Saturday, October 24, 2009

Emergency Powers Declared!

When a national emergency is declared, FEMA assumes, what is, in essence, dictatorial power across the country. FEMA itself is likely unconstitutional, but, for now, that can't be helped. As an astute poster at put it, "If you are an educated adult and have the ability to see through propaganda, this new "emergency" should frighten you, not H1N1 itself." Why, you may ask, should that be the case? Because part of FEMA's extraordinary powers include the ability to relocate large numbers of the citizenry, and to assume control over all private industries in the face of the declared emergency. In short, protections under The Constitution, which are precarious during normal times, become null and void during national emergencies.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Are You A Fan Of Karl's

Karl Denninger has done, and continues to do, very good forensic work exposing the profoundly corrupt practices engaged in by the purveyors of big banking and "high finance." He has helped uncover many of the more egregious crimes committed by all manner of actors operating both in and out of government, and along the way has caught many of them in a variety of prevarications and bad faith gestures. For his yeoman like efforts in this regard, we owe Mr. Denninger a sizable debt.

Unfortunately, despite all that he has exposed of the corruption in and around government as it relates to banking and finance, Mr. Denninger still operates within a world view that hews to the idea that our government as it is presently constituted is capable of acting as an efficacious servant of "We The People." Despite all the evidence that has surfaced to date that no reform is forthcoming of the sort that Mr. Denninger clamors for, and that many of us are passionate to see enacted, Mr. Denninger still appears to possess a seemingly bottomless reserve of belief and hope in the U.S. Government's potential to operate within the guidelines of The Constitution and on behalf of the general public.

For example, as of today, he appears heartened by apparent movement in Congress to confront illegal actions related to Angelo Mozillo's Countrywide Financial, almost certainly one of the more outstanding criminal enterprises of our time. American Revolution Today would like to suggest to Mr. Denninger that even now, in his present mood of hopefulness, he would do well to prepare for ultimate disappointment. We further advise that until the planks listed in the first post of this blog become centerpieces of government, the occasional meagre lurches towards "doing the right thing," will yield no substantial or lasting alteration in the present fundamentally corrupt functioning of government.

It's The Fundraising, Stupid.

President Obama has a full schedule over the next few days, and one of the reasons that it is as full as it is is that he is making visits to begging bashes on behalf of such fellow travelers as Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and Connecticut Senator and banking bagman extraordinaire, Christopher Dodd. This is our political system in a nutshell, regardless of party affiliation, an endless procession of what are euphemistically described as fundraisers.

Politicians would argue, self servingly, that they need to engage in these seemingly endless fundraisers because one needs lots of money to run a campaign. Of course one does, but the political class have, of their own volition, manufactured the endless night that constitutes political campaigns. They could just as easily cut election seasons in half or even by two thirds, (an initiative heartily endorsed here) but they choose not to. After all, given the incredible vapidity of the vast majority of political campaigns, where Republican and Democratic candidates fall all over one another trying distinguish their indistinguishable modes of governance, who needs more than six weeks to two months of a campaign. In short, there is far more fat and gristle than meat in the average campaign, and we should act accordingly.

Alas, the truth is that fundraisers are a gravy train for those who hold elected office, contacts are made, influence is peddled, and in the main, campaign finance laws are such that politicians stand to gain rather than lose as a result of the very system that they have put in place. So, the next time you read that a candidate will be mixing policy and politics, be sure that the mix is heavily weighted towards politics not policy.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Flue Vaccines Revisited!

I hope you find the videos illuminating.

We Are Of One Mind!

Charles Hugh Smith of the Of Two Minds blog, has made a vital point regarding the rapacity of local governments and what our response needs to be.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Barney Frank Again?

The week is book ended with more horrific tales of the vile legislator from Bedford, MA. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, if you are listening, if you are not utterly inured to the horrors being committed in your name by your duly if errantly elected politician, Congressman Frank, who is a blot on decency, a canker sore on the body politic, a foul, despicable whore for the worst elements of the big banking cabal for which he is entrusted to reign in, wake up and remove this ghastly charlatan immediately. It may already be too late for he has despoiled the landscape in ways that are hard, if not impossible to calculate. Regardless, in order to salvage some shred of self respect, it is imperative that those who are in a position to do so remove Congressman Frank from office at the first opportunity.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Barney Frank (and the rest of the U.S. Government) Must Go.

Not that we didn't already know this, but abundant and fresh evidence always seems to be available.

Barney Frank, where ever you are, you are, without a doubt, one of the most most wantonly arrogant, (and yet stupefyingly) wrong headed jackasses of your, or, I suspect, any time.

And now a word from Thomas Jefferson:

Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Business As Usual Is Very Bad Business.

Tonight's post will be short, since, I am, for the most part, simply in the act of directing you to the blog of someone who has written something worth reading. Once upon a time, during the not so halcyon days of the Clinton Administration, Robert Reich was the Secretary of Labor. Since then, he has worn several hats such as commentator, academic, and author. For our purposes, he is acting as a spot on critic of a sickening status quo operating in the halls of the Federal Government. There are times when a non activist government that eschews progressive reform is advised. This is not one of them, not by a damn sight. From health care, to finance, to foreign affairs, there is more broken in our national shop than one would find in the proverbial china shop after a visit from the proverbial bull. What Mr. Reich describes, a government that is either unwilling or unable to govern competently and in our interest, is exactly why we need a new American Revolution. So, without further adieu, here's Robert Reich.


So Much Happening in Washington and So Little To Show for It, So Far

The Senate Finance Committee is set to vote Tuesday on a healthcare bill that just got a seal of approval from the Congressional Budget Office and is very likely to garner the vote of Republican Senator Olympia Snowe -- a twofer that gives the bill preeminence over four other healthcare bills that have emerged from House and Senate committees over these long months. Unlike those bills, though, the Senate Finance bill won't it have a public insurance option to compete with private insurers. Nor does it allow Medicare to use its bargaining power to negotiate lower drug prices, or adequately subsidize millions of middle-class families who will be required to buy health insurance that will be hard for them to afford. In short, it's a great deal for private insurers and Big Pharma but not such a great deal for middle-class Americans.

Meanwhile, the House Banking Committee is quietly circulating a draft set of reforms of financial markets likely to become the basis for whatever legislation emerges to fix the Street. Barney Frank, who heads the Committee, is a thoughtful progressive. But the draft has gaping loopholes that will let most financial firms escape -- such as one that exempts corporations that deal in financial derivatives from any requirements for capital, business conduct, record-keeping, and reporting if they use derivatives for the purpose of "risk management," which is the very thing they all claim they're doing. Neither the draft bill, nor the Committee, nor anyone on the Hill having anything to do with financial regulation, is raising what I consider to be the two key reforms necessary for avoiding another financial meltdown -- resurrecting the Glass-Steagall Act that once separated commercial from investment banking, and applying antitrust laws to the remaining five biggest Wall Street banks so none is "too big to fail."

At the same time, environmental legislation is now slinking its way through Congress. The Waxman-Markey climate bill was passed by the House in June; John Kerry and Barbara Boxer have now released a Senate version. All four legislators claim to be progressives concerned about the environment, but the bills are, frankly, far short of what's needed. Waxman-Markey gives away 85 percent of pollution permits to the nation's biggest polluters, and the "cap" it proposes on overall carbon emissions would cut greenhouse gas emissions only by an estimated 2 to 4 percent by 2020 compared to the UN reference year of 1990. (If America was to play its appropriate role in a global climate deal, the reduction would be more like 40 percent, and the U.S. would also provide financing and technology so developing countries could reduce their emissions by a comparable amount.) The Kerry-Boxer bill has a stronger cap on emissions but it's still far short of what's necessary -- and it leaves out the hardest part, which is the actual cap-and-trade mechanism. Kerry and Boxer are leaving that to the Senate Finance Committee, of all places.

And what's happening on the job's front? Nothing except a blip of interest in tax credits to small businesses that create new jobs. That's not a bad move (I suggested it myself), but it's rather like bailing out the ocean with a teacup. If that's all there is, we're headed toward two years of double-digit unemployment. No one on the Hill or in the Administration is yet willing to say openly and clearly that the stimulus plan must be larger, and continued through 2010 and 2011.

My friends in the Administration and on the Hill repeatedly tell me "don't make the perfect the enemy of the better," or words to that effect. Politics is the art of the possible, blah blah blah. True. But in each of these areas -- healthcare, financial regulation, environment, and jobs -- the "better" is really not that much better. Forget perfect; anything that offered real reform would suffice for now. But in every case, what should be the centerpieces of reform are being left out.

Why? Congress is overwhelmed with corporate and Wall Street lobbyists (far too many of whom are former Democratic office holders). The White House is trying best it can to push and prod in the right direction but there's too much going on, too many arenas where private interests are framing the debate and stifling major reform, and too many friends of friends and relations of relations who are making tons of money working for the other side. The public doesn't know what's going on because the national media would rather report on the sexual escapades of famous people or social trends or high finance (a recent Pew study of economic reporting shows the vast majority of stories about the Great Recession have focused on Wall Street rather than Main Street). And progressives -- that is, progressive organizations in our nation's capital -- have been remarkably and consistently outgunned, outmaneuvered, or just plain ineffectual. This is largely due to the fact that they're sitting in Washington rather than organizing and mobilizing the rest of the country.

And I haven't even brought up Afghanistan.

Monday, October 5, 2009

American Radicals!

Occasionally, usually by accident, as a result of the seemingly endless and futile process of changing channels in search of something fresh, entertaining, and insightful, I happen to catch a few moments of some main stream media talk show whose purpose is to discuss "current events." My general impression of the caliber of thought on display in such shows is that, where the ideas are not trite and fatuous, they are idiotic. For example, last evening, for about two or three minutes, I suffered through the empty headed patter of a platinum blonde twenty something who offered that she didn't care for political radicals like....wait for it....Rush Limbaugh and Keith Olbermann.

The poor youngster further opined that characters such as the two aforementioned titans of radical politics were not good for the country. Somehow I got the distinct feeling that, given the choice, the bubble headed young woman would describe herself as a Republican. But that is neither here nor there, since, putting aside her presumption that she knows what is good for the country, and regardless of what party the young lady aligns herself with, she clearly hasn't the foggiest notion what constitutes political radicalism. Clearly, she was confusing the vitriolic style of Limbaugh and Olbermann (vitriol in the service of generally status quo political positions) with radical politics. In short, hers was a confusion of style over substance, which, when one thinks about it, is only fitting for the metier of television.

Perhaps the most dispiriting aspect of her politely rendered yet ridiculous assertions was that no one bothered to point out to the young airhead that neither Mr. Olbermann nor Mr. Limbaugh are, by any stretch of the imagination, political radicals. Maybe Joy Behar, the show's fifty something host, is as confused as her guest, and believes that Rush Limbaugh more closely resembles the aspect of a young Adolph Hitler, rather then erstwhile Republican power broker Tom Delay. Keith Olbermann would, in such a calculus, be the present day incarnation of, oh, say, Eugene Debs, as opposed to the doppleganger of that triangulating and ubiquitous master of middle of the road politics, Bill Clinton.

The truth is that, save for a few remote corners of the blogosphere, there is almost no radical political energy anywhere to be found in the entire United States. The tea baggers and town hall criers of this past summer were, and are, for the most part, fat, white, and scared old age pensioners, no more radical in spirit than the latest model of SUV being produced by General Motors. The aforesaid retirees were vitriolic as well, but with too few exceptions to mention, their ire was directed at those they felt were about to change the health care game in a way that would undercut their longstanding comfort and security. Fair enough. But that's not radicalism, not by a damn sight. Don't expect to see their like out again in public, unless someone threatens to take away some other entitlement they deem as non negotiable. In the meantime, if you want to hear some radical political ideas, don't bother with messieurs Limbaugh and Olbermann.