Saturday, October 31, 2009

Does American Express still have status? ...

I have one credit card. I didn't have any credit cards until the bank (Bank of America, just a few long years ago a very customer service oriented bank) charged me a usurious fee when they claimed that they paid a charge on my debit card when there was not enough funds to cover it. My statement said they were lying. After three calls they still refused to reverse the charge so I cancelled the debit card, opened an account at another bank and applied for a credit card.

The credit card (a special label card from USB) just raised their interest rates. I don't carry a balance so this doesn't impact my monthly expenses in any way, but there is just NO reason for them to raise the interest rate (as well as various fees).

So I applied for the "TrueEarningsSM Card from Costco and American Express." I received an email that said I have been approved and also provided some links such as:
learn more about your new card right now, click here ...
I copied the link address, went into another browser and attempted to go there. The there transfers me to their signup page, which I certainly don't need to see again.

So I decide to respond to
"Was this email helpful? Please click here to give us your feedback."
In this case opened a new window with the offered address in the same browser in which I was viewing the email. Didn't work.

Next I call their 800 number. The canned message (not one of the newer, improved automated systems) is at first garbled, but of course that could possibly be my phone though I have not had any problems with other calls. After repeating 'customer service, customer service, customer service' I am finally transferred to India (or maybe I was in India all along). How do I know it was India? Since I couldn't understand what the person was saying I asked if he was in the United States. He wasn't. I said thank you and hung up.

Of course, if there hadn't been phone problems and if he could have spoken a version of English understandable to me, then I would never have known where he resided and would just have told my story. Once you get beyond the crappy automated phone system at least one should be able to expect reasonable easy communication about a joint Amex and CostCo card. Shouldn't one?

Guess not ...

Today's quote ...

. . . people with privilege treat everyone else as their personal jokes.

-- Disability and feminism: one person's experience by katemoore at

Friday, October 30, 2009

Today's quote ...

All this money makes Obama's top financial advisors veritable poster boys for the Wall Street culture that the president in his speeches has publicly decried as a "house of cards" and a "Ponzi scheme" in which "a relatively few do spectacularly well while the middle class loses ground".

I'm not doubting the smarts of Obama's financial team -- but I do feel that the vast majority of people who take the kind of money we're talking about here can't help but be warped by it, and that in choosing to cash in, they essentially disqualified themselves from public service.

Unless they are willing to assertively act in ways that redeem themselves and show that their allegiances have not been purchased, they should step down and make way for people who see the people's side of things a little more clearly.

-- Bankers Vs. The People: Which Side Is The White House On? by Dan Froomkin, Huffington Post

Thursday, October 29, 2009

For the hypocritical Dems who insist Obama 'has a clever plan' ...

(UPDATE Below)

Could this be Obama's oh so clever plan?
Lieberman Demands Public Option Be Taken “Off The Table” Completely
Did Obama (and Reid) save LIEberman just for this kind of contingency. After all if Obama is just so clever and plans for the future so well then by definition Obama knew any real healthcare possibilities would come down to the wire. And here's ol' spiteful and malicious lying Joe Lieberman popping up right on cue ...

I have to handed to all of you who knew how clever Obama was, working with his n dimensional chess game and all. He really called it. Between his Blue Curs (Blue Dogs Win Huge Victory For The Health Insurance Industry) and his favorite monkey-wrench, ol lying Joe, Obama continues to show his disdain for all Americans, except a few obscenely rich guys.

But remember: "If 50 Senators Really Want A Public Option, They Can Get It With Reconciliation."

So if Americans do not get decent health care choices, at the minimum a ROBUST public option, the one that the Blue Curs just removed, it will be because OUR REPRESENTATIVES in the House and the Senate DO NOT WANT to provide what the people need and what a very significant majority want. And, if this plays out the way Obama has engineered, we must thank Obama, Reid and the blue curs, not to mention the ReThugs, for all the misery they will cause.

UPDATE Oct 30, 2009
Obama Meeting With Progressives And Caucus Leaders Focused On Triggers And Opt-Out
The article doesn't directly say that Obama's goal is to break down the support for the Public Option but it certainly doesn't seem that Obama was offering any support to Public Option supporters, does it?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Politics stinks to high heaven ...

Todd: White House Tells Reid 'Don't Come Crying to Us When You Need That Last Vote'
If Reid is, like Obama may be and Reid has done in the past, playing a game on us with the public option, may his soul rot in the lowest level of Hell.

ADDED: Oh, yeah, and what about that 'adult' we just elected to the White House. So much for that.

Today's quote ... how long, indeed?

How long are we going to continue to do this? We invade and occupy a country, and then label as "insurgents" or even "terrorists" the people in that country who fight against our invasion and occupation. With the most circular logic imaginable, we then insist that we must remain in order to defeat the "insurgents" and "terrorists" -- largely composed of people whose only cause for fighting is our presence in their country. All the while, we clearly exacerbate the very problem we are allegedly attempting to address -- Terrorism -- by predictably and inevitably increasing anti-American anger and hatred through our occupation, which, no matter the strategy, inevitably entails our killing innocent civilians.

-- Former Marine Captain resigns in protest of Afghanistan war by Glenn Greenwald,

I blame Obama ...

If Obama had really wanted health care for Americans, even in his dubiously claimed pragmatic and incremental fashion, why the hell didn't they just start opening up Medicare. That would have had almost instant effect. Lower the Medicare age 10 year every two years or so.

And next Congress could have started working on the problem with the cost of drugs.

But of course, Obama didn't really mean anything he said when he was running for President. [The following ADDED] And most of Congress didn't want to upset their corporate masters anymore than did Obama.

Wars and killing and torture (ever hear of Tasers as a means punishing Americans for even existing in view of the police) and handing the control of policy to corporate power is all American Presidents know.

The public option with OPT OUT ...

Reid surprised me with his apparently real support of a health care bill with a 'public option' to which the states run by crazy people will be able to 'opt out.'

I didn't expect him to do it while at the same time didn't see how he would be able to do otherwise.

Time will tell how this works out; what is actually in the details and what Reid really has in mind. But at this point all I can say is good on you Harry Reid. Hope you plan to carry this through.

Monday, October 26, 2009

So true ...

Regardless of why, Occam’s razor dictates only one conclusion: Obama does not support–and likely never supported–a strong public option. There is no tangible evidence to support an alternative conclusion.

Today's quote ... and a second one ...

... Someone in the Obama administration is hiding and manipulating behind secret identity and this “journalist” is their co-conspirator of bullshit. ...

--Didn’t Work, Senior Administration Official by paradox, The Left Coaster

But for Washington's real journalists to rush to the defense of Fox News would be extremely short-sighted, and yet another dismal example of inside-the-Beltway camaraderie run amok. Sure, some of these people may be our friends -- and there are a few journalists at Fox who have maintained a modicum of integrity -- but the fact is that overall, these are people who have made a conscious decision to get out of the truth business. They don't deserve our support -- or our silence about what they really are.

--Why Journalists Shouldn't Be Defending Fox News by Dan Froomkin, The Huffington Post

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Will healthcare be Obama's Waterloo? ...

... not because he failed but because he deliberately failed?
we are asked to unify behind a law that won’t do anything to benefit most people. The administration has cut deals that favor rich and powerful interests, the drug companies, the health insurance companies, the hospital companies, the doctors and all the rest. They all get richer. There isn’t anything else for any of us average citizens except increased bills.

The plain fact is that the Bill We Like the Least forces people to buy insurance from private companies that have done the near impossible, they have united Americans–all of us despise them. These companies will profit mightily, with no benefit to the rest of us. Obama asked nothing from them except that they not lobby Congress. Drug companies give up a few dollars, balanced by concessions. Hospital companies give up little. Doctors get raises.

Scarecrow thinks that the Obama administration has cut a deal with the insurance companies to kill competition for them, just the kind of concession it made for all the other players in the health business. I agree.

Masaccio in "Entrenched Interests Are Safe from the Obama Administration" ends his/her article with:
The President didn’t get elected to serve the interests of corporations and their rich owners. He got elected to change the rules, to make the economy work for everyone, not just the rich. We need for him to do that.
Certainly Obama was not elected to serve corporate interests but he has obviously and very deliberately chosen to be subservient to those interests. His job now is to use his pied-piper routine to convince us all to be satisfied with what his masters want ...

... another war, anyone?

John McCain and Jon Kyl are using Medicare but do not want all Americans to have access to what they have ...

Anthony Weiner Points Out the Hypocrisy of Members of Congress on Medicare but Against the Public Option

From Think Progress: Rep. Weiner Identifies 55 Republicans On Medicare Who ‘Steadfastly Oppose’ The Public Option

Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D-NY) office today released an internal study showing that 151 members of Congress “currently receive government-funded; government-administered single-payer health care — Medicare.” Of those 151 members, 55 are Republicans who also happen to be “steadfastly opposed [to] other Americans getting the public option, like the one they have chosen.” Included on Weiner’s list are anti-public option crusaders Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Orin Hatch (R-UT), Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), and Rep. Peter King (R-NY).

Friday, October 23, 2009

Well, that's a surprise ... denfense contractors control Democratic Senator Dan Inouye ...

Sources: Franken's Anti-Rape Amendment To Be Stripped By Sen. Inouye
Appears Inouye plans to serve government contractors rather than the people.

There is something seriously wrong with the Senate. The Republicans could get anything, except the destruction of SS, through the Senate. But Democrats can accomplish close to nothing. I assume that's become most Democrats, including Obama-baby, are not Democrats but Repugs dressing up as Dems.

Whatever the case the Senate is a waste of time and taxpayer money and should be eliminated. The representation in the House should be increased. This farse is going to get worse and worse and the Dems are going to loose their majority through their own stupidity. Which causes the corporations no harm since they win either way. The people loose, period. Which is the plan ...

Oh, the hypocrisy ...

Tearing Up The Contracts

It's official now: Obama hates us ...

What will Reid do. Will Reid take Obama's hate for Americans as an excuse to betray the voters.

Obama Wants a Trigger, So Keep Calling Reid

Well, Harry Reid is the Senate Majority Leader, arguably the second most powerful man in the country. The Senate is a separate and co-equal branch of the federal government. If he’s giving over his power to the White House to dictate his job to him, he’s weaker than even I thought.

If Reid wants to give up his seat by letting the executive branch take control of the Senate and get the triggers that they have wanted for so long, it’s up to him. If he puts a public option with a trigger in the final bill, fought that battle before. It’ll be time to do it again.

A public option is something that 80% of Nevada Democrats want.

Harry Reid can't lay his actions on Obama. Obama's perfidy belongs to Obama. If Reid chooses to betray American voters that's his own call.

Apparently only a few things make Obama any better than Bush-baby. Obama can construct sentences in the English language. Obama does not behave like a cowardly bully. Obama may stave of the entire world organizing against us for awhile. Other than that, what exactly has Obama done differently. It appears to be more style than substance.

Never, never thought I'd say this, but I almost feel sorry for Harry Reid ...

Reid, left out in the cold by his own party's corporate collaborator of a president. Reid, the target of millions of barb from the voters for his frequent underhanded behavior. Reid, threatened with loss of his Senate seat.

Does he want to do the right thing with health care? Who knows. But what seems very clear is that he will have no support from his usual friends. Obama and his Bush-like cronies want Americans to continue to suffer from lack of adequate health care.

What will Harry Reid do?

Sadly we've seen what Obama does with important issues ... he gives rousing, if duplicitous, speeches in public, then joins the enemy in private. How many years will it take before this behavior catches us with Obama, as it finally has with Reid on health care?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It is Harry Reid’s choice and his alone to include the public option in a final Senate bill. ...

Repeat, repeat, repeat:
As Senate Majority leader, it is Harry Reid’s choice and his alone to include the public option in a final Senate bill. He’s the only one who gets to make that decision. And if he decides to kowtow to powerful DC lobbying interests and hike up health care costs for individuals by $2000 a year by jettisoning the public option, then he’s the one who will have to shoulder the blame.
If he doesn't include the public option in the final bill, Reid will attempt to blame someone or something else, as he usually does. Only this time there are more people watching. Don't expect it will be forgotten as soon as his other deceptions ...
Another subject about Reid, sort of.

Reid went to the AMA to find out how Republicans were going to vote? And they lied to him? Is this weird or what:
The Doctor’s Fix Debacle: Reid Claims He was “Misled” by AMA on Deal for GOP Votes
Did some of his own Dems lie to him too? You know theoretically he didn't even need the Republicans.

Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens puts it in words ...

"They're opening them (oil fields) up to other companies all over the world ... We're entitled to it," Pickens said of Iraq's oil. "Heck, we even lost 5,000 of our people, 65,000 injured and a trillion, five hundred billion dollars."


"We leave there with the Chinese getting the oil," Pickens said.

Just who is this 'we' oil man?

I'm almost speechless. But the thoughts that do come to mind are: another arrogant, contemptible turd and mucus secreting corporate slug.

T. Boone Pickens "takeovers put many independent oil producers out of business. With an estimated current net worth of about $3 billion, he is ranked by Forbes as the 117th-richest person in America and ranked 369th in the world." [Wikipedia]

And to think he didn't get Iraq and after supporting all the warmongers collected in Bush's Corporate regime that sacrificed so much American blood and money for his benefit.

I realize American corporations just don't care, but what about all the non-Americans that were murdered and killed and raped and tortured and starved and abused. What about all their losses in lives and property and hope for a decent life? 'We," oil man, are all smaller because you and your corporate buddies supported and encouraged a mental deficient 'president' and a criminally insane 'vice president' to perpetrate a war of terror on Iraq. And that 'we' includes you, oil man.


One little point I don't quite grasp. If Corporatist T. Boone Pickens concludes that the blood and money expended by Americans should result in his personal increase in wealth and power where does the blood and money of others that is destroyed by Americans enter into that accounting? Is it a plus or minus in T. Boone Pickens mind? Or does it just not exist in his mind?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Big surprise: Harry Reid doesn't want anti-trust legislation for his masters, the insurance companies ....

Bad News: Insurance Industry Anti-Trust To Be Offered As An Amendment To Senate Health Care Bill
Harry Reid couldn't lead himself out of a paper bag. All he does is take orders. He has so many masters he obviously lives in a state of perpetual befuddlement.

So sad, but probably true: Obama is working against us on health care ...

Watch the decisions Harry “makes” in coming days. My bet is they’ll shore up the underlying deals — they’ll make mandated insurance modestly more affordable and fix the mandates a bit, while protecting the insurers from a viable, functioning public option. The industry will still control a system in which consumers will be forced to buy their unreliable products with government subsidies.

And seeing this coming, Nancy Pelosi will push a more reform-minded House to fight back as hard as they can. The House now carries the hopes for even limited reform. Sadly, her opposition is not just the Senate’s 60 vote barrier; it’s in the White House.

Working against us on one of the most important pieces of legislation to Americans' wellbeing. That's the kind of man Obama is. If he wanted decent health care for Americans he would have made that very clear by now. Instead he prevaricates.

Reid is a reeking twisted turd. Obama's actions are just as ripe. But you have to hand it to him. Successfully working against the people and for his corporate masters takes skill. So far Obama has managed to keep from alienating a good number of his supporters. Wonder how he'll turn his betrayal on health care to his advantage?

Is Nancy Pelosi really going to fight for us this time? ...

Nancy Pelosi has disappointed me so many times after espousing progressive positions then absolutely caving to the fake Dems (which includes the Prez). But this time she seems to be working harder (not to mention that there's a swelling of support around her) so maybe she will continue the fight to the end:
By now you’ve probably heard about Nancy Pelosi’s decision to include the more liberal version of the public option in the final House bill, the one that includes Medicare + 5% rates, as the Progressive Caucus has sought, instead of negotiated rates. This may be slightly premature. Whatever bill she releases will be guaranteed to get 218 votes, and right now the process to round up those votes is ongoing – her Majority Whip Jim Clyburn will seek the necessary votes within the next 24 hours. But she’s nearing that count for the “robust” version, leading her to side with House liberals on this question.
Finally, let me echo Chris Bowers and say that respect must be paid to Nancy Pelosi. Getting a Medicare +5% public option through her chamber of the House would be a major achievement, making it far more likely to get some manner of public option in the final bill – and, because it’s among the most popular elements of reform, ensuring that a decent health care bill passes into law this year. She deserves a lot of credit for getting this far, and so does the Congressional Progressive Caucus, often thought of as a weak player in the Capitol. Take a bow, Raul Grijalva, Lynn Woolsey, and the rest. (Pelosi About To Include Medicare +5 Public Option In House Bill)

Ending news articles with inanities ...

Gail Russell Chaddock ends an article in The Christian Science Monitor entitled "Who will rein in healthcare costs? Don’t look to Congress." with the following quote:
“There aren’t any easy deficit reductions anymore,” says Stanley Collender, a budget analyst at Qorvis Communications here. “If there were easy reductions, they would have been done already.”
Well, a real easy way to reduce US spending would be to end the Afghanistan (and the Iraq) wars. This would pay for healthy health care for every single American. And that's not even counting all the lives, American and not, that would be saved.

Perhaps, though, easy reductions doesn't mean sane reductions, nor logical reductions, nor reductions one would arrive at with a working intellect.

Perhaps, reductions refers to cheating the voters and engorging the corporations. Perhaps reductions refers to how the elected representatives in the Senate can perform the transfer of funds without the populace noticing. If this is the case then I must agree, reductions that are not reductions but monetary transfers from citizens to citizen-killing corporations, who cynically use the word 'health' in their corporate titles, is not always easy to do without vocal disapproval, at least not permanently.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"Why is the Chamber of Commerce refusing to stand up for small business?" ...

Simon Johnson asks the question in title above.

There is a long tradition in the United States of big business trampling on independent entrepreneurs, and of those entrepreneurs fighting back through the ballot box. This time around, big banks captured their regulators, badly damaged small firms, and look set to do it again.

Why is the Chamber of Commerce refusing to stand up for small business?

The question is, I think, not exactly on the up and up. When was the national C of C ever about small business? As far as I can see they've always been about protecting the most selfish interests of very large corporations while claiming, quite disingenuously, that they are about protecting small business. Local C of C vary. They tend to represent medium to large businesses. Their business is to protect themselves. Creating an environment for new entries is NOT their goal.

The truth that can't be heard ... in the US ...

We can't combat Terrorism by sending our military into Muslim countries. Doing that only exacerbates the problem, since it inevitably intensifies the anti-American sentiment that enables and fuels the terrorist threat in the first place. All of that is so basic. It's been empirically proven over and over during the last decade. It's not Noam Chomsky or Al Jazeera pointing out these basic truths, but instead, a 2004 Task Force handpicked by Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon to review and assess the Bush administration's anti-terrorism efforts, principally the wars they were waging in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Undoubtedly, there is some small faction of "Islamic radicals" principally motivated by religious fervor which will likely hate the West regardless of what it does, but -- as the 2004 Pentagon-commissioned Report found -- their most potent weapons are American policies that inflame anti-American hatred in the Muslim world, beginning with ongoing wars waged by the U.S. military in Muslim countries. That's so self-evident it shouldn't require a report to document it, but since it seems to, here's a very credible report that does exactly that [pdf].

A Rumsfeld-era reminder about what causes Terrorism by Glenn Greenwald

Olympia Snowe (Repug): Let them eat cake!

Snowe Says Jump, Baucus Says How High

... [Snowe's] solution to the fact that real health insurance would still be unaffordable for millions if the nation adopted the bill she wrote: let everyone buy worthless junk insurance. This is probably one of the worst ways to make insurance “affordable,” and it seems that Baucus now thinks it is great idea.
I agree with this:
The Democrats’ desperate attempts to adopt all of Snowe’s (a member of a powerless minority party) terrible ideas is sickening. She has been slowly ruining reform with her demands. Her unneeded vote is not worth the terrible compromises she has demanded. Senate Democrats need to stop bowing to her whims and put together the best bill they can to help the American people.
It conjures up the image of Democrats as rodents running in circles around a big piece of stinking cheese.

As for this:
Polling shows the Americans just don’t really care that a bill is “bipartisan.” What they want is real reform with a public option, which will make life for regular people in this country better.
But Obama, the insurance companies, the Repugs, and the minority of DEMS THAT COUNT in the Senate don't want Americans to have health care. They want the insurance industry to get richer and richer off the death of Americans so that they can receive more and more blood money from them. That's what Obama's preferred Senators want.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Senate and WH bozos really working hard ...

... to figure out how to nix or emasculate the public option without getting killed (politically speaking).
White House, Senate Principals Discuss Public Option, But Reach No Decisions--Talks Continue Tomorrow
What a dilemma! Poor babies. Do they do their jobs as representatives of the voters or do they do the bidding of their corporate masters. The script just isn't so easy to write as usual. Which will they choose? It's obvious what they want to do ... but what will they do?

Crazy, but true ...

I like the way Krugman summarizes Bush's 'presidential' accomplishments:

The symptoms of Bush Derangement Syndrome, in its fullest version, are that you believed

1. That the Bush tax cuts were sold on false pretenses, and were fiscally irresponsible

2. That the Iraq war was sold on false pretenses, and that invading Iraq was a mistake

3. That for all his posturing, Bush was actually doing a bad job of fighting Al Qaeda

4. That the use of torture was ineffective as well as immoral, and was hurting America

5. That the economic expansion of the middle Bush years, such as it was, was driven by an unsustainable housing bubble

6. That the Bush administration was distorting science to avoid taking action on climate change

Crazy stuff, with one common theme: it was all true.

This could be interpreted as ...

... on education Obama wants what he wants but on health care Obama wants what the Republicans and the killers of the sick and injured in the insurance industry want; that is nothing ... or worse.
Senate Using Reconciliation On Major Piece Of Obama Agenda – Not Health Care, But Education
But then again how could anyone get that impression from Obama's hot and cold behavior?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Killer Kyl is just not sure that having no healthcare is a killer ...

Kyl: 'I'm Not Sure It's A Fact' That Lack Of Health Insurance Causes People To Die

Gregory then asked, "And is it a necessity to tackle the fact that there are more and more Americans who die because they don't have access to health insurance?"

Kyl's response:

I'm not sure that it's a fact that more and more people die because they don't have health insurance. But because they don't have health insurance, the care is not delivered in the best and most efficient way.

I imagine Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) -- of "Republicans want you to die quickly" fame -- might have a field day with this one.

Now Jon Kyl, an embarrassment to Arizona second to John McCain, is not Bush-stupid. So he must be making this up as he goes along. Like McCain does.

There's reality:
Then there are the Republicans ...

Today's quote, oh well, let's make that two ...

... When corporate gains are privatized and losses are socialized, you think maybe the working people have finally had enough of picking up the slack? ...

-- The Wealthy Are Very Upset That People Are Angry. Oh, Stop Your Sobbing. by Susie Madrak
... many Americans don't ever think much about the huge gap between what we claim about ourselves and what we do. But much of the rest of the world -- certainly including the Muslim world -- sees that discrepancy quite clearly, often up-close. ...

-- David Rohde's insights into what motivates the Taliban by Glenn Greenwald,

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Today's quote ...

... That is so very, very unexpected: that policies designed by former Goldman CEO Hank Paulson, ultimate Wall Street servant Tim Geithner, and the banking-owned United States Congress would redound to the personal benefit of investment banking executives but not the general public. ...

-- Another Goldman executive named to key government post as its profits skyrocket by Glenn Greenwald,

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Today's quote ...

I now see that it does not matter how many Democrats are elected. The Democratic leadership values “bipartisanship” above principles, the needs of working class Americans, or keeping their promises. The Democratic party in Washington insists on handing over complete control to whichever Republican senator will take it.

-- My Apology To Former Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee by Jon Walker

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

So we continue using Afghanistan for one of our wars ...

... so that Dianne Feinstein's husband Richard Blum (among others) can increase his millions through the deaths of thousands of Americans (and others).
Democrats and Afghanistan: what's at stake

I didn't know ...

The last I knew, being a commercial pilot was a high paying job.
Michael Moore: Do You Want Airline Pilots to Be Working Two Jobs?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Today's quote ...

It's often forgotten or obscured, but the central political fact now is that the Democratic Party controls everything in Washington -- from the branches of government to favors doled out to lobbyists to the policies that Congress and the President enact. Wars that are fought and bills that are or are not passed and policies that are maintained are, by definition, Democratic actions. The dreaded Right can't dictate or stop anything. That's the burden of having massive majorities in all areas -- everything that happens is the result of what the Democratic Party does, and that's why the divisions and conflicts that truly matter are ones with the party itself. The "right v. left" and even "Democrat v. GOP" drama dominates most of our discourse, yet at this point it is a distracting and largely irrelevant food fight. It's the Democrats who have won the last two elections by large margins and wield all the power, and increasingly the defining conflict is between those whose overarching allegiance is to Obama and the Party as ends in themselves, and those who see those things as mere means to more important ends.

-- Gay issues, the "Fringe Left" and the liberal veal pen by Glenn Greenwald,

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The future looks ....?

Glenn Greenwald writes:
As Kaptur said, given the size and scope of "the largest transfer of wealth from the American people to the biggest banks in this country," one would expect there to be massive public interest in what happened and why, and, more so, whether any of this is being fixed (it plainly isn't). One would particularly expect the Democratic Party -- which has long branded itself as being the populist party against Wall Street -- would be leading that charge, for political benefit if not for substantive reasons. But that's clearly not happening, and the primary reason why is because both political parties, as institutions, are dependent on and thus controlled by the very industry that is at the heart of it.

Among the two parties, there's no outlet for the populist anger that Kaptur understands and is voicing because each party is eager to serve the interests of those who fund them. And that's why Democrats have largely ceded the populist anger over Wall Street to GOP operatives who are exploiting the "tea party" movement as the only real organized citizen activism over these issues. ...


This is hardly unique to the banking industry. This is how the political system works generally. Earnest, substantive debates over this or that policy are so often purely illusory, as the only factor that really drives that outcomes is the question of who owns and thus controls the political system. That central fact subsumes just about everything else.
I keep hoping that I don't live to see how far the US will go along this road ... which means that I hope that we can restore some for-the-people, by-the-people and of-the-people to our government and if that does not happen that at the very least the worsening does not completely stop my enjoyment of life ... as in reality I'm in no hurry to leave it.

Today's quote ...

The whole thing is disgusting: Obama sneaking these in in a last-minute classified briefing. Doing so under cover from Jeff Sessions (what? DiFi and Pat Leahy don’t want responsibility for this??). Pat Leahy letting that happen. A voice vote, so no one will ever hold Leahy and DiFi and Whitehouse and Franken and others responsible for doing this.

-- Obama’s Bipartisanship: Hiding Behind Jeff Sessions’ Skirts When Eliminating Privacy Protections by emptywheel,

Friday, October 9, 2009

Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize ...

TPM has an interpretation of Obama's Nobel Peace Prize that helps with my reaction that isn't this too soon? That Obama actually talks to other nations, is not an embarrassment and has command of the English language are some of the things that I like about him:
This is an odd award. You'd expect it to come later in Obama's presidency and tied to some particular event or accomplishment. But the unmistakable message of the award is one of the consequences of a period in which the most powerful country in the world, the 'hyper-power' as the French have it, became the focus of destabilization and in real if limited ways lawlessness. A harsh judgment, yes. But a dark period. And Obama has begun, if fitfully and very imperfectly to many of his supporters, to steer the ship of state in a different direction. If that seems like a meager accomplishment to many of the usual Washington types it's a profound reflection of their own enablement of the Bush era and how compromised they are by it, how much they perpetuated the belief that it was 'normal history' rather than dark aberration.
I guess I'm jaded but I still feel that the reward is being given before the performance. Then we just 'hope' that the performance follows. Not unlike the rest of political and corporate structure in these here --no-health-care, decimated-retirement funds, increasing joblessness, increasingly homelessness for the not-rich and not-elite-- United States.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

More Behind and above Roosevelt Lake ...

Click on images to view larger version of same.

More photos taken east of Roosevelt Lake. The first set is here. Roosevelt Lake is visible in three of these photos whereas in the last set only a sliver of the lake was visible in one of them. The last picture is a Photoshop composite. Photoshop really did a fine job. As you can see by the jagged edge the camera was hand held.

And why would that be? ...

... generally speaking the notion that party defectors should be stripped of their seniority and other perks is often embraced by grassroots activists on both the left and the right. But in recent years it hasn't typically result in any action on the Hill.
Why would the Congress respond to public opinion when they work for wall street and the health insurance industry and the rest of the Corporate Bandits. We only elect them. All they need is enough money and media backing and the right kind of publicity and we will vote for anyone they want.

Why would Congressional Democrats suffer any penalty when working against the people of this country since Congress is a wholly owned subsidiary of the corporate world? After all we only elect them, pay their salaries, provide THEM health care, provide THEM retirement, etc., etc.

They've shown repeatedly that they really get irritated when our opinions are actually brought to their attention. Keep it up. Irritate the hell out of them and then vote for someone else. Some of the Dems in Congress are no better than Republicans. Many are only slightly better than Republicans. A very small percentage actually do a good and honest job of representing their constituents. It's not a pretty picture.

I'm not so sure ...

Public Option Opt Out Denies Help to Those Who Need It Most
If we could get Congress to pass and Obama to sign national Medicare 'public option' to begin as soon as possible, not years from now, then the states that opt out
  • may find that their citizens begin to migrate to the other states that have decent care,
  • or may have some of their elected officials' careers rather quickly curtailed by an angry populace
once their citizens start to understand that people in other states have something that they don't have.

Getting legislation for the existing Medicare structure to cover an ever increasing percentage of Americans would be a good thing. Certainly a much better outcome than Obama ever planned to provide for.

Why in the world are we even thinking of re-inventing the wheel on this when Medicare works? Are we, as a country, stupid? You don't need to answer that.

Michelle Bachmann. A laugh a minute ...

Far be it from me to suggest that we just don't like the lack of morality that is a required part of being a Republican politician, a group to which Michelle Bachmann belongs in spades.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN): It may bother them that conservative women are happy and don't need government in order to be successful in life," ... "I have a great husband, great kids. I had a great career as a federal tax attorney. And I don't need government to be successful. And it seems like they have a stereotype for women and I don't fit in their stereotype. [emphasis added]
Though she doesn't need no stinkin' government she does live off of it --directly and indirectly.

I'm not implying that many Dems are not corrupt. But it does not yet appear that being corrupt is a requirement to join the group, though the corrupt do appear ascendant.

Olberman: Medicare for EVERYBODY ...


Sometimes Keith Olberman is utterly superb.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Florence Junction ...

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Clouds at Florence Junction.

Palm tree planted by the long forgotten?

But never fear, lest a nice little out of the way place to stop between Tucson and points North and East, the Phoenix instinct to cover the desert with cement is alive and well. Yes, I realize that there are many in Tucson who would like to catch up with the abomination that Phoenix has become. But Phoenix has a big head start and unless they stop growing, Tucson cannot catch up. Together though these forces will fill the corridor(s) between these two cities with ugliness.

This is the view in the opposite direction from the sign above.

So our health care must be soooo much better. Right? ...

Per capita health care spending (2007):

United States: $7290
Switzerland: $4417
France: $3601
United Kingdom: $2992
Average of OECD developed nations: $2964
Italy: $2686
Japan: $2581

-- Bob Somerby at The Daily Howler via Corrente

Tell that to the 45,000 Americans die each year because of the US 'health' insurance industry.

Today's quote ...

You may have noticed that a lot of Liberty Counsel's claims are flat-out lies. Don't let that disturb you! There is, after all, nothing in the Bible/Torah about lying.

-- ARE YOU "THE UNKNOWN LIBERAL"? Pick me, pick me! at Amygdala

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Today's quote ... Washington Doesn't Get It: We Need More Jobs

A whopping 83 percent see unemployment as either a fairly big or very big problem; and 81 percent say the Obama administration hasn't done enough to deal with it.

And there just aren't a whole lot of things that more than 80 percent of Americans agree about.

Not coincidentally, large majorities of voters also see the government's economic policies as helping banks and Wall Street -- while few see themselves or average working families in general as benefiting.

So why isn't political Washington fully engaged in addressing the unemployment problem? For the same reasons it can't seem to get much of anything done these days: most notably the abject lack of boldness from the Democrats and persistent obstructionism from the Republicans.

Democrats have been particularly terrified for decades now of doing anything that can be said to actually cost the government money. (Republicans, ironically, have no such scruples.) So our modern ruling party has found itself boxed in by its own president's support for "pay-as-you-go budget rules". And the fact is that very serious concern about the deficit -- even now, when it's the least of our troubles -- is considered a hallmark of serious thinking in Washington. Those who don't toe the line are written off as crazy, wild-eyed radicals.

-- Washington Doesn't Get It: We Need More Jobs by Dan Froomkin

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Out of the mouths of Americans ...

The following two quotes are taken from today's Glenn Greenwald article Georgia/Russia: how our political discourse works
Sarah Palin, ABC News interview, September 10, 2008:

PALIN: For Russia to have exerted such pressure in terms of invading a smaller democratic country, unprovoked, is unacceptable and we have to keep...

GIBSON: You believe unprovoked.

PALIN: I do believe unprovoked and we have got to keep our eyes on Russia, under the leadership there.


John McCain, presidential debate, October 7, 2008:

[Putin] has exhibited most aggressive behavior, obviously, in Georgia. . . .We have to make the Russians understand that there are penalties for these this kind of behavior, this kind of naked aggression into Georgia, a tiny country and a tiny democracy.

Not only do our high visibility politicians and media 'luminaries' make the facts up but they have no apparent hesitation in excitedly encouraging the US to actions that they state as absolutely wrong, unChristian, evil, contemptible (pick most any negative adjective you like) when others engage in such actions. How do McCain and Palin reconcile the above words with US actions in Iraq and the current build up of excitement over Iran that is eerily similar to that that preceded the invasion of Iraq? The answer is that they don't bother nor attempt to reconcile the incomprehensible position. They do not have to justify nor explain. All they have to do is speak the same lies over and over.

The only ones who have to explain or justify their words are those who buck the current Political/Media fantasy. And then the words that they are asked to justify have nothing to do with their position, with the facts nor the logic of their argument but, rather, with a few specially selected adjectives. For example:

Notice that Alan Grayson is trying to talk about the need Americans have for health care while the 'panelists' are concerned about the adjectives he uses to describe the Republicans in the House and similar diversions. It's really great the way Grayson keeps to his points about health care and refuses to be misdirected by the silliness of the kind that the media regularly dishes out to anyone who doesn't regurgitate what the corporate media deems acceptable.