Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Last Republican President

While most Americans who live in the lower 90-percentile have had hellish lives over the past decade, we may actually owe President George W. Bush, VP Dick Cheney and evil-genius Karl Rove a debt of gratitude when it’s all over with. No, we’re not safer than we were before the Bush era, nor are we better off as our economy is in shambles.

Actually the Democrats and anyone else for that matter seemed feckless in stopping this Greedy Old Party’s megalomania juggernaut. It turns out they imploded under the weight of their own excess.

Oh they’re still giving the old slash-and-burn, pull-out-all-the-stops campaign blitz one last run-through, hoping for that miracle knockout that won’t happen. What’s really been fascinating is watching how the GOPers deconstructed right before our very eyes from top to bottom.

“It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.” — Good Riddance, Green Day

It speaks volumes when the GOP is on the threshold of a presidential election; everyone is running away from their incumbent president as fast as they can, and subtly easing away from their current nominee for president in preparation of the train wreck ahead. It also says something when the only two “rock stars” on the campaign trail are two individuals with no national, much less international, experience: Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber.

"Sarah Oh-Twelve!" bellowed a man in field coat and jeans, one of several thousand at the Leesburg VA rally, when Palin spoke about her tax policies recently. The same news story noted there were "I [Heart] Palin" bumper stickers on cars, "Team Sarah" T-shirts in pink, "Sarah!" pins and countless signs: "You Go Girl." "You're in Palin Country." "Maverick Barracuda." One of the souvenir vendors said his most popular offering was a pin showing Palin next to a pit bull and the usual "McCain-Palin" logo reversed, with her name first and in larger letters.

So much for running mate. That mavericky Pit Bull Barracuda Palin has effectively emasculated the John McCain campaign. She is number one. True to form, she also runs closer to the Bush model of rule and philosophy – despite trying to awkwardly paint herself in maverick’s colors. This inspires the base more than an unpredictable maverick McCain.

Meanwhile Samuel "Joe the Plumber'' Wurzelbacher has been on the second most popular presidential campaign tour. He’s become a rock star in his own right for playing the part of the ringer in his “spontaneous independent” fifteen minutes of news fame – which he’s parlaying into a full-time political career. At this point, anyone pretending to be a devoted mouthpiece for the salacious neo-con base is practically guaranteed a nomination for whatever office they can affix their ambition to. (e.g. Katherine Harris of Florida Secretary of State fame)

Even Joe’s mavericking on his own as he recently sidestepped the economic message that his "Joe the Plumber Tour'' was designed for when he endorsed a statement made by a member of the audience in Columbus that "a vote for Obama is a vote to the death of Israel.''

"I agree with you,'' Joe said. "I really think that would be a problem.'' McCain campaign operatives later came back and retracted that message from he who hopes to be Ohio’s newest congressman.

Wurzelbacher also said Tuesday he's considering a lawsuit over the fact that government workers have apparently searched some records pertaining to him since he challenged Barack Obama on his tax policy two weeks ago.

"I have contacted a lawyer,'' he said as he formally hit the political stump. "I'd like to see justice done. That's just for other people who dare ask their elected officials a question. They shouldn't have to go through the scrutiny that I've gone through. It shouldn't have to bother their families the way it's bothered my family.''

Apparently someone forgot to tell Joe The Plumber that we live under the rule of the Patriot Act. Government can look into anything they want to, whenever they want to as part of protecting America in the midst of this war on terror. He can be jailed (detained) indefinitely if they deem him a threat to the president or the country’s security. And no, Joe, it’s not some commie-liberal plot against hard-working, middle-class, $250k per year stiffs like you … it was rock-ribbed conservatives like George W. Bush and Dick “I have unitary executive powers, too” Cheney who escorted this into law.

But then why would Joe the Plumber care about that? Or Pit Bull Sarahcuda Palin for that matter? People don’t need to be familiar with the laws of the land or world events or geopolitics either. Geography’s for wimps! Hah!

All that’s needed is raw, unending ambition and the stamina to do whatever it takes to be a loyal party-devoted conduit for the neo-conservative message.

Meanwhile the party’s business and brain-trust conservatives trash Palin, the neos ridicule the neutered McCain, all sides are fervently looking for a place to bury the rotting corpse of Bush-Cheney politics and lamenting the death of Reagan’s supply-side, total deregulation as we see our economy collapse around our avaricious ears. Eventually our two-party system will fall apart and the GOP will be the first to divide.

But right now, the only attention being paid to the GOP in any active sense is focusing on who may well be the two new standard bearers for the remnants of it: Pit Bull Barracuda and Joe The Plumber. Somewhere, someone is printing up campaign 2012 stickers and T-shirts emblazoned with “Palin / Wurzelbacher.” Great news for the blind devotees in neo-con land. Bad news for anyone wishing to see a Republican in the White House any time soon.

George W. Bush may well be the last Republican president in America. Good riddance ….

“Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road.
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go.
So make the best of this test, and don't ask why.
It's not a question, but a lesson learned in time.” — Good Riddance, Green Day

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Parallel Worlds Of Modern America

As I was up in Boston for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Gala protest last week (thus my silence on the blog lately). After the event, I went home with Ethan St. Pierre and his wife Karen and chatted on a number of things, straying from the topic of GLBT politics.

My friends Ethan and Karen expressed how fondly they recalled the economy of the 1980's. They both noted their union jobs, Karen making $55K per year, Ethan making $65K per year -- and even living at home with his mom (well before either of their transitions, meaning Ethan was doing this as a born female). Ethan noted his fully covered health insurance and his $5.97 a month union dues!

The stark disparity for Ethan and Karen from twenty plus years ago to today is enormous.

However, to say I was personally astonished with their story would be understatement of the year! In Texas and throughout the south, only those fortunate enough to be roughnecks on the oil rigs made that level of money, unless they were in an executive or professional position. And even with that, once the Oil Bust occurred in late 1985, even oil jobs evaporated, with degreed geologists even being a dime-a-dozen. As a computer operator at that same time, I was making $5.91 an hour with limited health benefits, never cracking the $20K threshold until 1990 and even today never coming close to even Karen's income levels, much less Ethan's!

The 80's were economically brutal, and not just for the gulf coast (or the chemical coast as it was tagged). Texas saw waves of "black tag" migrants, named for the most predominant state -- Michigan -- whose license plates black with white lettering. It was inaccurately affixed to Michigan alone, though. We saw waves of folks from Indiana, Iowa, Ohio and throughout the region, living out of cars or in tent cities under freeway underpasses just outside of the metro areas in Texas, or if fortunate enough, living in flophouse-styled boarding houses like the Animal House where I happened to stay during a period in 1982 as Reaganomics was bludgeoning Texas as well.

Every state in the Midwest, in rural America and throughout the south enjoyed double digit unemployment. In Texas, foreclosures created near ghost towns in some of the newer subdivisions and apartment-laden areas during the initial bust and subsequent Savings & Loan meltdown. I always wondered how Pres. Ronald Reagan had the gall to speak to the nation about the "greatest economy" and "lowest unemployment" the nation had ever seen! We all presumed there were pockets of America somewhere things were going well, obviously so. Yet we had no idea where they were. It was more remote or legendary rather than real.

Clearly we were parallel worlds, unaware (or barely aware) of the others' existence. It intrigued me that we could have these parallels with so little knowledge of what was on the other side. And certainly the parallels are applicable throughout other aspects of society.

It was fitting symbolism for what we had just finished protesting: an HRC Banquet populated by economically-superior beings, with little more than a passing awareness of us outside -- the transgendered, the radical faeries, the ethnic minority and disenfranchised portions of gays and lesbians, the youth. Certainly on the trans level, with not only the economic challenges but also the attendant medical necessities, they are virtually clueless. What few trans people they will choose for us as our leaders have none of the sense of urgency, desperation, or perpetual fear from either a physical or financial sense. We're aware of each other, but exist in separate, parallel universes where the experiential twains never meet.

Even the HRC logo fits this parallel culture: an equal sign, with one line above, one below, the twain never meeting. I wonder if there was any thought of how classic of an icon they would create for themselves, communicating both an equal sign and a classist separation in the same symbol? It's strategically brilliant marketing.

The HRC Equal icon is the perfect symbol of an entitlement, and indeed they seek out those segments of society almost exclusively. Typically the only non-elite they bring in are those whose personal stories are good enough to be fundraised upon. It's this structure that completely freezes out the majority of their own community, as well as all of the ancillary subcultures they market themselves as supporting.

While we're each only externally able to appraise each other, I'm sure we of the excluded class only partially are aware of the lifestyle and opportunities of those who've attained personal equality. Conversely there's been no desire or need to know, much less get a concrete sense of the experience of those of us in society's perpetual underclass.

While we can communicate, there is a net negative for those who've "made it" to experience or address disparity as it involves either reducing their stand, or lifting the unfortunate. The elite won't give up what they've already got. Elite is by definition, the few, the special, something more exclusive based upon their ability to succeed. But keep in mind that success is more than simply ability. It is more relevantly opportunity as well; and the two should not be conflated. Some have abundant opportunity with lesser ability and can still be successful – to wit: George W. Bush. Others have abundant ability, but none of the opportunity.

It's the absence of opportunity that will keep a wall between the haves and have-nots, the HRC's of the world and the protesting "tranny trash" for quite likely generations to come. Thus you will see the protests and battles for many years to come. We're happy for the gay community, that they've attained success and happiness for theirs. Absent that same opportunity or hope, transgenders will never be content for ourselves.

We live in different, parallel worlds. And so it goes ....

"Hope will never be silent." — Harvey Milk

Friday, October 17, 2008

Wealth Redistribution - The GOP Battle Cry

"Nobody should be excused from paying income taxes" — Ari Fleischer, former press secretary for George W. Bush

A few night back I watched the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, whose guest was Ari Fleischer. Personally, Fleischer had always struck me as arrogant, but I learned he's got a selfish streak in him that rivals the arrogance. Asked on his thoughts Barack Obama, he came out blasting Obama's tax plan as favoring the working poor. "You can't have a country that is going to be strong if you have about 45% of the country that is excused from paying income tax."

As elaborated in the opening quote as his thoughts about tax breaks to the middle class, Fleischer is mirroring what we've heard from McCain and Palin in debates recently. Bottom line, helping out any of the lower 90's who've suffered over the past eight years is wrong, according to the GOP. Just like four years ago, it's "compassionate conservativism" ... also known as "tough love."

And the amazing irony of this is it follows so soon after the taxpayers (all of us!) had to pony up bail for Wall Street. Usually these conservatives allow a bit more time between incidents for we ephemerally-memoried LCD's out in TV land to put it out of mind before beginning the act of switching the bait.

But lo, this year's GOPers have heard an earful from the "wealthy elite" of "Wall Street" who've been the whipping boy of both political parties. The vice presidential debate showed Sarah Palin's response to Joe Biden's populism making the comment that she had concerns "about this wealth redistribution" idea based upon Obama's plans for adddressing this failed economy.

During last week's final debate, we saw John McCain doing likewise with his "Joe the Plumber" sock puppet act, where he brought up how a middle class guy like Joe who theoretically earns a little over $250,000 a year could end up seeing his tax burden go up. Heinous. The caveat is this: when you make $250,000 annually, you are in the upper 1% of the country, income-wise. When was it that those in the lower reaches of the upper 1% became middle class?

This of course overlooks the point that the whole Joe The Plumber routine was a red herring. Joe wasn't an independent (he's registered Republican), doesn't make close to a quarter million salary -- and wouldn't even if his company's profit was just over that range anyway (there would be deductible costs and labor expense), and is not a licensed plumber anyway (not a requirement for an individual plumber in Ohio, but strange when you consider he wanted to buy a plumbing contracting business!).

It does demonstrate how great of lengths the GOP (aka: the Greedy Old Party) will go to protect their base -- or as George W. Bush put it, "the haves and have-mores."

What is most galling is how brazen the GOPers deceit is in this election season, painting themselves as being the middle class everyman, and attempting to play Barack Obama as representing elite! Yet it's Mr. "Everyman" McCain who's concerned about doing anything that infringes upon the upper one-percenters net income, and Mr. "Elite" Obama being the one proposing assistance to the lower 95% of America.

To that end, we saw John McCain's most recent comments on the stump speech trail have painted Obama's tax plan as giving "welfare" checks to the most economically impacted in America. "Raising taxes on some in order to give checks to others is not a tax cut; it's just another government giveaway."

This "giveaway" complaint comes mere weeks after McCain himself gave active support and voted for his conservative President's plan to offer a $700 billion bailout of Wall Street banks. Even now we're discovering from the UK's Guardian a report that the major banks benefitting from this new "nationalizing" act will be giving an estimated $70 billion in total pay compensation to their staffs, with some banks' total employee compensation to date exceeding the entire stock value.

No welfare state there, eh?

"John McCain is so out of touch with the struggles you are facing that he must be the first politician in history to call a tax cut for working people 'welfare,'" Barack Obama responded in his speech under the St. Louis arch. "The only 'welfare' in this campaign is John McCain's plan to give another $200 billion in tax cuts to the wealthiest corporations in America."

Touche, Obama.

Folks, there's going to be plenty of baseless claims this campaign season. Get smart, look this stuff up for yourself! Find out who is truly the candidate standing for the majority of this country that has been screaming in pain, unheard mostly throughout these past years. It's not the man with more houses than he can account for, claiming to be the everyman looking out for the middle class and calling middle class tax cuts as welfare!

"Don't believe the hype - its a sequel
As an equal, can I get this through to you?" — Don't Believe the Hype, Public Enemy

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Was "Joe The Plumber" A Republican Plant?

“As I trudge the path of destiny my opinion doesn't pay,
I'm a blue collar simple mind who cannot find his way his way.” — Regular Guy, the Dropkick Murphys

Much of last night’s debate raged around the seemingly mythical “Joe The Plumber,” and how Barack Obama and John McCain’s policies were going to affect “regular Joes” like him. With the economy tanking this badly and most of America feeling stiffed by this myth of the “American Dream”, it stood to reason that the candidates would try to conjure a quintessential image of someone from middle America, trying to make up his mind who to vote for in this crucial election year.

Joe seemed to personify this modern-American everyman, one who both ambivalent voters and press, hungry for “realism” away from the too-scripted political processes looked to for help making sense of what everyone was seeing.

As it turns out, this “Joe the Plumber” was a real person: Joe Wurzelbacher (spelled Worzelbacher on his voter registration!). He was even displayed on the post-debate news spin last night on CBS with Katie Couric. In the phone interview with Joe “McCain is solid … we’ve seen McCain, we know his action.”

Wurzelbacher then expressed concerns about Obama’s tax plan, saying “I’m middle class, I don’t want my taxes raised any more.” When Couric asked him whether he made over $250,000 a year, he replied no, but then called it “a slippery slope” when someone decides $250,000 and you’re rich, then $100,000 a year and your rich.

Wurzelbacher had already met McCain, and per his story saw Obama walking through his neighborhood while he was out, and he walked over to get involved as he “always wanted to ask these guys a question and really corner them.” On Obama’s answers to his questions, old ‘Joe The Plumber’ felt "unfortunately I still got a tap dance ... almost as good as Sammy Davis Jr."

It certainly made for good anecdotal reference. And the post debate interview made great RNC spin.

Yet something there seemed a bit too standard issue FOX News to me.

So after after some digging I found that Joe is indeed a registered Republican. No surprise.

But then I began wondering if old Joe The Plumber communicated this to the McCain campaign? The McCain camp, I’m sure, would see this as a wonderful way to play off Joe as a common connection during the debaters, and someone who was presumed by many (or at least played up to be) to be the quintessential uncommitted or independent voter in this middle American battleground state. Can you say “shill?”

It turns out that Joe’s dad is reported to be a heavy contributor to the GOP. Maybe Joe’s not quite such an independent voice after all. But again no surprise, this is America the polarized.

An unrelated final note, Joe it seems was at least accused of domestic violence by his first wife Jennifer according to papers filed in their divorce in Tucson back in 1997. Part of the court costs included the County’s charges for the Battered Women’s Shelter.,1

Well, Joe’s just a regular guy all right. All the same fallibilities. And even the same pre-conceived allegiances. Nothing special.

I just wish the media would stop playing him off as “something special.”

“I'm kind of like the, uh, Everyman, so I think people just relate to that.” — Kato Kaelin, groundskeeper for O. J. Simpson

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

GOP Economic Proposals Will Elongate Depression

John McCain has hinted that he plans to reveal his economic package today in an effort to keep pace and perhaps counterbalance the Barack Obama economic proposal. There’s one thing that struck me as odd, in this era of evaporating jobs and oncoming Depression. The McCain proposal hints at calls for using $300 billion of the $700 billion financial bailout package to keep Americans in their homes, stop declining housing values, and stabilize the financial markets.

Indeed the decline in real estate has devastated the financial markets and they’ve already gotten their bailouts in order to keep the credit markets primed with cash to avoid another freeze-up.

But in an era as we’ve been in the past ten years where, as Ross Perot so bluntly called it, “the great sucking sound” of disappearing jobs has gone from background din to deafening alarm. And McCain has no plan to change that any time soon.

Devaluation of real estate is inevitable. This is a hard pill that America is going to be force-fed, but is nevertheless necessary if we wish to survive in the “flat earth” economy. It’s not the only thing that must devalue in price and cost, but it’s one of the most critical.

As we’ve noticed rather clearly, especially during the George W. Bush era where added tax incentives accelerated the pace, business is in love with cheap labor – the cheaper, the better. It initially started with manufacturing and labor-oriented jobs, but has expanded to accounting, computer programming and even financial and service-industry jobs. Everyone wants a bargain, and no one loves it more than business executives and Wall Street investors. Cheaper costs mean more profit.

One of the primary reasons jobs fly overseas is due to this new awareness of a plethora of cheap labor. Even if it doesn’t produce as Americans would, or end up as good quality as what we may do domestically, the cost differential more than makes up for it. It’s also helped keep what jobs below the executive level that are left in the U.S. more bargain-priced than ever – even in the face of rampant cost-increases in everything.

Yet even with our fixed incomes for most of America, the bottom line is still more attractive by going cheaper and going overseas. We in America cannot compete with that due to our overly high cost of living. While a $9 an hour job in India, Indonesia or China may provide a very attractive standard of living and draw an incented workforce, in America it guarantees the individual will be part of a burgeoning working underclass with shrinking living standards and increased difficulties competing with other countries in this flat-earth economic paradigm.

Housing prices, as with food or utilities are one of those indispensable mandatory costs for the global workforce, no matter which country you live in. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine that American real estate is vastly higher than the very countries we now must duel with over diminishing work.

One exacerbating problem during this time of disappearing jobs was that many Americans turned to individual investing – flipping real estate – in the midst of Bush’s “Economic Recovery.” They made a handsome profit, providing cushion for the economic and employment uncertainty for a time. But like all pyramid schemes, it reached its saturation point. In the wake of this, we’ve experienced for some time a pricing over-escalation and a painful correction on real estate based on typical American standards and prices.

But once this reaches what were the pricing norms ten or fifteen years ago, the question begs: will there be jobs sufficient and plentiful enough to renew a housing boom? The answer to that will be no.

Until we in America reach cost levels similar to those of China, India or other third-world countries we are now mandated to compete with for jobs, America will face three choices. Either accept job insecurity (which will go where the wages and wage-earner costs are cheapest), acquiesce to a constant stagflated period where wages will be sub-par to bring us to what we’ve been accustomed to over the past decades, or give up on the globalizing workforce and retain jobs in America with the attendant cost increases. Corporations giving up profit are as likely as crack-heads giving up crack. We will have to look to one of the first two options.

Either American living standards must continue eroding at a shocking pace, or the costs of these living standards must come down accordingly in order to give American workers a chance to compete for jobs.

As things stand, McCain wants to artificially continue propping up real estate prices. This guarantees American jobs with livable American-level wages will never be able to compete with flat-earth, globalized workforces. For American wages to remain the same or deflate, and for jobs to stop evaporating before our eyes, costs must come down. And not just for housing prices, but for all essentials.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

McCain & Palin Open Pandora’s Box

All week long we’ve been watching clips of Sarah Palin and John McCain rallies across the country and the raw sentiments from their red-meat crowds. The McCain camp admitted last weekend that the economy was killing their support, so they were going to shift focus and were taking this campaign to personal extremes against Barack Obama. It’s been ugly.

Palin (whose nickname ought to be Dick, as in Cheney) especially personifies this element, being the dyed-in-the-wool religiopolitical neo-con. She spares no moment to take the most partisan and most personal shots and deftly massages her devotees into a self-righteously indignant frenzy. They’re angry at the “socialist turn of the country” and blaming Obama (even though it’s neo-con President George W. Bush’s mess, and both Obama AND their candidate McCain voted for and supported the Wall Street Welfare State Act).

Despite the reality, a sizable amount of this FOX-indoctrinated, Limbaugh & Coulter-fed crowd are openly self-assured that Obama is Muslim, has terrorist tendencies and hates America. Lately we’ve get news clips of their recently-stirred, angry throng, yelling “terrorist,” “treason,” “kill him!” and “off with his head!” – even some racial epithets tossed blithely, whether anti-black or anti-Arab.

“They distort my pro- life positions and smear the reputations of my supporters. Why? Because I don't pander to them, because I don't ascribe to their failed philosophy that money is our message.” — Sen. John McCain, presidential candidate in 2000

With reports making the news, and not favorably for the McCain camp, the Senator apparently sensed things were getting out of hand and tried to reel it in at a McCain rally in Minneapolis. When he responded to one angry Town Hall questioner that he “admired” Sen. Obama’s accomplishments and said even if his opponent won, the country would be in good hands, Sen. John McCain was roundly booed at his own rally! No matter how much he tried to restrain them, his supporters would have none of it!

So now, the dilemma. John McCain has opened Pandora’s box in order to release his red-meat base to involve themselves and bring home the victory as they have in the previous two Bush presidential elections. Now out of the box, the red-meat folks won’t go back. Does McCain now risk alienating the one actively supportive wing of his base?

He’s losing some of his business wing with all the talk about “greedy CEO’s” and “maverick” talk about taking on Big Oil. He’s disenchanting his budget-hawk wing with his vote for the bailout and recently his announcement for government to buy back troubled home mortgages. Will McCain be willing to risk the one remaining base he’s able to stir?

After the last debate and the recent polling numbers, the McCain campaign came out openly stating they wanted to avoid the economy (today’s pressing issue), focus on Obama’s character and make the campaign about him. They wanted the Rovian echo chamber, and to give their base that voice and that forum to scream about their feelings. They’ve got what they wished.

The McCain/Palin crowds are quite exuberant about their anti-Obama, anti-Democrat invective, and feel they’re rightful in their rage of being disadvantaged conservatives! The candidates themselves have been fueling this bonfire of the vanity, particularly Sarah Palin. She’s exactly what McCain and the campaign operatives bargained for: the quintessential Dick Cheney-styled barking dog as foil to the above-the-fray would-be president. Even better, she’s wired in directly to evangelicals and is able to tap into the rage in the red-meat crowd. Unlike McCain himself (who many red-meat types are ambivalent about), Palin inspires this “off with the head,” red-meat element.

It’s this newly-created energy that is suddenly developing a life of its own. The crowds hang on every word of both McCain and Palin. Every utterance of “terrorist” draws cheers, and any mention of the name of either media, or any Democrats (specifically Obama) draw boos, and as McCain found out, any attempt to pull back and paint his opponent as human also draws boos! If these crowds begin hearing things out of McCain that they don’t want to hear, will they begin drowning him out with chants of “USA! USA! USA!”?

These red-meat, base crowds have rediscovered their voice, want to keep it and could end up turning on McCain on election day if he risks trying to close Pandora’s box now. In Republican America’s base, there is only victory, never admit defeat and never stop blasting your opponent. Weakness, admitting fallibility or compromise will never be forgotten or forgiven in red America.

So McCain suddenly finds himself in pause, one hand full of mud ready to sling, and on the other hand memory of his own words about running an honorable campaign and decrying personal-attack politics. The latter choice may be honorable, but it would likely cost him and his party their election.

Where now, Candidate McCain …?

“Political intolerance by any political party is neither a Judeo-Christian nor an American value. The political tactics of division and slander are not our values. They are corrupting influences on religion and politics, and those who practice them in the name of religion or in the name of the Republican Party or in the name of America shame our faith, our party and our country.” — Sen. John McCain, presidential candidate in 2000

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Political Mean Season Pushes The Envelope

[At his 51st birthday party at Keating's in the Bahamas sits John McCain (with the bread-loaves hat) and Charles Keating swigging beer.]

"But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
"Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds." — Paul, Colossians 3:8-9, The Bible, King James version

"Bleeding soul becomes a bitter mind.
He said it happens every time." — Clean My Wounds, Corrosion Of Conformity

“Say it ain’t so Joe, there ya go again, pointin’ fingers and lookin’ backwards … we need a campaign that looks forward,” said Sarah Palin channeling her best Ronald Reagan invocation to Joe Biden in the Veep debates just a week ago. It was a good strategy concocted by the campaign handlers: “forget what’s just passed, let’s look forward.”

Well apparently when looking forward doesn’t help, the John McCain Campaign – and even “lookin’ forward” Palin herself – can’t avoid looking backward to trash Barack Obama’s character.

This week has seen Palin “runnin’ around,” trying to pull up associations from Obama’s past – whether Bill Ayers from the 60’s anti-war era Weather Underground, to Rev. Jeremiah Wright (famous for his post 9/11 sermons blasting the U.S. for its sponsorship of nations who practice terror).

The McCain campaign surrogates are also bringing up the “Muslim card” again (regardless of it being a canard) and stirring their know-nothing base indoctrinated on FOX, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh into a mouth-frothing frenzy. Beyond just calling him Barack Hussein Obama openly, they’re even planting some of their campaign surrogates in the crowd to yell out “terrorist,” “treason,” and “kill him” at timely intervals after a Palin speech soundbite. They’re well aware that the cameras will be rolling, and the coded message will get out to the rest of the crowd (“it’s okay to stand up and speak your mind”) and to the folks watching at home on FOX nightly newscasts (“bring your epithets and vitriol to the next rally near you.”) What’s especially of concern is how this code-wording is touching the minds of the Timothy McVeigh element of conservatives – those who won’t cede power and will use any means necessary to insist on retaining it. Or else!

For now it’s all about trolling down ugly memory lane for Palin and the McCain camp. It’s all they’ve got left in their arsenal at this point.

Meanwhile the drugs must have addled Cindy McCain’s brain. In an interview with the Tennesseean, the “trollop” (as McCain once endearingly poked fun of her at an event years ago) and wannabe first-lady said the Obama campaign had run the “dirtiest campaign in American history”! Talk about audacity!

Somehow or another, Ms. McCain feels this race has been more hurtful than the 2000 presidential primary race, where George W. Bush's campaign called their adopted Bangladeshi daughter “John McCain’s love child from an interracial affair.” Bush & Rove operatives also did push-polling, indicating that McCain gave a statement while at the Hanoi Hilton “apologizing” for the U.S. aggression in Vietnam a la Jane Fonda. They also brought out one of John McCain’s fellow servicemen who pointed out McCain had ditched fellow POW’s and MIA’s by opposing any search for service members who were still not accounted for nor returned to the U.S. Apparently all these things have slipped Ms. McCain’s memory.

Yes, drugs will do that sometimes, and we’re aware of Cindy’s addiction history (thanks to a Republican who blew the whistle on her when she used his name on some of her counterfeit prescriptions).

So far, the Obama campaign has avoided all of those subjects above, brought forth not by Democrats, but by Republicans. Apparently those subjects are fair game to Cindy McCain and Karl Rove and that ilk; relevant subjects which they feel are the pressing issue of the day for American voters.

Meanwhile, America’s economic meltdown rages, thanks to our crisis of Wall Street Bank failures. So in response to the negative, looking-back-into-past-relationships campaign strategy of McCain, Obama has engaged in a little tit-for-tat, pointing out one of John McCain’s friendships.

Charles Keating was the chief of Lincoln Savings & Loan during the Oil Bust, Savings & Loan meltdown that caused our first devastating home foreclosure wipe-out in the late 80’s. Charles Keating was also a close friend to John McCain, and was blessed with the senator’s assistance in 1987 in holding off regulators investigating their shady practices. While McCain ran interference, the bank tanked to the tune of $2 billion in 1989, while the bank’s bondholders and their elderly investors lost their entire investments.

For his support to his good friend, John McCain raked in $112,000 in campaign contributions, not to mention trips on Keating’s private jets. Even Cindy McCain and her father Jim Hensley had invested over $350,000 in one of Keating’s retail projects, so it was more than just a casual acquaintance. John Keating himself became the poster child of mismanagement of the Savings & Loans crisis cum Resolution Trust Corporation fire sale in the early 90's.

John McCain doesn't get it. The nation’s number one concern right now is our financial future, and Obama's former friends are only a passing concern at best to those watching their retirements disappear.

As America is reeling due to “Economic Recovery,” plunging global stock markets, bank failures and FDIC solvency concerns, the only one of these “looking-backwards” guilt-by-association, question-the-judgment games that is even relevant at this disastrous moment is the one about the cozy friendship with a sleazy banker.

Guess who has that history? Not Obama! It’s the “other” one!

“When life is too easy for us, we must beware or we may not be ready to meet the blows which sooner or later come to everyone, rich or poor.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Presidential Debate II: The Tipping Point

"Girls were girls and men were men.
Mister we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again.
Didn't need no welfare states.
Everybody pulled his weight.
Gee, our old LaSalle ran great.
Those were the days!" — Those Were The Days (Theme From All In The Family), Carroll O'Connor & Jean Stapleton

"It takes skill to be real, time to heal each other
And although it seems heaven sent
We ain't ready, to see a black President...." — Changes, Tupac Shakur

Unless I’m mistaken or if something really catastrophic occurs between now and election day, I believe we may have just seen the tipping point with last night’s debate. At one point, I felt like I was watching a caricature performance between Don Rickles’ Mr. Warmth and Lionel Jefferson of All In The Family.

Even though this was the so-desired “town hall” format that John McCain had been begging for throughout this campaign, this was not McCain’s night and really undistinguishable from his last debate performance. His body language was robotic and forced unless he was sitting on the stool, at which point he had an unusual, almost-feminine posture (which was a little unnerving). Most of the latter part of the evening he didn't sit much, seeming uncomfortable or maybe nervous.

Contrast this to Barack Obama's posture which was more relaxed but attentive, legs akimbo, almost resembling one of the early-60's Kingston Trio sitting on the stool (I don't know why I got that visual). He was his usual unflappable self, and it became clear that even though this was McCain’s element, Obama was beating him on his home court.
For his part, McCain stalked around the forum floor in a stiff awkward fashion, tossing out barely-veiled insults in wisecrack fashion, replete with feintly audible septuagenarian grunts and breathing. His movements, his speech and even his appearance resembled Don Rickles walking the stage in his HBO special Mr. Warmth. It’s the type of thing you expect when you plop down $25 for a ticket to sit and watch epithet-laden comedy with a top-notch comic. McCain’s humor (if that’s what it was) just didn’t come close to matching Rickles’ timing, much less his joke material.

McCain was the only one chuckling at his too-subtle witticisms. It was the caustic tongue of Rickles without the humor, rather hard to watch.

Obama meanwhile was on point throughout most of the debate, with a few lapses into generalities. As for substance, it was a hands-down win for Obama. He was thoughtful and specific on responses and plans to address the issues brought up in question. He sat smiling through the entire evening, listening (or at least appearing to listen) intently a la Lionel Jefferson to McCain playing Rickles portraying the Archie Bunker role. Unlike the last debate though, this version of “Lionel” Obama had more of an edge and sparred with “Archie” McCain. In the end though, he was still abundantly patient and polite, complete with the headshakes and incredulous smiles with a few smirks as well.

McCain had very little in specifics, sticking mostly to his campaign talking points. While his town hall format didn’t fit his desire to come out swinging on character issues by association, he still took every instance he could to take swipes at Obama’s judgment and inexperience. McCain’s performance even seemed a bit contrived. If anything, for the man who accused Obama of not knowing the difference between tactics and strategy, McCain didn’t appear to have much thought given to strategy.

At one point, when moderator Tom Brokaw asked McCain if he was in favor of Manhattan Project styled approach to new energy technology, McCain gave a one sentence response to it and then launched into defense on Obama’s charges that McCain didn’t support legislation for new technology development. To prove it, he pointed out a billion-dollar bill for Big Oil urged by Bush and Cheney that McCain himself voted against (way to play to your base, Mac!) but for which “That one” – pointing to Obama – voted in favor.

Media and viewers seized upon “That one” across the country – a very objectifying move on McCain’s part. It was a too-sublime attempt at humor that came off very dismissive instead.

The tipping point came nearer the end of the debate when the issue turned to foreign relations, specifically Pakistan. Again McCain ridiculed Obama’s mention of crossing into Pakistan if actionable intelligence had pinpointed Bin Laden, and compared his plan to Teddy Roosevelt’s “walk softly [sic] … but carry a big stick.”

Obama pushed for opportunity to respond to McCain and again explained his position on going into Afghanistan, then added, “Sen. McCain suggests that somehow, you know, I'm green behind the ears and, you know, I'm just spouting off, and he's somber and responsible,” to which a smug McCain smiled broadly and replied “thank you very much!”

Then Obama made a masterful play, noting of McCain: “this is the guy who sang, "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran," who called for the annihilation of North Korea. That, I don't think is an example of "speaking softly." This is the person who, after we had – we hadn't even finished Afghanistan, where he said, "Next up, Baghdad."

McCain’s smile fell off immediately, and he glared straight ahead. He walked right into that trap and got shot with his own weaponry. Check and mate! McCain’s attempt to address Obama ended up in a stuttering, diffuse attempt at explaining himself and explaining away his gaffe – “I was joking with a veteran” – and ended up with an almost pleading repetitions of “I’ll act responsibly” and “I’ll get Bin Laden”.

In a sense it was sad to see what he’s devolved into. Yet after all of his initial promises of “running a respectable campaign” and then later rescinding it since “Obama wouldn’t meet as he promised in a town hall format,” now that Obama was meeting with him in a town hall format it was the same old ugly, combative McCain – no change. And he wasn't even an effective combatant. Obama deuced him on his own game, and McCain was helpless.

Worse still, even with the economy plummeting like a boulder over Yosemite Falls, John McCain once again failed to mention the middle class, the working class or the poor even once. He's now just playing to save his base and his base isn't big enough to get him into the White House.

We’ve now come to the point where it’s truly Obama’s game to lose. Seeing how he’s played to date, he won’t! Now we need to ensure he has all the down-ballot support in Congress that he's going to need instead of the obstructionist Republicans!

"High time we made a stand and shook up the views of the common man,
And the lovetrain rides from coast to coast.
D.J's the man we love the most.
Could you be, could you be squeaky clean
And smash any hope of democracy?
As the headline says you're free to choose
Theres egg on your face and mud on your shoes." — Sowing The Seeds Of Love, Tears For Fears

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Biden Doesn't Keynote HRC Gala, Protests Went On

“A dip in the pool,
A trip to the spa
Endless days in my chaise
The whole world according to moi ….
I want fabulous,
That is my simple request,
All things fabulous,
Bigger and better and best,
I need something inspiring to help me get along,
I need a little fabulous is that so wrong?” — Fabulous from High School Musical 2

Sometimes you don't get it right, and that happened to me the other day. Joe Biden was the planned speaker for Saturday night's grand gala for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Biden attending the national gay event was, for many of the transgender Barack Obama supporters throughout this campaign while HRC was lavishing Hillary Clinton with their funds and support, one of those upsetting "gotcha" moments that folks at HRC thrive on -- anything to drive at least some of the enemy trannies into an obsessive rage.

Unfortunately for Joe Biden, his mother-in-law passed away after complications from a long illness and he had to cancel the event. My apologies and condolences go out to the Biden and Jacobs families for their loss.

But as Ed Sullivan would say, "the real big shew" went on nevertheless, without their biggest star draw -- or rather, politico draw as it was in DC, Hollywood for the corporate power set. Doubtlessly they were disappointed. All I can say is ... Karma! Couldn't happen to a more worthy bunch of folks!

I'm sure there were a few tears in their Christal that evening. You know, since HRC's good friends with Log Cabin Republicans and the Log Cabin Republicans have endorsed and have visited with John McCain, and there's a plethora of high-dollar heavy-hitters at their galas who are affirmed Republicans, and since John McCain is known to take the weekends off rather than campaign and since he supports equal rights for gays and lesbians and same-sex couples, just not marriage (as Sarah Palin noted in her VP debate last week), I'm wondering why JoeSo didn't have some strings pulled to bring John McCain in to speak? Maybe he could've come up with some good jokes about foxholes or something.

In fairness, it wasn't just a bunch of folks sitting around looking at each other in tuxes and gowns. They still drew in Jennifer Hudson to sing to the crowd, and Suze Orman the ever-so-out financial guru was there. Considering the recent bloodbath in the stock market, I'm thinking she was likely a much more apropos guest to have. ("What's happening to the market?!? Where do I move my portfolio -- sob!?! I can't be a poor slob like those protesting trannies out there!!! Waah!!!)

Speaking of protesting trannies, it turns out there was a crew outside after all! The in-town NCTE folks weren't there. Board member Dana Beyer was inside the banquet as she was a Table Captain -- aye, aye! And Executive Director, Mara Keisling was in Atlanta for Southern Comfort Conference.

However Bash Back! (including a number of the folks that we had join us last year) were out on the street, getting the truth out there and making us all proud! They even continued the Equali_y and "Not Equal" theme on the signage as well!

Per the report from BashBack!:

On Saturday, Oct 4, the so-called Human Rights Campaign(HRC), a wealthy and mostly white Gay group, held their annual $250 a plate dinner. Since HRC is doing NOTHING for Transgender folks and other less-wealthy members of the GLBT community, Bash Back! held a protest outside their dinner.

That $250 a plate could feed a HELL of a lot of transgender street kids for the cost of just ONE of HRC's high priced dinners.

This is at least the second year in a row the HRC's convention has been met with protest by trans advocates.

HRC may at some point end up winning their special rights for themselves and try to feign this concept of "equality". But the spirit of the trans community won't die, and folks like BashBack! will always be there to pick up the torch and continue.

Until the day there's egalité, viva l' resistance!

"And blessed be the children who
fight with all our bravery
'til only the righteous stand....
You fight in all our names
For what we know is right.
And when you all get shot
And cannot carry on,
Though you die, La Resistance lives on." La Resistance Medley from South Park, The Movie

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Biden Keynotes HRC’s DC Gala. But Where’s The Protest?

“I detect the El Supremo
From the room at the top of the stairs
Well I’ve been around the world
And I’ve been in the washington zoo
And in all my travels as the facts unravel
I’ve found this to be true
While the poor people sleepin’
With the shade on the light
While the poor people sleepin’
All the stars come out at night.” — Show Biz Kids, Steely Dan

Glitz, glamour and all the glorious accoutrements will greet Sen. Joe Biden tonight the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) National Gala. It’s one of their top money draws per year, their ostentatious display to Washington and political America beyond it. And they’ll no doubt put on the good face, playing up their strong points and hard-pushing for gay and lesbian rights. They’ll even have a tranny or two in attendance, including their throwdown “transgender leader” to mouth the words that everything’s fine, all is okay, we have no urgent need for transgender rights at the moment, we’ll wait.”

My advice to Joe Biden: as you would do with John McCain’s rhetoric on policies, look behind the façade!

They can give slogans about equality and believing in equal treatment, but leaving people out of equal rights bills, that’s not equal rights! You don’t see transgenders as leaders or even employees in their own organizations, that’s not equal rights! You don’t see all voices being heard and all issues taken seriously, that’s not equal rights! Come on!

Meanwhile, it’s been very silent on the DC Gala. Too silent. If there is a protest this year, it’s very much beneath the radar – but I get the impression there is no transgender presence getting the truth out there. If so, this will be very tragic for the transgender community! It’s message is: HRC wins, transgenders give up … and basically HRC will continue disenfranchising our community with impunity.

One year ago, of course, was the very same gala – very hotly protested by the transgender community. It was the first gala that followed the removal of the trans-inclusive Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA). It was NTAC’s very first sponsoring of an HRC protest, and drew folks from around the country and media as well. Even Mara Keisling got into the act corralling media and picking up a few donations as well. Two board members of NCTE were out protesting with us, but another NCTE board member (also a board of governors member of HRC) attended.

Since then the protests have continued and grown, drawing much-needed and beneficial attention to HRC’s prejudice. Without a doubt, it’s had a good effect for the community – even for Mara Keisling (their previous “throwdown” tranny) who’s traveled around the nation doing the “I hate HRC’ tour and raising more funds.

It makes me wonder if they are throwing in the towel. It’s counterintuitive to keep a high profile protest silent. And it’s not like there’s a lack of potential organizers as there are a number of capable folks in the DC area, including Keisling, NCTE board member Donna Cartwright in Baltimore, and NCTE board member Dana Beyer (who will likely be attending the banquet rather than protesting as she is still on HRC’s Board of Governors).

In fact, this reminds me. There was allegedly a meeting Beyer had also mentioned back in July about a tentatively scheduled meeting with transgender leaders and HRC.

If that’s going on, it’s the best-kept secret in the country. More likely, HRC backed out of the deal. Unless you’re an apologist or a good lap-dog, there is no desire by HRC to meet, much less know about our issues first-hand anyway.

Over the years HRC developed a thick insularity: hire or promote as leaders financially stable trans people who’ve never had to live through the job losses or hate crimes first-hand. They then go to the trans community in general as a liaison for the gay community to hear the stories, find out the issues (as they’ve been mostly removed from the common day-to-day trans existence and the difficulties thereof), then report back. They function as go-betweens.

HRC will state it’s due to the lack of communication skills or ability to articulate our issues. That’s garbage. It’s all about insulating them, and preventing them from being made to face up to what they’ve done. They managed to communicate this to the African-American community after the Civil Rights Law. But they don’t want, and in fact refuse, to see that they’ve done the same – and worse – to transgenders that was done to Bayard Rustin and their own. They’re in DC this weekend, but they’re really in a state … of denial.

“Show business kids makin’ movies of themselves
You know they don’t give a fuck about anybody else.” — Show Biz Kids, Steely Dan

Did Bush Threaten Congress With Martial Law?

It was mystifying to see how the House, after voting and defeating the previous non-pork laden Economic Rescue bill (or Wall Street Welfare State bill), managed to vote through the bill on Friday. Unsurprisingly, an overeager President Bush signed the bill into law less than two hours later (record time!)

I just could not fathom how this occurred until I saw this, from Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) in his speech on the House Floor urging prudence and issuing warning about this bailout:

Indeed, I'd noticed something a couple weeks back and issued a blog on it coinciding with the October 1 deployment of the Army for potential "crowd control" and other sundry reasons here in America

based upon an article culled from the online September edition of Army Times.

Considering the Army brigade noted in the article had been training during the month of September in preparation for this October 1 deployment, it begs some questions:

How long before this recent "crisis" on Wall Street did the White House know of the impending Wall Street crash of major institutions?

How were they able to keep this off the radar screen and keep these failing institutions together until they could put the plans in place (both military and the bailout plan)?

Did the Bush Administration use this domestic deployment as a method to ramrod this draining of the Taxpayers' collective fund for Wall Street through Congress?

This is highly unprecedented: using the threat of suspending the Constitution and going to Martial Law in order to hijack Congress or the will of the people. This borders on a coup d'etat by our own head of state.

I fear we've just witnessed a sublime, yet watershed metamorphosis of American democracy as we've known it.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Bush And Wall Street Win, America Loses

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ["I just screwed ya! Can ya feel it?"]

“He’s not a leader, he’s a Texas leaguer.
Swinging for the fences, got lucky with a strike.
Drilling for fear makes the job simple.
Born on third, thinks he got a triple.
Blackout weaves its way through the cities….” — Bushleaguer, Pearl Jam

Today, October 3, 2008, was a huge victory for George W. Bush. It was a smashing success for Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. It was a piece d’ resistance for Wall Street tycoons and high-rolling investors around the nation. Tonight the Champagne corks will pop, Republicans will breathe a sigh of relief and let their hair down and Corporate America will continue it’s search for ever higher plateaus of profit and financial security for all the top execs.

Yes, today the House of Representatives passed the WSWS – the Wall Street Welfare State Bill (or the Emergency Economic Rescue bill, whatever they want to call it.) It’s happy days in Fat City!

Meanwhile, it was an utterly stunning defeat for middle-class, working-class and impoverished America. Now we will all – including those of us who’ve paid dearly for the excesses of Wall Street over the decade – pay for the “deciders’” greedy over-extensions.

As the Senate gave a 74-25 vote to the newly revamped bill, fresh with $105 billion in extra pork on top, intended to “sweeten the deal” to entice previously skeptical House Republicans’ votes, the House today followed suit with a 263-171 vote.

"The broad authorities in this legislation, when combined with existing regulatory authorities and resources, gives us the ability to protect and recapitalize our financial system as we work through the stresses in our credit markets," said Treasury’s Henry Paulson. Note the phrase “broad authorities” … this will come back to haunt us all.

“New York and L.A.
City halls are falling down.
There’s no escape
When a class war comes to town.” — Class War, D.O.A.

"Wall Street is so hungry for the $700 billion they can taste it. To get it they need to ... create panic, block alternatives and herd the cattle. We ask Congress not to rush. Defeating this bill today isn't the last step. It's the first step in passing a good bill," said Rep. Brad Sherman, (D-CA) in an attempt to slow the process down and exercise prudence before enacting a quick-fix.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, who has called for the FDIC and SEC to use their powers to ease the credit crisis, said soon before the vote, "Pray for our Republic. She's being placed in ... very greedy hands."

A clearly elated President Bush immediately signed the bill upon passage. My one burning concern is this: what did he change on it with his “signature statement.”

Just four days ago, upon signing the Emergency Spending Bill, Bush made clear he still wields his “unitary executive powers” vis a vis his signature statements. Per the article, Bush said he reserved the right to “interpret and construe” the bill as he saw fit. You can bet whatever provisions made by Congress to limit powers by the Treasury Secretary of Bush himself will be vastly different after his signature statement. It’s astonishing that Congress hasn’t picked up on this habit of his yet. Congress just gave Bush the bank.

At one point today, the Dow-Jones was up over 200 points. Now that the WSWS Bill is law, and Wall Street now going into government hands, the Dow was up a meager 23 point as of 2:30PM (shortly after signing), and finished down 157 points! (Congress, you just got punked!)

In other good news today, new unemployment claims shot up to 159,000 – the highest in more than five years. Great news for all of us looking forward to that vacation – albeit an unpaid, open-ended one. Hey, at least Bush reopened up the credit markets for you!

After eight years of Bush-baby tax-cutting policy, over ¾ million jobs have disappeared in this year alone, and all jobs are more tenuous than ever in this “fundamentally strong” economy. Of course, Sarah Palin last night reminded everyone that we need more tax cuts to help create jobs. Just like it has this past eight years, eh?

And the last bit of news comes from Akron, Ohio, where 90-year old Addie Polk shot herself twice in the upper body as sheriff’s deputies were evicting her from her home that was being foreclosed. As Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) reminded after the House vote, “This bill does nothing for the Addie Polks of the world.

“This bill will take care of Wall Street, and the market may go up for a few days, but democracy is going downhill.”


“The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied...but written off as trash.” — John Berger

“Things do not change, we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts.” — Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

American Military’s Next Deployment: America!!!

So you thought it was crazy enough that we’ve had runs on the bank induced by Wall Street institutions financially built on a house of cards? You think it’s beyond belief the our illustrious president was brazen enough to ask Congress for a $700 billion check, payable by the taxpayers for this financial fiasco he’s allowed to run rampant after all these years of lies about the economy being “fundamentally strong”? You reckon this insanity will end when the people have their say, only to realize Bush is going to yet again strong-arm Congress-critters of both parties into force feeding this to us with a front-loader?

It’s enough to cause a citizen’s revolt – and a lot of people are emotionally there, now!

Well, here’s a little comforting thought for all you Wall Streeters (provided you weren’t already informed of this well before hand). U.S. Army troops will be on guard, here in America, to help patrol our cities! True.

Our Armed Forces will be deployed right here in the good old U.S.A.! Coincidental, eh?

“Now the first thing I noticed when we hit the street was the seventh fleet
They was cruisin' through the center of town. (Quite peculiar.)
No one seemed real clear 'bout who’d sent them there
But they sure looked grand with the band, the balloons and the clowns. (I love a parade.)
And the played "Anchors Aweigh" for the rest of the day
'cept the times that they'd lower their guns and shoot some renegade down.” — The Ballad Of The Night The Clocks All Quit (And The Government Failed), Tonio K.

Beginning October 1, 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team “will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command (NorthCom), as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.” There was a nice, breezy article on it in the September edition of Army Times:

For the next sixteen months or so, they “may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack.” They’ve been training for this new “domestic deployment” for the past month in Fort Stewart, GA, and will even be coordinating with other branches of the Armed Services, including National Guard.

Indeed our soldiers will be utilizing “the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded,” 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier was quoted in the article. This refers to “crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them” according to the article.

“I don’t know what America’s overall plan is – I just know that 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there are soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that are standing by to come and help if they’re called,” Col. Cloutier said. “It makes me feel good as an American to know that my country has dedicated a force to come in and help the people at home.”

If you can’t remember when we last deployed a brigade here in the U.S., don’t feel bad. I can’t remember it either. There’s a good reason, too.

The article notes that the deployment “marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities.” Thanks, Patriot Act!

"Yes it was lookin' real bad, any luck that we'd had
Had been lost in the park after dark when the army arrived.
They was sweeping the town chasing renegades down
There were no friends to be found, there was no place at all left to hide.
And the Austrian son he was having some fun
He'd been put in command of all the camps and his prisoners all died.” — The Ballad Of The Night The Clocks All Quit (And The Government Failed), Tonio K.

It also defies the Constitution. Per Section 1385 of the Posse Comitatus Act:

“Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.” Basically, the Army is not supposed to be utilized for national policing actions: the National Guard is. Keep in mind though, individual governors are the responsible parties who make the decision to use National Guard troops – not “the Decider.” They’re also deployed intrastate, as a rule, so Louisiana’s governor’s National Guard don’t just patrol the entire Gulf Coast on police actions in Florida, for instance.

Now there is one instance where the President can deploy troop, per the Insurrection Act of 1807. But for this to occur, there must be existing conditions in a state or region where “any part or class of a people is deprived of its right, privilege, immunity or protection” per the Constitution and where the states “are unable, fail, or refuse to protect them.” Basically this means the states have to be overrun to the point where the police at local and state levels are overwhelmed to the point where the governor must call the National Guard out, which then also becomes overwhelmed. If it gets to that point, and there is an insurrection involved (again which neither the local law enforcement or National Guard can deal with), only then can the President order the Armed Forces in.

Republicans did water down the Insurrection Act with a bill introduced by Sen. John Warner, and enacted in 2006. This was rescinded a year later as Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Kit Bond (R-MO) as they noted it made it easier for the President to simply declare Martial Law.

So, here we are, with America’s Armed Forces now on the new front: America. And just in time for … the Government’s nationalizing Wall Street and using our tax money to pay for it! I guess Bush-baby figured we weren’t gonna be very happy about the Wall Street Welfare State (WSWS) Bill. We gotta protect that “part or class of a people” that’s “deprived of its right or privilege,” ya know? Like the corporate, upper class ….

Or maybe there are other reasons Bush-baby brought them in. Maybe they sense what’s about to happen here! What could it be? More bank failures and runs on the banks even after the WSWS Bill? Stolen elections? Maybe ratcheting up the race-baiting thing they’ve been working on? Maybe even a terror attack on the country? (This is October, month of the “surprises” in RNC-land.)

What do they have in mind for us? Even Col. Cloutier, the brigade’s commander doesn’t know. All I know is it’s another one of those “number” days (10/9/08) next Thursday, and I know how these planners like their numbers. Just be careful and stay safe.

This may well be a very harrowing month. They’ve already planned on it.

"The terrorists never stop thinking of ways to harm our country. And neither do we." — President, George W. Bush

"Bright and early next morning without any warning
The sky opened up and the Boss stuck his head through the clouds.
The Army and Navy they opened up fire
But he grabbed him that lightning and laid them all under the ground.
Sam jumped up to salute; the Boss said "that's real cute,
But it's a little bit late 'cause I've seen what's been going down." — The Ballad Of The Night The Clocks All Quit (And The Government Failed), Tonio K.

Forcing Middle America To Pay The Wealthy’s Risky Losses

"I believe the economy's strong. As long as we leave hands in the bucket -- people -- money in people's hands." — President George W. Bush

Lately it seems the worm is turning. Bailout Bill folks are looking for ways to reword the explanation of the proposal to have the government take over Wall Street banks and buy their troubled (and in some cases, virtually worthless) paper with our tax money. Now that the Stock Market dropped 777 points in one day (a new one-day point drop record for George W. Bush!), it seems many of those officially opposed to this plan are losing their resolve.

As I write this Wednesday afternoon, the Senate is sweetening the deal to entice Republicans to vote for the bill. Tax incentives (gee, who’d have guessed?!) If we’re gonna go broke, we might as well go broker than broke, huh?

And the media seems to think like the Congress now: that we “must” do something lest we all fall between the ever-widening cracks in the economy. They’re also reporting how more of us “everyday Americans” are now getting on board, fearing the worst. Way to be in the tank for Bush, media! It’s funny you’ve never paid attention when the cracks were smaller and taking swaths of the “little people” in America. For most of us, the worst is inevitable, and fears have evolved into grim reality.

We’re not in the mood to be told what we feel by either the insulated media or especially the extremely insular Bush Administration.

“Don't be told what you want
Don't be told what you need
There's no future, no future,
No future for you.” — God Save The Queen, the Sex Pistols

So now it appears the fix is in: everyone seems to be aligning to get behind Bush’s Big Bailout for Big Banks. They’re going to push this through, we’re going to give in, and the GOP and Corporate America are going to get what they wanted in the first place!

Over the years, Corporate America and their best friends in Congress and the White House, the GOP, have pushed through their dream list of virtually all they’ve ever wanted. Here’s what they got:

Tax cuts to the tune of 5, 6 or 7-figures or more (both to the wealthy and to corporate America),
Reduction of all forms of federal, state or local assistance to individuals,
Government assistance to business to help them with innovation or to survive during tough times,
Deregulation of all forms in business,
Anti-trust weakening (oligopolies) that starves out small business,
Privatization and profiting from formerly state or federal duties,
Privatization and profit from former utilities,
Restricting Occupational Safety and Hazard standards,
Restricting workers’ rights,
Tax breaks to free-trade that allows shipping work overseas,
Allowing companies to locate headquarters offshore to avoid U.S. taxes,
Allowing corporations to collusively gouge the American consumer and reap record profits,
Focusing tax audits on individuals while turning a blind eye to non-payment of business taxes,
Severely weakening torts and judgments (disincentives),
Appointing judges who favor business over individuals or consumers,
Severely restricting bankruptcy for individuals,
Allowing predatory lending and then allowing foreclosures to proceed while individuals lose homes,
Fomenting a climate where few ever bother with recourse on legitimate claims against business,
Killing consumer confidence due to no recourse against who they do business with,
Killing whistle-blowers rights,
Allowing self-policing that did not,
Ignoring and encouraging cronyism and lobbyist influence to write and further weaken laws for individuals while giving more power to business,
Politicians who openly game the system and pull in heavy “soft incomes” through “favors” or other fashion,
Allowing industries to set the standards and write the legislation which gave them free reign by law,
Won tax breaks for Big Oil on profits reaped from federally owned land leased in the Gulf,
Just won “Drill-Baby-Drill” oil-drilling allowing Big Oil to plant a rig anywhere offshore,
Allowing corporations ability to do nearly anything inside or out of the law that isn’t blatantly (read publicly) provable in a court of law,
Adhering to the mantra that free market are the standard and shall never be compromised,
Knowing of serious problems in the free market economy and instead lying to the public to have it appear problems don’t exist,
Suddenly changing the rules to allow free markets not to fail and to have the government step in to save them,
Allowing CEO’s and top-tier executive to retain stratospheric incomes, pensions and severance packages.

Meanwhile, the individual in poverty, the working-class or in middle class America was on the losing end of all of the above. Here’s what we got:

A couple hundred dollars in tax cuts (if lucky),
Higher local taxes and fees to make up shortfalls from the Feds,
Jobs lost to cheaper labor overseas,
Domestic jobs being streamlined and shed (due to the tight American job market),
Remaining domestic jobs with only increase in production and expectations and stagnant wages,
New jobs that pay less than previous ones,
Corporations merging and retroactively ending pensions,
Paid health care on the road to extinction,
Spiraling prices for everything,
Stuck with paying for their greed and excess.

So how does that feel? And with this Bailout Bill, we’re expected to be the usually docile American public we’ve always been, and just lump it silently.

Congress will pass the bill, and President Bush-baby will sign it, and everyone’s happy. Right?

Just one reminder …. Signature statements.

Below is a news blip from CNN reporting on the Emergency Spending Bill signed by the old Bush-baby before the fiscal year ran out 9/30. Pay special attention to the next-to-last paragraph. Then tell me … do you really trust this President to do the right thing on this, and do you want him signing this bill? I emphatically do not!

WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Bush signed an emergency spending bill hours before the end of the federal budget year.

The stopgap measure includes both a $600 billion bill to continue goverment spending through March 6, 2009 and a $611 billion defense bill that provides $68 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Bush signed it Tuesday night.

The interim measure allows a 26-year ban on offshore oil drilling to expire, subsidizes federal loans for automakers and offers aid to Gulf Coast hurricane disaster victims.

The bill also authorizes a 3.9 percent across-the-board pay raise for military personnel.

Bush said he reserved the right to “interpret and construe” the bill as he saw fit.

The end to the ban on oil drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts is a major victory for Republicans, who have seized on drilling as a major election year issue. Speeches at the Republican National Convention in August were often interrupted with chants of “Drill, baby, drill.”

"There's no bread? Let them eat cake!
There's no end to what they'll take!
Flock the fruits of noble birth.
Wash the salt into the earth." — Bastille Day, Rush