Monday, March 30, 2009

Obama Paloozza

From the Guardian:

Britain will get its first chance to see Barack Obama this week when a White House cavalcade - complete with armoured limousines, helicopters, 200 US secret service staff and a six-doctor medical team - sweeps into the UK.

Obama will fly into London for his first visit to the UK as president of the United States on Tuesday to take part in the G20 summit in the capital's Docklands area. He will not be travelling light.

More than 500 officials and staff will accompany the president on his tour this week - along with a mass of high-tech security equipment, including the $300,000 presidential limousine, known as The Beast. Fitted with night-vision camera, reinforced steel plating, tear- gas cannon and oxygen tanks, the vehicle is the ultimate in heavy armoured transport.

In addition, a team from the White House kitchen will travel with the president to prepare his food. As one official put it: "When the president travels, the White House travels with him, right down to the car he drives, the water he drinks, the gasoline he uses, the food he eats. America is still the sole superpower and the president must have the ability to handle any crisis, anywhere, any time."

Read the whole article and you'll be wondering what in the world is going on. Did Bush travel like this? With 6 doctors, personal chefs, 200 Secret Service, cases of water, decoy helicopters and a vehicle called The Beast? Seriously, the cost of this trip could probably feed an entire third world country for a year. Isn't this disgustingly over the top? At a time when our economy is failing, jobs are disappearing, people have to choose between paying for their own health insurance or paying their mortgage? Medicine or food?

For me, the definition of a leader is one who inspires others by his or her own actions. Obama is nothing but a grandiose, narcissistic empty suit who holds himself in such high esteem that he feels he isn't accountable to anyone, least of all the people of the United States. After all, we are only the ones footing the bill.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Yes, I am Spring cleaning my blog yet again. The last template was making me feel like I was living in Little House on the Prairie. Not that Little House is a bad thing, but I realized I am a wee bit more simplistic than calico, flourishes and sparkly things.

Back to the topic at hand. While traveling today on my way to buy groceries (OK, two side stops at my favorite second hand stores), I listened to a speaker on NPR radio by the name of Samuel Claiborne. Now, I'm not familiar with Mr. Claiborne and, since it is Friday night, I've no desire to look him up, but I'd like you to listen to what he has to say. Actually, you'll have to read it.

3/27/09: Meet the New Boss...

I see that the left's honeymoon with Obama is still in full swing, despite mounting evidence that he's not going to be a very liberal president at all. I know it's early. I know we can't blame him for Republican partisan slash and burn tactics in Congress. But we can blame him for the company he keeps, and the policies he crafts, and for legacy policies that he upholds rather than repudiates.

Some examples:
The Justice Department announced that it would adhere to the Bush administration's position that detainees imprisoned at a U.S. air base in Afghanistan have no right to challenge their confinement in U.S. courts. Habeus Corpus loses again. Treasury Secretary Geitner was former Secretary Paulson's right-hand man during the crafting of the initial, woeful T.A.R.P. plan - the one that had no real oversight at all for how the money was spent - hence, no easing of the credit crunch, and big bonuses for execs of the bailed out companies. Geitner and Paulson are both veterans of Wall Street. Couldn't Obama have picked someone more Progressive, like Paul Krugman, or former Labor Secretary Robert Reich? Similarly, Robert Rubin, another top architect of the Obama economic plan, helped destroy Citibank while receiving a salary of over 100 million dollars annually. And Lawrence Summers, Obama's chief economic advisor, loves tax cuts and hates infrastructure. Sounds like… Bush! These people are embedded representatives of the culture of unrestrained greed and short-term gain that got us into this mess - do we really want the foxes guarding the hen house again

Obama abrogated his own promise not to hire lobbyists into his administration, citing the financial meltdown as a mitigating factor. Yes, I'm absolutely sure that there are no people outside of the power/money elite that have the skills and background to do the job.

Despite the most catastrophic economic meltdown since the 1930's, no one from the President on down through his administration has talked about our bloated, unsustainable military budget. Instead, all signs point to a heroin-like injection of even more capital into military projects, which will provide some short-term relief, and major withdrawal symptoms later on. This country has been on a permanent war-economy footing since 1939, and we simply can't sustain it. Yet Obama refuses to even speak to the issue.

This financial crisis is actually an incredible opportunity to change this country's direction and to challenge some of the basic tenets of our government and economy that have been taken for granted for years. It's an opportunity that hasn't been seen since the early days of FDR. Unlike FDR, Obama is dealing with a much more intransigent Republican faction in congress which is more intent on bloodying him and the Democratic Party than in saving working people's lives, livelihoods, and dreams. But he's not even speaking to the real problems. He's not even trying to inject new thinking into the old order. Instead, he's surrounded himself with the usual Beltway/Wall Street suspects.

And look at the Stimulus Bill, and compare it to what FDR did; very little money for boots on the ground projects, lots for bloated government apparatchiks and… I can't believe it… LOTS MORE TAX CUTS!). Sure, he needed some Republican votes. But the input from the Obama side itself had woeful little in terms of infrastructure construction and repair. The bill should have created something akin to FDR's massive work programs, targeting infrastructure. Instead, we get incremental, timid, mostly status-quo mediocrity.

No, Obama isn't Bush - don't mistake what I'm saying for that. But there is a whiff of 'meet the new boss, same as the old boss' - or at least, it's feeling a bit more like that than 'change we can believe in'. Same old crew, same old policies, polished up a bit. And the same lobbyists swimming in a stream of money, sucking on the body politic like Remoras. Far from being the most Liberal president in my lifetime Obama seems firmly embedded in the power elite, and towing the line for the Military-Industrial Complex. It's time for the left to make some noise. It's time to stop wishing, and fantasizing, and imbuing Obama with all of our hopes and dreams, and start demanding some action on the ground.
The entire piece is here and I've gotten off my Friday Night duff and done a little Googling while you were reading. Mr. Claiborne is quite a spectacular guy and you can read all about him here.

Class dismissed.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New Moon, New Beginnings

Because Aries is the youngest of the signs, this is the New Moon for fresh starts, turning over a new leaf or starting a new phase. Aries represents the inner child; that trusting, innocent soul which lives within each of us. Even in the worst of times, and these do seem to be the worst of times, it is important to be aware of the ever-present humor that exists in the darkest moments of our lives. After all, the greatest comedy does arise from the deepest tragedies.

I realize childlike innocence may be hard to conjure up when the global economy is in such disarray, but this is the only New Moon of the year when we get to start all over again. If this past year has left you feeling beaten down, depressed, and physically or emotionally wounded, this is the New Moon to start anew. When darkness comes into our lives, we must remember that the dawn will eventually come.

This year, most of the planets are lined up in a bucket with conservative/fearful Saturn over on the other end feeling very frustrated by an inconjunction to Jupiter/Chiron/Neptune in “radical change” Aquarius, and an opposition to Mars/Uranus in transcendent Pisces. The Mercury/Sun/Moon/Venus conjunction in “just go for it!” Aries doesn’t get a lot of room to flex its muscles. Add an all-too-real Pluto in Capricorn to a seriously responsible Saturn in Virgo and this New Moon in Aries may end up being a battle between fear of change and the inevitability of change.

So here are some ways to conquer fear. Think of this New Moon as the light at the end of the tunnel, the beginning of your journey back to wholeness, not the end of that journey. Aries is all about adventure and the indomitable spirit of the adventurer helps open us to trying something different; something you think isn’t you… but might just be. Reinvigorate your lust for life. We have all become so fearful and risk-averse. Go on an adventure, be spontaneous, or just do something wild and crazy. There is a time and place for play, and this is the New Moon to remember that all work and no play make us very dull people! So use your ritual to figure out how to bring more fun into your life! After all, life is just a big adventure.
Read the rest here

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Betty Ford - Feminist


I watched a Betty Ford documentary last evening on PBS and became reacquainted with the strong, well grounded First Lady who was not afraid to speak her mind. Looking back on her life, I now realize how important she was to the women's movement. Betty Ford spoke out in support of abortion, staunchly supported the ERA, was very public about her breast cancer and not only admitted to the world her addiction to drugs and alcohol, but started a clinic which she participated in, giving strength to those afflicted with the same disease.

In today's political climate, it was almost mind boggling to watch this down to earth couple going about their very real lives. No staging, teleprompters, phony promises, arrogant stances, Greek columns or organic arugula grown on the White House south lawn. In fact, after President Ford was sworn in (upon Nixon's resignation), the family lived in the same home they had lived in for years, cooking and cleaning and parenting, until Nixon's belongings could be removed from the White House and the Ford family moved in.

If you have a chance to watch this on your PBS station, I highly recommend it. Betty Ford really was the real deal and a remarkable women.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Align Center

OSTARA


Winter's barrenness has subsided,
From the death of Winter
Spring's new life.

Spring is coming to the land,
The days grow longer,
Warm breezes begin to stir.

All around us we see signs -
The growing things are beginning anew.

It's the resurrection of the dance of life.
The dance of the stems and stalks
As they push forth from the Earth.

It is the season of creation.
Growth has turned outward,
The land has become fertile again.

The Earth is caressed by
The loving touch of the Mother,
Where her hand passes.

Atoms twine together to create growth.
Buds burst open.
Leaves and vines unfurl.

She creates a vision of the green beauty.
Beauty so breath-taking after
The dark solitude of Winter.

It is this vision that we celebrate
On her day of Ostara
The world recreating itself--

Returning from the death of Winter,
Into the new life of Spring
Through the love of the Goddess.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Random Shots

I have some things that I’m really not sure how to deal with, but I thought if I got them out where I could look at them, it may help me to deal with them. Here's my list:
  1. No, I don't want to listen to what happened at your place of employment every single day. I don't know the people you are talking about and, actually, I could care less.
  2. Yes, I do knit. Why do you find that so incredible?
  3. When you tell people that I am the "expert" in some area, I find that offensive. And, it makes me feel that if I don't know the answer to a problem, I've let you down.
  4. I don't want to listen to the details of your sex life. Please stop sharing those stories with me.
  5. Yes, I can believe it. You've been enabling him/her for years. Why can't you believe it?
  6. Contrary to belief, I was not put on this earth to solve all of its problems. I have enough trouble dealing with my own mistakes.
  7. When you ask me a question and I give you the answer, why don't you listen?

I feel better already. So, what's on your list?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Fancy Pants

I am spring blog cleaning and it is a work in progress, so please excuse the mess. I'll get it together soon.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Our Very Important President : Apology to Gordon Brown


I'm late, I'm late for a very important date
No time to say "Hello", "Goodbye"
I'm late, I'm late, I'm late, I'm late
And when I wave, I lose the time I save
My fuzzy ears and whiskers
Took me too much time to shave

I run and then I hop, hop, hop
I wish that I could fly
There's danger if I dare to stop
And here's the reason why
You see, I'm overdue, I'm in a rabbit stew
Can't even say "Goodbye", "Hello"
I'm late, I'm late, I'm late

Good morning Mister Chatterbox
I'd love to stop and chatter
But in six and seven-eighth minutes
I must meet with the Mad Hatter
The mad, mad, mad, Mad Hatter
We must chat about a very important matter

I'm late, I'm late for a very important date
No time to say "Hello", "Goodbye"
I'm late, I'm late, I'm late, I'm late
And when I wave, I lose the time I save
My fuzzy ears and whiskers
Took me too much time to shave

I run and then I hop, hop, hop
I wish that I could fly
There's danger if I dare to stop
Aand here's the reason why
You see, I'm overdue, I'm in a rabbit stew
Can't even say "Goodbye", "Hello"
I'm late, I'm late, I'm late..........

Monday, March 09, 2009

Take the quiz

I took the New Agenda "Which Western Feminist Icon are You" quiz that Violet has posted over at Facebook. It's right here in my sidebar, if you want to have some fun.

My results: You are Catharine MacKinnon! You are one amazing smarty-pants! You're hell on wheels and you know it, but you also know that because you're the "pretty" radical feminist, you get off easier in public. You combine law, philosophy, and feminist theory. You truly are a triple threat!

A fun diversion in an otherwise dark, dreary rainy morning in the Great Northeast. And, it's Monday to boot. Ugh.

But, it felt pretty good to be "hell on wheels". And, then I read this.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Obama's Pork Problem

Monday, March 02, 2009

Recession: When will it end?

Great article by my DIGG buddy UnlawflCombatnt

The same situation exists today that existed in 1929. There has been no cause for our GDP to expand since 2000. We grew based on increased debt-financed spending, overvalued homes, and derivatives thereof. But there was little additional real wealth produced, other than homes. And the artificially created over-demand for homes caused more to be produced than there was any wage/income-financed demand for.

Credit/debt-financed demand is not real demand. And when supply is increased in response to credit/debt-financed demand, there is an oversupply in real terms. And once that credit/debt source of demand contracts, so does the demand it created. At that point, the oversupply becomes apparent. The oversupply reduces demand, and reduces the value of all of the debt instruments created from that supply, and reduces the demand for all goods & services that were financed from the artificial paper wealth created by the instruments and their overvalued collateral.

And the loss of this artificial demand, coupled with the reduced demand from decreased "wealth effect," reduces demand for labor to produce goods and services. That, in turn, reduces "real" demand, by reducing both employment and wages.

So once again, what do these "experts" think is going to bring us out of this recession? What new source of demand will come along? What new product or industry will there be to create goods that there will be a demand for -- a product that consumers will purchase -- a good whose production will provide employment for American workers, giving workers the income to restore production demand, and employ still more workers to make that good?

Where is that new industry? Where is that new good that consumers will purchase? If the experts can't answer that question, then how can they predict a recovery? How can they predict a recovery if they have no idea what growth engine will arise anew, or whether one will arise at all?

I think we're in for an L-shaped De-pression. I think it will be many years before our economy returns to a $14 trillion GDP.

Yet it is politics and greed, not actual economic reality, that will prevent our recovery.