I have doubts about America moving forward without investigating what happened during the past 8 years and addressing it strongly through the laws of the land. I've long thought Bush and Cheney should have been impeached; pretty much from the start, and at least by now that some special prosecutor should be looking at what happened. The toothlessness of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and the rest of them, was and is maddening with that old line about moving forward and not dwelling in the past; we wouldn't want to appear like we're dwelling on...er...laws, the constitution, or anything like that....it seems like they all swing between feeling some helplessness about being able to actually get the support they need to investigate fully, and the old forget-the-past-and-move-on line. I guess that with the media the way it is, we always stand the chance of being looked at as dwelling on something that's over and done with; now what are we gonna do?
Well, get with the program or get outta the way; these days I'm all about the blame, the ounce of flesh and rehashing the past, who pays and who slips past, who ends up in jail, at the Hague, or crudely hung while dirty Americans in bars pump their fists in the air. This is about creating a record so that future generations, hell the generation growing up now, see that no one is above the law and that America doesn't operate this way. Blindly moving forward just to create space between us and the crimes serves no one in the long run. It does maintain the status quo, which is more comfortable for alot of people, but isn't that what got us into this in the first place? The questions once asked in high school and college level civics and government classes have all fallen by the wayside in an educational system that is barely able to teach the 3 R's, and without the knowledge of how things are supposed to work, people expect less from their elected officials. Punishing those who break the law is less about a pound of flesh and more about preventing a repeat by looking hard at who we've become and who we want to be; how far have we strayed from the founder's ideals of who we might become. You don't get to erase the past 8 years....ignoring the past is guaranteeing that we will repeat it.
The news of interrogation tapes from Guantanamo being destroyed during the Bush years is no real surprise to me, but news of existing evidence being destroyed by the last vestiges of the CIA is troubling, to say the least. More scary are the newly released Bush memos detailing that what was supposedly the insane ramblings of conspiracy theorists were not so far from the truth. If Bush and Co. had their way, America could easily have been turned into a police state in which the president could order a lockdown of all citizens at any time, and a suspension of our rights. This is dangerous stuff, and if they ever were trying to deny that innocent people were seized and renditioned to other countries, held and tortured, well, these memos are the groundwork by which all Americans could lose any semblance of due process or privacy. The government would only have to decide that the country was in some sort of danger. It could happen in committees where top officials hold up vials of white powders and show tubes and maps...oh, wait a minute, that already happened.
This material is a smoking gun, and its not like its the only smoking gun out there...the Bush administration boldly went about their business above the law because they really believed that they were above the law. The question is, can a country of laws continue on any reasonable path towards healing if we skip over these criminals and the evidence right in front of us? Shouldn't we at least be afforded a special prosecutor to just go over things a little? The shredders are whirring somewhere in the bowels of the gulags where shit went down....what are we going to do about it? Why hasn't Obama put this all in a state of investigation, frozen so that no more evidence could be destroyed? Where are the special prosecutors?
I'm waiting to see what the Obama line on this is gonna be, and I'm not all so positive about it. And so far he seems to be distancing himself from what the law folks are doing, which is neither here nor there. He did make the memos public without much fanfare, and it seems like any real lawbreaking will be responded to with an actual investigation rather than a pardon, but, I'm not sold. As much as I like his populist way of coming to the American people and laying it out on the table that we have a choice of who we want to be. This is a choice that we have to make and stand behind before our doors are kicked in and our treaties are canceled at our leader's discretion.
I love to see Obama speak, and its refreshing not to have to spit at the TV or run to turn down the sound of the voice of that sneering madman, but I can already feel the malaise of the thousands of people out of work or working 3 jobs and barely making it, just coalescing. It seems like we're in good hands and we're all so busy, so why not just let them try to handle it as best they can?
Regardless of how selfish we want to be in keeping more money in our own accounts, it must be clear that what the Bushies had in the works was the actual dismantling of our system in the guise of a tax break or a stim check. I've lost all faith in any politician actually standing by an idea as big as prosecuting an ex-President and an ex-Vice-President, but in my hopes and dreams I envision a world where a leader is bold enough to just say fuck it and throw politics to the winds to do whats right. Those sorts of leaders usually go down in history, but they don't necessarily have long lived careers (or lives for that matter.) There is a tremendous fear in the government that if we start prosecuting wrong doers, we may be knocking on alot of doors; but isn't it time?
This past weekend I turned on Sunday's This Week with George Snuffleupagus, and saw that no less than Karl Rove was on the panel. There he was sitting at the round table, spouting his beliefs and ideas, as if hes not a criminal and as if George and every other idiot there hasn't been masquerading as a news person at one time or another, or at least as a public servant. How does it work that this guy gets his great American second act before he even responds to the subpoena? How can news people sit on a round table with him as if nothing is wrong? Who are they inviting next, Bernie Madoff?
Even Arianna could not believe her eyes, and thank god in a way, for the netroots and all of my politically astute friends out there, because when this whole thing began, back in the dark days of Bush's first term, I felt so crazy and lost and alone. But with the gelling of the force there, I knew that as much as I was shaking my head and saying no-no, so were thousands across the country opening their laptops to begin the day..."today I saw a living nightmare commenting on my president's bailout package, as if he has anything to say to us ever again!" As Arianna said, this is no way to keep your viewers at a time when TV is on the way o-u-t.
Just because Rove has a certain amount of expertise in advertising and the old bait and switch, does not mean that he should be given a platform. He sat at the right hand of someone who may be one of the worst criminals in history. Why is he being elevated like this? I guess that its because the punditocracy seems to want to normalize him and therefore lessen their own guilt, as well as keep their bridges to the bad guys because it's likely they will be in power again at some point...I don't know anymore; none of it makes any sense.
So, he gets to sit there all nice and social and give commentary on Obama's strategies? There is something wrong with that picture and I'd prefer to not have him on the screen when I turn on the TV on a bleary Sunday morning. They've had their say and they actually lost big time on the merits of whats happened. So its safe to say that the old Rovian terrorizing of the masses, until they cant think straight or look at evidence, is over. I have no interest in his ideas...not at all.
Time Magazine isn't my favorite read. I tend to shy away from those weekly rags that encapsulate what they think you need to know of the news. They do, however, have something interesting online from time to time, and I caught something this week that I found so interesting that I had to...um...borrow a copy from the gym so I could read it in hard copy. Its the Faith Healing issue, and it has, by the way, a great little piece on how boomers are taking over FaceBook...kick ass!! (And if I hadn't un-friended my niece I would send that link to her, because she seems to think that the thing belongs to the college aged kids with no spending power....as if anyone has any anymore.) But, the piece that got me was about The 25 People to Blame for the Economic Mess We're In., and its lineup of the expected suspects, most of whom I won't go into here because you can follow the link over there if you're really interested in what Time thinks, (and I'm ultimately not).... its the attitude that gets me.
At Time they see fit to barely scratch the surface of the problem, and present it as a faux lineup, with heads crudely pasted on fake bodies or some such silly photoshop. There is Bush and a whole mess of movers and shakers that we may or may not know. And smack dab in the middle is YOU, the American Consumer; come on now, take your medicine! You got yourself into this and now that you cant get yourself out of it you're gonna complain and ask to be bailed out? Wait a minute!
I'm going to try to explain what I've had circling for days only to gel today in light of old Karl sitting there, and I'm gonna do it without slanting things towards my own socialist tendencies and without letting the American consumer off the hook:
Americans are bombarded with advertisements that imply that the American Dream is just a credit card away. We are offered cards upon checkout at every store from Target to Tiffany's, and promised 15% off our purchase that day if we sign up. Most of us have many of these cards, not realizing that they are mostly owned by a few big banks (aka Chase usually...Chase owns just about everything these days.) We've been fed a line and promised certain things that are explained in small print, too small to read, and we've signed up gladly because next week's paycheck will surely come and we'll surely pay that off. Of course the interest rate is 21% or more, and if we don't get the entire balance paid that month, or within the designated period, the 15% we saved is only an offset of that for the first month. Everything is like that these days; nothing is simple as things were even 20 years ago when I was putting things on layaway and not picking up the merchandise until I had paid it off!
The get-it-now, need-it-now culture has sprouted out of nowhere, but it couldn't have happened if the banking industry hadn't become more and more reliant on the consumer credit part of their business. It used to be hard to get a credit card, and then suddenly every kid was getting offers and you didn't have to have an income or a credit record. You can shake your finger at the people who signed up for mortgages they couldn't afford and didn't understand, and people who lost track of the money needed to support those plastic cards, but not without noting that deregulation has allowed for the biggest advertising schemes in history to dupe us all into believing that we could have it all! And more, that ALL was not good enough. If you had the house you needed the bigger house....if you had the bigger house you needed to win the lottery. The American Dream has become more, more, more; and I'm sorry, but that little secure job and comfy life on the cul-du-sac just wont cut it. That's because we are AMERICA! Look comrade, at a point, you gotta decide whats the norm, and if what you aspire to, like the rest of us, is winning the lottery, well, chances are stronger that you'll get hit by lightening. So maybe its time to set out some basic norms, so that we aren't struggling to achieve what has been presented to us and what is unachievable.
All of American life has become predatory...how many of us can really make it on just our incomes without relying on credit from time to time, or all the time? Its not just that credit is an integral part of the capitalistic landscape, its that our culture has turned on itself and somehow we find ourselves in a situation where it matters little if the purchaser/borrower loses everything, so long as the predatory bank is bailed out.
Now, that predatory bank that I owe a certain amount to on a card has been sending out fliers. I often find some blowing down the street and they sit unread in garbage cans. Those fliers, it turns out, say that the cycle is being made smaller and the minimum payment is being raised. At that point, if like me, you have automatic payments set up from the bank and you're not checking all the time, you're screwed! The deal is this, you get called on the day you're late, and as you're saying that your payment isn't due till next week and rifling through the stack of bills, they offer you a deal to pay on the phone for a small fee of $14.95....then, since you're late, they charge $39 as a late fee. Oh, and that thing they used to do when you went over your limit where your card was denied? Most of 'em don't do that anymore; instead they allow you to go over your limit and then they charge you an overlimit fee!...oh, and by the way, in the other little flier with tiny letters that you may or may not have gotten in your junk mail there was mention of how they were lowering your limit....so chances are you don't know that a card that had $1000 on it actually now has half that! And one more thing, your card holder bank has just bought all the little banks and they now own all your store cards...and they've reported you to the credit bureau and in response to all of this your limits are raised, your minimum payment is raised, your credit is lowered and you cant get a consolidating loan to try to make sense of this because your score was lowered for any one of 3 or 4 reasons which range from just silly to insane! Welcome to my world!
Of course, the whole thing is stupid and we shoulda known, but how many of us are able to read the fine print legalese and fight the brainwashing....the brainwashing...yes, I said it! Besides that and more important is that many of us have been putting groceries and medical bills on these cards...forget about if there is an emergency and a huge hospital bill. So, I take responsibility for my own credit, and Ive never paid late until they started to change the date regularly, but obviously Ive only paid a day or few late and I always paid much more than the minimum! Who stops them from from doing whatever they want? You know, you can refuse these changes but then they are gonna shut down all of your cards and call in the loans...and remember, they own all the little cards too! This is all AFTER we, the tax payers, bailed them out!...now they want more! You know what? why not let them fail to hell and see what happens? Credit may be the cornerstone of business from the newspaper stand on the corner to the biggest banks, but there is no reason not to bail out the businesses that have a need to be guaranteed to their vendors or whatever. It sure would be cheaper, wouldn't it?
Meanwhile, back to my Sunday morning hate fest, and seething by now, Ive got to ask: Who is the king of brainwashing and deregulation? Karl Rove! The same Karl Rove who now gets to sit on a panel on Sunday morning and discuss Obama's bail-out stimulus plan! The same lying cheating neocon who so firmly believes in that odd somehow bigger "less government," privatization, and deregulation of everything, until the financial dealings of this country are more like the wild west than a civilized society. That's the same Rove who masterminded the terra threat and the go shopping to support your country lines. There has not been a time when Rove wasn't sitting at the right hand of the president, and therefore he doesn't deserve a place on the roundtable until hes cleared, even if its a kangaroo court set up just to smooth the transition. He has refused to answer a subpoena on many occasions, and now hes saying he will but there are always rules and things that cant be asked in the interest of national security. Well, I'm not feeling very secure, are you?
I'm also not so happy to note that he does not appear in Time's lineup of who to blame....how about looking at him as being criminally culpable in the government's disinformation campaign, causing the disassembly of how we had previously handled money in this country? Is it legal to lie and propagandize until there is little left of this house of cards? And is this someone who should be advising us on the quick progress of Obama, who is at least doing something; something that Rove didn't suggest that his buddies in the oval office do in the last few years.
This whole thing and who is to blame is really not so hard to figure out; just follow the money, pundit chairs and book deals. If the game was to loot the country and then hand the war and ruined economy over the the democrats, and then float that its Obama's problem and try to even tie it to Clinton, as if Bush had nothing to do with any of this, well then Rove is a fucking genius! The catch is that 80% of Americans believe that Obama inherited these problems from Bush, so its apparently gonna take a little more than what Rove has been trying to dish in the talking points, along with disgusting flunky "party leader" Limbaugh. So, maybe Americans are wising up and maybe, just maybe, we're sick to death of being lied to.
So, who is to blame? it seems to me that every damned bit of this economic crisis can be traced back to that day that Reagan was standing at a podium saying that large corporations don't need the government to police them! They don't need regulation; they can regulate themselves, by god!!I remember staring in disbelief at the man basically carrying out what had been planned for a long time, and what was the beginning of the end of the American Dream.
Government involvement or disinvolvement in how money has been handled in this country brings me to a very interesting piece on 60 Minutes last Sunday night. It seems that one Harry Markopolos figured out that Bernie Madoff was a fraud and he told the SEC quite a few times over many years, and they didn't investigate properly. It was quite straight forward actually, and the hedge funds in Greenwich that were making money hand over fist by putting client's money into Madoff's fund, should have realized something was amiss. Its impossible for a fund to not ebb and flow with the market, and its impossible that no one noticed that something was wrong. What seems clear is that those who were able to pull a profit from Madoff, kept raking it in in an impossible scenario that was as intoxicating as it was a ticking time bomb. Any money person could see the few things that Markopolos found, and the SEC should have looked. Madoff's neice had married an ex SEC man, and he was heard to say that he had ties with the officials. There are huge conflicts of interest in every area of this, and beyond that Madoff is such a sociopath that he is unable to even feel the pain of the not so rich people who thought they were secure only to end up having to go and work menial jobs to live day to day, its clear that lax enforcement puts a big piece of the blame on the government that we fund to police these things. New York Magazine has a great article on Madoff as The Monster Mensch, which is telling in its dissection of the making of someone so removed from what he has become, and one who clearly is a sociopath. But what interested me was the depiction of Madoff as an climber, an outsider, who upon achieving the dream and being in a position to hold court with some of the most influential people in the world of finance, still was the scrappy boy from the streets. He retained a sort of anger at the people for whom he had made fortunes, and felt "ennobled" that he had worked his way up and enabled these people to have such fine lives. Maybe the resentment was a necessary first step in the break from ethical reality, in that things would go south or had already gone south, and so a bit of anger and resentment made it all the easier to fabricate his detailed statements and lie so convincingly, while acting like he cared for his clients and employees so much. As an outsider, he created an exclusive club that people were so happy to be in that they didnt question. It reminds me of Stevie Rubell standing at the velvet ropes of Studio 54, a little balding guy who never really fit in, controlling who would get in and who wouldnt; always there was that underbelly of resentment for people not of whatever the code was for that night....the shoes wrong, the chains wrong, the party mix wrong....and regardless of the law breaking that went on inside, once you were in, you werent gonna rock the boat.
Madoff is in the lineup of Time's 25 people to blame for the financial crisis, you see, along with Chris Cox, who was the Chief of the SEC, and who didn't investigate the allegations of wrongdoing in the Madoff case. Even as Cox claims to have lacked the authority to do much, as if his hands were tied by deregulation, he still didn't stand up and blow the whistle....There were reports of wrongdoing all over the place, not just in Madoff's case, but the SEC lacked authority to investigate? It seems to me that a few people were blowing whistles and the masters of the universe who were running these supposed "regulatory" agencies lacked the balls rather than the authority. It seems that the concern over and over these days is in one's own career and future rather than ethics and logical decision making.
The money in many of these cases has disappeared, but yesterday the paper noted that Switzerland holds some 147,000 American accounts where money has been stashed tax free. Of those they will only divulge a few in current hearings amongst a particular 52,000. How can that be ethical? You know what? UBS is one of the biggest businesses in my town, having gotten huge tax breaks to build its headquarters here, and I dont see why they should be given such a huge footprint in the US if they are harboring the money of tax cheats and criminals. It has to do with Swiss law not allowing Swiss employees of the banks to implicate themselves in crimes, but shouldnt foreign companies operating in the US have to follow our laws and not be screwing us over offshore? I say shut them out of America until they pony up the names of all of the cheats. I think we might see many familiar names on those accounts, and we might recover some of the missing Madoff money as well. Oh, and those big financial operations that make Stamford the second largest trading floor in the country; operating on tax breaks meant to bring jobs to the area. Those operations are laying off thousands of people in little bursts. So, what are we getting and who is protecting our citizens?
This country is rife with really sick people. It seems that no sooner have the laws been softened than the movers and shakers begin some descent into a convenient madness that is really just a form of what happens when the Freudian id loses its social restraints. I have long marveled at the human brain's ability to twist situations to a point where it makes perfect sense to resent and blame the victim as you steal them blind. The unfettered id is not a good thing, but it is a pretty transparent thing, just like the accounts that cant possibly make the return they are making. It is the thing that we, as human animals, have been working against, towards a more ordered and kinder society. It is the animal urge to fight for resources as if they were limited in this forum where the people in question have more than any group could ever need. Either we just admit that we migrate and kill each other for resources, or we try to keep up this facade of the good churchgoing populace...the seedy underside is always there no matter what part of history you look at. The common thread is always that we strive to be better and to end violence and unfair tactics that leave part of the population out in the cold in a way that is well removed from the Darwinism of yesterday, before the decks were stacked against certain groups from the getgo.
And who are the leaders in the unfettered department; the inability to understand your effect on others, and to see how big of a footprint you have, or the air that you suck out of a room? The most ill of them all? Rush Limbaugh is claiming that prize proudly as he opens another button on his shirt because its s-e-x-y! In the following clip Janeane Garafalo and Keith Olbermann discuss the incredible pathos there, and what is great is that its just so clear that Limbaugh is a lonely, ugly, guy who is out of the loop, abhorrent, self loathing, and so even in the middle of adoring fans, he finds a way to hate, and a way to soak up the bucks; while also furthering the cause that allows him to profit off of the misfortune of our country. Rush just serves as an example of the the other half that I have struggled to understand for so many years. Its the Rovian hook and lie, the hate in their eyes that gives permission to all of the writhing ids, barely held in check out there, to go for it. Its a devilish wink and nod that lets the underbelly of our society know that its OK to take what your instinct tells you are resources, and not to feel much empathy for anyone. The fascinating thing is that with these Bush neocons, the KKK hood is off. They boldly display themsleves so that their employers will know where to send the checks. hate sells in this culture...and maybe it would be about time to ask ourselves why? Let them throw back the freedom of speech argument at us all they want. At some point we have to stop trying to be so politically correct and call a spade a spade.
Christian religions are based on the all-men-are-born-bad model, which seems to allow for alot of straying and repenting, with forgiveness by the ultimate authority a given bonus, even for the worst crimes. Darwinists see the prehensile tail and layers of pre-reptilian brain telling the human man to survive and to excel, and whats so wrong with that? Its understandable and it allows for a certain acceptance of the crimes committed in the service of resources and land. Its a hard cruel world out there in the animal kingdom, and as much as you can dress up a chimp or the human race for that matter, eventually their instincts take over. Its very hard to tell a billionaire that he has enough money, because its not about money anymore; its about pounding your chest and peeing on the edges of your territory.
Fundamentalist religion seems to be about one angle or another that allows a group to be exclusive of those who might otherwise be welcomed as a brother; meantime denying the survival of the fittest and espousing the survival of the one that follows the convenient word....and of course if you stray there is the forgiveness as well....but the whole thing seems to end in a fiery pit anyway, with a heaven goal, so all bets are off. Strange that so many of the other 50% have embraced the fringe of the fundamentalist creed.
The deregulated government and waning culture seems to ultimately free the barely contained id usually contained by the weak vessels of theory proven wrong, to wreak havoc on those who might trust in the logical and empathetic order of things. You would thinkthat in absence of some superego, a social structure might come forward to keep this all in line so that no one gets hurt. Where is the superego or even a little regulation? When did it become OK and even just part of business to state that you screwed people over but it was lawful? If the conflict of interest is between the patient in the hospital and the shareholders....when does it stop? when you've denied care because your first responsibility is to the business dealings of the shareholders? The answer is that it doesn't stop, and it may signal the end of the cycle of pure unfettered capitalism...which might mean a sharp turn back with a new administration or possibly that a tipping point has been reached and the whole thing is gonna come crashing down.
We live in whats left of the shell of a country looking over the fallout of the last 8 years, while those who are not served whatsoever by espousing the neocon ideas of yesterday, continue on in what is the cognitive dissonance of the conscious colliding with whats gone on, or just plain old-fashioned denial. Its sick and it appears sick, even to regular old conservatives looking at what has become of their party. I dont want to play games anymore; I'm tired. There is no status quo in this ever changing landscape of the spotty history of our country. There is only us deciding who we want to be and shutting down the bad influences out there. Bad begets bad, and anger begets hate and blame.... Short of using our laws, damn the torpedos, we return to the gutter that we barely have emerged from.
Some rights of this page's plain text stuffs are reserved for the author.
The opinions expressed herein are solely those of the authors of said opinions, and do not in any way represent the opinions of other contributors.
The Template is generated via PsycHo and is Licensed.