1983 a young procurement officer (code for arms dealer) in the Liberian Government named Charles Taylor got himself embroiled in a corruption scandal and was forced to flee the country. A year later he was picked up and arrested by U.S. officials and sat in Plymouth House of Correction while awaiting extradition back to Liberia, the African nation originally founded by escaped slaves. With the help of operatives of the CIA who saw a potential and useful ally in this sadistic bastard, he somehow made his miraculous escape. As he and his cohorts walked down the foggy tarmac in the rain, they marveled at the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Then Charles Taylor got really motivated. While still in exile in Ivory Coast he launched not one but two tragic civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone which led to the deaths of more than 250,000 people. Once he took control of Liberia in a coup in 1997, he financed his bloody reign of terror with backing from his friends in the CIA and the DIA (the Pentagon’s rival spy agency who wanted in on the action) and his extremely lucrative ventures in the black market sale of blood diamonds. During his brutal dictatorship which only lasted until 2003, relatively short by most standards, he tortured, massacred, and cannibalized his way across his own country and neighboring Sierra Leone. Hacking off limbs of children became his trademark and he made a fortune peddling blood diamonds successfully in spite of a world embargo. The CIA was more than willing to accommodate him with any help he may have needed in finding connections to sell his illicit gems or any assistance in an advisory capacity he required. How to terrorize those opposed to his regime was their specialty.
The only reason this information is even coming out now is because Charles Taylor is in a prison in The Hague facing international war crimes tribunals, and testimony from former death squad agents as well as countless victims who survived the slaughter is bringing new light to this tragic but not all that unusual episode in modern African history.
The one element missing in this story is Taylor’s co-conspirator in the illegal diamond trade, his former business partner and staunchest defender in the United States, the Reverend Pat Robertson. In the secret world of international smuggling, where you need a fence with access to God’s personal email, Pat Robertson is your man. Thanks to the generous donations all those fools gave to the Christian Broadcasting Network, the 700 Club, and every other fraudulent religious ponzi scheme this bastard put together, Reverend Pat financed his partnership in blood diamonds mines with Charles Taylor. Why he isn’t rotting in a cell next to Taylor is a mystery. Robertson will say it’s God’s will. I say it’s because, number one, wealthy powerful Christian gangsters like him are untouchable, and number two, nobody really gives a shit.
- American Gladiators:
If there’s one thing we can take away from the South Carolina primary, it’s this: Republicans don’t give a damn about their candidate’s record, ethics, or past crimes. Qualifying for the Presidential nomination is a very low bar. You just have to be a registered Republican. They pretend they demand a certain level of conservatism, but the truth is they don’t even know what the hell they’re talking about. They wouldn’t know a true conservative if it bit them in the ass.
Time and time again we go through this same bullshit with these people. Candidates who don’t meet the initial litmus test of Ronald Reagan’s politics falls by the wayside. Suddenly they find themselves in a quandary because they realize there is no such animal. Reagan himself was a lying hypocrite to his own ideals and principles, so what does that tell you? Eventually the party has to dig through the trash and recycle someone they already threw out as they are forced to settle for whomever they can dig up. By then it doesn’t matter any more what he’s said or done. Republicans prove what the rest of us already know. They don’t have any ideals or principles either. They just love a good pep rally. In the end that’s all Republican National Conventions are. One big giant phony bullshit pep rally, filled with more hot air than their balloon drop. There’ll be plenty of that in Tampa this summer.
If there’s one thing they are consistent at, it’s that they always start out their support for lackluster candidates with all the enthusiasm of a collective yawn, and then wind up cheering for him like he’s the Second Coming. Bob Dole, John McCain, Newt Gingrich, all went from packing their bags to drafting their acceptance speeches for the nomination.
Men like Bob Dole and John McCain are the last of a dying breed. The kind the Party felt an obligation to anoint for no other reason than because they carried war wounds. Easy to acknowledge and difficult to challenge. Then they didn’t have to waste valuable time trying to figure out where the candidate stood on the issues. Just saying he was a war hero was enough. In John McCain’s case it didn’t even have to be entirely true. It was still untouchable. But today there are no more heroes in the Republican Party gene pool. Only villains.
The biggest comeback kid in history has got to be Newt Gingrich, whose political career was in the landfill of history back in 1998. Republicans sure are a forgiving lot. But let’s face it. Who else can they turn to? Rick Santorum who won’t even carry his home state of Pennsylvania? Mitt Romney who would make a better moderate Democrat than a Conservative Republican? Today, for all Gingrich’s lying, marital betrayals, ethics violations, turning character assassination in politics into an art form, and all his blatant racist bigotry, he’s just what the doctor ordered for a political party desperate for a blood transfusion.
He could very well get the nomination and this, contrary to popular belief, would be the most dangerous scenario for the Democrats. Not for all those fine qualities I mentioned. In the end nobody cares about any of that. It’s because Newt Gingrich will be his most formidable in the debates against Barack Obama. Let’s face it, that’s where careers are made and destroyed. They’re all a bunch of liars and thieves, but Gingrich is the biggest liar of them all and that makes his debating skills the biggest challenge for Democrats and President Obama.
People don’t want to see civil discourse. They want see combat. In the Coliseum of televised debates, the spectators want Gladiators not gentlemen. Gingrich is a Gladiator. Barack Obama wants to be seen as a gentleman. As we’ve seen in the last three years, there’s no place for that in the modern American political arena. There will be blood.
- River of endless returns:
Is there any way we could have been forewarned of the pending doom we would endure if we ever allowed private banks and corporations to get as big and powerful as they are today, in 2012? Well, yeah. We were told that this is exactly what was going to happen. By Thomas Jefferson back in 1802:
“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property - until their children wakeup homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.” The man was either a prophet or he was reading very early editions of The Nation.
Fortunately we don’t have to go back that far to get a clear picture of the mess we’re in and how we got here. You just have to look back to the election of 2008. The one that was supposed to be the most transformational in our history, but instead turned out to be the greatest handoff of the status quo we’ve ever witnessed. At the epicenter of all the corruption and theft that has permeated and poisoned our economy to near extinction is the same gang of thugs that has been the recruiting camp for much of Washington, D.C. brainpower in the last 30 years- the private equity firm known as Goldman Sachs. The ooze that rises from this primeval gene pool has been the breeding ground for many of the top advisors, cabinet members, and fundraisers in Washington for decades.
The biggest scoundrels on Wall Street, maybe in the world, are the financial whores at Goldman Sachs. They’ve had their claws embedded into White House politics since the Clinton Administration. Ever since Goldman/Citigroup alumnus turned Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin, forced President Clinton to bailout Mexico to protect their investments, we have been on a roller-coaster ride with Wall Street banks and have suffered at the hands of their merciless greed.
Goldman Sachs was Barack Obama’s largest single corporate donor in 2008. That’s not to say they didn’t chip in for Hillary Clinton. They’re very astute at covering their bets. They’re on the road to being Obama’s biggest contributor this year too. That doesn’t even count the millions in Super-Pac money they can now raise without oversight or accountability. It’s pretty hard to condemn Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich for doing something that President Obama does so masterfully. The justification for this kind of shenanigans coming from the Obama White House has been “hate the sinner, love the sin”.
By the time George W. Bush stole the Presidency in 2000, the river of cash-for-influence (and vice-versa) that flowed between the Goldman Sachs headquarters on Wall Street and the White House was already overflowing its banks. After three years of an Obama Presidency it’s a tsunami. Don’t believe it? Check the roster.
Jon Corzine is one of Barack Obama’s favorite fundraisers. In fact he considered Corzine his “best friend in the White House”. Mr. Corzine started working for Goldman Sachs in 1975, climbing the corporate ladder to become Chairman and CEO in 1994. He left in 1999 after losing a brutal power struggle against a man even he was not ruthless enough to defeat, Henry Paulson, who deftly managed to keep one foot in Goldman Sachs and the other in Bush’s Treasury Department at the same time. Quite a feat.
In the early spring of 2010, after spending a few years drinking from the well of New Jersey politics, Corzine became Chairman and CEO of MF Global and managed to drive it into bankruptcy before Halloween. But don’t feel too sorry for him. He floated safely to Earth on a platinum parachute worth $12.1 million dollars. Not to be compared with the run-of-the-mill golden parachutes that candidate Obama vilified John McCain for supporting back in 2008.
President Obama’s dream of elevating his best friend and bagman, Jon Corzine, to Secretary of the Treasury after his re-election next year has been dashed now that Corzine is facing FBI and SEC investigations and a Congressional subpoena over his role in the mysterious collapse of MF Global and the still unaccounted for $1.2 billion dollars. Just what we needed. Another former Goldman Sachs fox running the Treasury Department hen house. As it is we already have enough GS employees heavily embedded in the Obama White House. Just how many, you wonder? Me too. In the aftermath of the 2008 candidate of change, the numbers are truly shocking, even in an age when nothing should shock us any more.
The current CEO and Chairman of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein took the helm in 2006 when Henry Paulson rowed in to head George Bush’s Treasury Department. During the two years from 2006-2008, before the economic implosion he helped facilitate, Blankfein was making $54 million a year for his work enriching Goldman Sachs bankers and stock holders, making him one of the highest paid executives in Wall Street history. After heavily financing the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns in 2008 he justified Goldman Sachs’ scavenger hunt and his role in bringing about the downfall of the economy by claiming that he was “doing God’s work”. That’s the kind of talk you usually heard from fundamentalist Christians, not Jews. But it was considered healthy at the time to bring about some religious diversity along with the “change”. There’s a phrase we don’t think about all that much these days. He certainly can’t use it this time around.
Timothy Geithner was the head of Goldman Sachs before becoming the Chairman of the New York Federal Reserve. It was in this capacity that he played a leading role in backing the Government bailouts, not only for his former bosses at Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street hedge fund bankers, but for the failing AIG, the insurance giant caught in the quicksand of the housing mortgage meltdown. His reward was to be appointed Secretary of the Treasury in the new Obama Administration. William C. Dudley, brought in to replace him at the helm of the NY Fed, was a partner, managing director, and chief U.S. economic advisor at Goldman Sachs. And so it begins.
Lael Brainard was a high ranking aide to Timothy Geithner when he was still running Goldman Sachs. She is now serving as President Obama’s Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs. Brainard came over on the Goldman Sachs wagon train that followed Geithner when he inherited Paulson’s job at Treasury. So did David Lipton, Gene Sperling, Mark Patterson, and John Thain. Lipton worked for Timothy Geithner, Larry Summers, and Robert Rubin, all former hotshots at Goldman Sachs. He is now on the President’s National Economic Council and the National Security Council. Sperling is a former Goldman consultant. He was brought in to Geithner’s Treasury office to advise him on getting the bailouts rammed through Congress after Paulson couldn’t get the job done while the Bush’s were packing. Patterson was a lobbyist and a Vice President for Government relations at GS. He was tapped as the new Treasury Secretary’s Chief of Staff. And John Thain, former President and COO at GS, was hired as an advisor to the new Treasury Secretary. All associated with Timothy Geithner while running Goldman Sachs, and all winding up at the White House in one job or another. But it doesn’t end there.
Larry Summers worked for Robert Rubin when he was head of Goldman Sachs. He became Obama’s Chief Economic Advisor, and heads his National Economic Council.
Jacob (Jack) Lew was COO of Citigroup’s Alternative Investments Unit, their gargantuan hedge fund wing. One of their many hedge fund entities was the Multi-Advisor Hedge Fund. It was not only one of Citigroup’s largest funds, it was one of the largest hedge funds in the world. They were invested heavily in the Paulson Fund, a billion dollar hedge fund that made a fortune for Goldman Sachs by betting on the housing collapse they helped finance in 2007-2008. Lew has served as Deputy Secretary of State under Hillary Clinton, and the Director of Office of Management and Budget. He is waiting in the wings to be appointed the latest White House Chief of Staff, filling the sudden void created by exiting Bill Daly. And in case you were wondering what former Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel has been up to? Well it seems being Mayor of Chicago does not occupy all his time. He is on the payroll of Goldman Sachs as a consultant liaison, being the man of the people that he is. The door swings both ways.
Broderick Johnson made over $1 million in the past five years lobbying for the Financial Services Forum, a Wall Street conglomerate of 20 top banks and private equity firms including Goldman Sachs. His best work was pushing for the 2008 TARP bailout for Wall Street. He’s now Obama’s Chief Economic Advisor.
Thomas Donilon was a Wall Street lawyer who specialized in the trials and tribulations of bankers suffering from the 2008 meltdown. One of his biggest clients was Goldman Sachs. He is now serving as Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor.
Diana Farrell was a financial analyst at Goldman Sachs. She is now Deputy Director of the President’s National Economic Council.
Stephen Friedman served on the board at Goldman Sachs from 1990-94, and was Chairman in 2005. Brought into the White House in 2008, he is one of the many holdovers from the Bush Administration, still active as Chairman of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.
Michael Frohman was the Chief of Staff to Robert Rubin when he left Goldman Sachs to become Bill Clinton’s Secretary of the Treasury. He was brought in as a headhunter for the Obama transition team in 2008.
Gary Gensler was a former Partner and co-head of finance at Goldman Sachs, another Bush appointee who stayed on for the donuts. Now he’s the President’s Commodity Futures Trading Commissioner.
Robert Hormats was Vice Chairman at Goldman Sachs. He’s now Undersecretary for Economic, Energy and Agricultural affairs.
Neel KashKari was a former Vice President in Goldman Sachs’ San Francisco branch. He came to work for Henry Paulson as an advisor on TARP at the end of the Bush Administration and hung around to give Obama a helping hand as well.
Karen Kornbluh was the Deputy Chief of Staff to Robert Rubin at Goldman Sachs. She is President Obama’s Ambassador to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development- the OECD.
Emil Michael is a former Goldman Sachs banker. He is now a prominent White House Fellow. Not sure what that is, but is sounds jolly good.
Eric Mindich was a chief strategy officer and the youngest partner ever at Goldman Sachs. Another GS holdover from the Bush term, he serves as Chairman on the Asset Managers Committee of the President’s Working Group on Capital Markets. Whole lotta words in that title. He must be important.
Phillip Murphy used his position as head of Goldman Sachs in Germany as a stepping stone to becoming Obama’s Ambassador to Germany.
Alice Rivlin, a former advisor and employee of Goldman Sachs is now on the President’s deficit reduction commission.
Adam Storch worked in Goldman Sachs’ Division of Enforcement before becoming Vice-President of their Business Intelligence Group. He made the transition to Managing Director at the SEC, the Government agency charged with regulating crooks at firms like Goldman Sachs.
James Rubin benefited simply by being the son of former Goldman Sachs Chairman, Robert Rubin. Apparently this simple quirk of fate qualified him to be a headhunter for the 2008 Obama transition team.
Even small seemingly insignificant pet programs of Goldman Sachs are perfect venues for potential White House recruiters searching for potential candidates with that special mix of talent, experience, and just enough tainted fruit from the poisonous Goldman Sachs tree. The Hamilton Project is one such cesspool. Jack Lew, among his many other distinguished areas of expertise, served on the Hamilton Project’s Advisory Board, before joining Hillary Clinton’s State Department.
Peter Orszag was the founding director of the Hamilton Project, mentored under the King himself, Robert Rubin. He is now President Obama’s Budget Director.
Jason Furman replaced Orszag as the second head of the Hamilton Project. He directed economic policy during the first Obama presidential campaign.
Douglas Elmend replaced Furman as the third head of the Hamilton Project. He served as Obama’s Director of the Congressional Budget Office in 2009.
Michael Greenstone was the fourth head of HP. Now he’s an economic advisor to the President.
Anne Fudge served on the Board of the Hamilton Project. She now works on the President’s Budget Deficit Reduction Committee.
Mark Gallogly worked on the Hamilton Project before joining the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.
Steve Ratner sat on the Advisory Council at HP. He managed the auto industry bailout as Obama’s Car Czar. They were so busy providing bailout money for the auto industry whose executives ran their companies into the ground, they forgot to save some funds to bailout underwater homeowners who were not going to be able to buy these new subsidized cars.
Robert Reischauer also sat on the Advisory Board at HP. He works as a member of the President’s Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.
I’m sure if we dig deep enough we can come up with a few more worms in this apple, but what’s the difference. The point is made. George W. Bush and his idiotic Administration definitely caused this mess but it’s the financial regulators in the Obama Administration that have fought to block prosecution of the financial collapse’s worst offenders and co-conspirators, even though there are plenty of former senior regulators and executives on the inside willing to go on record and testify to these crimes. The fact that the Obama Administration refuses to act while at the same time refuses to offer any rebuttal to these serious charges speaks volumes.
For Barack Obama and every other politician, their number one concern is to be careful not to bite the hand that feeds them. For President Obama, that hand is attached to the tentacles emanating from Goldman Sachs.
- Collateral damage in Iraq:
On November 19th, 2005, a squad of 6 U.S. Marines under the command of Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich went house to house in the City of Haditha, Iraq, firing indiscriminately on unarmed men, women, and children huddled in terror. By the end of the rampage, 24 lay dead mostly from gunshots to the head. The six soldiers who were ordered to shoot to kill and ask questions later have already been exonerated. The platoon leader who gave the order has been demoted to Private. Needless to say, the Iraqis who lost relatives in the massacre at the hands of the American military supposedly there to save them do not believe justice has been served.
The mindless bloodshed and carnage in war are unfortunately not all that shocking. Americans are comfortably numb to that kind of reality. What’s really disturbing is that no one recognizes the other real tragedy here. That the President of the United States is free at his whim and fancy to instigate self-serving policies that send young men into the violent bloodbaths in Iraqi war zones, armed with automatic weapons and permission to fire at will when the mood strikes. Thrust into the depths of hell where every foreign looking face is the enemy who just blew up their buddy and their sworn duty is to kill as many as possible while planting the American flag where it doesn’t belong.
The decision to acquit these soldiers on charges of murdering civilians, a charge that is not in dispute, was made by an American Military Tribunal. I want to know who is responsible for exonerating George W. Bush for murder? And treason? That’s a trial that will never see the light of day.
- The new man in the moon:
Newt Gingrich has discovered the secret to winning in 21st century politics. Not by lying and cheating. Politicians have always done that. No, he’s stumbled onto something new, something bold and daring even for someone as sleazy as he is. His new strategy for grabbing the nomination from Mitt Romney’s grasp is not to run from his past, but to embrace it. Not to hide from his deviant behavior but to brag about it. By playing up his immense cache of severe personality flaws and making them viable assets against a Ken doll like Romney, he has successfully elevated himself out of primary Siberia and on the road to capturing the nomination from himself and maybe the capturing the White House for his Party.
This is where this Republican race starts to take a bizarre turn. Gingrich’s past record of governing shows him as the deceitful bastard and the criminal that he is. Romney’s record of governing is something he should be proud of. But instead of Mitt Romney championing his record as a progressive Governor of Massachusetts and Newt Gingrich hiding his head in shame as a repeat adulterer and disgraced former Speaker of the House, it’s the other way around. Romney is trying to pretend it didn’t happen and it isn’t working for him. Gingrich is wearing it as a badge of honor and he’s winning. Are Republicans that morally bankrupt or are they just weird?
Romney may very well have gotten the nomination but he never would have won the election. The more the Democrats brought up his record the more he would deny it. Even after they play the video. And the Democrats would be ever so grateful that he does. If he acknowledged and ran on his past statements and actions, they’d be in real trouble. Gingrich on the other hand should by all counts not be anywhere near getting the nomination, but he could very well win the election. The American people are stupid and make their decisions on sound bites, not sound ideas. Gingrich could win this thing because he is fearless when it comes to making outrageous statements and wild accusations that have no basis in fact or truth. That’s because he’s smart enough to know that it doesn’t even matter. Once he rings that bell, and he’s wounded his opponent with the sound, no one stays around long enough to hear where it came from. They’re too busy turning their heads to see where the next ringing is coming from now.
Newt Gingrich is the only candidate who can get away with taking credit for the successes of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton simultaneously. Reagan didn’t have any, and Clinton’s were forced by his reaction to scandal. But if he loves the accomplishments of the Clinton Presidency so much, why is he not running on the Clinton tax policy that balanced the budget. Clinton ran on a promise to cut taxes for the middle class and broke it just like Reagan and Bush before him. But the fact is Clinton raises taxes to balance the budget. Gingrich’s contribution was that the President had to put the burden on the backs of welfare mothers, and sadly Clinton obliged.
And now, Newt Gingrich has done the unthinkable, even for him. During his newfound victory tour through north Florida’s Bible belt, he took some down time to attend a séance and somehow tapped into the soul of John F. Kennedy. He emerged carrying a staff, with his hair grayer than it was when he went in, and put forth a promise that, before the decade was over, he would commit the United States to put a man on the Moon and safely return him back to the Earth. Some of the older people could have sworn they’d heard that somewhere before, but everyone cheered at his assertion that we would claim the Moon as the 51st state. That was the kind of talk that used to make us proud to be Americans.
A wave of nostalgia for the old America we knew and loved swept the audience. Back when America was still majestic and grand. A time before the liberals took over the government and the media, before Civil Rights and peace marches, back when Negroes and Jews and homosexuals knew their place and the world cowered before America’s military prowess. It made them swoon, like it was 1960 all over again. Gingrich raised his sword and charged “To the White House!” Everybody grabbed their pitchforks and torches and followed in hot pursuit.
- Greenspan’s revival:
Alan Greenspan says we shouldn’t blame capitalism for all this income inequality in this country. Not only should we blame capitalism, but a good part of the blame goes to Alan Greenspan himself.
After the economic mess brought about by Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts and the exploding deficits that were clearly out of control in his second term, he went headhunting over at America’s oldest and largest Wall Street investment bank, Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.. Out of the home of infamously notable American icons like George Herbert Walker and Prescott Bush, came a Neo-Conservative free-market Objectivism capitalist right out of the Ayn Rand Collective named Alan Greenspan. Once he was nominated to replace Paul Volcker as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve in 1987, he ran it like his own personal bank until 2006, spanning four presidents.
Alan Greenspan was a right-wing economist who believed in privatizing Social Security, abolishing minimum wage laws, and letting the sub-prime mortgage crisis run its course. He opposed tariffs on China to rescue American manufacturing even though China’s policy of keeping the Yuan artificially low to steal American jobs and flood our markets with cheap goods while blocking their markets from ours was destroying our economy. Greenspan’s solution was to let American workers collect unemployment while looking for retraining programs. He also thought people were working 60-80 hours a week, at two and sometimes three jobs, because they wanted to. He was the classic “let them eat cake” economist.
Under his warped leadership the focus of monetary policy at the Federal level reversed course for the first time since the years following the Great Depression.
Historically the Federal Reserve, in their role as chief regulating entity for controlling monetary policy, was established to protect labor forces in the economy, with the main focus on full employment and maintaining a strong manufacturing base. Sure their real purpose was to protect banks on Wall Street, but it was accepted that in order to do that, they must keep America working, producing, and selling to markets here and abroad. After Ronald Reagan brought in Greenspan to head the Fed, all that went out the window and so did the fate of the American middle class. From that moment on, the main focus of the Federal Reserve was diverted from shoring up America’s manufacturing base and employment work force to shoring up financial institutions on Wall Street.
Greenspan may have worshiped at the Objectivism Alter, but the prevention of rising unemployment was no longer an objective for the Fed. Corporate profits were paramount, regardless of the fact that they had to send jobs overseas to achieve them. Once Wall Street, under the new direction of a Federal Reserve that no longer had to hide their true mandate, realized that the stock market no longer needed an American work force to thrive, American workers became irrelevant. If there was one thing Alan Greenspan loved more than writing while soaking in the bathtub, it was globalization.
The Greenspan Dynasty survived four consecutive bi-partisan Administrations. By the time George W. Bush was halfway through his second term, the full effects of banking deregulation came home to roost. Alan Greenspan was smart enough to see the end was near, and he “shrugged”. Desperate to salvage his own respectability and whatever was left of his legacy that was still marketable as a post-Chairman consultant, he retired. Within two years the housing markets, the stock markets, and the supermarkets all collapsed in a heap of rubble he helped facilitate.
Every recession since the 1980’s was followed by a recovery that brought us a little closer to dependence on the survival of financial markets and a little less protective of labor markets. This was as true under Clinton as it was under Reagan, and both Bushes’. It’s no coincidence that the aftermath of each high and low of every business cycle in the last three decades resulted in the same thing. We came out of it with a smaller industrial base and a larger deficit. That didn’t bother the Wall Street banks since all they were concerned with were higher stock markets and a stronger Dow. They didn’t give a shit that each economic spurt came about without real job creation to back them up. At the same time that the stock markets were booming, we wound up with a higher inflated housing market, artificially sustained, while more and more people grew dependant on credit debt and second mortgages. The housing bubble was an inevitable outcome of these policies. Even today, nearing the end of Obama’s first term, with massive unemployment and no end in sight to the bottom of the foreclosure abyss, the stock market is mysteriously thriving once again.
Alan Greenspan promoted the financial benefits of bank mergers and massive globalization while consistently being committed to using his power at the Federal Reserve to control the money supply and to shore up corporate profitability the best way he could. He truly believed his role as keeper of the economy was strengthened by keeping as many workers in low paying jobs as possible while at the same time keeping the masses desperately eager to fight for those jobs anyway. Nobody knew how to manipulate the idea of bread and circuses better than former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan.
It is no great mystery to connect the dots between the direction Alan Greenspan took the country in 1987 and the disastrous consequences we faced in 2008. The fault does not lie entirely at the feet of Mr. Greenspan. The real problem, as pointed out by people like Ross Perot, Ron Paul, and Senator Bernie Sanders, is that we’ve had a private institution called the Federal Reserve in control of our money supply since the 1920’s. Contrary to its deceiving name, there’s nothing federal about the Federal Reserve. It is a private banking institution that has total dominion over the American Dollar. It maintains arbitrary interest rates to support corporate needs and manipulates business credit and bank regulation to artificially cap an expanding labor force while touting the virtues of free-market capitalism.
The only thing more detrimental to the fragile economy in 2006 was the appointment of another corporate Wall Street hack to head the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernacke. Under his two year rule we witnessed a total collapse of the housing and the stock markets simultaneously. This was not his fault, but the subsequent Federal Reserve sponsored bailout of Wall Street to cover up the mess was.
President Obama is too much of a corporate Wall Street puppet himself to go anywhere near the idea of dismantling the Federal Reserve, but he did have an opportunity to at least bring in someone clean and honest after his election. Instead he did what three previous Presidents before him did. He kept the sitting Federal Reserve Chairman in power because that’s the way the bosses on Wall Street wanted it.
- Flying on a wing and a prayer:
Just when things start to look hopeless and the daily news is filled with nothing but despair, we receive a small gift to lift our spirits and bring some comic relief to our otherwise dreary existence. Every once in a while Sarah Palin pops her head up out of her burrow she lives in, and like the groundhog looking for his shadow, she looks deep into the puddle left by her ATV, sees her reflection, and offers us at least six more weeks of stupidity.
In the face of all this ridiculous mudslinging going on in the Republican political arena, a little dose of Palinism goes a long way. Ever since she clarified what we already knew- that she had no intention of taking another shot at losing to Barack Obama- the well has run dry and we’ve been long overdue for another pearl. Thankfully, she must have been feeling our pain and has come through for us once again.
So what’s on Sarah’s mind these days? Assuming she has a mind, where has it been wandering? Well believe it or not, with staggering unemployment, more looming foreclosures, and millions without health insurance or access to medical care, the former pretend Governor has found a new issue that’s pressing heavily on her mind. Prayer cards on airplanes. Yes, that’s what I said.
Not airline food, flight delays, lost baggage, or even the scandal of tired, overworked, and underpaid airline pilots. The most important issue facing world travelers like the Palin entourage is the decision by Alaska Airlines to suspend their strange practice of offering prayer cards stapled to a bag of peanuts. What a bizarre combination that is. While it may be a problem for people allergic to peanuts, it’s a major concern for those of us allergic to prayer cards.
Apparently this has caused such disruption to her hectic travel plans, she took time from her busy schedule to write letters to the Chairman and CEO, William S. Ayer and President of Alaska Airlines, Bradley D. Tilden, protesting this outrageous assault on religious observance while flying.
But seriously, what’s the big deal anyway? It’s not like Sarah Palin ever goes anywhere without her Bible and her assault rifle, so I don’t understand what the fuss is all about. Why is she so bothered by the news that the airline is cutting this luxury from the budget? I’m sure if she had her way everybody would be required to pray along with her during the flight. And as far as I’m concerned anyone who wants to can certainly indulge themselves to their heart’s (or soul’s) desire. Personally, the only person I’d find it disturbing to see praying would be the pilot.
Gary Forte, reporting
January 27th, 2012
by breadandcircuses on Jan.21, 2012, under “NEWS BULLETS: The truth is like objects in the mirror. It’s closer than it appears.”
“NEWS BULLETS: THIS JUST IN!”
Vol. 6, Issue 3
January 14th- January 20th, 2012
In the news this week:
- Have their pie and eat it too: The candidates squabble over capitalism
- Ron Paul out on a limb: Republicans toss him the handsaw
- Show them your birth certificate: Donald Trump, India needs your help
- Have their pie and eat it too:
Sometimes things defined as capitalism by their very nature can still be wrong. A perfect example of this is something called free-market capitalism. Just because something is legal doesn’t make it morally right. Just because it’s perfectly legal to swoop in on vulnerable companies and strip them of all their assets while trashing what’s left, that doesn’t make it patriotic. According to the Mitt Romney spinmeisters, taking full advantage of the tax loopholes that make this profitable while tossing thousands of people out of work in the process sure does.
But how can you expect human compassion from someone who believes corporations are people? When it comes to the workings of evil minds, all assets are one and the same to them. In either case, you suck every dollar of value you can get out of them and throw the rest into the landfill. Remember, these are not people who believe in recycling.
And this is the quandary that Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are battling as they try desperately to tear down Mitt Romney. They want to attack him for his despicable behavior as the head of Bain Capital, while their political constituents they’re trying to win over want them to defend Romney for his free-market capitalism prowess. Conservatives are walking on thin ice trying to defend these vultures while pretending to reach out to average people, many of whom have found themselves at the losing end of one of Bain Capital’s “but it’s as American as apple pie” ventures.
- Ron Paul out on a limb:
Finally there is one candidate in this Presidential race willing to stand up for the Constitution (the real one, not the fake Tea Party version) and call for repeal of the National Defense Authorization Act, especially Section 1021 permitting the illegal detention of American citizens without due process. That’s the good news. The bad news is it’s the wrong candidate. It’s no surprise that it’s Ron Paul. It’s just disappointing that it wasn’t President Obama who should have vetoed such an anti-American piece of legislation, not only on unconstitutional grounds but because it adds an outrageous amount of money we don’t have into the already bloated military budget.
Instead the most energy he could muster that even comes close to Ron Paul’s stand on the House floor was to use George Bush’s old trick and rely on a sneaky after-the-fact signing statement. Ron Paul was not only courageous enough to take time from the Presidential campaign in South Carolina to stand before Congress and make this charge, he attacked one of the bills strongest proponents, South Carolina’s own senior Senator Lindsey Graham, who’s advice to potential citizens caught in the dragnet was “Shut up! You don’t get a lawyer!”. That’s truly in the American spirit the Founding Fathers aspired to. Of course back than they only meant it for Negroes, women, and Indians.
Opening up this can of worms while heading into the final week before the decisive South Carolina primary that could very well end Paul’s bid may not seem too wise in retrospect. Surely you could say Representative Ron Paul hasn’t got a chance of winning, so he had nothing to lose. The real question is what did President Obama have to lose by rejecting this offensive Defense Bill? I suppose it has more to do with how much he has to gain by signing it. It’s a bad defense on all counts. It’s grossly expensive and far too intrusive against citizen’s civil rights, signing statements notwithstanding.
- Show them your birth certificate:
Another one of those birth certificate debates is on a collision course with term limit restrictions debates and another perfect storm is brewing. Only this one concerns the top General in the Army. In India.
The controversy centers around the true birth date of Vijay Kumar Singh, India’s Chief Army officer, and the legal requirement that he must retire at age 62. He says he was born on May 10th, 1951, putting him safely in the zone to keep his job. The Indian Government, on the other hand, says he was born in 1950, which means he faces forced retirement next year. Donald Trump has already weighed in, calling Singh a fraud. He is demanding that General Singh be forced to release his long form birth certificate and has offered to moderate the whole affair in an Apprentice style game show format. He’s even paying for his own hairdresser. The Indians must provide the idol worship.
Orly Taitz has been on the phone with President Pratibha Patil all morning. She says she will not rest until the Indian Government removes this phony General from his post and sends him back to Kenya where he belongs.
Gary Forte, reporting
January 20th, 2012
by breadandcircuses on Jan.17, 2012, under “NEWS BULLETS: The truth is like objects in the mirror. It’s closer than it appears.”
“NEWS BULLETS: THIS JUST IN!”
Vol. 6, Issue 2
January 7th- January 13th, 2012
In the news this week:
- Dictator-in-training: Kim Jong-un poses for pictures
- Lessons from Tucson: Sadly there are none
- Democracy for Iraqi oil: Bush, Obama, and mission accomplished
- The Pope and the future of humanity: Exposing the threat of gay marriage
- Death penalty logic: One responsibility the Government will not abdicate
North Korea’s propaganda machine is working overtime trying to fool the rest of the world into believing that their newly chosen leader is the military genius they are claiming. He’s only been President for a month and the load of crap being generated about his exploits is piling higher than it ever did in the entire two decades long fantasy world his father lived in. Touting him as the greatest thing since sliced bread, which is something the starving North Korean people can’t get, they’re busy making up as much nonsense as they can churn out in a day about the boy who became King in the hopes that the world will take him seriously. He’s already threatened to got to war with anyone who does not. He had his first official temper tantrum and the nation rejoiced. A few months ago he was playing video games. Now he’s Napoleon.
To show how just how equipped he is to take control of the world’s third largest armed forces, they propped him up on top of a tank wearing the same Rocky J. Squirrel cap Michael Dukakis wore in 1988 when the Democrats tried to pull the same publicity stunt. Taking a page from the George W. Bush Bullshitter’s Handbook, they’ve photographed Kim Jong-un posing on the bow of a Yono-class submarine with a pair of bowling balls down his pants and the look of invincibility on his face as he prepared to fire upon a small fishing boat with an American flag crudely painted on the side. Hanging behind him was a banner that translated as “Objects on a midget vessel are larger than they appear”.
Under his father’s official policy of “songun”, or “military first”, the majority of all the money the Government was able to steal from the workers (just like our Government does) or extort from the United States with threats of nuclear annihilation, went towards building up their military, one of the largest in the world at 1.2 million men strong. Whatever was left went towards satisfying Kim Jong-il’s ravenous appetite for exotic foods flown in fresh from all over the world daily. He gorged himself on lobster, shrimp, and sushi while most of the North Koreans scrounged garbage cans and dumpsters hunting for scraps to kill each other over. Millions live in constant famine with even more dying of starvation each year, but Kim Jong-il’s caviar was always at the ready, and that’s what was of the utmost importance.
The Son is positioning himself to take the reigns and promises to continue pouring billions into their military like his Father before him. He should be getting ready to start firing some nuclear missile tests over Japan and South Korea right about now, just to intimidate the United States into giving him billions of dollars to squander on his army and his lust for food and pornography too. It’s nice to see traditions handed down from father to son.
- Lessons from Tucson:
On the one year anniversary of the attempted assassination of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, the same Congresswomen depicted in Sarah Palin’s crosshairs (not that there’s any connection between these two completely random events, you understand) there’s one thing conspicuously absent from the discussions going on about that fateful day. The return to any talks about gun control.
Whatever happened to that Democratic ideal anyway? Sure, there was some small talk in the days immediately following the shooting by a few radicals in the progressive community willing to go out on that limb, but President Obama was not one of them. Like so many of the blown opportunities to show something that so far was sadly lacking in his administration- leadership- the chance to return to the ban on automatic weapons and extended magazines that expired under George Bush, came and went like last years New Years resolutions.
As fantastic as it is that Gabby Giffords is making a remarkable recovery despite the grim prognosis at the onset, let’s not lose sight of the fact the Christina Green, the nine year old who was killed that horrible day, never had a chance to experience either of those things. She died instantly. Just because Jarod Lee Loughner was found to be too incompetent to stand trial for the killing spree does not excuse the shame that there was no law making him too incompetent to buy a lethal amount of guns and ammo in preparation for it. Had he been unable to purchase a semi-automatic weapon or a magazine capable of shooting an obscene number of shots instantaneously because of a law in place banning the sale and availability of such ridiculous things, young Christina and many of the other innocent victims of the Tucson shooting could still be alive today. If there was ever a more perfect time to push for reasonable gun control, in the very least returning to the Bush weapons ban that Dick Cheney conceded would have been reasonable, it was one year ago when the focus of the entire nation was on the Tucson massacre and what the Obama Administration, in their leadership role the rest of the country yearned for, was going to do about it.
Sadly, that ship has sailed with nobody on board. A wandering vessel without a captain at the helm. In fact, the only reaction to the whole ordeal from President Obama was his reaffirmation to the rights of gun owners. Coming off a disastrous mid-term election debacle, he knew where his priorities lie. Appeasing the far right even more than he already had for two years. And the only legislation to come out of Congress has been to loosen restrictions on transporting concealed weapons across state lines into states that forbid them. Yeah, that’s what we needed. Not a ban on assault pistols, but the freedom to hide them down your pants at political events like the one Giffords was attending.
The NRA and their benefactors in the Republican Party continue to advocate for less gun restrictions while accusing President Obama of plotting to take their guns away, having absolutely no evidence that he has any leanings in that direction. If only he did. Isn’t it a damn shame that he’s getting blamed for something he refuses to address, when we’d have a much safer society if had actually did so when he had the chance? He had no intention of touching that hot potato and the Tea Party is going to attack him for doing it anyway. Using posters depicting a bulls’ eye with Barack Obama’s picture targeted in the crosshairs.
- Democracy for Iraqi oil:
Iraq is sitting on the second largest oil reserve in the world, next to Saudi Arabia. The difference is that while Iraqi oil fields have been off limits to American companies since Saddam threw them out of the country in 1973, Saudi Kings and Princes have been kissing American ass (and vice-versa) since oil was first discovered there back in the early 20th century. Before that the country was nothing but a bunch of poor illiterate peasants and nomads living under an oppressive autocratic monarchy that didn’t give a shit about them one way or the other. Neither did the rest of the world. Today the House of Saud is one of the richest royal families in the world thanks to oil business and the entrepreneurs it attracts. Of course the Saudi people continue to be a bunch of poor illiterate peasants and nomads living under an oppressive autocratic monarchy that still doesn’t give a shit about them. We still don’t either.
Even though Saddam Hussein nationalized the oil in 1973 and kicked out all the American oil companies, he still continued kissing American ass (and vice-versa), only he took all the profits for himself. Unlike the Saudis, he was not about to share the incredible wealth with Exxon, BP, or Shell. All that changed with the American invasion in 2003. These oil giants felt thirty years was long enough for them to wait to get back what was rightfully not theirs. With a friend in the White House and the United States military to back them up, plans were set in motion to make that dream a reality.
The good news, for Big Oil anyway, is that due to Saddam’s denial of access to the oil fields for the previous 30 years, 90% of them have gone unexplored. In other words, there is a very real likelihood for a sudden rebirth of oil exploration in Iraq that could surpass Saudi Arabia’s known reserves, and thanks to the Bush Doctrine, American oil companies are in on the ground floor. This is why the lie about the U.S. ending the war in Iraq and pulling out all the troops is nothing but bullshit. As the troops are leaving, they’re passing the convoy of exploration equipment, rigs, and research personnel going in not to mention thousands of private independent contractors. There’s no way the richest corporations in the world, Exxon and BP at the top of that list, is taking any chances this time around. One way or another, their security and their investment will be backed up by American military might, guaranteed by American taxpayers footing the bill, and manned by American soldiers ready to give their lives in the defense of it. It’s what this has been all about for the last ten years and President Obama has just confirmed it.
We didn’t go into Iraq to recapture the control of the Government from a savage dictator like Saddam Hussein and restore Democracy to the people. We went in to recapture control of the oil reserves and restore lucrative oil contracts for American corporations. In that sense, we succeeded. In fact, the only thing you can honestly say was a success in the last ten years was the reinstatement of all the big oil giants back into Iraq. A lot of blood was spilled to make that dream a reality. A trillion dollars and thousands of American lives was the price we had to pay to fulfill it. We should all be proud, not only of our great leader, George W. Bush, who had the vision, but Barack Obama who had the fortitude to stand against his own political mandate that put him in office so he could nourish and nurture that dream, bringing it to the conclusion we see today. Exxon-Mobil, BP, Shell, along with more than 16 other multi-national corporations are back in business in Iraq for good this time. Read this quote from President Obama on the pullout of American troops and the fulfillment of President Bush’s dream a decade ago, and see if you can see how many lies he packed into just one sentence:
“The U.S. is leaving behind a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq with a representative government that was elected by its people”. I count six.
And if there’s still doubt about our purpose, intentions, and commitments going into the future, this press release from the White House answers that:
“The United States is committed to supporting the Republic of Iraq in its efforts to develop the energy sector. Together, we are exploring ways to help boost Iraq’s oil production, including through better protection for critical infrastructure.” George Bush himself couldn’t come up with better bullshit than this.
If I didn’t know any better (actually I don’t know any better), I’d say this was taken verbatim from George Bush’s justification for invading Iraq in the first place. It was always about the oil, and this declaration from the Obama White House, not George Bush’s, proves it.
The final proof of Bush’s deception and Obama’s complicity in perpetuating it, as if skeptics still need one, is the Iraq Oil Law. This is a law that bypasses the parliamentary process of open government of the people, and gives control of the oil fields and its revenues directly to the big oil companies by granting contracts without approval of elected officials. While the majority of the people in all other oil rich nations dispute the validity of this law outright for their own countries and refuse to adopt it, it is becoming the law of the land in Iraq. It is considered so lopsided towards big oil and so detrimental to the citizens of a host country, that only 12% of the world’s oil market even allows it. The Iraqi people are against it. President Obama is pushing the new government to pass it anyway. Who do you think he’s in bed with now? By proclaiming “mission accomplished”, is there any doubt now what that mission was?
- The Pope and the future of humanity:
Pope Benedict XVI, still decked out in his Santa Claus costume, took time from his responsibilities of arranging for the placement of rapist priests into the Pedophile Protection Program, to take up his other passion. Condemning gay marriage. He’s calling it the greatest threat to human dignity and the future of humanity. Really? This coming from the leader of the world’s largest, most secretive child molester society? There has never been a Priest let alone a Pope that has ever acknowledged the crisis of predators hiding in plain sight within the Catholic Church fully protected by the Bishops and Cardinals, fully aware of their crimes and more than willing to cover them up for the sake of protecting the sacred image of the world’s largest and most profitable enterprise- organized religion. But they continue to bark up this tree of the sins of homosexuals whose only sacrilegious offense is daring to love each other. The only harm to society from that is the moral indignation it draws out of the Church while their own sexual predators are committing rape and sodomy as part of their theological indoctrination of children.
The Catholic Church still sticks to the medieval doctrine that homosexual acts are a sin, unless they are in the loving and caring setting of a priest and a young boy. Then it’s an appropriate expression of love and inspiration condoned by God.
Fifty two years after Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy had to distance himself from religious dogma and influence from the Vatican in order to win the Presidency, Pope Benedict, through his proxy in the New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, soon to be elevated to Cardinal, is butting into American politics where he has no fucking business, and trying to extort Church mandated public policy out of President Obama by warning of the dire consequences if he continues to be unwilling to support a federal ban on gay marriage. The Pope, through his surrogate here in America, is basically threatening the President of the United States that if he does not stand with the bigoted and antiquated prejudices of the Roman Catholic Church, “his liberal position will precipitate a national conflict between church and state of enormous proportions”. Clearly the Pope’s lapdog has no concept of the basic premise of the separation of Church and State. The real danger here is that the Republican Party doesn’t either. If the Church had their way, homosexuals would be thrown to the lions, like the good old days when nobody questioned their power and control over their world around them.
If Barack Obama had any courage, he’d go further than that and push for the legalization of gay marriage as a basic civil rights issue instead of entertaining any discussion of a Federal ban. In fact if he would follow the lead of the more advanced European countries, we would be on a par with them when it comes to issues, not only of human rights, but of global warming, the environment, and universal health care. Instead of sitting safely on the fence and hoping nobody will notice that he his refusing to take a political stand on a fundamental civil rights issue for a segment of society that is being denied them, namely gay people, simply because it is politically safer to do so.
- Death penalty logic:
Who is Gary Rolan Welch and why is his aborted suicide attempt three weeks ago significant? Because is shows the hypocrisy of supporters of the death penalty.
Being the first man to be put to death by the government in 2012 on Thursday, his execution puts us on track to beat the previous record of inmates put to death in 2011 which stands at 43. The fact that the government was forced to intercede in his efforts to kill himself, only so as to prevent him from robbing them of the pleasure and the right to perform that act themselves is morbidly comical.
Gary Forte, reporting
January 13th, 2012
by breadandcircuses on Jan.06, 2012, under “NEWS BULLETS: The truth is like objects in the mirror. It’s closer than it appears.”
“NEWS BULLETS: THIS JUST IN!”
Vol. 6, Issue 1
January 1st- January 6th, 2012
In the news this week:
- Shaking Iran’s cage: The hypocrisy of nuclear containment
- Capitulation with “serious reservations”: Obama is up to Bush’s old tricks
- Pentagon photo-op: The Obama Doctrine redefined- outspend Bush
- Iowa’s Second Coming: Two weeks after Christmas and still unwrapping
- The GOP clock is still broken: But even Republicans are right twice a day
- David takes Goliath to court: The I.C.A. defends Exxon the underdog
- Ebony and Ivory: Six decades after the piano keys ban, ivory trade thrives
- The Adventures of King Jong: Remaking the Hollywood classic
- Shaking Iran’s cage:
Once again we stand at a monumental threshold that could impact the fate of the entire world, but it may take some courage on President Obama’s part to step through that door. After another serious round of this diplomatic chicken we enjoy engaging in so much, especially during the holidays, Iran, the third leg of George Bush’s three-legged axis of evil table, has been busy sending up trial balloons indicating that they’re ready to resume talks about containing their nuclear program. The question is will the President have the political will to grab for one in an election year. Past experience says no. But the alternative may be World War III, so I think we better pull back on the rhetoric a bit and start talking, regardless of what the Tea Party has to say on the matter.
Sure, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a homophobic racist with homicidal tendencies, but so are all the candidates in the Republican race for President, and we’re not going to war with them over it. And naturally, he wants to die in a glorious flaming tribute to Allah. Just not today. He wants to be around long enough to see who comes out on top of the Celebrity Food Cook-off later this season like everybody else.
Out of the six countries he’s calling back to the negotiating table, Russia, China, France and Germany will surely return to talks without reservations. Only the United States will stand on ceremonies, which usually includes balking at engaging in real constructive conversation just long enough to arm our missiles. Great Britain will follow our lead and abstain too. They are our obedient lap dog when it comes to diplomatic and military ventures, so they’ll do whatever we tell them to. Right now there’s nothing that would make the Tea Party’s blood boil more than to hear the news that Obama is appeasing the Iranian Republican Guard so he can avoid going to war with them. If only he would go to war with our own Republican Guard instead of appeasing them for once.
Now that the troops are coming home from Iraq, which Republicans vehemently opposed, I expect the debate to start any moment about using all that money we’ll free up by ending the war there and diverting into a war with Iran. Any attempt to transfer it into some socialist humanitarian cause that may benefit Americans will become ammunition to be used by the candidates in the primaries to come.
All this hand-wringing over nuclear proliferation would be laughable, if it wasn’t so deadly serious. This is our fault to begin with. We are the ones that developed nuclear power into weapons by harnessing the brainpower of all the ex-Nazi scientists we put in the Witness Protection Program after World War II. We are the only nation on Earth that has actually exploded atomic bombs over inhabited cities, murdering tens of thousands of innocent people in the process. We’ve poisoned the ground, the air, and the food and water supply of the entire planet with nuclear testing before we ever even realized the devastating consequences. Even after we found out what they were we still didn’t give a shit. And worst of all, we have proven that the only way to prevent an invasion from the United States is to get your hands on some nuclear weapons as a deterrent.
The greatest threat to us in the world today is Pakistan, and they have nuclear technology because we gave it to them. They have nuclear weapons because we poured billions of dollars into their military to develop them. In order to keep the peace between them and India, we made sure they maintained an equal level of insanity by continuously increased the number of bombs until nobody knows where the hell they are now, whose maniacal hands they’re in, and when and where the first one will detonate. All we know for sure is that India and Pakistan remain at a constant state of mutually assured destruction and if there’s one thing we like over here it’s maintaining the status quo through the mindless policy of M.A.D..
The very fact that we can dictate as part of our foreign policy strategy in the Middle East that Israel can possess nuclear weapons but their Arab neighbors cannot is the real problem here. I’m not trying to argue that we need to level the playing field by expanding the world’s arsenal of nuclear weapons to Arab countries and radical Islamists like Iran. The point is we are hypocritical in our defense of anyone having nuclear weapons, especially Israel and ourselves. They are the most evil and destructive abuse of power and technology ever devised by man, unless you count the creation of “The Apprentice”.
The awful truth is we have no right to have them at our disposal in the first place. As utopian as this may sound, all the rest of plant and animal life on Earth has as much right to exist as we humans do, regardless of how highly we think of ourselves as a race. We act like all other life forms are beneath our level of superiority and are expendable when our needs to destroy things outweighs their need to survive. Much the way Republicans think of minorities. We are the only species on Earth, and maybe in the Universe, that believes that because Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust, we have the right to blow up the entire planet just to teach him a history lesson.
- Capitulation with “serious reservations”:
There are real problems with the new defense bill signed by President Obama, despite his “serious reservations”. First is the most obvious. The price tag. At $662 billion, this is the highest base line Pentagon budget in our history. It is $113 billion more than 2011 when we were still at war in Iraq. We still have no idea where all that money went, and we’re ready and eager to continue marching into Armageddon. Funny how we don’t hear Republicans screaming over where the money is going to come from for this expenditure. They don’t give shit whether we beg, borrow, or steal it. When it comes to spending on our military, they’re more than willing to do whatever it takes, including printing more money, to get the job done. As long as we don’t waste it on feeding the poor or caring for the sick, they really don’t care how the money is acquired. All that matters is that it’s allocated for important stuff, like weapons and death, and not squandered on frivolous nonsense like school supplies and conservation programs.
The next issue is this sneaky, underhanded idea of signing statements. They’ve been around forever but nobody really had the nerve to use them to the extent that they were used by George W. Bush who brought this deceitful backdoor trickery to a whole new level. One day they found him crouching under his desk in the Oval Office, whining that he wished he was King instead of just President. Than he could ignore any law Congress passed that he didn’t like. Once they were able to lure him out of there with milk and cookies, his crack team of lawyers informed him that he already had that power by using signing statements. A light bulb went off over his head. It was a dim 40-watt bulb, but we are talking about Bush here. When he realized he could run roughshod over the Constitution by using this simple slight of hand trick to circumvent anything Congress passed into law, he was in Monarchy heaven. Nobody in history used signing statements to the extent King George did, and we’re paying the price for indulging his whims to this day.
Sadly, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, and President Obama is the new Com-gander in Chief. He is not going to pass up a golden opportunity to sidestep a confrontation with Congress which he hates more than anything. And why not when he can avoid it altogether while exerting his Executive Powers at the same time. It worked for George W. Bush, and we all know by now how much President Obama likes to follow his lead.
Instead of openly defying a hostile Republican Congress and taking a risky but sincere political stand by vetoing a bill due to serious issues he has with it, he’s taking the cheaters way out just like his predecessor did. He signs the new Defense Bill knowing full well he can attach sneaky little signing statements wherever he wants to ignore those provisions. When George Bush did it, it was an arrogant act of defiance using smoke and mirrors. When Obama does it, it’s even more disgusting. As far as I’m concerned, sidestepping the law this way is not only intellectually dishonest, it’s the coward’s way out. Personally I think it should all be outlawed altogether.
But beyond all that other stuff which pales in comparison, the greatest threat this bill poses, is its obvious escalation towards war with Iran which is built into the language. As part of the military defense spending bill for 2012, provisions are written into the law which forces us and our allies to freeze assets and access to Iran’s Central Bank, and to embargo the sale and distribution of Iranian oil on the world market. You back a grizzly bear into a corner and threaten its cub while doing it, and you’ve got a real problem on your hands. We may end up in a real shooting match because we think we are playing it safe by pre-emptively stopping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, but just because they don’t have one yet, doesn’t mean their claws are not going to be just as lethal.
Here is the biggest most damaging aspect of the bill and President Obama’s reaction to parts of it that pertain to military detention of suspects. The President, in response to the portion that authorized the military to detain American citizens indefinitely without trial, had this to say in his signing statement defying that provision:
“My administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens. Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a nation.”
On its face that sounds like a grandiose ideal we should all be proud to live up to. But here’s what’s wrong with this picture. First of all, we have been detaining American citizens and will continue to do so under this law with powers granted to the President-turned-King by the unpatriotic Patriot Act. What the President and Congress are arguing over is who has the final say. The Congress wants the military to have control. The President just wants it kept in the Executive Branch. And second, and most disturbing, is the idea of dragging our traditions and values into this, like somehow that has had any influence on our policy, foreign or domestic, since 2001. He’s saying that detaining American citizens without trial goes against our traditions and values, but what does detaining foreign nationals without trial say about them? The ugly truth is if we don’t shine our Constitutional protections as a beacon to the entire world by providing a fair trial to everybody, regardless of citizenship status, our high moral preaching will ring hollow and will cause us irreparable harm in the future. We would be so much safer if we treated terrorists like the criminals that they are and provide them full access to our legal system just like everybody else, instead of showing them that we are just as cruel as the evil dictators in their own countries. What the hell are we so afraid of anyway?
The biggest mistake we made since 9/11 was running away from the idea that terrorism and terrorist acts are crimes and should be investigated by law enforcement and prosecuted in civilian courts. Instead we allowed the radical far-right wing lunatics to steal it and make it something else by calling it “war on terrorism” and placing it in the hands of the military. Suddenly calling for letting the judicial system handle it is paramount to treason. We had that small window of opportunity to make that distinction back when John Kerry dared to mention it during the 2004 Presidential race. The Republicans used it to challenge his patriotism, and he caved under the pressure. That argument has never been heard from since, and judging by how Barack Obama has been led by the nose over this issue, it looks like it never will be again. And if you find that disturbing, there’s more.
- The Pentagon photo-op:
Eleven years after 9/11, three years after the end of President Bush’s presidency, and one year before his re-election, President Obama held a news conference at the Pentagon. The symbolism of that image alone should have sent a shiver down the spine of every Progressive who still holds out hope for the miracle we’ve all been waiting for since 2008- that this President will fulfill his promises to the people who elected him. To de-militarize the United States Government and return the fate of the country back to the citizens and the people they elect to serve them, and to relentlessly prosecute the criminals in the last administration who brought the military to the heights of power never before dreamed of in the United States of America.
Standing in front of the very embodiment of American imperialism and the epicenter of our world power, he took this opportunity to announce his rationale for expanding the military budget for the next ten years. In a pronouncement that clearly has more to do with getting re-elected than it does with our national defense needs, he laid the groundwork for committing the United States to decades of continued immoral and outrageous military spending without giving a single solitary reason why it’s necessary. Why is it?
WMD’s? That was a fantasy invented by the Bush Administration. Al Qaeda insurgents? They’re gone now. The war on terror? That’s bullshit. There’s no such thing. We must save Europe from the threat of Communism? Who are we kidding? Manage Japan’s defense so they don’t rebuild their Imperial Army? I think we’ve been babysitting that dependant for long enough.
The fact that he acknowledged, at the point of a sword aimed directly at Republicans, that his military ambitions will outspend the last year of the Bush Administration when we were spending a $10 billion dollars a month, says it all. We’ve learned nothing in the last decade, we accomplished nothing for all it has cost in money, resources, and blood, and we will continue to goosestep our way into history as the world’s most aggressive and expansive militaristic nation.
Instead of pulling us back from the edge of the abyss, this President is leading us right over it with a commitment to further expand our already bloated military beyond any reason or accountability. He inherited all this from George Bush, that’s true. But he also inherited the opportunity to end the two wars, end the colonial expansion of our foreign policy around the globe, and end the madness of bankrupting the future of this country which is the road we have been on since 2001. President Obama did not do any of those things in his speech in front of the very symbol of our nation’s war machine, and this Pentagon photo-op proves that he has no intention of taking the nearest exit anytime soon.
If we found a way of spending a trillion dollars in wars for the last ten years, we could certainly have found a way to save a trillion dollars if we never went in there in the first place. So what’s the justification in continuing to hemorrhage money moving forward? There is none. All this does is win points for the President in the upcoming election with voters who may be sitting on the fence and need this incentive to pull them back over to his side. Clearly this is not the type of campaign tactic aimed at liberals or progressives. With no place else to go, and with too much at stake for them to waiver, there is enough confidence in the White House that they can hold onto their loyalty without having to earn it.
No, this is aimed directly at the one group that will sway this election the same way is sways every election. Independents. Those too conservative to be influenced by liberal agendas but not too much so that they can’t be bribed back into the fold with some strong military posturing. Sounds too cynical? Maybe it’s time for a little more honest cynicism, and a little less delusional optimism.
- Iowa’s second Christmas:
As we start the new year, one day away from the Iowa Anointment Day, things are getting desperate over in Republicanland. Desperate times calls for desperate measures, only the Republican candidates aren’t measuring. They’re flinging everything they’ve got against the wall hoping something will stick.
Newt Gingrich is defending his fall from grace by blaming his decline on being “Romney-boated”. Rick Santorum’s leading campaign promises starting precisely on January 20th, 2013 are banning abortions, annulling existing gay marriages, and bombing Iran. Mitt Romney is flying high with his miniscule polling advances which continues to fluctuate to within 2 or 3 points up or down over Newt Gingrich. In Republican circles that’s a commanding lead. Rick Perry expects to come out on top by appealing to the most primal, ignorant fears of the conservative base, and he’s not ashamed to scrape the bottom of the barrel to seek them out. Ron Paul had a momentary relapse of amnesia and thought it was still 1964. And Michelle Bachmann has tried everything short of a sex-change operation to prove how much testosterone is pulsing through her veins. A small voice was calling out for help and everyone rushed to see if a child had fallen down a well, but it was just Jon Huntsman trying to remind them that he was still viable.
First Newt Gingrich and his struggle to grab the life preserver as he treads water. In an effort to blame his slide in the polls on Mitt Romney’s money, he is trying to make the bizarre connection between the wealthiest man in the race buying attack ads to expose the truth about him and a bunch of lying con-men disguised as veterans back in 2004 distorting John Kerry’s military record in Vietnam . There is a distinct difference here. Romney is pointing out facts about Gingrich’s record that he doesn’t want revealed and he has all the money in the world to spend on that endeavor. The Swiftboaters used their protection as a “521” to make up lies and fabricate events to slander John Kerry’s character. It was perfectly legal but completely false just the same. The fact that Kerry refused to refute them cost him the election. That, and his claim that there was no difference between him and George Bush on Iraq. That kind of talk wasn’t exactly the kind of inspiration the progressive base needed at the time.
Rick Santorum, filled with new-found confidence at the prospect of coming in among the top three, is breaking out from the crowd by taking on the issues that count the most to Iowans- the Three G’s: God, gays, and gynecological exams.
Mitt Romney is sweating bullets, having lost last time to Mike Huckabee, the evangelical preacher turned politician, as he anticipates the distinct possibility this time, of winning Iowa and New Hampshire. This gives him a shot at taking South Carolina and locking this thing up before Super Tuesday. If he could just get everybody to stop playing tapes of what he’s said in the past, he’s home free.
Rick Perry says that the biggest thing wrong in our society is that we live in a country where gays can serve openly next to straight people in the military. No, moron. What’s wrong with this country is that a man aspiring to be President of the United States can make such a bigoted statement and still remain as an acceptable choice in a political party that sees no shame in being associated with such a vile excuse for a human being.
Ron Paul is taking a rather unconventional approach. Hoping to be known as the only candidate that doesn’t represent the status quo, he’s trying to reopen the argument against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Quoting here:
“If you try to improve relationships by forcing and telling people what they can’t do, and you ignore and undermine the principles of liberty, then the government can come into our bedrooms”.
Um, excuse me for interjecting reason here, but forcing the police to stop using fire hoses and German Shepherds against black people and ending the quaint Antebellum custom of lynching them goes a little further than what a normal person would equate with improving relationships. And worrying about government undermining principles of liberty is a little disingenuous coming from a member of a Party that is obsessed with what’s going on in everybody’s bedroom. And by the way Congressman, trust me. No one’s interested in what’s going on in your bedroom, and letting a Negro eat at the lunch counter is not going to change that.
And along comes Michelle Bachmann, the real fire-breathing dragon of the group. She’s an equal opportunity attack dog. She goes after everybody. Painting herself as the embodiment of the Second Coming of Christ in female form, she gets away with painting President Obama as the Second Coming of Hitler. While everyone else is dancing around the fringes of radical conservatism, walking a tightrope as they try to maintain the delicate balance between their use of harsh rhetoric against their opponents, and all holding hands and singing hymns at the Ronald Reagan Mausoleum, she continues to be the pit-bull nipping at their heels. And even though they’re all remaining cautiously optimistic about leaving the door open for a Vice-Presidential nod from whomever’s victorious in the end, she is not. Michelle Bachmann wants to end “Obama-care”, Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood, the separation of Church and State, and all rights for gay people. By lashing out at her rivals she is showing that she also wants to end her chances of ever being considered for Vice-President.
One thing is for sure. This pack of rabid dogs we see pandering to the right-wing lily-white conservative Christians in Iowa may look like they cover the spectrum of Republican politics, from Rick Santorum’s religious extremism to Ron Paul’s libertarian delusions, but underneath the phony exterior is a dark interior that reveals what they all have in common. They’re all a bunch of homophobic, racist pigs without an ounce of respect for gays, minorities, liberals, blue-collar workers, or atheists and they’re not ashamed to run on those themes. And why should they be? It’s as American as apple pie.
Update: Now that the results are in, the Republican Party can finally rejoice as they coalesce around their new leader. Mitt Romney swept the Iowa Caucus with 24.5% of the vote, giving him a resounding victory over his closest opponent, Rick Santorum, who came in a distant second with 24.5%. That leaves 51% of the voters who don’t like the performances of either clown. Romney’s devastating 8 vote lead put him over the top with a clear mandate to lose next November.
It’s all a bunch of bullshit anyway. More than $10 million dollars was spent in Iowa, in the fight over what comes down to 25 delegates who are not even bound by their vote come the Republican Convention. That means the culmination of this entire event leading up to the biggest news story of the year so far is that Mitt Romney heads into round two of his run for President, which he started the day he lost to John McCain, with a tentatively committed army of 13 delegates.
Sometime after midnight the two engaged in a staring contest to see who would claim victory first. Rick Santorum, clearly overwhelmed by his love and support from the one true God, blinked first. Now that the results showed him losing by a substantial margin of less than .000001%, he’s feeling a little embarrassed about it this morning. But that’s understandable. After all, he could understand losing to a Jew or a Muslim. Even an atheist. But a Mormon?
He went to the nearest Catholic Church to pray for penance, and to try to figure out what he did to deserve God’s punishment. Of course, he had to travel across the state line to find one.
- The GOP clock is still broken:
The ugliness of negative campaigning is being criticized more now than at any time in recent memory. It supposedly reached a new low today when the recently deposed Newt Gingrich accused Mitt Romney of being a liar. But how low can it be, if it’s technically true. Mitt Romney is a liar. They all are. So what’s the problem with stating it? Of course they all have their moments when they drift into the realm of honesty once in a while. Sometimes on purpose. The fact is if you take the time to wade through all the bullshit you’ll discover that underneath it all, Republicans are like the proverbial broken clocks. Believe it or not there have been rare moments in this nominating cycle where many of the statements made by these candidates have been true at least twice a day.
Start with the easiest. Ron Paul. He is by far the most honest of the bunch, in spite of his obvious shortcomings because of his ridiculous 19th century thinking and totally unrealistic libertarian fantasies. For instance, his stance on our out-of-control imperialism and our obsession with nation building is absolutely right. For some crazy reason, Republicans love to use this to paint him as an isolationist and label him as weak on national defense. How is keeping us out of wars that have no purpose but to serve the interests of multi-national corporations who are heavily invested in these volatile countries, isolationist? How is refusing to spend a trillion dollars defending foreign countries so we can have the resources we need to defend ourselves weak on defense? It’s ludicrous, yet it’s because of these positions that he will never be taken seriously, let alone be President. He’s also right on his position that prostitution should be legalized. Not a single Congressman agrees, which is ironic when you consider that they all work in the biggest whorehouse in America.
Herman Cain’s only downfall was his philandering and not his outrageous ideas, but even he was right on at least two things. His call for a tax on all Chinese imports to level the playing field for American workers and open our goods to foreign markets was the only way to stop this suicidal slide we have been enduring since George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton sold us down the NAFTA River that flows all the way to China. His other strong point was his campaign promise that in a Cain Administration, pizza would be recognized as a major food group.
Rick Perry famously declared on national television that if you want to deport working taxpayers whose only discretion was that they were brought here illegally as children by their parents, you have no heart. Can’t argue with that. What he failed to acknowledge was that a prerequisite for being a Republican nominee is proving you have no heart. This breach of right-wing protocol probably cost him not only the front-runner status he enjoyed up until that moment, but any chance of winning the nomination. The final nail in his coffin was when he advocated that if we were going to tolerate all these illegal immigrant children, we may as well give them an education. That’s talk right out of the Communist Manifesto, my friend.
Mitt Romney has a whole shopping list of things he’s said that were true, progressive, and forward thinking. Unfortunately it was back when he was trying to out-liberalize Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts. If he was still pro-choice, in favor of mandated universal healthcare for all citizens, and supporting amnesty for illegals, he may not have a chance in hell of getting the Republican nomination, but he’d have a good shot at challenging Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination.
Rick Santorum is correct when he says that the system is broken, the Government is living way beyond its means, and the debt must be brought under control. He’s just too stupid to realize that this is the fault of the reign of terror that started with his hero, Ronald Reagan, going all the way through the dark ages of George W. Bush and the Republican descent into madness, not the three years of the Obama administration. He’s also correct in his assumption that the story of his Grandfather fleeing Fascist Italy to make a better life for himself and his family is America’s story. He wanders from the sublime to the ridiculous when he tries to compare the first Obama term with the regime of Mussolini.
Next comes Michelle Bachmann. The big mystery here is whether it’s possible that anything that has ever come out of the mouth of this babe could ever have a ring of truth, let alone occur twice a day. But to her credit, she pulled it off, first when she outed Newt Gingrich on national television for the hypocrite that he is by railing against Dodd-Frank while taking more that a million dollars in fees from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Money he earned as their highest paid lobbyist, although he’s sticking to the lie that he never was such a thing. He says he earned that money as a substitute History teacher on retainer.
The Congresswoman is also right about another pressing issue facing the nation. The highly prejudicial treatment that has been instigated by liberals against incandescent light bulbs. She believes, and rightfully so, that this war being waged against this purely American symbol of ingenuity is a big-government attempt to socialize unnatural light in this country. She argues quite convincingly that it was the Founding Fathers who fought the Revolutionary War to defend our freedom to light our kitchens and living rooms with filament bulbs without the Federal Government breathing down our necks and forcing us to switch to fluorescents. This is an intrusive attack on our liberty by a Government bureaucracy that wants to come into your bedrooms and tell you how to illuminate it. Besides Republicans are only concerned with what goes on in your bedrooms when the lights go out.
One of the best lines of truth to come out of the Republican race was from the man at the bottom of the totem pole, Jon Huntsman, who refused to kiss Donald Trump’s ring or any other part of his anatomy. That is exactly what these contenders have been doing. Every time they all travel to the “Vatican of the East” over at the Trump Tower to kiss his ass, they show how desperate they all are, that they have to crawl and beg for an endorsement that was never going to materialize. The other gem that came out of the mouth of Huntsman was after news that John McCain was throwing his endorsement to Mitt Romney. His two word response speaks volumes: “Nobody cares.”
- David takes Goliath to court:
It’s good to know that when a citizen of the world cannot get proper redress for grievances they suffer at the hands of powerful governments, they have someplace to go for justice. Thanks to the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that corporations are people, Mr. David Exxon-Mobil finally gets his day in court.
The International Court of Arbitration in Paris has taken up the cause of the latest David vs. Goliath case that has been weighing heavily on all our minds. Goliath being the government of Venezuela, and David taking the form of poor victimized Exxon-Mobil, the richest most profitable corporation in the world.
Unhappy with how President Chavez has chiseled away at their profit margin by nationalizing the oil in Venezuela, Exxon took the steps that all giant corporations have had to do to protect their interests. They tried to get the U.S. Government and the CIA to overthrow Chavez. Unfortunately, in spite of the rhetoric and our vehement opposition to the Chavez regime, especially from Republicans who view him as the biggest threat to our security in the Western Hemisphere, there hasn’t been much success at fermenting a coup down there. Had we not been so preoccupied with our invasions and coups against Iraq and Afghanistan for the last decade, we may have had the resources to pull this off. Failing to topple Chavez will go down in the history books as one more thing to blame on President Obama.
So Exxon found it had no other option than to take their case to the only international body that cared to listen, in hopes of recovering from this grave injustice. The I.C.A. has obliged by awarding Citizen Exxon the unprecedented victory of $900 million dollars for the pain and suffering they have endured ever since the natural resources they plundered for decades was temporarily returned to their proper owners, the people of Venezuela.
After being foretold to prepare for the worst by a soothsayer who read it in tea leaves, the Venezuelan government took their pending defeat seriously and expected to be forced to pay out more than $2.5 billion to Exxon. Elated over the final verdict, they considered this setback as merely dodging a bullet and popped champagne. Everyone can walk away feeling they’re the winner in this thing, and they can all return to business as usual. And since the U.S. (and China) is among Venezuela’s biggest customers for crude oil, the only ones who will really be coerced to cover Exxon’s losses in the end will be American consumers at the gas pumps. But what else is new?
- Ebony and Ivory:
It looks like 2011 has turned out to be a very good year for somebody. Maybe the best in 23 years. Not for Americans. Not for the European Union. Not even for Donald Trump who’s been bragging about the billions he’s worth. It’s been difficult in this recession, but he’s managed scrimp and save, and he’s doing ok. That’s at least some good news in these tough times. We all were concerned.
With all the businesses falling onto hard times in the last decade, the good news is that African ivory poachers are thriving. It’s sad that the same can’t be said for elephants. The smuggling and sale of ivory on the black market is at an all-time high, with most of it ending up- where else?- in China, where a material similar to our finger nails that may take an elephant a lifetime to grow, winds up in souvenir shops and luxury specialty stores catering to rich tourists and interior decorators with a high-end clientele craving trinkets.
In a combined accounting of the worst offenders in the illicit ivory smuggling trade in Africa today, 23 tons of ivory have been recovered. That means approximately 2,500 full grown elephants sacrificed their lives to satisfy the world’s lust for their tusks and the jewelry and knick-knacks produced from them. A clear case of closing the barn door after the horses get out, since the idea of blocking this huge cache of tusks from reaching the market place may be a small comfort to those who feel passionate about fighting this illicit trade, it doesn’t do much good for the elephants who are still dead. Ivory has not been used in the manufacture of piano keys since the 1950’s so that’s a step in the right direction, even though it means we’re still 62 years behind for everything else that incorporates it.
Of course, in a Republican world, governments should not even be in the position of interfering with private commerce and free enterprise. If elephants don’t like being butchered for their ivory tusks, let them hire their own attorneys and publicists to protect themselves. Poachers and smugglers represent the best and brightest of the job creators that liberals hate so much. The free market should dictate the acquisition and marketing of a commodity, not a bunch of bleeding-heart animal loving socialists. Elephant tusks and Rhino horns are no different to free market capitalists than oil or any other natural resource they feel is theirs for the taking. Let’s just hope Sarah Palin doesn’t get wind of this attack on innocent businessmen trying to earn a living through the exploitation of these magnificent beasts. She’ll start a campaign to defend poaching as the bedrock of capitalism, and somehow find a way to label the world-wide ivory ban as a job-killer and blame the whole thing on President Obama. Chop, baby, chop!
One thing is universally true in the laws of economic physics. Nobody goes out of their way to risk their investment or, for that matter, their life, to provide a commodity, especially an illegal one, if there isn’t somebody out there willing to pay for it. The basic concept of supply and demand is as true in the illicit ivory trade as it is in the perfectly legal oil trade. Profiteers will sell it for the highest price they can get, and consumers will pay that price as long as they believe they have to or until someone comes along and sells it cheaper, regardless of the sacrifice to the life or health of the planet in the process of retrieving it. That’s the bedrock of capitalism.
- The Adventures of King Jong:
The latest reports coming out of North Korea are confirming that Kim Jong-il is still dead. All attempts to resurrect him have been unsuccessful. They’re propping up a paper machete model of him holding a bottle of Cognac under one arm and the complete boxed set of all 86 episodes of “Saved by the Bell” on VHS under the other, in the hopes that the people will not be able to tell the difference. In an attempt to pay a lasting tribute to the “dear leader”, North Korea’s finest independent film makers are being brought out of “re-education” exile to produce a film honoring him.
It’s a project based on a remake of the classic Hollywood picture with a new twist, and a new title: “King Jong”. It’s the updated North Korean version about a diminutive little man found fending for himself in the frozen Siberian tundra and brought back to civilization to be put on display in a traveling circus. He falls in love with a cabaret dancer and tries to woo her by plying her with gifts under false pretenses.
Their relationship is doomed from the start, with her being twice his size and him believing he’s the living God, but he persists in trying to win her affections. In the final climactic scene, he kidnaps her and forces her to carry him to the top of the Ryugyong Hotel in downtown Pyongyang at the point of a felt-tipped pen. A sortie of radio-controlled model airplanes is sent to bring him down. Firing rocket-propelled trays of fresh lobster and sushi just beyond his reach, they were able to distract him long enough for the girl to pull her pinky finger from his tiny grasp and make her escape. Forced to choose between beauty and the feast, he fell to his death. He was heard yelling something about the evils of capitalism the whole way down.
In an interview afterwards, reporters asked the girl if she was traumatized by the whole ordeal. She remarked that she wasn’t any worse for wear. The only lasting effect seems to be that she broke a nail while getting into a taxicab, but other than that, she got through it reasonably unscathed.
Gary Forte, reporting
January 6th, 2012