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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

On January 12, 2009, I penned my opinion of newly appointed U.S. Senator from Illinois, Roland Burris. It was that he was the Tainted Senator from Illinois. Since then, he has worked hard to affirm and confirm that conclusion. So much so that he has now achieved the exalted title of SUPER tainted Senator from Illinois.

Republicans in the Illinois State Senate have asked the Sangamon County States Attorney to determine whether or not he committed perjury while giving testimony at the Blagojevich impeachment hearings. The State Capitol of Springfield is in Sangamon County. I doubt that anything will come of such an inquiry. He lied through his teeth - but it was lying by evasion - almost Clintonesque. As he explains and expounds on his original testimony, you can almost hear him proclaiming that "it all depends what is is!!

Had Burris had nothing to hide, he would have come to the impeachment hearing prepared to impart all of the information that is now being revealed piecemeal on a daily basis. He’s a former Attorney General for Pete’s sake. He knew what was expected of him. An honest person with nothing to hide would have reviewed all of his records and made notes of every contact that had taken place that had anything - however remote - to do with his appointment to fill Obama’s senate seat. That he didn’t reveals all we need to know about the man’s character. We didn’t need to hear about all the different versions of what took place between the "Two B’s" to conclude the obvious . This is a man lacking integrity. In whatever portion of the human psyche or soma where integrity resides, in Burris’ case, if he ever had any - it has been replaced by blind ambition.

There was no way he was ever going to be able to become a U.S. Senator by winning an election. The man hasn’t even been able to win a primary that would allow him to take a crack at a senate seat. But the chance to get there through appointment by a disgraced governor - an appointment that no other potential candidate would accept - was something he wasn’t about to let pass him by. Not when it would provide him with what he must think would be the crowning inscription to be etched into that ridiculous mausoleum of his.

The Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post are calling on Burris to resign from the U.S. Senate. There’s about as much chance of that happening as the Cubs winning the World Series this year. He and Blagojevich are like two peas in a pod. Have you noticed the eerie similarity in the protestations of innocence? "I have done nothing wrong" repeated again and again. Should we look for the Burris road show to start appearing with Letterman and Larry King and the ladies of The View?

The only way that Burris cold be removed from the Senate would be through expulsion after an ethics inquiry found him guilty of conduct that would merit expulsion. And there’s about as much chance of that happening as the Cubs winning the World Series this year in seven games against the Chicago White Sox.

Remember when Harry Reid and Dick Durbin said that there was no way anyone appointed by Rod Blagojevich would be seated in the Senate? Now Reid is saying that he "supports" Burris’s decision "to cooperate" with every body and everyone looking into the matter. Durbin, who is traveling abroad, indicated that he wasn’t happy with his junior colleague, but said all the facts needed to be learned before any conclusion could be reached. Both the kind of obligatory non statements from two people whose comments you can just about ignore. They’re never going to do anything about Burris’ despicable behavior other than to mouth these inanities. On the other hand, if the Burris collection of sworn statements, non sworn statements and affidavits come close to looking like perjury, even if not prosecutable - the Senate might tell Burris that they consider him a naughty boy - but the chances of him being expelled are slim and none. Illinois and the United States Senate are stuck with this egotistical idiot for the next two years.

Maybe the saddest part of this sorry mess is that - just as occurred when Blagojevitch spat in the eye of prosecutor Pat Fitzgerald and the people of Illinois and appointed Burris, shocking most of us but attracting instant support from a group of black ministers, and from Congressmen Bobby Rush and Danny Davis - and from members of the Congressional Black Caucus- race has been injected into the current brouhaha, with the usual suspects of black ministers, Bobby Rush, Danny Davis and other African American politicians, coming to his defense. It’s hard to understand this knee jerk support of someone who at the very least is acting like a total idiot. There’s not a tinge of racism in the criticism of Burris - from the Tribune and Post editorials to the man on the street, yet some of his supporters are reacting as though they need to defend him because he's a black man under pressure. How stupid - and how sad.

As I've said, we're stuck with Burris and his ego and his antics for the next two years and there's nothing we can do about it but wince and down prescription pain killers. But then we endured eight years of the Bush administration, so I guess the nation and the State of Illinois will find a way to survive two years of Senator Burris. Maybe the pain will be eased if and when the man who foisted this idiot upon us acquires a new address - one not of his choosing.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I don’t know if the stimulus bill that President Obama plans to sign in Denver tomorrow will do all that he hopes it will do. I don’t think anyone really knows or can predict the effect it might have on our faltering economy. Some parts of it will obviously be of immediate help. Direct aid to states will keep some people working who might otherwise have been laid off . It may even help to fund some projects that have been on the back burner. But other parts are hard to understand. The so called tax break for the middle class is a joke. $400 for an individual or $800 for a family will make zero contribution to kick starting the economy

The bill is there for all to read at various sites on line.This is the official site - but I’m not sure that reading it will give anyone confidence in its hoped for success..

But while I’m somewhat skeptical, I’m not a rejectionist. . Certainly I have no basis on which to condemn the bill out of hand - as every Republican in the House and Senate other than Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snow of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania seem to be doing. As I watch and listen to the likes of John McCain and Lindsey Graham and John Boehner declare with absolute certainty that the bill will fail even before it’s been signed into law, I’m filled with a sense of gratitude that this crowd is no longer in charge of anything. They have absolutely nothing to offer in the way of ideas other than the time worn tax cuts for people who need it the least. I swear if these people had a free hand for an unchecked length of time, they would propose tax cuts as the way to cure cancer and convert all terrorists to lovers of freedom and the American way.

Boehner is a total joke, with his histrionic acts in the House. At least this time he didn’t burst into tears as he threw the pages of the bill on the floor, complaining that no one had had a chance to read it. I didn’t realize that the economic downturn had reached Congress - but I’m assuming that if no one has read the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, there must have been a severe cut back in Congressional staff - because those are the people who usually do the reading - and the writing on behalf of their elected employers. Still, not having read the bill didn’t stand in the way of Mr. Boehner reaching the conclusion that it was a bill that wouldn’t work.

McCain, who at one time I thought was signaling that he would work with the new President to bring a different attitude to Washington, has been particularly disappointing in his knee jerk anti attitude. After Obama reached out to a whole mess of Republican lawmakers and included several of their suggestions in the final bill version - McCain said that that wasn’t bipartisanship. Bipartisanship, says the Republican standard bearer, is getting together with the party out of power and hammering out the details of a bill with them - the way Bush senior and junior and Reagan and Nixon and all those bipartisan Republican presidents always did. I’ve written here before on several occasions on the subject of who McCain really is - and he hasn’t helped me to arrive at any conclusion with this latest incarnation.

But of all the Republican naysayers, South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham gets the hypocrisy award of the young year. He says the recovery bill is a joke. It’s not a recovery bill at all. It won’t work. And so on ad nauseum. So when a reporter asked, rhetorically, if he would thus reject any application of it in his state, he of course said no - he wasn’t going to have any part of a bill that was a waste of the taxpayer’s money and would put our grandchildren and great grandchildren in horrible debt - and wasn’t going to work anyway. Except that wasn’t what he said. No sir. Failed bill or not - if there was money on the table for his state, he was going to take it. It would be a wasteful thing to do of course - but he’d take it anyway.

I guess his answer preempted the suggestion that is coming from all quarters of the non-rejectionist segments of our society - and that is that is that benefits of the various bill’s provisions be restricted to those who voted for it. . I wouldn’t wan t to suggest that those states represented by Senators and those districts represented by Congresspersons who voted NO be cut off from receiving any benefits that might accrue to them - but I would make it clear that there would be no automatic benefit for those states and districts. As an addendum to the bill, I would recommend that those members of congress who voted NObe required to state publicly whether or not they wish to have their states and districts participate in any benefits that the bill provides.

You want to guess how many "NO" votes you’d get on that proposition?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

These are images from the streets of London. They pretty much speak for themselves. Freedom of speech carried about as far as any democracy would allow.....

And THIS is the story of how England is dealing with the freedom of speech rights of Dutch Politician Geert Wilders, who made this fim about Islam for which he has been indicted by a Dutch court. An organization called the International Free Press Society - about which I know nothing, is advocating on Mr. Wilders behalf.

It's an interesting comparison of what kinds of speech can or should be tolerated in free societies. Apparently, the Dutch seem to believe that Mr. Wilders' film is hate speech - and the British do not think that these rallies on the streets of London are.

Maybe members of the Islamic faith have a right to be disturbed at Mr. Wilders' film. He obviously thinks the religion and its holy book are a danger to society at large. But I think we need to be very worried about the kind of "free speech" that the British think should be allowed and defended on the streets of London. Those same streets where native born Islamic extremists did their dirty work on July 7, 2005 - England's "9/11."

I am a strong believer in the right of free speech. I also believe there are limits to that right. Shouting "Fire" in a crowded theater isn't protected free speech. And neither should these disgusting pictures be protected as any kind of "speech."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I’ve looked in the TV Guide that comes with the paper - and I’ve looked at the on-line guide provided by my satellite service and it’s nowhere to be found. Just when we need the kind of programming that could soothe our nerves and take our minds off of the pressures of our sinking economy, he’s disappeared from the public eye. The Rod Blagojevich show is off the air. There’s a possibility I suppose that he could get renewed, but for the moment he’s nowhere to be seen on the boob tube - and I have more than just a strong hunch why. It’s not that Letterman and Larry King and The View gals and the rest of the talking head crowd don’t want him anymore. It’s that something has happened to persuade him to drop out of sight in the hope that what he thinks may have happened will be less easy to confirm. He has been spotted.!!

It’s something that I suspected about him - almost from the very beginning - and it wasn’t long before I became certain of who and what he really was. And now it may be that certain "others" have been able to recognize the signs and are going to try to "out" him. You see, Rod and I share the same distant ancestry. We are both descended from aliens. From another planet. The planet Ikskobar!!Don’t ask me where it is. I’m not that certain myself, other than the fact that it's at least a couple of galaxies away. It was, after all, tens of thousands of years ago when the first Ikskobarian colonists arrived on Grixxpkja - that’s what they called earth - and after the first thousand years or so, the families stopped passing on stories of their history to their children. But one thing they did not stop doing - and that is abiding by the first law of Ikskobarian colonization. "Ikskobarians may marry only unto each other. It is strictly forbidden to become betrothed to a native of any colonized planet." It was a law of necessity, born of the tragedies of reckless intermarriage that took place on planets Z$%CC8* and Greecus Nine in the Trocadeera galaxy. As you know, both planets no longer exist, due to the crazed experiments of children born of intermarriage between Ikskobarians and the natives of those two sorrowful colonies.

The Ikskobarians began their colonization of Grixxpkja - excuse me, Earth - in grand style, knowing full well from experience that their presence needed to be hidden from the native population. In all of their colonizations there was always the urge to introduce natives to modern technology - but they long ago learned that that approach led to madness. It was best to let natives proceed at their own pace and to watch them with amusement.

Still, there were occasional slip ups.A couple of them were recorded in the Bible. The "Wheel" that "Ezekial" purportedly saw -"way up in the middle of the air" - was the result of an accidental de-cloaking of an inter-galactic transport bringing some much needed equipment from a weigh station just beyond Pluto. And the famous "Burning Bush" experience of "Moses" was the result of a communicator dropped by a careless child that laid in the Sun long enough to begin to begin to cryptolize and sure enough the attempts of the child’s father to pinpoint the lost item’s location resulted in the "voice of God" purportedly heard by Moses.

Bud the dead giveaway of forbidden intermarriage - the one that was learned on Z$%CC8* and Greecus Nine long before our arrival on earth, was the emergence of children suffering from piliferousis illegitimatis - the distinctive hair pattern that frightened our imported flocks of egg producing piglets - rendering them virtually useless as a source food production. We couldn’t eat the piglets themselves. That was forbidden by Ikskobarian dietary law - and those eggs they did manage to lay after seeing a piliferousis illegitimatis child, were square shaped, green in color and impossible to digest no matter what method of cooking was selected. And yes, in case you’re wondering, it was extremely painful for those poor piglets to expel square shaped eggs and many of them died in the effort.

It took many centuries after a single intermarriage between an Ikskobarian and a native to produce an offspring bearing the signs of piliferousis illegitimatis - sometimes thousands of years - and indeed it has taken thousands of years for the signs to appear here on earth. It explains almost everything that appeared to be inexplicable about Rod Blagojevich. He carries Ikskobarian blood. He is - as am I - a direct descendant of the original colonists - the difference being that I am descended from a pure line of Ikskobarians with no intermarriage intervening - as witnessed by my almost lack of ANY cranial hirsuteness .

Poor Rod probably doesn’t really understand it himself, but he has no choice in the way he thinks, acts and looks. It is the curse of alien intermarriage at work. He truly believes that he has done nothing wrong - and in pure Ikskobarian culture, that would probably be true. But as a hybrid, he simply doesn’t know how to adapt to the prevailing culture.

So there you have it - Blagojevich revealed and explained. You probably won’t believe it. You probably think this is just a gag - a bit of humorous folderol. But then you probably didn’t believe anything about the movie Men In Black - which was really a documentary financed by anti-Ikskobarian factions. Oh yes, there’s more than one kind of alien living among us and if I can survive the assassination attempts that these comments are sure to provoke - I’ll be revealing a few of them in future commentaries.

Did you really think Dennis Rodman was one of "us?"

February 12, 2009 @ 10 a.m. - Correction. Like the groundhog, Blago has reemerged, obviously in the full throes of Ikskobarian intermarriage. The reason I missed his reemergence is because he is now appearing on right wing radio and television programs. He was on FOX!! Talking to Sean Hannity for grocklemyer’s sake! There may be something brilliant in this strategy. A small voice may be telling him the obvious. People with perceptive abilities would be unlikely viewers of the Fox network talking heads, so the likelihood of his origins being spotted there are slim and none - and since the compulsion to appear somehwre is irresistible - that’s probably where we’ll be able to watch him descend into the final stages of piliferousis illegitimatis - a condition too horrible to describe. Think of cousin Itt - magnified a few hundred percent.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Since I’m an old retired guy and stay home a great deal , I get to hear a lot of background noise as a result of having the radio on most of the time. Of course I stayed home even when I wasn’t retired because I was self employed and worked out of my house. But with work to do, the radio wasn’t on that much. Now that it is, I get to hear all sorts of strange things that I didn’t used to hear. Radio and television have become today’s substitute for ambulance chasing. One radio station that I listen to has competing PI attorneys urging listeners to call them if they developed a hung toenail from socks they bought at Sears Roebuck. O.K. - no PI attorney has such an ad - but no matter how they couch their ads - it still sounds like ambulance chasing to me. Mesothelioma seems to be a major come on of the broadcasting PI attorneys. There are local, regional and national ads from law firms claiming to have the greatest expertise in pursuing claims on behalf of people who are suffering from this asbestos causing cancer. There’s one local father/son advertiser - the father a doctor with acknowledged expertise, having held positions of responsibility and published on the subject - and the son - of course a PI attorney.

But the ads that have been catching my ear - that have intrigued me more than offers to sue the world on your behalf - are the people who offer to help you get out of credit card debt. No - not to offer to help get you out of debt but to absolutely get you out of debt by utilizing "secrets" that the credit card companies "don’t want you to know." Shades of Kevin Trudeau - the master of "what they don’t want you to know" scams.

What all of these advertisers claim is that you, the person who has some outstanding credit card debt - and most of them aren’t interested in talking to you unless that debt is somewhere north of ten thousand dollars - have the right to negotiate a settlement of that debt for far less than the balance owed. I emphasize the word "right" because that’s the word that these "we’ll get you out of debt" advertisers emphasize.

Now I understand that everyone who has debt of any kind has an absolute right to try to negotiate a reduction of that debt with creditors. There’s no law that says you can’t try. But what these ads seem to say is that you absolutely have a right to settle your debt for less than you owe and that this is one of the "secrets that they don’t want you to know." The idea intrigued me so much that I went to the trouble of actually reading my credit card agreement. I only use one credit card. No matter which card you may use, when you sign up with one of these companies, you get a copy of what you’re agreeing to in the mail. Most of it is in small print and most of it is written in financial gobbledygook - but credit card companies have to follow the law - they can’t fool you with legal mumbo jumbo to hide what terms of a contract really mean - so I figured those "secrets" - the ones that would let me run up a lot of debt and then settle it for peanuts - had to be in there somewhere. But shiver me timbers, I couldn’t find a single word that sounded like a "right" to avoid paying off the amount I charged. I could take time to pay it off - but pay I must or I would have to surrender my first born.

I suppose the reason that these ads piqued my interest is because in another life - a thousand years ago - I was in the debt adjustment business. Most of time, the best I could do for a client was persuade his or her creditors to accept a lower monthly payment and if I was able to get all of his monthly payments down to a manageable, single amount - including the fee that I charged - the debtor experienced some relief from pressure - even if it was only temporary. More often than not, these people owed too much for them to repay on a monthly basis and ended up filing bankruptcy. The irony of this "service" is that there was nothing that I did that the debtor couldn’t have done himself - that is to say, call each creditor and negotiate a more manageable payment - the alternative being to file bankruptcy and wipe out the debt completely.

But if companies are advertising on the radio and saying that there are indeed "secrets" that credit card companies don’t want you to know and that they know these secrets and they can help you settle your credit card debt for less than you owe - then such secrets must exist - and who better to ask about them than The Google? So I went to Google and typed in "secrets the credit card companies don't want you to know." The Great and All Powerful Google said there were 309.000 hits on the subject but I didn’t recognize any as the advertisers I’ve been hearing on the radio. Still - at the top of the list was site after site listing varying numbers of "secrets" the credit card companies don’t want you to know - as few as five and as many as eight - though the most popular number was seven. One company had a listing for seven AND eight - but none of the seven or eight "secrets" spoke of a "right" to settle your debt. Just stuff about credit cards that anyone with an average IQ - or access to Google - could find out for themselves. Without paying someone with magical promises a fee.

Because yes indeed believers, the first thing that will happen if you contract with someone to help you get rid of your credit card debt is that a fee will be added to all of the money that you already owe. There is no free lunch and there are no magical secrets to get someone to forgive what you owe them - except in fantasy land. Which thought allows me to make a closing comment about the fantasy land known as the stock market. If you ever needed proof that the stock market is divorced from reality as most people know it - just look at the action of yesterday and today. The job losses in January were just announced. 598,000!!! Isn’t that just confirmation that things are looking up and we should all be rushing into the market to buy stocks? Over a hundred points to the upside on the Dow yesterday and over 200 points today. Sure enough Charlie Gibson said that Wall Street "shrugged off" the bad employment figures and concentrated on the coming stimulus bill. And following Charlie, our local news anchor said that Wall Street ignored those mean unemployment numbers and concentrated on the stimulus package. And a little later, Jim Lehrer said that Wall Street shrugged off the unemployment numbers and zeroed in on the coming stimulus package. Or words to that effect. That little old man in the green visor must have been working overtime in his cubbyhole underneath the NYSE.

And it wouldn’t surprise me if a whole bunch of those stock buyers driving up prices used credit cards to do their buying. Probably because they know the secrets credit card companies don’t want them to know..

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

This is supposed to be a blog of commentary on the "passing parade" - which covers just about any topic you might think of. Still, sometimes it’s hard to get away from the major news of the day - which of course, in the early days of the Obama administration, is political.

After eight years of George Bush, I find it refreshing that we have a president who is willing to admit mistakes - but Obama’s mea culpa over Tom Daschle is ridiculous. How the hell did he screw up? It was Daschle’s responsibility to tell Obama - or those "vetting" him, about anything that would embarrass - so if anyone screwed up, it was Daschle. Still, I’m disappointed that Obama let him go. He should have been forced to face the questioning and ridicule - after which I’m reasonably sure that he would have been confirmed.

Reading about his problems, I’m grateful that my wife and I file a joint return because if I get nominated and vetted, I can always claim that I was joy riding daily between my house and her place of employment and not contributing to her taxable income by putting a car and driver at her full time disposal.

Daschle’s problems didn’t take any focus away from the battle to produce a stimulus "package" - now being worked on in the Senate It’s not easy to devise a stimulus "package" that has a good chance of accomplishing what needs to be done. Just look at the wonderful financial bail out plan devised by "experts" who assured us that it was something that had to be done and done immediately without asking any questions. Both Bush and Obama bought the nonsense and we all know how well that rescue plan is working.

In the same vein, I don’t know if anyone is convinced that the current stimulus package will work. Some of the individual programs in the bill are being dropped - as indeed they probably should be. But others that may look silly at first glance and out of place in a "stimulus" package, don’t look quite as silly when you look a little deeper. For example, people have asked how millions for "The Arts" is going to help stimulate the economy, until you see opera companies and orchestras and playhouses in city after city, that are in desperate straits and lying off workers or cutting salaries. People are employed in the "arts" as well as other kinds of endeavors - around 5.7 million people all told.

I have no expertise on what can be done by the government to stimulate the economy or what will or won’t work and I’m not sure anyone else does, no matter what exalted titles they may boast. It’s easy to pick away at different parts of the package as the Republicans have been doing - but it isn’t easy to know up front what will or won’t work. What is clear is that to get out of the near recession in which we find ourselves, we need to stem the tide of layoffs which seem to be growing exponentially - and find ways to help those already laid off to become re-employed. The economic engine feeds on people who are working and earning and spending money. That much is simple.

The Republican answer to almost any economic problem is tax cuts. I have nothing against tax cuts but I’m not sure what kind of stimulus tax cuts would be. The proposed middle class tax cut - giving an individual a $500 tax break and $1,000 to a family is close to being ridiculous as an economic stimulus. That’s similar to the rebate checks that went out last year which accomplished absolutely nothing other than to deplete the treasury. Almost no one ran out to spend those tiny amounts in ways that would actually stimulate the economy. Most people just put the money in the bank or paid bills. What might help is to declare a tax holiday for a period of time for people earning up to a particular annual wage - seventy five thousand for example - which would put a great deal more in the hands of earners - though again, there would be no guarantee that the extra money wouldn’t just be saved. Without confidence in the future, people would tend to hang on to extra money rather than spend it on something that isn’t absolutely necessary. And of course a tax cut is of zero value to the hundreds of thousands of people who have lost their jobs and the many thousands that will be following them into the ranks of the unemployed. What will help them, until they can get re-hired - or hired to work on projects supported by Federal spending - is an extension of unemployment benefits and medical coverage.

What about business tax cuts? I have nothing against cutting business taxes as a stimulus - but if I’m the President I’d want to talk to the CEO’s of Caterpillar and Pfizer and Texas Instruments and Home Depot and ask how and how soon a corporate tax cut would translate into re-hiring laid off workers. The incentive to small business of a $3000 credit for each new hire that Obama talked about during the campaign has gone out the window, but some sort of tax reduction for small businesses might help them to take on more risk and a few more employees. But again, if I’m the President, I’d want to know which companies actually pay taxes and which have sneaky ways to avoid them. And there’s more than one way to do that!!

While Republicans in Congress are against the stimulus package as it currently exists, Republican governors are lock step with the their Democratic counterparts in approving money that will be coming to the states, some of which are on the verge of bankruptcy. They know what’s going to help the people in their states to get back on their feet - and if that means "spending" - that’s what they want to happen. But here’s an idea for Republican representatives who voted no on the bill. If they continue to vote no after conference and the compromise bill comes up for a vote, just suggest that they opt out of the package. That none of the "wasteful spending" gets spent in their district.

Obviously the housing crisis, which is the major contributor to the problems of the banking industry, needs to be tackled in a more creative way that has been tried so date. We’ve poured billions of taxpayer money into the nation’s banks - they’ve accepted and used it as found money - and done very little to ease the problems caused by the crisis that they created in the first place. Some part of any stimulus package has to be directed toward this problem - but it can’t be a repeat of what we’ve already done - just handing out money without any control over what it will be used for.

One thing seems clear - or should be clear from past experience. A trickle down plan won’t work. We’ve gone through that piece of fantasy before. Just as cutting the Fed rate to virtually nothing has had little effect on improving the economic situation - so will cutting taxes down to almost nothing not get us out of the mess we’re in. It’s going to need a lot more imagination than tax cuts.

There is one thing I think that could have a dramatic effect on our economy. The problems that we are faced with call for bold ideas and one bold idea would be to remove the heath care burden from private business - or at least to announce that this is a major goal of the Obama administration - to create a universal health plan for all Americans that is not simply employer based. Obama stayed away from calling for such a plan during the campaign - but changing times call for changing plans. Those who have studied the concept, such as the California Nurses Association - believe that it will create millions of new jobs and be a major stimulus to our economy.

Unfortunately, it’ll be a while before an idea like this gets serious consideration. The major players in the health industry like things just the way they are, and they hold great sway over members of Congress. John Conyers has a new bill for Single Payer Healthcare pending in Congress - but so far it’s been able attract only 30 co-sponsors.

Now here’s a thought of gloom and doom to bring these comments to a close. If we have an economy in which there is more than sufficient production of goods and services to satisfy the needs of those who can afford these goods and services - plus those who would like to afford themselves of those goods and services - but can’t because they’re unemployed, that’s a description of an economy in stasis. At least that’s what the present state of our economy looks like to me and it may take some new kind of thinking to shake things up and resurrect the decent way of life to which we’ve become accustomed. Some of the nattering idiots of the right think it’s funny to sneeringly refer to Obama as The Messiah. They can keep on sneering, but it may take something close to a miracle to get us out of the mess we’re in, so they’d better pray for the President because Mitch McConnell and his cohorts sure don’t look like any kind of miracle workers.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

I was going to write something about Rush Limbaugh’s latest nonsense, but decided against it. He’s a on e trick pony. A continuous loop. He’s not going to change and it just isn’t worth responding to any of the garbage that he spews over the airwaves daily.

I started this blog close to six years ago - On April 2, 2003. And after a few introductory lines on that day - my very first comments on April 3, 2003 , were directed at Rush Limbaugh with the title SHUT UP LIMBAUGH. I said the man was dangerous on that day and he has consistently verified that conclusion for the past seventy months. And the nature of that danger? That I also mentioned in my first blog commentary. Millions of people listen to him - many of those millions take his nonsense seriously and most of them are American citizens entitled to vote. And that’s scary.

Fortunately, they are not in the majority. Sanity and common sense prevailed two months ago and we elected Barack Obama to try to move this country back on the path our founding fathers designed. Still, it’s disheartening to look back at my very first comments to see that not only has nothing changed - but the idiocy has become more idiotic. Now, because Mr. Obama mentioned his name in some offhand remark, the mouth that fouls is bragging that the President of the United States is afraid of him!! Is there any need or any purpose to frame a response to such egotistical madness? I think not.

That look back at my first few days of blogging in 2003 made me realize how much of a rut we are in on so many fronts. For example, the perpetual struggle between Israel and Palestinian Arabs has been front and center lately and once again the former president who fancies himself an expert on the subject - who not too long ago sat down with Hamas leaders and assured us that they had assured him that they could be trusted to make a deal with Israel if certain conditions were met - who not long ago wrote a book titled "Palestine - Peace Not Apartheid - has written another book, this one titled "We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land" - sub-titled "A Plan That Will Work." On that first page of Blogs back on April 30, 2003 - I wrote my first comments on the struggle in the "Holy Land" - pretty much saying that the then plan de jour - the "Quartet Road Map" was going nowhere because the Palestinians and other Arabs had yet to accept Israel’s existence and were still fighting the 1948 War. If you can see any difference between how things were eight years ago and how they are today - which might give some new "plan" - even one proposed by Jimmy Carter - a chance of working, please let me know and I’ll nominate you and him for the Nobel Peace Prize.

A week ago, the CBS "60 Minutes" newscast did a piece on the problem, concentrating on restrictions imposed on the west bank and concluding that THE impediment to "peace" and to a two state "solution" was the existence of Jewish settlements. Only one or two problems with that conclusion. "Settlements" of course did not exist between 1948 when five Arab armies went to war against the fledgling Jewish state and the six day war in 1967 - but "peace" also did not exist. Today’s impediment to "peace" is the same one that existed in 1948 - the non-acceptance of Israel and its right to exist as a Jewish state by the Arabs living in parts of the original British mandate for Palestine and by their supporters in Islamic states.

Even if there was no Hamas and all the rest of the Palestinian Arabs were sane, the chances of peace arising out of a "two state solution" are slim and none. The best idea for any kind of solution - assuming sanity prevails - was outlined here on October 10, 2003. More or less a "two in one state" solution. But, like any other "solution" - it would only work as an agreement among sane people - and there have not been enough sane people on the Palestinian side for 60 years and little sign that this will change in the foreseeable future - even if Jimmy Carter writes a book a month.

How about the economy - then and now?

On April 26, 2003, still on my very first blog page, I wrote about failing airlines and failing retail chains. The economy wasn’t that great then and it’s a lot worse now - but there were reasons then for such failures that had little to do with the ups and downs of the economy - and to my mind, they hold true today. Six years ago, there were too many airlines competing for a limited number of passengers and there were far too many retail outfits competing for the business of a similarly limited number of potential buyers. The airline industry has shrunk - perhaps enough to be a sustaining industry in the years ahead - and the closing of some retail chains might make the retail industry more sustainable if and when we begin to recover from the current mess. But somehow I doubt that the lessons will be learned and that the future will continue to hold too many businesses competing for too few customers. It’s a topic that I’d like to expound on in a future commentary - this whole business of the mad desire for growth as though an economy can continue to expand with no end in sight and continue to be sustainable. I don’t think so.

And finally, from this blog’s original first page, I wrote about what I call Market Flim Flam - a subject I have returned to again and again - those daily pronouncements about why "the market" went up, down or sideways. I doubt that this is something that will ever change. People who should know better, blindly repeat the nonsense that is fed to them about the "whys" of daily market movement. People like Charlie Gibson of ABC News for example - and just about everyone like him. The market can jump 200 points one day and drop 200 the next and we’re told that it’s because of any number of excuses - for example " disturbing unemployment numbers." Except that the numbers were no different than they were the day before when "the market" moved in the opposite direction. But the news readers continue to read this nonsense and don’t say what they should say. Which is that "there was either more pressure to buy or to sell Dow stocks which resulted in "the market" moving up or down. And as to why - your guess is as good as mine." And I guarantee you that I could refer back to this blog page six years hence and nothing will have changed. Except perhaps that the Dow may have climbed back to where it was a year or so ago.

The one unknown of the future of course is whether or not Barack Obama will be able to influence real change. He is after all a politician and knows the ins and outs of politics and what you need to do to be successful politician. But he’s also a different kind of politician who could engender national and international support for new ideas and new ways of doing business. I liked his comment the other day about Wall Street bonuses being "outrageous." It’s not something we’re used to hearing from Presidents and maybe it’s a signal that there will indeed be a new way of doing business during his term

I have some thoughts about what he’s doing to try to stimulate the economy and I’ll pen them here in a day or so - perhaps after the Senate has suggested some much needed changes and the bill is ready for conference. But for today, this has been a look back at the day this blog began and how little has changed with the topics that I covered in April, 2003.