A Place for Cafe Refugees and Others Like Them

We are now shifting our blogging and comments over to Once Upon a Paradigm. http://onceuponaparadigm.wordpress.com/ If you have any questions, you can email me at blau.polar@gmail.com

The blogs and comments from this site have been transferred over to the new site.  Peace.

LAYOFF ME!!!

File:CarlyFiorina49416.jpeg

UNEMPLOYMENT EXPERT

I am more and more amazed every day at the conflicting stories in the news.

…that’s—this seems like such a big thing to do.’ But it’s because I care.

Fiorina’s expenditure of more than $16 million during her run for senator of California bought her 3,827,046 votes, which cost $4.35 apiece. During the six years she ran H-P as both CEO and chairwoman, she laid off 30,000 workers. With the endorsement of Palin, Fiorina called for repeal of Obama’s health-care legislation, overturning Roe vs. Wade, and returning California’s unspent stimulus funds to the Treasury.

 

ABC News’ Lisa Chinn and Jennifer Parker report: Republican ticket mates John McCain and Sarah Palin Monday blasted corporate executives who leave their company with a “golden parachute”  and pledged to “stop multimillion dollar payouts” to CEOs, seeming to forget their own top economic adviser Carly Fiorina walked away with $45 million, including a $21.4 million severance package when she was dismissed by Hewlett Packard in 2005.

 

November, 2008: Goldman Sachs notified roughly 3,200 employees this week that they have been laid off, part of previously reported plans to slash 10 percent of the firm’s global work force amid slumping markets, Reuters reported, citing people familiar with the situation.

Two weeks ago, reports surfaced that Goldman planned to cut 10 percent of its staff, or almost 3,300 jobs, reflecting the weak economy and a cut back in proprietary trading. The cuts are an about-face for a company that as recently as September insisted its headcount would rise this year.

October, 2008: Goldman Sachs is on course to pay its top City bankers multimillion-pound bonuses – despite asking the U.S. government for an emergency bail-out.

The struggling Wall Street bank has set aside £7billion for salaries and 2008 year-end bonuses, it emerged yesterday.

Each of the firm’s 443 partners is on course to pocket an average Christmas bonus of more than £3million.

The size of the pay pool comfortably dwarfs the £6.1billion lifeline which the U.S. government is throwing to Goldman as part of its £430billion bail-out.

December, 2008: he payout, worth around £55,000 per employee, was confirmed as the Wall Street bank blamed “extraordinarily difficult operating conditions” for a fourth-quarter loss of $2.12bn (£1.4bn). It still achieved a $2.32bn profit for the full year to November, although this was sharply lower than last year’s $11.6bn.

A spokesman rejected reports that the bonuses could amount to as much as £4.3bn but said the pot totalled $2,6bn.

February, 2009:  Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs is drawing up plans to axe a further 10 per cent of its global workforce, placing the jobs of hundreds of British bankers at risk.

The programme – aimed at cutting costs as Goldman battles through the worst financial crisis in a generation – is in addition to the 10 per cent culled at the end of last year.

An insider said Goldman partners are drawing up plans for the next round of cuts, but added that a decision on specific numbers has yet to be taken.

Around 6,000 of Goldman’s 30,067 staff are employed in the UK. Under threat are middle ranking bankers as well as IT and administrative workers.

October, 2009: The New York-based investment firm turned another eye-popping profit Thursday, earning $3.2 billion in the third quarter, as revenue from trading rose fourfold from a year ago.

As Wall Street firms typically do, Goldman set almost half that sum aside to compensate its workers. Through the first nine months of 2009, the firm socked away $16.7 billion, enough to pay the average Goldmanite $526,814.

The bonus pool is on pace to hit $21 billion for 2009, which would match the record bonus payout of 2007.

Goldman said it won’t decide the size of the bonus pool till year-end. In any case, the payments will be substantial — and will come just one year after huge sums of taxpayer dollars were funneled to financial institutions.

http://money.cnn.com/2009/10/15/news/companies/goldman_taxpayer_gains.fortune/index.htm

September, 2010: Not too long ago, people were giddy about a resurgence in hiring on Wall Street. The good times seemed ready to roll. But then the economy faltered again, and top banks are finding it hard to regain their footing.

Now analyst Meredith Whitney has predicted that layoffs will litter Wall Street in 2011, as banks are again forced to downsize. “Over the next 18 months, Wall Street will go through yet another iteration of resizing not seen since the post-dotcom era,” she told clients, as noted by the New York Post.

January, 2010: Besides chest-thumping fourth-quarter earnings, Goldman Sachs also announced its bonus pool on Thursday. At $16.2 billion, the total is 20 percent lower than the firm’s 2007 level but still amounts to an average of just under $500,000 per employee.

If you’re picky, it’s only $498,000. Since it’s an average, a few people will rake in a lot, lot more and most Goldman employees will make less than half a million. Federal taxes will whittle that down to about $324,000. So what does that get you these days?

Unlike HP, GS got handouts from the government and those handouts ended up as bonuses to the higher ups.

On the other hand, do not attempt to tell me that HP does not get government handouts in the form of contracts with local, state and Federal agencies.

So both of these giants receive plenty of our tax dollars.

The other point to be made here is that every single quarter leading up to the crash in 2008 and every single quarter following that crash, GS has handed out bonuses that would total the gross national product of many nations.

And the shareholders in these corporations simply continue to let this continue—although the law has hamstrung the rights of these shareholders for sometime.

But there is a further cost to Americans related to these bonuses and the ability of the insiders to bleed the corporate coffers.

And that cost involves the discarding of thousands upon thousands of employees onto the street. The profits of these companies could have been used to keep people employed instead of making their way into the pockets of insiders.

There are medical costs related to these lay-offs, unemployment benefits related to these lay-offs, and loss of income taxes that would have been paid by the employees who were layed-off.

These lay-offs no doubt hurt the mortgage markets. People cannot make their mortgage payments on unemployment benefits.

And this Fiorina just flaunts this largess. I mean she campaigns with a message that the current administration is doing nothing to improve the unemployment levels in this country.

All the while she is spewing out these lies, we are looking at a woman who laid off over 6000 employees and robbed the company of 45,000,000 dollars plus. The math is easy here as far as I am concerned. One thousand people could have been kept on the payroll at HP at the average salary of an American Worker.

And I do not see any proposals in the offing that are going to do anything about this situation.

Nothing at all.

Less than two years after taking office, with many criticizing the efforts undertaken to recover from the economic condition of the nation as it was when he took the oath of office, the President said:

I am happy to report that after years of uncertainty, culminating in the collapse of the spring of 1933, we are bringing order out of the old chaos with a greater certainty of the employment of labor at a reasonable wage and of more business at a fair profit. These governmental and industrial developments hold promise of new achievements for the nation.

Men may differ as to the particular form of governmental activity with respect to industry and business, but nearly all are agreed that private enterprise in times such as these cannot be left without assistance and without reasonable safeguards lest it destroy not only itself but also our processes of civilization….

To those who say that our expenditures for Public Works and other means for recovery are a waste that we cannot afford, I answer that no country, however rich, can afford the waste of its human resources. Demoralization caused by vast unemployment is our greatest extravagance. Morally, it is the greatest menace to our social order. Some people try to tell me that we must make up our minds that for the future we shall permanently have millions of unemployed just as other countries have had them for over a decade. What may be necessary for those countries is not my responsibility to determine. But as for this country, I stand or fall by my refusal to accept as a necessary condition of our future a permanent army of unemployed….

Those, fortunately few in number, who are frightened by boldness and cowed by the necessity for making decisions, complain that all we have done is unnecessary and subject to great risks. Now that these people are coming out of their storm cellars, they forget that there ever was a storm…

Hope

Fifty years ago this week, the people who present baseball to a grateful nation did an odd thing: The American League announced that the Washington Senators would move to Minneapolis-St. Paul, but that the league would add two new teams: one of which to be called the Washington Senators.

This struck more than just a newly addicted eight year old as a bit confusing. If the American League wanted to expand to Minnesota (and, as it happened, Los Angeles) why not just create two new teams in those places. Why move the Senators to Minnesota and create a new team with the same name as that of the one which was moving?

The answer, as it is, sadly, for so many things, was race and the reason the elaborate shell game was required was so that we could avoid acknowledging the obvious.

History and adulthood taught us that the long time owners of the original Senators, the Griffith family, had, by 1960, noticed that the city was becoming black outside the pockets where government operated and the people who feasted upon it lived. This, the Griffith family concluded, was not a recipe for success and, as long time members of the league, they had the ability to convince their fellow owners that they should be allowed to make their money elsewhere.

Baseball, eager to maintain its antitrust exemption and a teeny bit concerned about the image of their completely abandoning the nation’s capitol, decided that they might just distract enough people if they put another team there. The whole thing was so hastily slapped together that the team they put in Los Angeles so the league would have the necessary even number of teams had no place to play in other than a minor league park they bought from the Chicago Cubs.

The trick worked in large measure. When, in 1965 the original Senators, as the Minnesota Twins celebrated their first American League pennant since 1933, the expansion team using the abandoned name lost 92 games and finished in eighth place. Its sorry history included one dishonest owner sneaking out of town to rename the team the Texas Rangers, and another creep named George W. Bush serving as its president and pushing baseball into a crippling strike. They finally won the pennant this year and, at this writing, have lost their first two World Series games.

This somewhat lengthy prologue is meant as a bulky metaphor for what this disgusting political campaign has told us: we still are not allowed to talk about race and race matters above everything else. As discussed here last week, we can pretend that the voters are sending a message to Congress, that they are unhappy with the “drift” or the “direction” of the country, that they don’t like “Obamacare,” the bailouts, the level of unemployment, the deficit (ha) and so on, but every time someone says that, their gut knows better: nobody thinks this state we are in is the President’s fault, or that of the leaders of the Democrats in Congress. These are the things people point to so as to justify a vote against the “foreign” president: the one whose father was black.

As just a new for instance, there is this from an interview Rachel Maddow conducted with some Alaska voters who support Joe Miller, but, more importantly, are against Sen Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). Why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She voted to confirm Eric Holder.

MADDOW: Why are you against that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he‘s the most anti-gun attorney general this country has ever had.

MADDOW: What‘s he done against guns?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, at this point, it‘s what hasn‘t he done
against guns? Let‘s ask that question. Let‘s look at his voting record
beforehand. I‘m sure you guys -

MADDOW: Eric Holder wasn‘t an elected official.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All I‘m asking is look at what his record is with
Obama then. Look at what he‘s -

MADDOW: What‘s he done on guns that you‘re upset about, though?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honestly, I don‘t know enough about him to answer that truthfully right now.

MADDOW: Can I just ask why you‘re upset about Eric Holder?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because he‘s anti-gun.

MADDOW: What has he done that‘s anti-gun?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don‘t know have the facts, but I know that he is anti-gun.

What Ever, as the kids say. Just say anything other than that the vote for President Obama was justified when the aforesaid President Bush was in office, but no longer. If voting for someone with a black father (and a black wife) was justifiable after the eight years of President Bush, with his party controlling both houses of Congress for most of that time, it is apparently not anymore to large numbers of people.

And, as baseball’s adventure in D.C. shows, ignoring this motivation, coming up with any other reasons to explain the national obsession with race, remains firmly in place. So, in the face of claims that the President should not be allowed to talk to school children lest he “indoctrinate” them, or the first outrage expressed by national media about a possible intelligence failure that might have led to a terrorist act on Christmas Day, we talk instead about an unsettled electorate, angry at “incumbents.”

Time after time, as we approached elections or other significant political events the Bush Administration would try to remind voters why they ought to stick with Them, by suddenly announcing arrests in national security cases, or raising new concerns about impending attacks. Questions about the timing of those attacks were either met with veiled suggestions that the questioner sympathized with terrorists or answered by events disclosed well after the electoral or political significance of the event had passed.

Yesterday, after explosives apparently intended for the United States were found and the discovery announced shortly thereafter, a reporter finally decided to put the question to a White House press secretary:

Q Yes, I was just going to ask you, how do you respond to — there’s sure to be accusations that this is all happening a couple days before an election, used to sway the election towards Democrats. How do you respond to that?

MR. GIBBS: I think — John briefed the President at 10:35 p.m. last night off of very credible terror information. And after — I think that’s largely put to rest any speculation that may be out there after the testing the President talked about that showed apparent explosives in those devices.

As John said, counterterrorism officials at all levels of our government quickly went into action in order to take the steps necessary to protect the American people. That has — that is exactly what has governed his actions and the actions of those in this government since that time.

Forget that the question makes no sense (the White House trying to gin up a fear that the thumbsuckers have decided only helps Republicans). The important thing is that the press make sure this President, as opposed to the frat boy masquerading as president who preceeded him, doesn’t compromise national security for political advantage.

It may work again this time. Then again, cell phone polling being difficult and robo polling subject to bias, and the traditional turnout expectations being, perhaps, way off, maybe this time it won’t.

If Tuesday is yet another step backwards in a journey filled with fits and starts, in a nation of idiots and fools it will have bad consequences and we will pay, as a nation, for our mistakes.

Ben Folds and Nick Hornby have just made an album that warns us about hope. These are Hornby’s lyrics, but they are not about politics and are about issues of life and death. Still, they provide a warning and context

You know what hope is, hope is a bastard
Hope is a liar, a cheat and a tease
Hope comes near you, kick its backside
Got no place in days like these

And just as she’s thinking of pulling the blind down
A rocket bursts in front of her eyes
The city lit up, London’s given a bright crown
She tries and fails to stop spirits rise

President Clinton is coming to my little town tonight in support of our Congressman, a really good man who has found many different ways to contribute to our lives over many years but is a member of Congress largely thanks to President Bush’s incompetence. He has a tough race this year against a tea party ophthalmologist who, unsurprisingly, does not like health care reform.
Still, by the end of the evening, to be be certain, President Clinton will make us feel that anything is possible. And it is.

Jon Stewart did us all a favor. More than anything else, he showed us where we are going. This will end. The next generation knows better and will move past race and form a more perfect union. That is our hope.

Fifty years ago this week, the people who present baseball to a grateful nation did an odd thing: The American League announced that the Washington Senators would move to Minneapolis-St. Paul, but that the league would add two new teams: one of which to be called the Washington Senators.

This struck more than just a newly addicted eight year old as a bit confusing. If the American League wanted to expand to Minnesota (and, as it happened, Los Angeles) why not just create two new teams in those places. Why move the Senators to Minnesota and create a new team with the same name as that of the one which was moving?

The answer, as it is, sadly, for so many things, was race and the reason the elaborate shell game was required was so that we could avoid acknowledging the obvious.

History and adulthood taught us that the long time owners of the original Senators, the Griffith family, had, by 1960, noticed that the city was becoming black outside the pockets where government operated and the people who feasted upon it lived. This, the Griffith family concluded, was not a recipe for success and, as long time members of the league, they had the ability to convince their fellow owners that they should be allowed to make their money elsewhere.

Baseball, eager to maintain its antitrust exemption and a teeny bit concerned about the image of their completely abandoning the nation’s capitol, decided that they might just distract enough people if they put another team there. The whole thing was so hastily slapped together that the team they put in Los Angeles so the league would have the necessary even number of teams had no place to play in other than a minor league park they bought from the Chicago Cubs.

The trick worked in large measure. When, in 1965 the original Senators, as the Minnesota Twins celebrated their first American League pennant since 1933, the expansion team using the abandoned name lost 92 games and finished in eighth place. Its sorry history included one dishonest owner sneaking out of town to rename the team the Texas Rangers, and another creep named George W. Bush serving as its president and pushing baseball into a crippling strike. They finally won the pennant this year and, at this writing, have lost their first two World Series games.

This somewhat lengthy prologue is meant as a bulky metaphor for what this disgusting political campaign has told us: we still are not allowed to talk about race and race matters above everything else. As discussed here last week, we can pretend that the voters are sending a message to Congress, that they are unhappy with the “drift” or the “direction” of the country, that they don’t like “Obamacare,” the bailouts, the level of unemployment, the deficit (ha) and so on, but every time someone says that, their gut knows better: nobody thinks this state we are in is the President’s fault, or that of the leaders of the Democrats in Congress. These are the things people point to so as to justify a vote against the “foreign” president: the one whose father was black.

As just a new for instance, there is this from an interview Rachel Maddow conducted with some Alaska voters who support Joe Miller, but, more importantly, are against Sen Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). Why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She voted to confirm Eric Holder.

MADDOW: Why are you against that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he‘s the most anti-gun attorney general this country has ever had.

MADDOW: What‘s he done against guns?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, at this point, it‘s what hasn‘t he done
against guns? Let‘s ask that question. Let‘s look at his voting record
beforehand. I‘m sure you guys -

MADDOW: Eric Holder wasn‘t an elected official.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All I‘m asking is look at what his record is with
Obama then. Look at what he‘s -

MADDOW: What‘s he done on guns that you‘re upset about, though?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honestly, I don‘t know enough about him to answer that truthfully right now.

MADDOW: Can I just ask why you‘re upset about Eric Holder?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because he‘s anti-gun.

MADDOW: What has he done that‘s anti-gun?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don‘t know have the facts, but I know that he is anti-gun.

What Ever, as the kids say. Just say anything other than that the vote for President Obama was justified when the aforesaid President Bush was in office, but no longer. If voting for someone with a black father (and a black wife) was justifiable after the eight years of President Bush, with his party controlling both houses of Congress for most of that time, it is apparently not anymore to large numbers of people.

And, as baseball’s adventure in D.C. shows, ignoring this motivation, coming up with any other reasons to explain the national obsession with race, remains firmly in place. So, in the face of claims that the President should not be allowed to talk to school children lest he “indoctrinate” them, or the first outrage expressed by national media about a possible intelligence failure that might have led to a terrorist act on Christmas Day, we talk instead about an unsettled electorate, angry at “incumbents.”

Time after time, as we approached elections or other significant political events the Bush Administration would try to remind voters why they ought to stick with Them, by suddenly announcing arrests in national security cases, or raising new concerns about impending attacks. Questions about the timing of those attacks were either met with veiled suggestions that the questioner sympathized with terrorists or answered by events disclosed well after the electoral or political significance of the event had passed.

Yesterday, after explosives apparently intended for the United States were found and the discovery announced shortly thereafter, a reporter finally decided to put the question to a White House press secretary:

Q Yes, I was just going to ask you, how do you respond to — there’s sure to be accusations that this is all happening a couple days before an election, used to sway the election towards Democrats. How do you respond to that?

MR. GIBBS: I think — John briefed the President at 10:35 p.m. last night off of very credible terror information. And after — I think that’s largely put to rest any speculation that may be out there after the testing the President talked about that showed apparent explosives in those devices.

As John said, counterterrorism officials at all levels of our government quickly went into action in order to take the steps necessary to protect the American people. That has — that is exactly what has governed his actions and the actions of those in this government since that time.

Forget that the question makes no sense (the White House trying to gin up a fear that the thumbsuckers have decided only helps Republicans). The important thing is that the press make sure this President, as opposed to the frat boy masquerading as president who preceeded him, doesn’t compromise national security for political advantage.

It may work again this time. Then again, cell phone polling being difficult and robo polling subject to bias, and the traditional turnout expectations being, perhaps, way off, maybe this time it won’t.

If Tuesday is yet another step backwards in a journey filled with fits and starts, in a nation of idiots and fools it will have bad consequences and we will pay, as a nation, for our mistakes.

Ben Folds and Nick Hornby have just made an album that warns us about hope. These are Hornby’s lyrics, but they are not about politics and are about issues of life and death. Still, they provide a warning and context

You know what hope is, hope is a bastard
Hope is a liar, a cheat and a tease
Hope comes near you, kick its backside
Got no place in days like these

And just as she’s thinking of pulling the blind down
A rocket bursts in front of her eyes
The city lit up, London’s given a bright crown
She tries and fails to stop spirits rise

President Clinton is coming to my little town tonight in support of our Congressman, a really good man who has found many different ways to contribute to our lives over many years but is a member of Congress largely thanks to President Bush’s incompetence. He has a tough race this year against a tea party ophthalmologist who, unsurprisingly, does not like health care reform.
Still, by the end of the evening, to be be certain, President Clinton will make us feel that anything is possible. And it is.

Jon Stewart did us all a favor. More than anything else, he showed us where we are going. This will end. The next generation knows better and will move past race and form a more perfect union. That is our hope.

Everyday we have to listen to this garbage:

The stimulus didn’t create jobs.  The President should have concentrated on jobs before tackling health care.  “Obamacare” means that the government will take over health care, tell you which doctors you can go to, and will destroy our freedom.  The President is a socialist.

You know it is nonsensical.  <a href=”http://www.museum.tv/debateweb/html/greatdebate/92660transcript.htm”>In the very first presidential debate of the twentieth century</a>, fifty years ago this month, the man who would become the most inspirational president in the lifetime of many of us, explained the “national responsibility” that the federal government first assumed as the instigation of Franklin D. Roosevelt:

<blockquote>

The people of the United States individually could not have developed the Tennessee Valley; collectively they could have. A cotton farmer in Georgia or a peanut farmer or a dairy farmer in Wisconsin and Minnesota, he cannot protect himself against the forces of supply and demand in the market place; but working together in effective governmental programs he can do so. Seventeen million Americans, who live over sixty-five on an average Social Security check of about seventy-eight dollars a month, they’re not able to sustain themselves individually, but they can sustain themselves through the social security system. I don’t believe in big government, but I believe in effective governmental action. And I think that’s the only way that the United States is going to maintain its freedom. It’s the only way that we’re going to move ahead. I think we can do a better job. I think we’re going to have to do a better job if we are going to meet the responsibilities which time and events have placed upon us. We cannot turn the job over to anyone else. If the United States fails, then the whole cause of freedom fails. And I think it depends in great measure on what we do here in this country. The reason Franklin Roosevelt was a good neighbor in Latin America was because he was a good neighbor in the United States. Because they felt that the American society was moving again. I want us to recapture that image. I want people in Latin America and Africa and Asia to start to look to America; to see how we’re doing things; to wonder what the resident of the United States is doing; and not to look at Khrushchev, or look at the Chinese Communists. That is the obligation upon our generation. In 1933, Franklin Roosevelt said in his inaugural that this generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny. I think our generation of Americans has the same rendezvous.</blockquote>

You know that this extreme opposition to the President has encouraged more extremism, very scary extremism at that, including not very veiled references to something called “Second Amendment remedies.”

Yes, the same people went after the last President elected on the nomination of the Democratic Party and they even impeached him though he may have helped them a bit by occasionally forgetting his responsibilities as President of the United States.  Still, the talk this time, from <a href=”http://edsbarth.blogspot.com/2008/10/this-has-got-to-stop.html”>even before the current President’s election</a>, is of a type that is louder and more incendiary than this old guy, a voter since before Nixon used every tactic imaginable to defeat Senator McGovern in 1972, has ever heard.

We do not want to face up to its source.  We want to pretend there are other reasons for the level of noise, for the threats and hatred that have dominated this election campaign.  We want to tell ourselves that we have entered a post racial age.  We have not.

What follows are things you have heard before, many times.  Read them, or, better yet, listen to them again, please:

<blockquote>If an American, because his skin is dark, cannot eat lunch in a restaurant open to the public, if he cannot send his children to the best public school available, if he cannot vote for the public officials who will represent him, if, in short, he cannot enjoy the full and free life which all of us want, then who among us would be content to have the color of his skin changed and stand in his place? Who among us would then be content with the counsels of patience and delay?

One hundred years of delay have passed since President Lincoln freed the slaves, yet their heirs, their grandsons, are not fully free. They are not yet freed from the bonds of injustice. They are not yet freed from social and economic oppression. And this Nation, for all its hopes and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free.

We preach freedom around the world, and we mean it, and we cherish our freedom here at home, but are we to say to the world, and much more importantly, to each other that this is the land of the free except for the Negroes; that we have no second-class citizens except Negroes; that we have no class or caste system, no ghettoes, no master race except with respect to Negroes?

Now the time has come for this Nation to fulfill its promise. </blockquote>

<a href=”http://www.jfklibrary.org/Historical+Resources/Archives/Reference+Desk/Speeches/JFK/003POF03CivilRights06111963.htm”>President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, June 11, 1963</a>

<blockquote>This was the first nation in the history of the world to be founded with a purpose. The great phrases of that purpose still sound in every American heart, North and South: “All men are created equal,” “government by consent of the governed,” “give me liberty or give me death.” Well, those are not just clever words, or those are not just empty theories. In their name Americans have fought and died for two centuries, and tonight around the world they stand there as guardians of our liberty, risking their lives….

the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life…. must be our cause too. Because it’s not just Negroes, but really it’s all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice.

And we shall overcome.

As a man whose roots go deeply into Southern soil, I know how agonizing racial feelings are. I know how difficult it is to reshape the attitudes and the structure of our society. But a century has passed–more than 100 years–since the Negro was freed. And he is not fully free tonight. It was more than 100 years ago that Abraham Lincoln–a great President of another party–signed the Emancipation Proclamation. But emancipation is a proclamation and not a fact.

A century has passed–more than 100 years–since equality was promised, and yet the Negro is not equal. A century has passed since the day of promise, and the promise is unkept. The time of justice has now come, and I tell you that I believe sincerely that no force can hold it back. It is right in the eyes of man and God that it should come, and when it does, I think that day will brighten the lives of every American. For Negroes are not the only victims. How many white children have gone uneducated? How many white families have lived in stark poverty? How many white lives have been scarred by fear, because we wasted energy and our substance to maintain the barriers of hatred and terror?

And so I say to all of you here and to all in the nation tonight that those who appeal to you to hold on to the past do so at the cost of denying you your future. This great rich, restless country can offer opportunity and education and hope to all–all, black and white, North and South, sharecropper and city dweller. These are the enemies: poverty, ignorance, disease. They are our enemies, not our fellow man, not our neighbor.

And these enemies too–poverty, disease and ignorance–we shall overcome.</blockquote>

<a href=”http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/lbjweshallovercome.htm”>President Lyndon Baines Johnson, March 15, 1965</a>

<blockquote>I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!</blockquote>

<a href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbUtL_0vAJk”>Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., August 28, 1963</a>

Almost forty years later, a country besotted by race remains so.  A relatively insignificant encounter between a homeowner absurdly outraged when a police officer, responding to a report of a possible break in, asks for the homeowner’s identification, and instead is met with a reaction that leads to an arrest, becomes something involving the President of the United States.  And we go downhill from there.

If you believe the energy from his opponent’s is unrelated to the race of the President’s father and wife and his self-identification as a black man, you are being deluded.  Were it not for the great Rachel Maddow, there would follow here as many instances necessary to prove that point.  Instead, Ms. Maddow will simply spell it out for <a href=”http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/ns/msnbc_tv-rachel_maddow_show/#39751574″></a>you:

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And, yes, when the same forces of extremism created the atmosphere <a href=”http://edsbarth.blogspot.com/2009/04/emergency-post.html”>that led to President Kennedy’s murder in 1963</a>, two months after a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama killing four little children it was obsession with race that was at its core.  Watch <a href=”re=player_embedded”>this</a> and see if it sounds at all like the campaign we are in now.

It is now almost 140 years since the emancipation proclamation and 135 years since the civil war ended, but this fight continues to bedevil a nation that cannot come together even today.  Yes, there are other issues and yes, there is room for honest disagreement about the role of government and its response to the problems which face us.  But it is this divide—the one that led to a rule that almost prevented the Democratic Party from nominating our greatest president—Franklin Delano Roosevelt—-and that caused an entire region to bolt from it and become the bastion of the Republican Party—that rules over all.

To again quote President Kennedy from that first debate long ago:

<blockquote>In the election of 1860, Abraham Lincoln said the question was whether this nation could exist half-slave or half-free.</blockquote>

Slavery is gone but its legacy lingers.  We will not get past it when politicians seek to divide us, and to demonize those with whom we live as citizens of this nation whether they share our religion, color or national origin.  This is a shameful period in our history and a dangerous one to boot.

In about two weeks, we have a chance to send those who would divide us a message that we are past that, and that we are a better nation than that.  Can we do that?  Are we?

SECRET AGENT MAN

I watched Traitor again last night. Great flick about a double agent. Less James Bond and more like Night of the Living Dead.

The hero is Samir Horn, a Sudanese-American; his father a Muslim and his mother an American. He was born on American soil and evidently had in his possession a proper birth certificate. And he is a practicing Muslim who deeply believes in his faith.

He is under deep cover as a Muslim terrorist and becomes a member of a terrorist cell. His cover is so deep, he has only one contact with someone at FEMA; an agent played by Jeff Daniels. No one else is privy to this ‘cover’ and our hero actually ends up on top of the ten most wanted list of terrorists.

Our protagonist is truly a volunteer. He was not coerced by our government to act the ‘betrayer’ of true believers. He was not under indictment and then ‘turned’ by the feds.

He ends up blowing up a building in Europe to prove his allegiance to the terrorist cause under orders of Daniels. The building was supposed to be empty but his actions killed eight people, injuring another nine; collateral damage as it were.

The fear of being found out by the cell, the fear of being killed by the forces he is working for is always present.

The cell sets upon a plan to terrorize America. And since the protagonist is American, he is the best tool the evil Muslims have. The plan is to use fifty Jihadists to get on fifty buses traveling throughout our country with bombs and simultaneously blow each of the fifty transports to smithereens.

Our double agent screws the jihadist pooch by getting all the suicide bombers to procure tickets on the same bus thereby blowing each other up on some lonesome highway to nowhere. The collateral damage is limited to one Ralph Kramden driving the bus thereby saving our Country and allowing Mrs. Kramden some survivor benefits.

I have an old paper back entitled Perpetua’s Passion by Joyce E. Salisbury. It is about a female aristocrat who goes gaga over the new Christian God at the turn of the third century in Rome.  She ends up a volunteer-martyr in a Carthaginian arena along with many of her volunteering cohorts.

Forget for a moment that the Christians, once they gained some power under Emperor Constantine a century later, sent pagans to death in those same arenas.

Some early Christians went willingly to their deaths in the arena. They were actually eaten by beasts of prey and sliced open by gladiators that could easily have played on the front lines of many modern day football teams.

Therefore, the film confirms a fact of human nature.. There are some people in this world with strange neuron connections will face death for their personal beliefs; civilians as well as soldiers will accept death willingly and some gladly for a cause.

But there will always be collateral damage in any cause.

Jihadists accept that others will die as a result of their ultimate sacrifice and this collateral damage is not just a consequence of their intended actions, it becomes the reason for their actions.

Jeff Daniels tells our hero that although it was a damn shame eight people died in the bombing which he ordered; but collateral damage must be expected in some instances.

The Jihadists expect collateral damage. Our spy agencies expect collateral damage. Double agents expect collateral damage.

Hell the entire Defense Industry in this country expects collateral damage. Our own weapons kill our own soldiers and contractors.

Anyway, this post is about a double agent working for the Feds.

James F. Hirni had the sort of political upbringing that GOP stars are made of: college class president, a stop at the Heritage Foundation, consecutive stints in the offices of Sen. Bill Frist (Tennessee), Sen. Jeff Sessions (Alabama), and Sen. Tim Hutchinson (Arkansas). “In this town, it’s not about how much you know, but about who you know,” he observed—a credo he lived and worked by as a lobbyist representing blue-chip clients such as Fidelity Investments.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-10-08/the-gops-donnie-brasco/?cid=topic:featured1

And what a credo indeed, kind of reminds me of Tom Tancredo. And here is some more credo:

In the interview, Hirni talked about the toll that the corruption investigation had on Abramoff and reflected on the challenges of raising money and building relationships in Washington.

“I think ethics is the single most important part of my job,” he said. “Once you violate ethics in this town, once you break that code, you break the trust.

Well Mr. Hirni got in a little trouble a couple years ago.

James Hirni, the former lobbyist who was charged last month in connection with the wide-ranging Jack Abamoff probe, pleaded guilty today to providing an all-expenses paid trip to the World Series in New York to two congressional staffers, including entertainment at a strip club and a chauffeur-driven SUV.

Hirni was at the time a lobbyist for an equipment rental company that was pushing legislation in Congress. He recently was fired from his job doing “Republican outreach” for Wal-Mart, after news of the charges surfaced.

But there is a twist to all of this. A ‘deal’ was struck by Hirni as part of his plea. He is now an informant for the Feds.

Today, he’s a designated government informant—the product of a plea deal with the Justice Department to spare him jail time. And lately, he’s been organizing fundraisers for such rising Republican stars as South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley and possible 2012 presidential candidate Rick Santorum.

That the Abramoff associate is playing matchmaker for Haley and Santorum has left some members of South Carolina’s political community dumbfounded. Although the Department of Justice says that Hirni is free to pursue political work, some question the wisdom of having Hirni anywhere near the financial heart of South Carolina politics—especially because, according to the nature of his plea agreement, Hirni has avoided jail time by promising to cooperate with federal authorities.

Today, he’s a designated government informant…

Talk about double agents. I mean this Hirni is an OPEN DOUBLE AGENT.

It is not what you know, it is who you know. Trust is the most valued commodity in Washington DC.?

Here is a man who really loves his country.

All the while he is receiving money from reub organization, he is secretly telling the Feds everything he is doing.

“The more he cooperates, the more benefit he is going to get,” said Washington attorney Barry Pollack, who represented defendants in the Abramoff case. “They might as well be talking to a federal prosecutor when they are talking to him.”

Then, according to an online résumé, Hirni began operating a firm called the H2 Group, described as a “small Charleston, SC-based political consulting and fundraising company.”

Now at last the Feds can better keep track of all the bribing going on in DC, James Hirni can make a mint, and the repubs can better keep track of their bribes and such.

This would be like our Jeff Daniels character sending a message to the terrorist cell, informing them that Samir Horn is working for FEMA.

How much more brilliant can our government be?

There is no greater criminal organization in this country than the republican party. None. The Mafioso is small time compared to the criminal organization going under the GOP banner.

The members of the GOP conspire to:

Give aid and comfort to international corporations who have absolutely no allegiance to this nation or its citizens.

Funnel taxpayer funds to giant international corporations through no bid contracts; corporations owned and operated by members of the GOP.

Funnel taxpayer funds to arms dealers who sell our Department of Defense weapons and then turn around and sell those weapons to our enemies.

Funnel taxpayer funds to friendly corporations who in turn pay back a percentage of those funds to the GOP under the guise of campaign contributions.

Funnel taxpayer funds to friendly corporations who outsource their labor needs to foreign countries, denying United States citizens the right to work.

Funnel taxpayer funds to huge pharmacological concerns and vote to deny a quarter of our citizenry adequate health care.

Funnel taxpayer funds to huge conglomerates and vote against the minimum wage for our own workers; allowing the conglomerates huge profits and lower taxes.

Funnel taxpayer funds into huge conglomerates and continually vote against any regulation of their industries.

Funnel hundreds a billions of dollars to independent contractors through the Pentagon and consistently vote against the rights of the soldiers who risk their lives every single day protecting corporate interests in faraway lands.

And all the while these GOP criminals take bribes from the corporations to which they owe their allegiance.

And all the while these criminals hide behind issues irrelevant to their true aims by calling for prayer in the classrooms, the end to abortion, guns in bars, and the rounding up of immigrants.

But not to worry; James Hirni, double agent is there to keep tabs on all of these matters

WAITING FOR THE WORMS

Most of my blog entries are political in nature, and I guess ultimately, this one is as well.

Last night I attended Roger Waters’ concert performance of the classic Pink Floyd album The Wall.  As I don’t really want this to end up being an in depth concert review, let me just say that it was an experience to say the least.  The staging, effects and imagery were very impressive, with the only possible exception being a remotely controlled dirigible swine that hovered above the crowd for some time, which struck me as a little cheesy.  Although to be fair, the anti-corporate imagery adorning the flying pig was pretty humorous.

Anyway, the concert did a few things for me.  First, I was impressed by Roger Waters’ activism.  He made bold statements on capitalism, fanaticism, fear, violence, and religion.  I was also reminded that the Wall is a powerful work addressing the effects of war, economic despair, and xenophobia and is striking in its relevance to the current social and political climate in the United States today.

“Would you like to see Britannia
Rule again, my friend?
All you have to do is follow the worms.
Would you like to send our colored cousins
Home again, my friend?

All you need to do is follow the worms.”

Sounds like some of the stuff we hear today, doesn’t it?

There are those who lament the supposed loss of this mythic notion of American Exceptionalism and want to see America ‘rule’ again.  The say it’s illegal aliens and their anchor babies. They say it’s Sharia law.  The say it’s entitlements.  They say that there are people with a deep seated hatred of white people trying to destroy ‘our’ way of life from within.   The say all that while denying all of the evidence that corporate greed is what is destroying the nation.

Waters pointedly depicts the armies of Capitalism as demanding our blind trust, while literally dropping religion and materialism as bombs, dividing and enslaving the people. Trust us; keep spending what you don’t have.  Keep giving us more, it will trickle down.

And just like the Worms, there are people in America who are wear their nationalism like armbands on their sleeves.  They’ve also been rallying and marching around with their answers to America’s woes; send our colored cousins home.

People like Mark Williams, Franklyn Graham and Frank Gaffney, and politicians like Michelle Bachmann and Steve King are all Worms not so subtly disguised as humans. Their plans read just like these lyrics.   They’ve been ginning up the fear and loathing non stop since the President took office, and now they are waiting for their Worms in Tri-Corner hats to give them the power to implement their plans.

“Waiting to cut out the dead wood.
Waiting to clean up the city.
Waiting to follow the worms.
Waiting to put on a black shirt.
Waiting to weed out the weaklings.
Waiting to smash in their windows
And kick in their doors.
Waiting for the final solution
To strengthen the strain.
Waiting to follow the worms.
Waiting to turn on the showers
And fire the ovens.
Waiting for the queens and the coons
and the reds and the jews.
Waiting to follow the worms”

There’s no shortage of blame being thrown around, except in the mirror.  The Worms don’t accept any responsibility for any of our problems.  They blame the queens and the coons and the reds and the Jews.  The Muslim has been replaced as the scapegoat du jour, but don’t think that the Jew isn’t privately assailed too as being too dominant in business.  Jews are, of course, historically tried and tested fall-guys for a nation’s economic woes.  David Duke must be bumming.  But most good fashions come back into vogue anyway.

But the queens and coons and the reds haven’t done so well in the current climate.  The Worms talk about regulating homosexuality. They talk about prohibiting homosexuals from marrying, adopting children or for serving as soldiers and teachers.  African Americans are labeled as lazy, shiftless, self entitled dead wood, fouling our cities.  And the catch all accusation for any white person who believes that the nation has a responsibility for providing a level of social services to its less fortunate regardless of race is calling them a Socialist.

The Becks and the Limbaughs and the Palins and the Boehners, Canters, DeMints, and McConnells spew forth about purity and pledges and bloodoaths just like Worms;

”We’re gonna find out where you fans really stand.
Are there any queers in the theatre tonight?
Get ‘em up against the wall.
And that one in the spotlight, he don’t look right to me.
Get him up against the wall.
And that one looks Jewish, and that one’s a coon.
Who let all this riffraff into the room?
There’s one smoking a joint, and another with spots!
If I had my way I’d have all of you shot.”

So, where do we really stand?  Are we marching down the road with the Worms or is there a way to defeat the irrational fear of the weakening of the American strain?

 

 

MSNY  100710

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