It's all just complete insanity, like children bickering over candy. But that's the way our world and country is run. Terrifying…
The electoral college has yet to vote.
the War on Drugs has been a colossal failures where pot has been concerned, except for blowing up prison populations. Stuff is still out there, readily available, we just have a lot of folks who can't vote nowadays.
I, as a Republican Conservative and/or member of the Tea Party, solomnly swear that from now on, I will abstain from all taxpayer-funded services and actions.
Not to mention there is a good reason for the hatred directed at the 1%. What we have in the USA is a system so corrupted by money the ones at the top literally have a "heads I win, tails you lose" situation where it is damned near impossible for them NOT to become ever richer and more powerful.
The government today announced that it is changing its emblem from an Eagle to a CONDOM because it more accurately reflects the government's political stance. A condom allows for inflation, halts production, destroys the next generation, protects a bunch of pricks, and gives you a sense of security while you're actually being screwed.
Because we live in a nation that really hates competition.
A recent hiring chart shows how, after a fall earlier in the year, we find that aliens are continuing to make more than farmers, hippies or even space cadets, among others.
Dear American liberals, leftists, social progressives, socialists, Marxists, Obama supporters, et al:
We have stuck together since the late 1950's for the sake of the kids, but the whole of this latest election process has made me realize that I want a divorce. I know we tolerated each other for many years for the sake of future generations, but sadly, this relationship has clearly run its course.
Our two ideological sides of America cannot and will not ever agree on what is right for us all, so let's just end it on friendly terms. We can smile and chalk it up to irreconcilable differences and go our own way.
As someone who has lived in Nebraska both in the South-Central "Sticks" (18 years) and in downtown Omaha (14 years), with friends in both places, I am really wondering if Nebraska might just 'flip democratic' for the 2012 election(s)? People on 'the street' (Proud city boys) and in 'the field' (Proud country boys) [I have many friends in 'both worlds'; I know metal-head farm boys as well as country music loving city people] are ALL saying the same thing: the current way the government is thumbing its nose at the general citizens of this great country is fully unnacceptable, and has gone beyond an annoying distraction to a scary, threatening entity and none of us want to take it any more and we are willing to do whatever it takes (Even voting Democrat!) to bring this out of control attitude to a full-stop before it gets any worse. We're already starting to look at our children with sadness (If I didn't get a chance for the American Dream, then they definitely never will.) It's finally become a reality that threatens our ability to simply live. We're s tarting to realize that we'd rather die on our feet than live on our knees in shame and poverty. Politicians are getting a vicious lesson in who their REAL bosses are. Sure, we'll let them play their silly power games while we get on with our real lives, but let those power games go beyond silly and get scary, then you got another thing coming!
American voters are a pretty smart group. If they are presented a choice between recklessly slashing the budget on the one hand, and investing to assure that our kids will have more opportunities than we do, they choose the future every time. After all, what Americans really want is to feel confident that together we can once again reclaim the American dream.
The Republican Party is little more than a conspiracy by which the wealthy use religion to convince the ignorant to vote for economic policies that are against their own interests.
Evan DeFilippis/The Daily
Monday, December 6, 2010
Editor’s note: This column is in response to Kate McPherson’s Tuesday column, “Airport screenings could be worse.”
Daily columnist Kate McPherson wrote a column on Tuesday in defense of the Transportation Security Administration’s newest screening procedures, arguing that because security protocol in other countries is far more invasive than that implemented in the U.S., the American public should be grateful to have such ‘minor’ abbreviations of liberty. In my experience with debate I have found that any position whose primary justification is “it could be worse” is almost certainly wrong.
My colleague argues that aggressive pat-downs and full-body scans are crucial to our security. This argument fails in multiple respects — it makes the false assumption that these new procedures are actually effective in mitigating the risk of terrorism, which they aren’t; it fallaciously presumes that one’s security risk is higher in an airport than it is anywhere else, which it isn’t; and it prescribes a remedy that is far worse than the disease. Benjamin Franklin had a pithy rebuttal: “those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Here’s mine:
There is little evidence to suggest that the newest TSA procedures will be effective at reducing terrorism. Indeed, security expert Bruce Schneier stated unequivocally that nothing that can conceivably be done to stop a well-financed al-Qaeda-like plot from materializing — once terrorist plotters have made it to the airport, it’s already too late to stop them. Against “lone-wolf” amateur forms of terrorism, upper-level intelligence agencies and pre-Sept. 11 technologies has consistently proven effective at neutralizing the threat.
Nevertheless, the TSA continues to advocate a model of security based upon overreaction. Ineffectual peripheral threats relating to liquid explosives, shoe bombs or printer cartridges coincide with rapid changes to the terrorist alert level (as if the risk of terrorism increases after a failed plot!) and reactionary modifications to security protocol, resulting in the loss of millions in governmental revenue, inconvenience for passengers and the abatement of fundamental liberty.
The fundamental problem is that terrorism is innovative while TSA policy is reactive. The TSA modifies its protocol on the basis of terrorist plots that have already happened, while an intelligent terrorist knows not to duplicate the failed efforts of past terrorists.
Security expert, Bruce Schneier, noted that international terrorists have already started smuggling weapons through body cavities, which can’t be detected through either x-rays or pat-downs, instantly rendering both our new procedures useless.
The other problem is that even if technology is capable, under experimental conditions, of identifying dangerous materials, there’s still a deeply flawed human element that undermines the effectiveness of these procedures.
TSA employees must independently evaluate hundreds of images a day, of people with different body shapes, garments, hairstyles, and physical eccentricities, on a government-issued chair, displayed on a 17-inch monitor, and without much monetary incentive, and we expect them, in less than five minutes, to competently delineate good people from bad people. It’s nonsense to believe that this technology will save us from terrorism, yet we’re sacrificing privacy and our dignity in the name of a goal that isn’t achievable: perfect safety.
The odds of dying on an airplane as a result of a terrorist hijacking are less than 1 in 25 million — which, for all intents and purposes, is effectively zero — according to Paul Campos, a law professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder. By comparison, the odds of dying in a normal airplane crash, according to the OAG Aviation Database, are 1 in 9.2 million. This means that, on average, pilots are responsible for more deaths than terrorists.
In the same vein, the average American is 87 times more likely to drown than die by a terrorist attack; 50 times more likely to die by lightening; and 8 times more likely to die by a police officer, according to the National Safety Council’s 2004 estimates. I can go on, the point is this: the risk of a terrorist attack is so infinitesimal and its impact so relatively insignificant that it doesn’t make rational sense to accept the suspension of liberty for the sake of avoiding a statistical anomaly.
The $338 million spent so far on body scanners by the TSA could have instantly had larger social benefit had it been invested in almost anything else.
It’s as if our collective memory has been reconstructed around the fulcrum of Sept. 11, such that terrorism has been newly defined by the events surrounding that day, and not by the myriad other ways in which terrorism has historically been executed. If we can justify the imposition of invasive force and the volitional sacrifice of rights based upon a single historical aberration, where do we draw the line the next time a terrorist attack happens?
Would it be appropriate for the TSA to populate public parks, restaurants, casinos, zoos and public transit, all in the name of security? After all, in 2006 the Dpartment of Homeland Security listed those places as “top terrorist targets.” And if we were to use the same logic forwarded by TSA-proponents, we would say that because people aren’t required to go to these places, it’s okay to coerce them into abridging their rights. It’s their choice, after all. Yet, we obviously wouldn’t accept such a system if it were implemented, so why do we accept the same humiliating system at airports?
The inconsistency of our outrage is instructive — it shows that our perceptions of safety and security are not reflective of reality but are instead dictated to us externally by demagogic politicians who have a vested interest in our fear. We are a passive audience trapped in a theatre of the absurd — apparently too absorbed in brilliantly orchestrated drama to realize it’s all just a play.
We should be concerned with the 12.7 percent of Americans who live below the poverty line, or the 7.9 million people who die worldwide because of cancer, or the 9,000 innocent Afghani civilians we’ve killed fighting an unjustified war, but we are instead enraptured by xenophobic obscurantism that perverts our sense of risk, enables the abrogation of liberty and leaves us vulnerable to a self-defeating national policy that plays into the hands of terrorists.
Security for the sake of security is pointless — I can assure you that the risk of terrorism would be neutralized if airline passengers were required to board planes naked but such a requirement would be so intrusive and humiliating that security would have lost its meaningfulness. There’s no purpose in security if it debases the very life it intends to protect, yet the forced choice one has to make between privacy and travel does just that. If you want to travel, you have a “choice” between low-tech fondling or high-tech pornography; the choice, therefore, to relegate your fundamental rights in exchange for a plane ticket. Not only does this paradigm presume that one’s right to privacy is variable — contingent on the government’s discretion and only respected in places that the government doesn’t care to look — but it also ignores that the fundamental right to travel has consistently been upheld by the Supreme Court.
Consider a quote from United States v. Guest (1966): “In any event, freedom to travel throughout the United States has long been recognized as a basic right under the Constitution.” Another quote from Shapiro v Thompson (1969): “‘The constitutional right to travel from one State to another . . . has been firmly established and repeatedly recognized.’ … This constitutional right, which, of course, includes the right of ‘entering and abiding in any State in the Union,’ is not a mere conditional liberty subject to regulation and control under conventional due process or equal protection standards. ‘[T]he right to travel freely from State to State finds constitutional protection that is quite independent of the Fourteenth Amendment.’ As we made clear in Guest, it is a right broadly assertable against private interference as well as governmental action. Like the right of association, NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449, it is a virtually unconditional personal right, guaranteed by the Constitution to us all.”
If we have both the right to privacy and the right to travel, then TSA’s newest procedures cannot conceivably be considered legal. The TSA’s regulations blatantly compromise the former at the expense of the latter, and as time goes on we will soon forget what it meant to have those rights.
Every time we convince ourselves that things “aren’t that bad” and thus not in need of change, we are training ourselves to be complacent in the face of injustice, and we are weakening our capacity to challenge those forces most in need of change. It could always be worse, but that doesn’t mean we should surrender the opportunity to make it better.
— Evan DeFilippis
Dear American Taxpayer
For only the second time in my adult life, I am not ashamed of my country. I want to thank the hard working American people for paying $242 thousand dollars for my vacation in Spain . My daughter Sasha, several long-time family friends, my personal staff and various guests had a wonderful time. Honestly, you just haven't lived until you have stayed in a $2,500.00 per night suite at a 5-Star luxury hotel. Thank you also for the use of Air Force 2 and the 70 Secret Service personnel who tagged along to be sure we were safe and cared for at all times.
Air Force 2 only used 47,500 gallons of jet fuel for this trip and carbon emissions were a mere 1,031 tons of CO2. These are only rough estimates, but they are close. That's quite a carbon footprint as my good friend Al Gore would say, so we must ask the American citizens to drive smaller, more fuel efficient cars and drive less too, so we can lessen our combined carbon footprint.
I know times are hard and millions of you are struggling to put food on the table and trying to make ends meet. I do appreciate your sacrifice and do hope you find work soon. I was really exhausted after Barack took our family on a luxury vacation in Maine a few weeks ago. I just had to get away for a few days.
P.S. Thank you as well for the $2 BILLION trip to India we are currently on! Love ya, mean it.
But you chose the same people two years later?
Damn America, you're dumb as hell.
Oh boy, some silly religious guy from an Arab country is slamming on another silly religious guy from the United States for saying his silly book is better than his silly book, so intends to burn the other guys silly book. One silly guy however, wishes to start killing silly guys from the other side of the silliness over the burning of the other guys silly book. How silly.
Hello, Milwaukee! Thank you to the Milwaukee Area Labor Council and to all of my brothers and sisters in the AFL-CIO for inviting me to spend this day with you - a day that belongs to the working men and women of America.
I want to acknowledge your outstanding national president, a man who knows that a strong economy needs a strong labor movement: Rich Trumka; Dave Newby, president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO; and our host, your Milwaukee Area Labor Council Secretary-Treasurer, Sheila Cochran, who I hear has a birthday tomorrow. I'm proud to be here with our Secretary of Labor, a daughter of union members, Hilda Solis; and our Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood. And let's hear it for the folks at the forefront of every fight for Wisconsin's working men and women - Senator Herb Kohl; Congresswoman Gwen Moore; and your outstanding mayor, Tom Barrett. Your other great senator, Russ Feingold, was here with you earlier, standing with you and your families just like he always has, but he had to head to his hometown of Janesville to participate in their Labor Day parade.
So it is good to be back in Milwaukee. Of course, this isn't my first time at Laborfest. I stood right here with you two years ago, when I was still a candidate for this office. During that campaign, we talked about how, for years, the values of hard work and responsibility that built this country had been given short shrift, and how that was slowly hollowing out our middle class. About how some on Wall Street took reckless risks and cut corners to turn huge profits, while working Americans were fighting harder and harder just to stay afloat. And about how the decks were too often stacked in favor of the special interests and against working Americans.
What we knew, even then, was that these years would be some of the most difficult in our history. And then, two weeks later, the bottom fell out of the economy. Middle-class families suddenly found themselves swept up in the worst recession in our lifetimes.
So the problems facing working families are nothing new. But they are more serious than ever. And that makes our cause more urgent than ever. For generations, it was the great American middle class that made our economy the envy of the world. It's got to be that way again.
It was folks like you, after all, who forged that middle class. It was working men and women who made the twentieth century the American century. It was the labor movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today - the 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, retirement plans, those cornerstones of middle class security that all bear the union label.
And it was that greatest of generations that built America into the greatest force for prosperity, opportunity and freedom the world has ever known. Americans like my grandfather, who went off to war just boys, returned home men, and traded one uniform and set of responsibilities for another. Americans like my grandmother, who rolled up their sleeves and worked in factories on the home front. When the war was over, they studied under the GI Bill; bought homes under the FHA; raised families buttressed by good jobs that paid good wages with good benefits.
It was through my grandparents' experience that I was brought up to believe that anything is possible in America. But they also knew the feeling when that opportunity is pulled out from under you. They would tell me about seeing their fathers or uncles losing jobs during the depression; how it wasn't just the loss of a paycheck that stung. It was the blow to their dignity; their sense of self-worth. I'll bet a lot of us have seen people changed after a long bout of unemployment; how it can wear down even the strongest spirits.
So my grandparents taught me early on that a job is about more than a paycheck, as important as that is. A job is about waking up every day with a sense of purpose, and going to bed each night fulfilled. A job is about meeting your responsibilities to yourself, to your family, to your community. I carried that lesson with me all those years ago when I got my start fighting for men and women on the South Side of Chicago after their local steel plant shut down. I carried that lesson with me through my time as a state senator and a U.S. Senator. I carry that lesson with me today.
And I know that there are folks right here in Milwaukee and all across America who are going through these kinds of struggles. Eight million Americans lost their jobs in this recession. And while we've had eight straight months of private sector job growth, the new jobs haven't been coming fast enough. Now, the plain truth is, there's no silver bullet or quick fix to the problem. Even when I was running for this office, we knew it would take time to reverse the damage of a decade's worth of policies that saw a few folks prosper while the middle class kept falling behind - and it will take more time than any of us wants to dig out of the hole created by this economic crisis.
But on this Labor Day, there are two things I want you to know, Milwaukee. Number one: I'm going to keep fighting, every single day, to turn this economy around; to put our people back to work; to renew the American Dream for your families and for future generations.
Number two - and this I believe with every fiber of my being: America cannot have a strong, growing economy without a strong, growing middle class, and the chance for everybody, no matter how humble their beginnings, to join that middle class. A middle class built on the idea that if you work hard and live up to your responsibilities, you can get ahead - and enjoy some basic guarantees in life. A good job that pays a good wage. Health care that'll be there when you get sick. A secure retirement even if you're not rich. An education that'll give our kids a better life than we had. These are simple ideas. American ideas.
I was thinking about this last week. On the day I announced the end to our combat mission in Iraq, I spent some time, as I often do, with our soldiers and veterans. This new generation of troops coming home from Iraq has earned its place alongside that greatest generation. Like them, they have the skills and training and drive to move America's economy forward once more. And from the time I took office, we've been investing in new care, new opportunity, and a new commitment to their service that's worthy of their sacrifice. But they're coming home to an economy hit by recession deeper than any we've seen. And the question is, how do we create the same kind of middle class opportunity my grandparents' generation came home to? How do we build our economy on the same kind of strong, stable foundation for growth?
Well, anyone who thinks we can move this economy forward with a few doing well at the top, hoping it'll trickle down to working folks running faster and faster just to keep up - they just haven't studied our history. We didn't become the most prosperous country in the world by rewarding greed and recklessness. We didn't come this far by letting special interests run wild. We didn't do it by just gambling and chasing paper profits on Wall Street. We did it by producing goods we could sell; we did it with sweat and effort and innovation. We did it by investing in the people who built this country from the ground up - workers, and middle-class families, and small business owners. We did it by out-working, out-educating, and out-competing everyone else.
Milwaukee, that's what we're going to do again. That's what's been at the heart of all our efforts: building our economy on a new foundation so that our middle class doesn't just survive this crisis - but thrives once we emerge. And over the last two years, that's meant taking on some powerful interests who had been dominating the agenda in Washington for too long.
That's why we passed financial reform that provides new accountability and tough oversight of Wall Street; reform that will stop credit card companies from gouging you with hidden fees and unfair rate hikes; reform that ends the era of taxpayer bailouts for Wall Street once and for all.
That's why we eliminated tens of billions of dollars in wasteful taxpayer subsidies to big banks that provide student loans. We're using those savings to put a college education within reach for working families.
That's why we passed health insurance reform that will make coverage affordable; reform that ends the indignity of insurance companies jacking up your premiums at will or denying you coverage just because you get sick; reform that shifts control from them to you.
That's why we're making it easier for workers to save for retirement, with new ways of saving your tax refunds, a simpler system for enrolling in plans like 401(k)s, and fighting to strengthen Social Security for the future. And to those who may still run for office planning to privatize Social Security, let me be clear: as long as I'm President, I'll fight every effort to take the retirement savings of a generation of Americans and hand it over to Wall Street. Not on my watch.
That's why we've given tax cuts to small business owners. Tax cuts to clean energy companies. A tax cut to 95 percent of working Americans, just like I promised you on the campaign. And instead of giving tax breaks to corporations to create jobs overseas, we're cutting taxes for companies that put our people to work here at home.
That's why we're investing in growth industries like clean energy and manufacturing. And you've got leaders here like Tom Barrett and Jim Doyle who have been fighting to bring those jobs to Milwaukee and to Wisconsin. Because we want to see the solar panels and wind turbines and electric cars of tomorrow manufactured here. We don't just want to buy stuff made elsewhere; we want to grow our exports so the world buys products that say "Made in America."
Because there are no better workers than American workers, and I'll place my bet on you any day of the week. When the naysayers said we should just let the American auto industry vanish and take hundreds of thousands of jobs down with it, we said we'd stand by them if they made the tough choices necessary to compete once again - and today, that industry is on the way back.
Now, another thing we've done is make sound and long-overdue investments in upgrading our outdated and inefficient national infrastructure. We're not just talking new roads, bridges, dams and levees; but also a smart electric grid and the broadband internet and high-speed rail lines required to compete in the 21st century economy. We're talking investments in tomorrow that are creating hundreds of thousands of private sector jobs today.
It was because of these investments, and the tens of thousands of projects they spurred all over the country, that the battered construction sector actually grew last month for the first time in a long time. Still, nearly one in five construction workers are unemployed. And it doesn't do anybody any good when so many American workers have been idled for months, even years, at a time when there is so much of America to rebuild.
That's why, today, I am announcing a new plan for rebuilding and modernizing America's roads, rails and runways for the long-term.
Over the next six years, we are going to rebuild 150,000 miles of our roads - enough to circle the world six times. We're going to lay and maintain 4,000 miles of our railways - enough to stretch coast-to-coast. We're going to restore 150 miles of runways and advance a next generation air-traffic control system to reduce travel time and delays for American travelers - something I think folks across the political spectrum could agree on.
This is a plan that will be fully paid for and will not add to the deficit over time - we're going to work with Congress to see to that. It sets up an Infrastructure Bank to leverage federal dollars and focus on the smartest investments. It will continue our strategy to build a national high-speed rail network that reduces congestion, travel times, and harmful emissions. It will cut waste and bureaucracy by consolidating and collapsing more than 100 different, often duplicative programs. And it will change the way Washington spends your tax dollars; reforming the haphazard and patchwork way we fund and maintain our infrastructure to focus less on wasteful earmarks and outdated formulas, and more on competition and innovation that gives us the best bang for the buck.
All of this will not only create jobs now, but will make our economy run better over the long haul. It's a plan that history tells us can and should attract bipartisan support. It's a plan that says even in the still-smoldering aftermath of the worst recession in our lifetimes, America can act to shape our own destiny, to move this country forward, to leave our children something better - something lasting.
So these are the things we've been working for. These are some of the victories that you helped us achieve. And we're not done. We've got a lot more progress to make. And I believe we will.
But there are some folks in Washington who see things differently. When it comes to just about everything we've done to strengthen the middle class and rebuild our economy, almost every Republican in Congress said no. Even where we usually agree, they say no. They think it's better to score political points before an election than actually solve problems. So they said no to help for small businesses. No to middle-class tax cuts. No to unemployment insurance. No to clean energy jobs. No to making college affordable. No to reforming Wall Street. Even as we speak, these guys are saying no to cutting more taxes for small business owners. I mean, come on! Remember when our campaign slogan was "Yes We Can?" These guys are running on "No, We Can't," and proud of it. Really inspiring, huh?
To steal a line from our old friend, Ted Kennedy: what is it about working men and women that they find so offensive?
When we passed a bill earlier this summer to help states save the jobs of hundreds of thousands of teachers, nurses, police officers and firefighters that were about to be laid off, they said "no" to that, too. In fact, the Republican who's already planning to take over as Speaker of the House dismissed them as "government jobs" that weren't worth saving. Not worth saving? These are the people who teach our kids. Who keep our streets safe. Who put their lives on the line for our own. I don't know about you, but I think those jobs are worth saving.
We made sure that bill wouldn't add to the deficit, either. We paid for it by finally closing a ridiculous tax loophole that actually rewarded corporations for shipping jobs and profits overseas. It let them write off the taxes they pay foreign governments - even when they don't pay taxes here. How do you like that - middle class families footing tax breaks for corporations that create jobs somewhere else! Even a lot of America's biggest corporations agreed the loophole should be closed, that it wasn't fair - but the man with the plan to be Speaker is already aiming to open it up again.
Bottom line is, these guys refuse to give up on the economic philosophy they peddled for most of the last decade. You know that philosophy: you cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires; you cut rules for special interests; you cut working folks like you loose to fend for yourselves. They called it the ownership society. What it really boiled down to was: if you couldn't find a job, or afford college, or got dropped by your insurance company - you're on your own.
Well, that philosophy didn't work out so well for working folks. It didn't work out so well for our country. All it did was rack up record deficits and result in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
I'm not bringing this up to re-litigate the past; I'm bringing it up because I don't want to re-live the past. It would be one thing if Republicans in Washington had new ideas or policies to offer; if they said, you know, we've learned from our mistakes. We'll do things differently this time. But that's not what they're doing. When the leader of their campaign committee was asked on national television what Republicans would do if they took over Congress, he actually said they'd follow "the exact same agenda" as they did before I took office. The exact same agenda.
So basically, they're betting that between now and November, you'll come down with a case of amnesia. They think you'll forget what their agenda did to this country. They think you'll just believe that they've changed. These are the folks whose policies helped devastate our middle class and drive our economy into a ditch. And now they're asking you for the keys back.
Do you want to give them the keys back? Me neither. And do you know why? Because they don't know how to drive! At a time when we're just getting out of the ditch, they'd pop it in reverse, let the special interests ride shotgun, and hit the gas, careening right back into that ditch.
Well, I refuse to go backwards, Milwaukee. And that's the choice America faces this fall. Do we go back to the policies of the past? Or do we move forward? I say we move forward. America always moves forward. And we are going to keep moving forward today.
Let me just close by saying this. I know these are difficult times. I know folks are worried, and there's still a lot of hurt out here. I hear about it when I spend time in towns like this; I read about it in your letters at night. And when times are tough, it can be easy to give in to cynicism and fear; doubt and division - to set our sights lower and settle for something less.
But that is not who we are. That is not the country I know. We do not give up. We do not quit. We are a people that faced down war and depression; great challenges and great threats; and lit the way for the rest of the world. Whenever times have seemed at their worst, Americans have been at their best. Because it is in those times when we roll up our sleeves and remember that we will rise or fall together - as one nation, and one people. That's the spirit that started the labor movement. The idea that alone, we are weak. Divided, we fall. But united, we are strong. That's why we call them unions. That's why we call this the United States of America.
Milwaukee, that's the case I am going to make across the country this fall - yours. And I am asking for your help. If you are willing to join me, and Tom Barrett, and Gwen Moore, and Russ Feingold, we can strengthen our middle class and make our economy work for working Americans again. We can restore the American Dream and deliver it safely to our children. That's how we built the last American century. That's how we'll build the next. We don't believe in the words "No, we can't." We are Americans, and in times of great challenge, we push forward with an unyielding faith that we can. Yes, we can. Thank you, God Bless You and the work you do, and God Bless the United States of America.
...if by a liberal you mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people - their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, their civil liberties..if that is what you mean by a "liberal" then I am proud to be a liberal
Here’s why there are tea parties: The International Monetary Fund just pledged about $50 billion of U.S. taxpayer money to the Greek/Euro bailout. It doesn’t even have to pretend to consult American taxpayers.
In addition, the U.S. Federal Reserve, “separately reopened a currency 'swap’ program to ship billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars overseas, pumping more short-term cash into the European financial system.” It doesn’t have to consult any tax slaves either.
The elite has decided. We the people have no say.
by Robert Freeman
Today, March 29th, marks the thirty-seventh anniversary of America's withdrawal from Vietnam. You won't hear it celebrated in any mainstream media, though it should be. Or more precisely, it should be mourned. Vietnam is the first war America ever lost.
It should be remembered so that we might learn the lessons of that loss. They are many, they are profound, and they could inform so many of our policy decisions today: that withdrawal from immoral wars doesn't mean the end of civilization as we know it; that even America's seemingly limitless resources are, in fact, limited; that masses of engaged, moral individuals can constrain the reckless, destructive folly of renegade elites.
Perhaps the most important lesson of Vietnam is that policies based on lies will ultimately fail, for in an open society it is the consent of the governed that is required to sustain major policy initiatives. A government can either earn that consent, or it must forfeit the essence of its democracy. If lying becomes its essential modus operandi, a nation ceases to be a democracy. Rather, it becomes a criminal conspiracy of self-interested insiders donning the trappings of democracy in order to gull the credulous.
If Vietnam was anything, it was a fetid cesspool of a policy of lies. The intelligence agencies lied about the threat to our country from a nation of pre-industrial age rice farmers who just wanted to be left alone. The Pentagon was steeped in lies, from field level body counts to the success of strategic bombing to the basic question of whether the war could even be won. The State Department lied about the prolonged, illegal bombings of Laos and Cambodia.
Multiple presidents lied about their plans to end the War because none wanted to be the first American president to ever lose a war. Congress lied about our ability to finance both a major foreign war and a Great Society, all without raising taxes. The people lied about the War's essential goodness, all the while shunting off its fighting to a Black and Latino underclass. Once middle class white boys began coming home in body bags, the War ended quickly.
It was this vast and entangled web of lies that, once unmasked in the humiliation of defeat, caused shame among the nation's people and revulsion from the rest of the world. And rightly so. For it is one of the most basic of moral precepts, one of the first lessons that all people of all cultures teach their children, that if you have to lie about something it is wrong. This is so elemental an admonition it is enshrined in one of the sacramental narratives of America's founding: George Washington and the cherry tree. "I cannot tell a lie."
The overt tragedies of Vietnam are that the U.S., the greatest military power in the history of the world, lost its first war to a rag-tag bunch of peasants who believed in the simple truth that it was not their fate to submit to foreign domination; that 58,000 Americans and 3 million Asians were killed; that our application of 21 million gallons of Agent Orange left the country the greatest man-made environmental catastrophe in the history of the world; that it wrecked the U.S. economy; that it gravely damaged America's moral standing in the world; and that it grievously undermined Americans' faith in their own government and, indeed, in themselves.
But all of those tragedies are compounded again and again in the fact that we didn't learn the most important lesson of the War: that when democratic nations found major policies on lies, either those policies will fail when the lies are disclosed, or the nation will forfeit its essential nature and accept its status as a phony, a nation of liars, led by a cabal of con men playing dress-up for the TV.
We are saturated today with lies in number and magnitude easily equal to the lies of Vietnam. In fact, it is difficult to find a major policy arena in the U.S where the essential policy is not based on lies.
The stratospheric debt we've run up over the past thirty years was all premised on the seductive lie that there would not be a day of reckoning when it would have to be paid back. That lie gave rise to enfeebling personal gluttony and debilitating cultural decadence. Of course, the debt is patently unsustainable and when the bills come due we will either debauch the currency as they did in Weimar Germany (giving rise to Hitler) or we will surrender title to much of our nation's wealth in favor of the foreigners who have funded our childish, improvident binge.
The invasion of Iraq is now a case study in the use of lies to goad a nation into an illegal and immoral war. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein was never involved in 9/11. He had nothing to do with al Qaeda. None of that mattered, and it still doesn't matter seven years later, today. The elites wanted their war because it made them richer by raising the price of oil, increasing the national debt, and inducing an orgy of weapons-buying. So they lied the country into it. They're still lying but we have become anaesthetized to it, inured to the degradation it signals for all of us, and so we accept it, mumbling servile rationalizations in a futile attempt to assuage our consciences and balm our battered dignity.
The recent financial bubble and collapse was similarly drenched in lies, from start to finish, top to bottom, inside and out. Legions of busboys, gardeners, and bartenders lied about their incomes to buy homes they could never hope to be able to afford. Phalanxes of appraisers, realtors, and mortgage brokers collaborated in the lies to consummate the contracts and clinch the commissions. Armies of Gucci-clad investment bankers bundled the garbage and called it gold, selling Collateralized Debt Obligations to hordes of greedy buyers around the world who lied to themselves that prices never went down. Bond rating agencies lied to everybody that the turds were treasures, again, to land the lush fees that larded their lavish lifestyles.
When the bubble burst, politicians, bankers on Wall Street and at the Federal Reserve, and cabinet members at Treasury lied that the only way to save the country was to transfer trillions of dollars of money from small taxpayers to the richest people in the world, no strings attached. They lied that this was to save the economy rather than replace the vaporized capital of the reckless bankers who gambled it away pursuing more and ever more sociopathically obscene profits.
The recent health care "reform" bill was sold as a policy to help the American people. In fact, its purpose is to earn the Democratic party a sustained funding stream from the insurance industry by forcing tens of millions of American citizens to buy the industry's intentionally defective products. This is the same reason the majority Democratic party WILL not enact meaningful financial reform, WILL not reduce greenhouse emissions, and WILL not constrain the expansion of illegal wars: all three policies earn them sustained funding streams from wealthy corporate interests: banks; oil and coal companies; and weapons makers. This is the essential political enterprise of our time: playing the greater whore to corporate money so that it will re-install you in the demonstrable certainty that you will continue to sell your country and its people down the river, all the while mouthing unctuous lies about serving the public.
We have lied to ourselves as a nation about our innate righteousness and our Providentially anointed superiority. Yet much of our wealth has been stolen from people in the developing world, laundered through our international rogue's gallery of complicit and obeisant thugs: the Shah of Iran, Marcos of the Philippines, Pinochet of Chile, Diem in Vietnam, the Duvaliers in Haiti, Sukarno in Indonesia, Zia in Pakistan, Rhee and Park in Korea, Saddam in Iraq, Duarte in El Salvador, the Sauds in Arabia. These are just a few of the headliners in a cast of thousands whose role in the geo-political food chain has been to enslave their people and ship out their national treasures to the U.S. in exchange for a piece of the action discreetly banked in Switzerland.
We carry on today the cataclysmic lie that we can continue our predation on the environment without paying the consequences. We can destroy vast ecosystems like rainforests, coral reefs, and oceans, boil the atmosphere in carbon, melt the polar ice caps, punch continental-sized holes in the ozone layer, wipe out dozens of species a day, and our magical economic system, a product of out innately superior civilization, will just keep producing more and more and more so that we needn't ever have to imagine living within limits, regulating our appetites, or constraining our irrepressible glandular impulses.
We could go on and on and on. A media whose purpose is not to inform and empower but to occlude and pacify; a puerile civic sphere where hate, venom, and tantrums get far more air time than do thought, dialogue, and compromise; a pervasive and astonishingly vapid entertainment culture in which more people believe in the Immaculate Conception than believe in evolution; educational "reform," much like health care "reform," whose real purpose is to destroy public education so that the half trillion dollars a year we spend on it can be turned over to private corporations running franchised charter schools; an encroaching police state that tells us that in order to be safe we must give up our civil liberties. Need we go on?
The compulsion to lie about public policy has become inescapable because so many of our nation's policies, while advancing the interests of a small, plutocratic elite, are so hostile to the fundamental interests of the American people. But what kind of country is it that can only be managed through pervasive lying? What kind of people is it that can only stomach its own policies by dressing them up in flattering fantasies? Why is it that we have to lie so often to ourselves about ourselves in order to live with ourselves?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran theologian who led underground resistance to the Nazis in World War II, wrote once, "In a time of pervasive lying, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." Isn't it true? This is why the truth tellers in the run-up to Iraq were so viciously mocked and ruthlessly scorned. Bonhoeffer went on to write of the German people, "We have been silent witnesses of evil deeds: we have learnt the arts of equivocation and pretence; experience has made us suspicious of one another and kept us from being truthful and open; intolerable conflicts have worn us down and made us cynical. Are we still of any use?"
"Are we still of any use?"
That is the question, isn't it. That is the question on which hangs today not only the fate of our nation but the salvation of our souls. If we are to be of any use to any body, it is time we begin decrying the lying. It is time to put aside the flattering but childish illusions of existential goodness and eternal innocence and recognize and begin to atone for the venality and naked selfishness of much of what we do and what we've become.
It is time to grow out of our materialistic fetishes and begin cultivating the personal and civic maturity we like to fancy we possess, but which we don't. It is time to grow up and accept the burdens of mature citizenship, among the most important of which are a capacity and a willingness to tell the truth, letting go the comforting but corrosive lies in the confidence that courage mustered now will yield not only greater self respect today but a more sane, a more decent, and a safer society in the future.
It is important that we commemorate Vietnam, both to mourn the objective horror of what it was, but also to redeem our capacity to tell the truth, to ourselves, about ourselves. Only in that way can we begin to reclaim the country and the people we want to imagine ourselves to be.
Robert Freeman writes on economics, history and education. He can reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Actually "small government" is not contained in the word "conservative", at least in the political sense. It basically means in favor of the status quo (as opposed to liberal's progressive tendencies), resistance to change. Some conservatives are small-government types, some are not (fiscal conservatives, versus neo-cons, family value types, etc...). Just because someone differs on bulk ideology with you, does not remove them from the field.
People don’t seem to want to talk about the elephant in the room and deal with the real problem of corruption within our government. Until we have real election campaign reform where we take the private money out of the equation than we will continue to have the same ole same ole and this country will go off the cliff of no return. Our children and grandchildren will be the ones who really suffer because this country will be so bankrupted that they will not be able to work themselves and their future families out of the debt we are leaving them.
Yes, there is denial. There continues to be denial by those in our government that we need to find a way to live within our means and not continue to borrow money that we can’t pay back. We need to get out of debt and not continue to add more debt to the backs of our children to pay for Wall Street to continue to do what they have been doing. We need to cut spending and not continue to increase spending and not worry about the effects that await our children and grandchildren.
We need a government who will be honest with the American people and not a government who continues to LIE. We need men and women with backbone to serve in public office and government who will not do as they are told by those holding the strings. We need men and women with the courage to tell the truth and fight for real election campaign reform that takes all private money out of the equation and candidates each get the same amount of public money to work with. Media has to start allowing candidates free and equal air time. If the airways belong to the people than during elections all candidates should receive equal and free airtime.
No, I don’t hold much hope that we will see people in government working to find real solutions. I think alot of people don’t hold out much hope that future generations of America are going to have a good quality life. Yet, just because the odds are against us doesn’t mean we stop trying or stop fighting.
The question is what do we do as people who see this nation we love falling off the cliff toward its own destruction? We can see it happening and we try and stop it, but it just seems that no one is listening to our warnings and closer and closer we get to the edge of the steep cliff. Do we pretend like so many people are doing that the problems are not as severe as they really are? Do we pretend that our continued spending at the rate we are spending is really helping us dig out of this hole of debt we are in? How can we look at children today and not make the tough choice of doing the right thing for their future?
Both parties are a big part of the problem. Instead of rolling up their sleeves and working together as one government to find a way to deal with the problem; we have men and women who feel it is more important to be right than to do the right thing. I would hope that Progressives are waking up to the truth that it is better to vote third party and join a true Progressive party like the Green Party than to continue to believe that the Democratic party is going to be a true Progressive party. To many of us Progressives to still believe that the solution is to be found in the Democratic party is the same thing as believing in the easter bunny at the age of 50. Yes, when we were kids and Easter morning came and the easter baskets of candy and other good things our parents told us it came from the easter bunny. At some point we as kids learned the truth that there was no real easter bunny but our parents were the ones who bought the easter baskets.
I don’t know if people will come out of their denial. Sometimes I feel like the United States is the Titanic and I am one of the few who are trying to get people to life boats in time; while others are sitting on the deck drinking their ice tea and pretending that nothing is wrong and we aren’t sinking. How do we wake people up and get them to the point of deciding to start going to the life boat? How do we get people who are in denial to embrace the truth and start fighting to save the ship from sinking?
They know neither death, nor taxes.
There is an anger building that I haven't heard since I listened to old timers talk about the Great Depression--and how the banks, Wall Street, big corporations and the politicians all conspired to destroy the working class in the 1930s.
Shortly after Obama was sworn in (Chief Justice Roberts insulted us all and the Constitution too by "forgetting" the oath but later swore Obama in privately at the White House) the Organization of American States met.
For once in a long time, I've got really good health insurance through my employer. (Only a 10% co-pay!)
Well, looks like those billions of dollars the insurance industry is spending on propoganda and pay outs to the repubs is working beautifully. Congrats people at the AHIP. Your devious propoganda campaign that is laid out in these documents is working wonderfully.
GOP Health Care Talking Points
Your scheme has even been uncovered and yet people still are falling for it. Again, nice job. Underhanded, tricky, dirty, but very nice job.
I think some of you folks need to read these docs and realize how much you guys are being tricked and not by Obama.
It amazes me that so many allegedly "educated" people have fallen so quickly and so hard for a fraudulent fabrication of such laughable proportions. The very idea that a gigantic ball of rock happens to orbit our planet, showing itself in neat, four-week cycles -- with the same side facing us all the time -- is ludicrous. Furthermore, it is an insult to common sense and a damnable affront to intellectual honesty and integrity. That people actually believe it is evidence that the liberals have wrested the last vestiges of control of our public school system from decent, God-fearing Americans (as if any further evidence was needed! Daddy's Roommate? God Almighty!)
Documentaries such as Enemy of the State have accurately portrayed the elaborate, byzantine network of surveillance satellites that the liberals have sent into space to spy on law-abiding Americans. Equipped with technology developed by Handgun Control, Inc., these satellites have the ability to detect firearms from hundreds of kilometers up. That's right, neighbors .. the next time you're out in the backyard exercising your Second Amendment rights, the liberals will see it! These satellites are sensitive enough to tell the difference between a Colt .45 and a .38 Special! And when they detect you with a firearm, their computers cross-reference the address to figure out your name, and then an enormous database housed at Berkeley is updated with information about you.
Of course, this all works fine during the day, but what about at night? Even the liberals can't control the rotation of the Earth to prevent nightfall from setting in (only Joshua was able to ask for that particular favor!) That's where the "moon" comes in. Powered by nuclear reactors, the "moon" is nothing more than an enormous balloon, emitting trillions of candlepower of gun-revealing light. Piloted by key members of the liberal community, the "moon" is strategically moved across the country, pointing out those who dare to make use of their God-given rights at night!
Yes, I know this probably sounds paranoid and preposterous, but consider this. Despite what the revisionist historians tell you, there is no mention of the "moon" anywhere in literature or historical documents -- anywhere -- before 1950. That is when it was initially launched. When President Josef Kennedy, at the State of the Union address, proclaimed "We choose to go to the moon", he may as well have said "We choose to go to the weather balloon." The subsequent faking of a "moon" landing on national TV was the first step in a long history of the erosion of our constitutional rights by leftists in this country. No longer can we hide from our government when the sun goes down.
“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
“It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.
“It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled, Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.
“We are, and always will be, the United States of America.
“It’s the answer that led those who’ve been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.
“It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment, change has come to America.
“A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Senator McCain.
“Senator McCain fought long and hard in this campaign. And he’s fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader.
“I congratulate him; I congratulate Governor (Sarah) Palin for all that they’ve achieved. And I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead.
“I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart, and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.
“And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years, the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation’s next first lady Michelle Obama.
“Sasha and Malia I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the new White House.
“And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother’s watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure.
“To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you’ve given me. I am grateful to them.
“And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe, the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best — the best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United States of America.
“To my chief strategist David Axelrod who’s been a partner with me every step of the way. To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics, you made this happen and I am forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done.
“But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.
“I was never the likeliest candidate for this office.
“We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements.
“Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.
“It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give 5 and 10 and 20 to the cause.
“It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy, who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep.
“It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organised and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth.
“This is your victory.
“And I know you didn’t do this just to win an election. And I know you didn’t do it for me.
“You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime — two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.
“Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.
“There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after the children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage or pay their doctors’ bills or save enough for their child’s college education.
“There’s new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.
“The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.
“I promise you, we as a people will get there.
“There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can’t solve every problem.
“But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it’s been done in America for 221 years — block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.
“What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night.
“This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.
“It can’t happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.
“So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.
“Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers.
“In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.
“Let’s remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.
“Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.
“As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.
“And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.
“And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.
“To those — to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.
“That’s the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected. What we’ve already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
“This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight’s about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.
“She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons — because she was a woman and because of the colour of her skin.
“And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America — the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.
“At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.
“When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.
“When the bombs fell on our harbour and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.
“She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that ‘We Shall Overcome’. Yes we can.
“A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.
“And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.
“Yes we can.
“America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves — if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?
“This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.
“This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.
“Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.”
Full text of President Barack Obama's inaugural address, January 20, 2009:
Here is what stinks about this. Blagojevich appears to be the victim of payback, on the behalf of Bank of America. Blagojevich was apparently instrumental in forcing BofA to honor its commitment to the workers who occupied that window factory that closed down in Chicago.
Our country has been almost fully taken over by a ruling-elite 'corporatist Empire' that hides behind the facade of its two-party, 'Vichy' sham of democracy.
This superficial disguise of a domestic empire makes it somewhat more demanding for us to see the reality than it was for the French people in WWII to more easily see that the one-party 'Vichy' government installed by the foreign/enemy Nazi Empire was phony and was not a government working in their popular interest.
But the vast majority of average, 'working class' Americans are starting to understand in their gut and their dinner plate that some kind of corporate / financial empire has 'our' government by the throat with 'their' moneyed hands. [By 'working class' I mean anyone below retirement age who makes more from their work than from their unearned investments. IE. 95+% of those non-retired.]
Admittedly, it's a bit confusing and more difficult to see through the political disguise of this new-style 'corporatist Empire' because the corporate MSM media doesn't tell us anything about any "corporate Empire" (maybe because they are owned by them), and thus the polite corporate media doesn't ever even whisper the word 'empire' --- and neither do many corporate supported politicians. Surprise, surprise, surprise, uh?
Well, what's really not surprising is that all empires in history are basically economically driven, and tend to take over countries by using economics (and military) to take over the political side of government --- and so did this new-style 'corporatist Empire' infecting the us in the U.S.
But the good new is that average Americans have seen this movie before --- but long ago, before 1776.
When average people and their own honest leaders saw that the British Empire was oppressing and tyrannizing both of their intertwined political AND economic interests, they first reasonably resisted the British Empire in both its political/royal governors AND its British East India Corporation economic oppressors --- and then overthrew the British Empire in BOTH its political and economic roles.
This new-style, disguised, and domestic ‘corporatist Empire’ had taken over the American economy first with concentrated money-power of the type that FDR tried to fight in the 1930’s, but now the economic side of empire has been so successful in it’s dominance of our economy that its taken over our government itself with the same money-power.
The concentration of money-power was always recognized as dangerous to our democratic government by Jefferson, FDR and many others, but now the concentration is greater than ever, and has overwhelmed the political side of our political-economic democracy.
The indivisible political economy (as it used to be called) of any country or society forms the basis of how decisions are made and power shared --- and there are only two basic ways. Either a country is controlled by empire (which often goes by several differing names, like monarchy, autocracy, dictatorship, etc), or governance is controlled by the people, which is called democracy (direct, representative, republic, etc). Luckily, our forefathers built a good democracy, called a republic --- of which Ben Franklin said, “Now we have a republic, if we can keep it (from empire)”.
Increasing imperial money-power concentration that concerned Jefferson, Franklin, and others used to be produced on the economic side by investor corporations exploiting resources, technology, and labor to directly make the money profits that could support good developments and progress, but could be misused to gain control over the political side of government. Sometimes big corporate industrial projects to make profits also caused some by-product costs to our country’s environment or people, but that was thought to be mostly by accident (which economists call extenalities --- or outside the scope of the business).
However, in our new world of post-industrial society, some aggressive financial imperialists have discovered and exploited the well known ‘market flaw’ of ‘negative externality cost dumping’ to make money even faster and easier (for them) by intentionally ‘gaming’ the system and actually designing money making schemes that profit them by producing financial products with no real value, but which cause massive costs (like debt bombs) to be dumped/externalized on our society/government/US.
Such elite ‘bad actors’ in the financial side of their ‘corporatist Empire’ are pulling the same dirty trick that industrial cigarette manufactures abused to make private profits, while spreading ‘social costs’ (negative externality costs) into peoples’ lungs by producing an array of physical products, like Lucky Strikes, Camels, Marlboros, etc.
Now instead of these simple and well known ‘brands’ of cigarettes, the financial side of the corporate Empire has manufactured a dizzying array of intentionally complex and deceptive financial products, like subprime and altA mortgages, CDOs, SIVs, CDSs, and derivatives, which pump negative externality cost cancers into both our economic and political lungs.
Luckily, average Americans, well intentioned political leaders, and honest economic experts (not employed by the corporatist Empire) can work together to rebuild our democratic political economy with some simple changes to make our lives of working, saving, and investing into a socially responsible and honest economic system where positive benefits are supported and rewarded --- while negative externality cost dumping schemes and social cost con-jobs are prevented.
I really don't understand the "terror" this election will bring to the GOP. I mean the GOP has been a very good steward to the American taxpayers for the past eight years! They have invested our money wisely, made sure that all of us have our healthcare needs taken care of, allowed affordable housing and education to every American, helped children in need, rescued fellow Americans after terrible natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, made sure our standing among other nations is one of respect and admiration in the court of world judgement. They have respected our privacy and safeguarded Our Bill of Rights to a fault.
WASHINGTON - October 16 - We heard a lot last night about Joe the Plumber, but did you know that a recent court ruling last night threatens the ability of thousands like Joe to have their votes counted? According to today's Toledo Blade, he is Joe Wurzelbacher of Shrewsbury Street in Springfield Township in Lucas County, Ohio.
A disaster of epic proportions on Wall Street, More band aids for the economy, a round of hyperinflation is coming, the credit default swap counterparty liability monster is about to be set loose, current remedy for the markets is like aspirin for a fatal disease, Get out and stay out of the markets
To err is human. To really foul things up requires a computer. But to create a catastrophic disaster of epic proportions, just turn a bunch of rocket scientists loose on Wall Street. The mere thought of it makes our hair stand on end. Question: What do you get when you mix rocket scientists with black boxes on Wall Street? Answer: A massive cluster-you-know-what.
Banks around the world, but especially in the US, now have over one quadrillion reasons not to lend to one another. Yet our government is going to try to force them to lend money anyway. But the healthy banks do not want to play this cute little game. They don't have to. Their balance sheets are just fine, thank you, and they intend to keep them that way. We wonder what kind of extortionate threats the diabolical reprobates and sociopaths in the District of Whores will come up with to force them to do so. The latest is to have the banks pay fees for insurance via the FDIC that will insure them against losses for any loan they make to other banks for a period of three years. So, once again, you, the sheople-taxpayers, will pick up the tab when the system freezes up again and all the loans insured in this manner go sour as the next of the myriad derivatives powder kegs blows us into a new round of losses and bank failures and as the terms "credit default swaps" and "CDS" become common household terms like the words "subprime mortgages." Yes, indeed, the acronym, "CDS," and a whole new meaning for the acronym "IRS," (interest rate swaps), will soon be added to the vernacular. This move is just another contrived and artificial Band-Aid to keep the system afloat a while longer. It may even work in the short run. But because the root issues, as usual, are not being addressed, this retread of the banking and financial systems is going to peel off and the tire is going to blow out again. It is not a question of "if," but of "when." We wonder how many hundreds of billions more this latest "cutesy" move by the Illuminati will cost the sheople, as we can assure you that the fees charged for coverage will be negligible when compared to the ultimate losses that are suffered on account of this latest Ponzi scheme to keep banks afloat.
Speaking of Ponzi schemes, the next debacle-in-the-making is that our evil, rapacious government, via the Paulson Ponzi Plunder Plan, will inject our 9 largest Illuminist bankster fraudsters with hundreds of billions of extorted taxpayer largesse in a futile attempt to re-capitalize the same Wall Street fraudsters that created the current fiasco, knowing full well that every one of these toxic waste sites is completely insolvent, that their financial statements are masterpieces of fraud and fiction, and that their insolvency will worsen substantially once the credit default swaps (CDS's) and interest rate swaps (IRS's - how appropriate) implode. What this means is that the equity positions, which you, as taxpayers, will receive, will become totally worthless over time. Even their bondholders will be lucky to pull out pennies on the dollar from these bubbling swamps of fraud and deceit when their inevitable bankruptcy and liquidation occurs, and they are nationalized by the US government. Other banks may get to dip into our extorted taxpayer largesse as long as they kiss Prefect Paulson's feet and do as they are told as the Vizier of Wall Street waxes mightily.
A similar defrauding of the people of Canada, of the UK, and of the European nations in general is on the way as the European and American enclaves of the Illuminati compete to see who can give their citizens the biggest screwing. Incidentally, as our futures continue to be squandered by Hanky Panky, guess who was chosen to chair the oversight committee to keep an eye on what Hanky Panky does with the $700 billion? Here's a hint: The initials for his name are B. B. B. B. That's right, you guessed it, Buck-Busting Ben Bernanke. Talk about a rubber stamp! And, of course, after Hanky Panky gives the first $250 billion to his cronies on Wall Street, our beloved emperor, Caligula, gets to decide whether the next $100 billion of the $350 billion initially authorized by our scum-bags in Congress should be spent. Do you think, perhaps, that Caligula is going to authorize the additional mega-divestiture of taxpayer largesse? Ya' think! In fact, he has already authorized it. This is nothing short of surreal.
Naturally, all these efforts to re-capitalize the fraudsters will be funded by money created out of thin air by the central banks, which means worldwide hyperinflation is on its way, and that is a lock. With the sucker-dupe citizens of Europe kicking in $2.3 trillion worth of liquidity and equity injections, together with purchases of toxic assets and other banker bailouts and nationalizations, and with the sucker-dupe sheople of the US kicking in another $.7 trillion, you now have $3 trillion dollars that are about to be created out of thin air, and get dumped into the global financial system as the sheople of the world get fleeced for the nth time, big-time.
So get ready for the next round of massive global hyperinflation because we can assure you that most of this money will be created through the monetization of treasury bonds which will have to be created out of the monetary ether. Let the printing presses roll in hyper-drive!!!
What nations, we ask, can purchase and absorb 3 trillion worth of treasuries from various nations without hyper-inflating their populace into oblivion. This fresh round of global hyperinflation will cause a substantial number of businesses to fail as consumers, already beaten down by massive unemployment and the loss of their home ATM's, especially here in the US, can no longer pay for necessities, much less for items that are discretionary in nature. These defaults will be added to bank failures worldwide, and together these business deaths will turn the credit default swap counterparty liability monster loose to reek destruction and havoc on the completely helpless and frozen global financial community. Risk will explode to new levels on account of this myriad of business failures, and investors will require greater rates of return on corporate bonds, on treasuries and on debts in general in order to offset the increased potential for losses due to heightened risk and to offset the incredibly destructive power of rampant hyperinflation. The end result will be double-digit interest rates, and that will light the fuse that leads to the IRS powder keg. When that sucker blows, there will be no place where anyone can run and take cover. Just bend over and kiss your butt goodbye.
So, because the Illuminist financial institutions can get more bang for their freshly printed Federal Reserve notes by re-capitalizing their equity positions with direct injections of cash as opposed to de-leveraging debt to increase their equity positions by purchasing toxic waste assets at falsely elevated prices, with the added bonus that the sheople-dupes will lose every penny on their new stock investments in the fraudsters instead of at least having the opportunity for chump change later on down the line if they purchase and hold some of the fraudsters' toxic waste assets, the latest action has been taken by Prefect Paulson.
The current remedy is the equivalent of telling someone with a fatal illness that they should just take some aspirin and that they will get better if they simply ignore the disease. In the current case, we may get a brief placebo effect, or hopeful thinking effect, but eventually the disease will return with a vengeance if nothing is done to address its root cause, which in this case is the failure to recognize the reality of how worthless the toxic waste is, the hiding of hundreds of billions of subprime losses in labyrinthine financial statements, the exposure to direct CDS and IRS counterparty liability, and the potential for losses and increased capital costs that could result from the reduction of credit ratings on many issues of bonds and derivatives in the event that a CDS counterparty insuring any financial institution's paper goes under. The huge potential for derivative chain reactions resulting in massive business failures because a counterparty's liability has been discharged in bankruptcy is the real fly in the ointment and all the major players on Wall Street and in our government knows that. The explosive power of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy liquidations has given everyone in the financial markets a taste of the coming destruction.
The Illuminati think that the current efforts to stop the credit markets from freezing up will buy them time to sort out who owes what liability to whom, and that by somehow waving their magic wand, they will be able to make most of the problems go away. We have news for them -- it won't work! You morons placed your bets in the big Wall Street casino, and now you are going to have to pay the piper. Meanwhile, you can count on them to squeeze every drop of graft and corruption from their precious system as they possibly can by continuing to extract outrageous salaries and bonuses derived from ill-gotten profits generated by insider trading in every market under the sun and by continued perpetration of fraud in the derivative, security, mortgage and general credit markets. They want to suck you dry until you are nothing but a wizened husk that will be blown into a cloud of dust by the next stiff breeze. Phony and Fraudie, the Paulson Ponzi Plunder Plan, which is now only in its first of many phases that will see trillions spent on bailouts, and the Fed's printing presses, are about to get a major workout.
So what do you think about the Dow running up from 8,451.19 to 9,794.37, before more de-leveraging took it back down to 9,310.99? This shows you in spades that the big plunge we experienced last week was totally contrived. The PPT was obviously able to support the markets had they chosen to do so, because nothing has really changed from last week, other than the fact that we will get credit injections instead of toxic waste purchases from the first div's out of the Paulson Ponzi Plunder Plan. They chose to withdraw their support, allowing a rapid plunge instead of an orderly descent, and then ran it right back up again, albeit to a lower level. They let the carry trade unwind to hit precious metals, while the Mother Theresa of high finance, Jim Cramer, scared all the retirees out of their wits. Then they used the thin trading on Columbus Day and some short covering to run it right back up in rapid fashion, taking everyone by surprise who was not an insider.
These manipulations were the payoff to specs, via both shorting and direct investment, for staying out of the commodity markets, especially the precious metals markets, so their beloved commercial shorts could cover their paper gold and silver shorts in the futures markets. The rapid decline was the first phase of the reward via shorting. This decline had two phases. First, non-financials were shorted right after the Paulson Ponzi Plunder Plan was passed, and that continued through last Wednesday. On Wednesday, the ban on shorting of financials was lifted, so needless to say the financials were thoroughly hammered on Thursday and Friday. And this latest big run-up, which occurred out of the blue while all the frightened non-insider investors quivered and shook on the sidelines, was another reward to the insiders who knew this was going to happen after everyone had a chance to cover their shorts.
This insider trading largesse was the carrot for the large specs, but they also had a big stick threatening if they did not cooperate, and that was the SEC and its ban on shorting over 800 financial stocks, which was a very profitable venue for the large specs. The useless-as-tits-on-a-bull SEC even went so far as to threaten to require public disclosure of short positions in financial stocks, which would have exposed and ruined many of the large specs. The SEC relented on this issue probably after the specs caved in and let them have their way in the commodities futures markets. Hence you have recently borne witness to the huge disconnect between the paper and physical markets in gold and silver.
We also see here another benefit, which these scum-bags can derive from the dark pools of liquidity known as Project Turquoise and Baikal. These dark pools allow the insider specs to short stocks, and to go long in stocks, without the general markets knowing what has occurred. They are able to buy into their short or long positions, and we mean to really load up big-time, without driving the markets up or down, allowing all the insiders to take their positions before the manipulation takes place, thus maximizing profitability. Then the PPT steps in, and asserts or withdraws their support via ten of billions in liquidity provided by the repo pool in a fashion, which has been previously divulged to insider Illuminist players. This dark pool system, together with the power given to the PPT via President Reagan's executive order (which power is illegally abused), are the working parts of a nearly perfect insider trading scheme.
This insider trading scheme, the scam of the century, will now be used to milk the money from the sheople dupes who continue to play the stock markets.
You may recall our discussion about the Big Sting Two, where the Illuminati would run the stock markets up and then unload their positions in dollar-denominated paper assets outside of public view through the dark pools of liquidity, with proceeds to be invested in tangible assets such as commodities, real estate and infrastructure, with many of these investments being made at pennies on the dollar due to ongoing carnage and liquidations in many financial sectors. This is exactly what happened in 1929 in implementation of the Big Sting One, except that instead of having a dark pool of liquidity to assist in the bailout, they simply told the Illuminist players when the Fed would pull the plug and send the markets plunging, with enough advance notice to enable them to unwind their huge stock and bond positions without causing the markets to sell off. That is how Illuminist players like John Rockefeller and Bernard Baruch got out of the markets unscathed.
However, because of the extent of the financial destruction reeked by the Illuminist morons and their rocket scientist creators of Frankenstein derivatives, the ability of the Illuminists to run up the stock markets looks unlikely. So, Plan A having failed, they will now implement Plan B. What is Plan B? Plan B is to use this insider trading scam to make non-insiders chase after the Illuminist insiders as they manipulate the markets, with non-insiders always coming up a day late and a dollar short because they do not know when the manipulations will occur, or whether markets will be driven up or down. Instead of ripping you off all at once, they will dismantle you one piece at a time. Instead of running the markets up incessantly for one final payoff, they will gyrate the markets, and systematically strip you of your wealth in a series of insider trading manipulations. All you are going to see now are lower highs and lower lows as the staircase to oblivion spirals down into bear market hell.
All future market gyrations will be counterintuitive, so that use of fundamentals will be rendered useless, along with black boxes, which are based on what markets do normally by use of probability statistics.
For instance, the sudden plunge, which occurred unexpectedly after the Paulson Ponzi Plunder Plan was approved and after insiders had a chance to load up on shorts, is a perfect example of markets moving contrary to expectations. Then came the big run-up, which occurred while all the non-insiders were standing on the sidelines, licking their wounds and taking their nitroglycerine pills. This big run-up, touted by the fane-stream media as the big turnaround from the recent bottom when nothing has changed, was used to suck the dupes from the investing public back into the markets for another fleecing. Unbeknownst to the public, the Illuminist insiders were loading up on shorts again through the dark pools of liquidity, ready to steal the hard-earned money of the non-insiders once again in another plunge into the abyss, and in another orgy of profitable fraud, as the PPT sticks it to the public ad nauseam. This is why all of you must get out of the stock and bond markets, AND STAY OUT! Use all run-ups as an opportunity to exit. Do not play their games. Do not empower them.
Simply put your sales proceeds from dollar-denominated paper assets into gold and silver related assets and wait for the price explosion as hyperinflation and outrageous risk take the system down, and send gold and silver to the moon. If you try to chase after the Illuminist insiders in the general stock and bond markets, you will be systematically vaporized, one excruciating step at a time. Case in point: After running the Dow up over 1,900 points from a multi-year low of about 7,900 on Friday to a recent high of almost 9,800 on Tuesday, the Dow has already plunged 800 points as of the time of this writing between late Tuesday and Wednesday morning. Gee, aren't you jumping for joy that you bought back into the stock markets as the run-up was peaking to soak up all those "bargains?" Are you starting to get the picture here? You cannot beat insiders when the regulators are in their back pockets.
I'm just wondering people's thoughts on the debate last night? Who was more "believable"?
Trickle Down Has Finally Trickled Up
by Donna Smith
So, for those of us old enough to remember thinking that Ronald Reagan's "trickle down" economics seemed like a polite way to tell the middle class we were about to be pissed on in a big way, the current economic crisis comes as no surprise. What once trickled down has finally trickled back up, and now it seems working Americans will pay for the folly with our life savings, our homes and our hopes of leaving this a better nation than we found it.
For our family and millions of others, the first crushing blows of this collapse began decades ago when the GOP successfully convinced middle class voters that they had our best interests at heart. It was to be a new day dawning in America. We had survived much together in coming out of the Watergate years, but the economy was faltering, and we were told much of that was due to over regulation and big government. Remember?
Even though within our own households we were beginning to feel the crushing effects of higher living expenses - including higher costs for health insurance and health costs not covered by the higher-priced health insurance - we were being led by those who had little appreciation for our situations. I know in my neighborhood, many families began to have not just both parents working full time but often one or both parents working two or more jobs just to meet expenses.
Republicans stood firmly by their stance: little regulation and less government involvement in what they painted as "social programs" and entitlements. And Democrats danced around a lot. It seemed to me that the party that once stood tall and fought with the working class now so feared the conservative backlash and the voting block wedded to the GOP through dogma and blind belief that the Democrats would only carry any argument on any topic just so far... And social programs suffered. But so too did economic programs suffer. People suffered. People died as the result of this political posturing by both parties.
A lack of meaningful oversight or appropriate regulation in our banking and financial markets led to the creation of junk mortgages, junk credit cards, junk car loans, and even junk health, disability and property insurance that offered some credit and some limited protection to those suffering masses but also built the system of incredible greed and ultimately the collapse we are seeing in recent days.
Many of us who have lost everything in recent years due to a lack of action on healthcare reform have no options for participation in the economy except for the junk products allowed to flourish without restriction. Talk about a Catch-22 for individuals - and for the nation.
So, in march the big boys and girls to say they'll go under without a significant hit of cash from this government - our government - my government. And within three days, we seem to have found the ability to come up with three-quarters of a trillion dollars to bail-out the financial interests of the nation lest they fall deeper into disarray.
The House defeats one bill then the Senate passes one - but now with what we are led to believe are better protections for Main Street interests. Gotta love it. The raising of deposit insurance to $250,000 from $100,000 surely helps those with that much money to save and invest. But what really is the average net worth of a middle class, working family in this nation today?
The broken underpinnings that caused the development of all this "funny money" lending are untouched, unaddressed by this bill or by this Congress. Americans find themselves paying even more for healthcare, transportation, energy, housing, food, college for their children, and insurance than ever before. Yet those same Americans will now also foot the bill for the bail-out, because we have no choice lest the collapse come tomorrow - as Warren Buffett said, "It's a financial Pearl Harbor."
So, it trickled down. Then the failed strategy trickled up and threatened to steal away the billions they earned like thieves in the night from a sleeping political system that looked the other way while millions of people lost everything. And finally, it will trickle back down again, as the middle class and working families bear the ultimate insult and loss of wealth. Funny how that worked against those who trusted the brighter dawn was just around the corner if we but believed...
Unless this nation's citizens demand real reform of the systems driving this collapse - like the out-of-control healthcare system's transformation into a finance company's dream rather than the public and human rights good that it should be -- we are dooming Americans in the decades to come to keep shoring up the flood walls as the trickle down blasts through.
And worse yet, we will cause the loss of confidence in our own democracy to act for the common good rather than the uncommon wealth of a few. The long-term fixes will not be easy ones. But it must now be incumbent on all of us to demand an end to the failed policies of a generation of poor political, financial and moral stewardship. We must care more. The bail-out is but a finger in the dike. Our work is before us.
Finances and the current crisis: How did we get here and what is the way out?
(1) Crime that pays, is crime that stays.
Let others know about People's Revolution! Spread the word... the more who know the truth, the greater the force against the capitalist system! Resistance forever!
Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich responded appropriately Sunday, when House and Senate leaders announced early a bipartisan agreement for a variation on Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's $700 billion (plus-plus-plus) bailout plan Wall Street.
Kucinich wasn't buying into the idea that everyone in Congress would climb on board for the bailout. "If the votes were there, this would be on the floor. The votes aren't there," Kucinich said Sunday.
Clearly, the congressman was not on board.
On the floor of House Sunday, Kucinich declared that:
The $700 billion bailout for Wall Street, is driven by fear not fact. This is too much money in too a short a time going to too few people while too many questions remain unanswered. Why aren't we having hearings on the plan we have just received? Why aren't we questioning the underlying premise of the need for a bailout with taxpayers' money? Why have we not considered any alternatives other than to give $700 billion to Wall Street? Why aren't we asking Wall Street to clean up its own mess? Why aren't we passing new laws to stop the speculation, which triggered this? Why aren't we putting up new regulatory structures to protect investors? How do we even value the $700 billion in toxic assets?
Why aren't we helping homeowners directly with their debt burden? Why aren't we helping American families faced with bankruptcy. Why aren't we reducing debt for Main Street instead of Wall Street? Isn't it time for fundamental change in our debt based monetary system, so we can free ourselves from the manipulation of the Federal Reserve and the banks? Is this the United States Congress or the board of directors of Goldman Sachs? Wall Street is a place of bears and bulls. It is not smart to force taxpayers to dance with bears or to follow closely behind the bulls.
That Kucinich is spot-on comes as no great surprise.
When he bid for the Democratic presidential nomination this year, he spoke more consistently and more bluntly about the economic crisis than any of the other contenders.
Kucinich was not treated particularly seriously the media or his fellow Democratic candidates.
Now that Kucinich has been proven right, however, Barack Obama might want to pay attention to what the former mayor, state legislator and veteran congressman is saying.
He actually gets it.
© 2008 The Nation
Let me cut to the chase. The biggest robbery in the history of this country is taking place as you read this. Though no guns are being used, 300 million hostages are being taken. Make no mistake about it: After stealing a half trillion dollars to line the pockets of their war-profiteering backers for the past five years, after lining the pockets of their fellow oilmen to the tune of over a hundred billion dollars in just the last two years, Bush and his cronies -- who must soon vacate the White House -- are looting the U.S. Treasury of every dollar they can grab. They are swiping as much of the silverware as they can on their way out the door.
No matter what they say, no matter how many scare words they use, they are up to their old tricks of creating fear and confusion in order to make and keep themselves and the upper one percent filthy rich. Just read the first four paragraphs of the lead story in last Monday's New York Times and you can see what the real deal is:
"Even as policy makers worked on details of a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry, Wall Street began looking for ways to profit from it.
"Financial firms were lobbying to have all manner of troubled investments covered, not just those related to mortgages.
"At the same time, investment firms were jockeying to oversee all the assets that Treasury plans to take off the books of financial institutions, a role that could earn them hundreds of millions of dollars a year in fees.
"Nobody wants to be left out of Treasury's proposal to buy up bad assets of financial institutions."
Unbelievable. Wall Street and its backers created this mess and now they are going to clean up like bandits. Even Rudy Giuliani is lobbying for his firm to be hired (and paid) to "consult" in the bailout.
The problem is, nobody truly knows what this "collapse" is all about. Even Treasury Secretary Paulson admitted he doesn't know the exact amount that is needed (he just picked the $700 billion number out of his head!). The head of the congressional budget office said he can't figure it out nor can he explain it to anyone.
And yet, they are screeching about how the end is near! Panic! Recession! The Great Depression! Y2K! Bird flu! Killer bees! We must pass the bailout bill today!! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!
Falling for whom? NOTHING in this "bailout" package will lower the price of the gas you have to put in your car to get to work. NOTHING in this bill will protect you from losing your home. NOTHING in this bill will give you health insurance.
Health insurance? Mike, why are you bringing this up? What's this got to do with the Wall Street collapse?
It has everything to do with it. This so-called "collapse" was triggered by the massive defaulting and foreclosures going on with people's home mortgages. Do you know why so many Americans are losing their homes? To hear the Republicans describe it, it's because too many working class idiots were given mortgages that they really couldn't afford. Here's the truth: The number one cause of people declaring bankruptcy is because of medical bills. Let me state this simply: If we had had universal health coverage, this mortgage "crisis" may never have happened.
This bailout's mission is to protect the obscene amount of wealth that has been accumulated in the last eight years. It's to protect the top shareholders who own and control corporate America. It's to make sure their yachts and mansions and "way of life" go uninterrupted while the rest of America suffers and struggles to pay the bills. Let the rich suffer for once. Let them pay for the bailout. We are spending 400 million dollars a day on the war in Iraq. Let them end the war immediately and save us all another half-trillion dollars!
I have to stop writing this and you have to stop reading it. They are staging a financial coup this morning in our country. They are hoping Congress will act fast before they stop to think, before we have a chance to stop them ourselves. So stop reading this and do something -- NOW! Here's what you can do immediately:
1. Call or e-mail Senator Obama. Tell him he does not need to be sitting there trying to help prop up Bush and Cheney and the mess they've made. Tell him we know he has the smarts to slow this thing down and figure out what's the best route to take. Tell him the rich have to pay for whatever help is offered. Use the leverage we have now to insist on a moratorium on home foreclosures, to insist on a move to universal health coverage, and tell him that we the people need to be in charge of the economic decisions that affect our lives, not the barons of Wall Street.
2. Take to the streets. Participate in one of the hundreds of quickly-called demonstrations that are taking place all over the country (especially those near Wall Street and DC).
3. Call your Representative in Congress and your Senators. (click here to find their phone numbers). Tell them what you told Senator Obama.
When you screw up in life, there is hell to pay. Each and every one of you reading this knows that basic lesson and has paid the consequences of your actions at some point. In this great democracy, we cannot let there be one set of rules for the vast majority of hard-working citizens, and another set of rules for the elite, who, when they screw up, are handed one more gift on a silver platter. No more! Not again!
P.S. Having read further the details of this bailout bill, you need to know you are being lied to. They talk about how they will prevent golden parachutes. It says NOTHING about what these executives and fat cats will make in SALARY. According to Rep. Brad Sherman of California, these top managers will continue to receive million-dollar-a-month paychecks under this new bill. There is no direct ownership given to the American people for the money being handed over. Foreign banks and investors will be allowed to receive billion-dollar handouts. A large chunk of this $700 billion is going to be given directly to Chinese and Middle Eastern banks. There is NO guarantee of ever seeing that money again.
P.P.S. From talking to people I know in DC, they say the reason so many Dems are behind this is because Wall Street this weekend put a gun to their heads and said either turn over the $700 billion or the first thing we'll start blowing up are the pension funds and 401(k)s of your middle class constituents. The Dems are scared they may make good on their threat. But this is not the time to back down or act like the typical Democrat we have witnessed for the last eight years. The Dems handed a stolen election over to Bush. The Dems gave Bush the votes he needed to invade a sovereign country. Once they took over Congress in 2007, they refused to pull the plug on the war. And now they have been cowered into being accomplices in the crime of the century. You have to call them now and say "NO!" If we let them do this, just imagine how hard it will be to get anything good done when President Obama is in the White House. THESE DEMOCRATS ARE ONLY AS STRONG AS THE BACKBONE WE GIVE THEM. CALL CONGRESS NOW.
By Karl Schwarz
The dramatic hearing on presidential crimes and abuses of power held on Friday by the House Judiciary Committee was both a staged farce, and at the same time, a powerful demonstration of the power of a grassroots movement in defense of the Constitution. It was at once both testimony to the cowardice and self-inflicted impotence of Congress and of the Democratic Party that technically controls that body, and to the enormity of the damage that has been wrought to the nation’s democracy by two aspiring tyrants in the White House.
FUCKING DO NOT PAY FOR THIS YOU FEARFUL CRY-BABIES..DO NOT PAY! DO NOT PAY! DO NOT PAY!
A country than cannot provide for it's own people is in great jeopardy. A country that provides for many other countries but lets her own people suffer is shameful. America provides for many other countries, America ought to provide for her self first, then outwardly as able to. If we have resources, we ought to use them for our own benefit. We don't make our own products, we don't tax products that come from other countries, we have killed several generations of our own people through abortion, yet heaven forbid we lose a species or two of animals along the way. How is it America puts a higher price on animal life and foreign resources, while her own people struggle? America is cocky, Americans are cocky. America is not united within it's own borders. She will fall from within not with out unless hard stands are taken and we strive together to make this country strong. I love this country but certainly am shamed by the fact we will not care for our own as we should.
While searching:: 'Untapped U.S. Oil Reserves,' the result (like the current price of a gallon of gas - BLEW ME AWAY! Go ahead, take a minute and see for yourself! Never mind, I'll share some of the highlights I found.
1. Ever heard of the Bakken Formation? The U.S. Geological Service issued a report in April ('08) that only scientists and oilmen knew was coming, but man was it big. It was a revised report (hadn't been updated since '95) on how much oil was in this area of the western 2/3 of North Dakota; western South Dakota; and extreme eastern Montana ... check THIS out:
The Bakken is the largest domestic oil discovery since Alaska's Prudhoe Bay, and has the potential to eliminate all American dependence on foreign oil. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates it at 503 billion barrels. Even if just 10% of the oil is recoverable... at $107 a barrel, we're looking at a resource base worth more than $5.3 trillion.
'When I first briefed legislators on this, you could practically see their jaws hit the floor. They had no idea.' says Terry Johnson, the Montana Legislature's financial analyst.
'This sizeable find is now the highest-producing onshore oil field found in the past 56 years,' reports The Pittsburgh Post Gazette. It's a formation known as the Williston Basin, but is more commonly referred to as the 'Bakken.' And it stretches from Northern Montana, through North Dakota and into Canada. For years, U.S. oil exploration has been considered a dead en d. Even the 'Big Oil' companies gave up searching for major oil wells decades ago. However, a recent technological breakthrough has opened up the Bakken's massive reserves... and we now h ave access of up to 500 billion barrels. And because this is light, sweet oil, those billions of barrels will cost Americans just $16 PER BARREL!
That's enough crude to fully fuel the American economy for 41 years straight.
2. [And if THAT didn't throw you on the floor, then this next one should - because it's from TWO YEARS AGO, people!]
U.S. Oil Discovery- Largest Reserve in the World!
Stansberry Report Online - 4/20/2006 Hidden 1,000 feet beneath the surface of the Rocky Mountains lies the largest untapped oil reserve in the world is more than 2 TRILLION barrels. On August 8, 2005 President Bush
mandated its extraction.
[(???) What the!??]
They reported this stunning news: We have more oil inside our borders, than all the other proven reserves on earth Here are the official estimates:
-8-times as much oil as Saudi Arabia
-18-times as much oil a s Iraq
-21-times as much oil as Kuwait
-22-times as much oil as Iran
-500-times as much oil as Yemen - and it's all right here in the Western United States.
[HOW can this BE!? HOW can we NOT BE extracting this!? Because we've not D E M A N D E D Legislation to come out of Washington allowing its extraction, that's why!]
James Bartis, lead researcher with the study says we've got more oil in this very compact area than the entire Middle East -more than 2 TRILLION barrels. Untapped. That's more than all the proven oil reserves of crude oil
in the world today, reports The Denver Post.
Don't think 'Big Oil' will drop its price - even with this find? Think again! It's all about the competitive marketplace, an d if they can extract it (here) for less, they can afford to sell it for less - and if they DON'T, others will. It will come down - it has to.
[Got your attention up yet? Hope so! Now, while you're thinking about it ... and hopefully POed, do this:
3. Take 5-10 minutes and compose an e-mail; fax or good old-fashioned letter to our elected officials in Washington . and their respected leaders. We'll start with them, and here's how you can send them your e-mail/fax, DEMANDING the immediate Legislation/an Energy PLAN that calls for tapping into these (OUR OWN!) Reserves, as well as allowing for the offshore drilling for OUR oil, in OUR offshore waters and Inter-continental shelf ... not to mention Alaska. Technology ain't what it used to be people (ever had arthroscopic surgery?). They can surgically extract OUR oil, and get us on the way to at least some measure of Energy independence.
You don't take a little time to do this, then you should stifle yourself the next time you want to complain about gas prices ... because by doing NOTHING, you've forfeited your right to complain.
This is one person you do not hear much about.
There was an article in the Wall Street Journal on Cindy McCain, John's wife. All I ever saw was this attractive woman standing beside John. I was surprised how talented and involved with world problems she is. This is a summary of the article.
She graduated from Southern Cal and was a special-needs teacher. After her Dad died she became involved with his beer distributing firm and is now the chairwoman. Sales have doubled since she has taken over from her father.
They have a marriage prenuptial agreement, her assets remain separate. She is involved around the world clearing land mines - travelling to these countries on a detonation team and serving on their board. They have a 19 year old serving in Iraq, another son in the Naval Academy, a daughter recently graduated from Columbia Univ., an adopted daughter in high school, and a son who is the finance guy at the beer firm. Raised kids in Phoenix, AZ rather than Washington DC.(better atmosphere) He commuted.
In 1991, Mrs. McCain came across a girl in an orphanage in Bangladesh. Mother Teresa implored Mrs. McCain to take the baby with severe cleft palate. She did so without first telling her husband. The couple adopted the girl who has had a dozen operations to repair her cleft palate and other medical problems.
They have a Family Foundation for children's causes. She's active with "Halo Trust" - to clear land mines, provide water and food in war ravaged and developing countries. She will join an overseas mission of "Operation Smile", a charity for corrective surgery on children's faces. She has had two back surgeries and became addicted to pain killers. She talks openly about it which she says is part of the recovery process. I'm surprised the media is so quiet about her attributes. She sounds more capable than Hillary or Obama. We would really get two for the price of one.
The most distressing part of all this is that the citizens of the United States have come to love liberty so little that when a agent of the state wants to fuck them with a sample swab, wants to remove a part of their living body, they won't fight.
I am a 60-year-old woman who is married to a man who acts like he hates me. In public, he pretends he loves me and talks about how wonderful I am.
But in private, he shakes his finger in my face and calls me the "B" word. He constantly tells me how ugly I am without make-up. I've tried everything, including a face-lift, botox treatments, and a chin tuck. I even went on a diet and lost 20 pounds.
He quit his job a few years ago after having an affair with a woman in his office. He hasn't even looked for another job. We haven't slept together since I confronted him about the affair. He denied it, of course, but everybody knew it. It was humiliating. I believe he is still messing around.
While we both want to sell this house, we argue constantly about when to put it on the market. The house we want will be available in a few months. My husband wants to put our house on the market now. I think we should wait a while. He has already started collecting boxes and packing up his stuff. Do you think he is planning to leave me?
Signed, Worried in NY
Do you know that we have adult students who are not US citizens and who get the PELLgrant, which is a federal grant (no pay back required) plus other federal grants to go to school?
One student from the Dominican Republic said she didn't want me to find a job for her after she finished the program, because she was getting housing from our housing department and she was getting PELL grant which paid for her total tuition and books, plus money left over.
She was looking into WAIT which gives students a CREDIT CARD for gas to come to school, and into CARIBE which is a special program *(check it out - I did) for immigrants and it pays for child care and all sorts of needs while they go to school or training. The one student I just mentioned told me she was not going to be a US citizen because she plans to return to the Dominican Republic someday and that she "loves HER country." I asked her if she felt guilty taking what the US is giving her and then not even bothering to become a citizen and she told me that it doesn't bother her, because that is what the money is there for!
I asked the CARIBE administration about their program and if you ARE a US citizen, you don't qualify for their program. And all the while, I scrape by (as a single parent) to pay the bills, including my student loans.
Something is wrong here. I am sorry but after hearing they want to sing the National Anthem in Spanish - enough is enough.
Nowhere did they sing it in Italian, Polish, Irish (Celtic), German or any other language because of immigration. It was written by Francis Scott Key and should be sung word for word the way it was written. The news broadcasts even gave the translation -- not even close. Sorry if this offends anyone but this is MY COUNTRY...
Mars in astrology relates to self-interest. In extreme it champions war and violence. In mysticism, Mars is likened to the first chakra and our urge to mate (for continuation of species) as well as our survival actions. Mars is the me-first planet, and it’s counterbalance, Venus, is the we-first planet. She is champion of peace, the arts, diplomacy over war, and all things that build culture.
In March of 1968, Robert Kennedy challenged the dearly held concept that pure economic activity (usually measured by the GNP) is an honest way to measure the impact of corporations on the human community. In 1968, he said:
Why Obama will make a good President: Let's take a closer look at who's really qualified and or who's really working for the good of all of us in the Senate. Obama or Clinton.
My fellow Identity-Americans:
Governor Heineman has requested that Nebraska be granted the extension
to comply with REAL ID because the state cannot meet the May 2008
deadline. Without such an extension, Nebraska driver licenses would not
be accepted and we could not travel by air nor enter a federal building
unless we had a passport. The Legislature will need to monitor REAL ID
and I know we will continue in our discussions on this federal mandate.
Senator, District 43
Know where your candidate stands before you vote !!
33 Senators Voted Against English as America's Official Language on June 6, 2007. On Wed. 6 June 2007 Colonel Harry Riley, USA, Ret. Wrote:
Your vote against an amendment to the immigration Bill 1348......to make English America's official language is astounding. On D-Day, no less, when we honor those that sacrificed in order to secure the bedrock, character and principles of America, I can only surmise your vote reflects a loyalty to illegal aliens. I don't much care where you come from. What your religion is. Whether you're black, white, or some other color .....male or female......Democrat, Republican or Independent....... But I do care when you are a United States Senator representing Citizens of America....and
Vote against English as the official language of the United States.
Your vote reflects Betrayal. Political Surrender. Violates Your Pledge of Allegiance. Dishonors historical principle. Rejects Patriotism. Borders On traitorous action and, in my opinion, makes you unfit to serve as a United States Senator...impeachment... Recall........Or other appropriate action is warranted or worse.
Four of you voting against English as America's Official Language are Presidential Candidates: Senator Biden, Senator Clinton, Senator Dodd and Senator Obama.
Four Senators vying to lead America, but won't or
Don't have the courage to cast a vote in favor of "English" as America's Official Language when 91% of American Citizens want English officially designated as our language.
This is the second time in the last several months this list of Senators have disgraced themselves as "policital Hacks"...... Unworthy as Senators and certainly unqualified to serve as President of the United States.
If America is as angry as I am, you will realize a backlash so stunning it will literally "rock you out of your panties"......... And preferably totally out of the United States Senate.
The entire immigration bill is a farce... Your action only confirms this really isn't about America.....it is about self-serving politics......despicable at best. It has been said:
"Never Argue with an Idiot....They'll drag you down to their level!"
The following Senators voted against making English the official language Of America:
Biden (D-DE) (Wants to be President)
Clinton (D-NY) (Wants to be President)
Dodd (D- MN) wants to be president
Domenici (R-NM) coward. Protecting his senate seat
Feingold (D-Win) - not unusual for him
Kennedy - (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA) (tried to be president)
Lieberman (I-CT) Disappointment here.....
Obama (D-IL) (Wants to be President)
Reid (D-NV) Senate Majority Leader
As Lazar (D-CO)
PRESIDENT ABRAHAM LINCOLN
"Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged!"
PLEASE KEEP THIS GOING AROUND THE UNITED STATES TILL THE ELECTION!
Tina Griego, journalist for the Denver Rocky Mountain News wrote a column titled, "Mexican visitor's lament" -- 10/25/07.
She interviewed Mexican journalist Evangelina Hernandez while visiting Denver last week. Hernandez said, "They (illegal aliens) pay rent, buy groceries, buy clothes...what happens to your country's economy if 20 million people go away?"
That's a good question - it deserves an answer.
Over 80 percent of Americans demand secured borders and illegal migration stopped. But what would happen if all 20 million or more vacated America?
The answers may surprise you!
* In California, if 3.5 million illegal aliens moved back to Mexico, it would leave an extra $10.2 billion to spend on overloaded school systems, bankrupted hospitals and overrun prisons. It would leave highways cleaner, safer and less congested. Everyone could understand one another as English became the common language again.
* In Colorado, 500,000 illegal migrants, plus their 300,000 kids and grand-kids - would move back "home," mostly to Mexico. That would save Coloradans an estimated $2 billion (other experts say $7 billion) annually in taxes that pay for schooling, medical, social-services and incarceration costs. It means 12,000 gang members would vanish out of Denver alone.
* Colorado would save more than $20 million in prison costs, and the terror that those 7,300 alien criminals set upon local citizens. Denver Officer Don Young and hundreds of Colorado victims would not have suffered death, accidents, rapes and other crimes by illegals.
* Denver Public Schools would not suffer a 67 percent drop out/flunk out rate via thousands of illegal alien. At least 200,000 vehicles would vanish from our gridlocked cities in Colorado. Denver's four percent unemployment rate would vanish as our working poor would gain jobs at a living wage.
* In Florida, 1.5 million illegals would return the Sunshine State back to America.
* In Chicago, Illinois, 2.1 million illegals would free up hospitals, schools, prisons and highways for a safer, cleaner and more crime-free experience.
If 20 million illegal aliens returned "home," the U.S. economy would return to the rule of law. Employers would hire legal American citizens at a living wage. Everyone would pay their fair share of taxes because they wouldn't be working off the books. That would result in an additional $401 billion in IRS income taxes collected annually, and an equal amount for local state and city coffers.
No more push '1' for Spanish or '2' for English. No more confusion in schools that now must contend with many languages that degrade the educational system for American kids. Our overcrowded schools would lose more than two million illegal alien kids at a cost of billions in ESL and free breakfasts and lunches.
We would lose 500,000 illegal criminal alien inmates at a cost of more than $1.6 billion annually. That includes 15,000 MS-13 gang members who distribute $130 billion in drugs annually would vacate our country. In cities like L.A., 20,000 members of the "18th Street Gang" would vanish from our nation. No more Mexican forgery gangs for ID theft from Americans!
No more foreign rapists and child molesters!
Losing more than 20 million people would clear up our crowded highways and gridlock. Cleaner air and less drinking and driving deaths by illegal aliens!
Over $80 billion annually wouldn't go to foreign countries by cash transfers. Illegal migrants earned half that money untaxed, which further drains America's economy - which currently suffers an $8.7 trillion debt.
At least 400,000 anchor babies would not be born in our country, costing us $109 billion per year per cycle. At least 86 hospitals in California, Georgia and Florida would still be operating instead of being bankrupted out of existence. Americans wouldn't suffer thousands of TB and hepatitis cases rampant in our country brought in by illegals unscreened at our borders.
Our cities would see 20 million less people driving, polluting and grid locking our cities.
Over one million of Mexico's poorest citizens now live inside and along our border from Brownsville, Texas to San Diego, California in what the New York Times called, "colonias" or new neighborhoods. Trouble is, those living areas resemble Bombay and Calcutta where grinding poverty, filth, diseases, drugs, crimes, no sanitation and worse. They live without sewage, clean water, streets, electricity, roads or any kind of sanitation. The New York Times reported them to be America's new "Third World" inside our own country. Within 20 years, at their current growth rate, they expect 20 million residents of those colonias. (I've seen them personally in Texas and Arizona; it's sickening beyond anything you can imagine.) By enforcing our laws, we could repatriate them back to Mexico.
We invite 20 million aliens to go home, fix their own countries and/or make a better life in Mexico. We invite a million people into our country legally more than all other countries combined annually. We cannot and must not allow anarchy at our borders, more anarchy within our borders and growing lawlessness at every level in our nation.
It's time to stand up for our country, our culture, our civilization and our way of life.
Please forward this message to your friends.
We must draw a distinction between legal and illegal migration.
Much thought and action must go to this cause.
The following has been attributed to State Representative Mitchell Kaye from GA. This guy should run for President one day...
"We the sensible people of the United States, in an attempt to help everyone get along, restore some semblance of justice, avoid more riots, keep our nation safe, promote positive behavior, and secure the blessings of debt-free liberty to ourselves and our great-great-great-grandchildren, hereby try one more time to ordain and establish some common sense guidelines for the terminally whiny, guilt ridden, delusional, and other liberal bed-wetters. We hold these truths to be self evident: that a whole lot of people are confused by the Bill of Rights and are so dim they require a Bill of NON-Rights."
You do not have the right to a new car, big screen TV, or any other form of wealth. More power to you if you can legally acquire them, but no one is guaranteed anything.
You do not have the right to never be offended. This country is based on freedom, and that means freedom for everyone -- not just you! You may leave the room, turn the channel, express a different opinion, etc.; but the world is full of idiots, and probably always will be.
You do not have the right to be free from harm. If you stick a screwdriver in your eye, learn to be more careful; do not expect the tool manufacturer to make you and all your relatives independently wealthy.
You do not have the right to free food and housing. Americans are the most charitable people to be found, and will gladly help anyone in need, but we are quickly growing weary of subsidizing generation after generation of professional couch potatoes who achieve nothing more than the creation of another generation of professional couch potatoes. (This one is my pet peeve...get an education and go to work....don't expect everyone else to take care of you!)
You do not have the right to free health care. That would be nice, but from the looks of public housing, we're just not interested in public health care.
You do not have the right to physically harm other people. If you kidnap, rape, intentionally maim, or kill someone, don't be surprised if the rest of us want to see you fry in the electric chair.
You do not have the right to the possessions of others. If you rob, cheat, or coerce away the goods or services of other citizens, don't be surprised if the rest of us get together and lock you away in a place where you still won't have the right to a big screen color TV or a life of leisure.
You do not have the right to a job. All of us sure want you to have a job, and will gladly help you along in hard times, but we expect you to take advantage of the opportunities of education and vocational training laid before you to make yourself useful. (AMEN!)
You do not have the right to happiness. Being an American means that you have the right to PURSUE happiness, which by the way, is a lot easier if you are unencumbered by an over abundance of idiotic laws created by those of you who were confused by the Bill of Rights.
This is an English speaking country. We don't care where you are from, English is our language. Learn it or go back to wherever you came from!
You do not have the right to change our country's history or heritage. This country was founded on the belief in one true God. And yet, you are given the freedom to believe in any religion, any faith, or no faith at all; with no fear of persecution. The phrase IN GOD WE TRUST is part of our heritage and history, and if you are uncomfortable with it, TOUGH!
Sensible people of the United States speak out because if you do not, who will?
Ralph Nader (1/14/2008):
All I can say is, Wow! We need more people unafraid to use their right to free speech. I feel kind of scared about using it lately, do you?
Published on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 by CommonDreams.org
'A Chill Wind is Blowing in This Nation...'
Transcript of the speech given by actor Tim Robbins to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on April 15, 2003.
TIM ROBBINS: Thank you. And thanks for the invitation. I had originally been asked here to talk about the war and our current political situation, but I have instead chosen to hijack this opportunity and talk about baseball and show business. (Laughter.) Just kidding. Sort of.
I can't tell you how moved I have been at the overwhelming support I have received from newspapers throughout the country in these past few days. I hold no illusions that all of these journalists agree with me on my views against the war. While the journalists' outrage at the cancellation of our appearance in Cooperstown is not about my views, it is about my right to express these views. I am extremely grateful that there are those of you out there still with a fierce belief in constitutionally guaranteed rights. We need you, the press, now more than ever. This is a crucial moment for all of us.
For all of the ugliness and tragedy of 9-11, there was a brief period afterward where I held a great hope, in the midst of the tears and shocked faces of New Yorkers, in the midst of the lethal air we breathed as we worked at Ground Zero, in the midst of my children's terror at being so close to this crime against humanity, in the midst of all this, I held on to a glimmer of hope in the naive assumption that something good could come out of it.
I imagined our leaders seizing upon this moment of unity in America, this moment when no one wanted to talk about Democrat versus Republican, white versus black, or any of the other ridiculous divisions that dominate our public discourse. I imagined our leaders going on television telling the citizens that although we all want to be at Ground Zero, we can't, but there is work that is needed to be done all over America. Our help is needed at community centers to tutor children, to teach them to read. Our work is needed at old-age homes to visit the lonely and infirmed; in gutted neighborhoods to rebuild housing and clean up parks, and convert abandoned lots to baseball fields. I imagined leadership that would take this incredible energy, this generosity of spirit and create a new unity in America born out of the chaos and tragedy of 9/11, a new unity that would send a message to terrorists everywhere: If you attack us, we will become stronger, cleaner, better educated, and more unified. You will strengthen our commitment to justice and democracy by your inhumane attacks on us. Like a Phoenix out of the fire, we will be reborn.
And then came the speech: You are either with us or against us. And the bombing began. And the old paradigm was restored as our leader encouraged us to show our patriotism by shopping and by volunteering to join groups that would turn in their neighbor for any suspicious behavior.
In the 19 months since 9-11, we have seen our democracy compromised by fear and hatred. Basic inalienable rights, due process, the sanctity of the home have been quickly compromised in a climate of fear. A unified American public has grown bitterly divided, and a world population that had profound sympathy and support for us has grown contemptuous and distrustful, viewing us as we once viewed the Soviet Union, as a rogue state.
This past weekend, Susan and I and the three kids went to Florida for a family reunion of sorts. Amidst the alcohol and the dancing, sugar-rushing children, there was, of course, talk of the war. And the most frightening thing about the weekend was the amount of times we were thanked for speaking out against the war because that individual speaking thought it unsafe to do so in their own community, in their own life. Keep talking, they said; I haven't been able to open my mouth.
A relative tells me that a history teacher tells his 11-year-old son, my nephew, that Susan Sarandon is endangering the troops by her opposition to the war. Another teacher in a different school asks our niece if we are coming to the school play. They're not welcome here, said the molder of young minds.
Another relative tells me of a school board decision to cancel a civics event that was proposing to have a moment of silence for those who have died in the war because the students were including dead Iraqi civilians in their silent prayer.
A teacher in another nephew's school is fired for wearing a T- shirt with a peace sign on it. And a friend of the family tells of listening to the radio down South as the talk radio host calls for the murder of a prominent anti-war activist. Death threats have appeared on other prominent anti-war activists' doorsteps for their views. Relatives of ours have received threatening e-mails and phone calls. And my 13-year-old boy, who has done nothing to anybody, has recently been embarrassed and humiliated by a sadistic creep who writes -- or, rather, scratches his column with his fingernails in dirt.
Susan and I have been listed as traitors, as supporters of Saddam, and various other epithets by the Aussie gossip rags masquerading as newspapers, and by their fair and balanced electronic media cousins, 19th Century Fox. (Laughter.) Apologies to Gore Vidal. (Applause.)
Two weeks ago, the United Way canceled Susan's appearance at a conference on women's leadership. And both of us last week were told that both we and the First Amendment were not welcome at the Baseball Hall of Fame.
A famous middle-aged rock-and-roller called me last week to thank me for speaking out against the war, only to go on to tell me that he could not speak himself because he fears repercussions from Clear Channel. "They promote our concert appearances," he said. "They own most of the stations that play our music. I can't come out against this war."
And here in Washington, Helen Thomas finds herself banished to the back of the room and uncalled on after asking Ari Fleischer whether our showing prisoners of war at Guantanamo Bay on television violated the Geneva Convention.
A chill wind is blowing in this nation. A message is being sent through the White House and its allies in talk radio and Clear Channel and Cooperstown. If you oppose this administration, there can and will be ramifications.
Every day, the air waves are filled with warnings, veiled and unveiled threats, spewed invective and hatred directed at any voice of dissent. And the public, like so many relatives and friends that I saw this weekend, sit in mute opposition and fear.
I am sick of hearing about Hollywood being against this war. Hollywood's heavy hitters, the real power brokers and cover-of-the- magazine stars, have been largely silent on this issue. But Hollywood, the concept, has always been a popular target.
I remember when the Columbine High School shootings happened. President Clinton criticized Hollywood for contributing to this terrible tragedy -- this, as we were dropping bombs over Kosovo. Could the violent actions of our leaders contribute somewhat to the violent fantasies of our teenagers? Or is it all just Hollywood and rock and roll?
I remember reading at the time that one of the shooters had tried to enlist to fight the real war a week before he acted out his war in real life at Columbine. I talked about this in the press at the time. And curiously, no one accused me of being unpatriotic for criticizing Clinton. In fact, the same radio patriots that call us traitors today engaged in daily personal attacks on their president during the war in Kosovo.
Today, prominent politicians who have decried violence in movies -- the "Blame Hollywooders," if you will -- recently voted to give our current president the power to unleash real violence in our current war. They want us to stop the fictional violence but are okay with the real kind.
And these same people that tolerate the real violence of war don't want to see the result of it on the nightly news. Unlike the rest of the world, our news coverage of this war remains sanitized, without a glimpse of the blood and gore inflicted upon our soldiers or the women and children in Iraq. Violence as a concept, an abstraction -- it's very strange.
As we applaud the hard-edged realism of the opening battle scene of "Saving Private Ryan," we cringe at the thought of seeing the same on the nightly news. We are told it would be pornographic. We want no part of reality in real life. We demand that war be painstakingly realized on the screen, but that war remain imagined and conceptualized in real life.
And in the midst of all this madness, where is the political opposition? Where have all the Democrats gone? Long time passing, long time ago. (Applause.) With apologies to Robert Byrd, I have to say it is pretty embarrassing to live in a country where a five-foot- one comedian has more guts than most politicians. (Applause.) We need leaders, not pragmatists that cower before the spin zones of former entertainment journalists. We need leaders who can understand the Constitution, congressman who don't in a moment of fear abdicate their most important power, the right to declare war to the executive branch. And, please, can we please stop the congressional sing-a- longs? (Laughter.)
In this time when a citizenry applauds the liberation of a country as it lives in fear of its own freedom, when an administration official releases an attack ad questioning the patriotism of a legless Vietnam veteran running for Congress, when people all over the country fear reprisal if they use their right to free speech, it is time to get angry. It is time to get fierce. And it doesn't take much to shift the tide. My 11-year-old nephew, mentioned earlier, a shy kid who never talks in class, stood up to his history teacher who was questioning Susan's patriotism. "That's my aunt you're talking about. Stop it." And the stunned teacher backtracks and began stammering compliments in embarrassment.
Sportswriters across the country reacted with such overwhelming fury at the Hall of Fame that the president of the Hall admitted he made a mistake and Major League Baseball disavowed any connection to the actions of the Hall's president. A bully can be stopped, and so can a mob. It takes one person with the courage and a resolute voice.
The journalists in this country can battle back at those who would rewrite our Constitution in Patriot Act II, or "Patriot, The Sequel," as we would call it in Hollywood. We are counting on you to star in that movie. Journalists can insist that they not be used as publicists by this administration. (Applause.) The next White House correspondent to be called on by Ari Fleischer should defer their question to the back of the room, to the banished journalist du jour. (Applause.) And any instance of intimidation to free speech should be battled against. Any acquiescence or intimidation at this point will only lead to more intimidation. You have, whether you like it or not, an awesome responsibility and an awesome power: the fate of discourse, the health of this republic is in your hands, whether you write on the left or the right. This is your time, and the destiny you have chosen.
We lay the continuance of our democracy on your desks, and count on your pens to be mightier. Millions are watching and waiting in mute frustration and hope - hoping for someone to defend the spirit and letter of our Constitution, and to defy the intimidation that is visited upon us daily in the name of national security and warped notions of patriotism.
Our ability to disagree, and our inherent right to question our leaders and criticize their actions define who we are. To allow those rights to be taken away out of fear, to punish people for their beliefs, to limit access in the news media to differing opinions is to acknowledge our democracy's defeat. These are challenging times. There is a wave of hate that seeks to divide us -- right and left, pro-war and anti-war. In the name of my 11-year-old nephew, and all the other unreported victims of this hostile and unproductive environment of fear, let us try to find our common ground as a nation. Let us celebrate this grand and glorious experiment that has survived for 227 years. To do so we must honor and fight vigilantly for the things that unite us -- like freedom, the First Amendment and, yes, baseball. (Applause.)