Monday, September 29, 2008

And now

And now, after nearly 8 years of President Bush's administration with Dick Cheney and their deregulation efforts, which was done with the help of the Republican-controlled Congress and wimpy Democrat-controlled Congress, the proverbial chickens have come home to roost. And now Bush is being Chicken Little, citing the disaster if we don't bailout the financial services sector and companies from their fraud and greed.

And now we know what Bush was really about, driving this country into the ground for the profit of corporations, first with the Iraq/Afghanistan carpet bagging companies defrauding the government with no-bid contracts for billions and the security companies ruining the reputation of America and the military running amuck in Iraq with no worry of liability or prosecution, ad second with Cheney's Energy policy and task force which we'll never know because he had his staff destroy the records in violation of the law preserving documents.

And now the economy, or the financial services companies. The truth is that neither he or Cheney believed in their job as President and Vice President, respectively. The truth is that they simply used it for an agenda to benefit (rich and corporate) friends, corporations and lobbyists. And we wrote the checks.

And now the next President will have the unfortunate job of telling the American people the truth, about the reality of the world, this country, our economy, and the Bush Administration itself. They'll be the messenger of the worst news imaginable in our history outside of the Civil War. And in 2012, if things don't improve beyond the barest expectations of Americans, he'll be another first term President.

I once read that it takes 2-4 years for the delayed effects of any president to be felt throughout the economy and that first term of a President is always reacting and fixing those problems. And the second term, if they're re-elected, is creating his/her own problems for that term and the next President. So, that said, look what Bush wrought on the economy and the American people.

He and his administration, with VP Cheney, spent the frst few years setting the stage and the rest creating a new military-corporate complex Eisenhower warned us about fifty years ago. He was so right. Our Defense spending hasn't decreased in over a decades, always going up beyond inflation, and Defense purchases, separate from their operation budget, also keeps going up for new weapons programs.

And the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan isn't costing just the expenditures defined in the war appropriations funding, but over twice because that only includes the actual operations. The rest, such as equipment, contracts, Iraqi government support, etc. are all extra in the Defense budget. They do this to hide the real total cost of the war. And don't forget the VA assumes the costs of the injured and disabled.

And the Homeland Security Administration budget also has never decrreased, and we're getting even less for it than Defense. We're no safer and HSA keeps chasing corporate technology as the answer to our security. And it's not working, especially for the huge price tags the government is freely spending. Our money treating us as suspects and terrorists. They've sold us fear and we're writing the checks.

And now this is where we are as a country, and to ensure we stay here, the republicans are selling us fear with McCain and Palin. If you thought Bush and Cheney were the worst President and Vice President in history, McCain and Palin can be worse. Neither are as smart as Cheney, but both are equally focused and reckless. They can't fix the economy or our problems because they don't want to fix them.

And now we're facing a real decision, "stay the course" or "vote for change." The former is known and the latter isn't, and now you have to decide, fear or unknown.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

What's not in

What's not in the discussion. The cost of our government. Not the discretionary spending we all know and see as our government. We're facing an additional $700 Billion expenditure for the bailout of Wall Street financial and investments firms and banks. Despite all the political rhetoric, and my own opinion, I think it will be done sometime. And despite 80% of Americans against the bailout and any money, Congress doesn't represent the people anymore, or at least most thee, but they represent corporations, and will always do their bidding.

Anyway, listening to the debates and campaign what I don't hear and either the candidates fail to understand, which I doubt, or they don't want to tell the voters the truth, is the budget. This has been an issue of politics since Reagan put it in the forefront of the campaign. Which is? The size and cost of government.

No President has fullfilled their campaign promise of reducing the size and cost of government, and despite the rhetoric, the Republicans have been worse at increasing the size and cost of government than the Democrats, including Reagan, Bush I and especially Bush II. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the taxcuts, the DOD budget and interest on the debt (doubled under GW Bush) have escalated the cost of government, it's likely we'll never get over and repay.

Add to that the social mandate programs, such as Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid, there is very little left as all the rest is discretionary spending and only totals about 15 % of the federal budget, and only about 5% of the cost of government (wars and some DOD budget excluded from official budget). And this is everything else government does, including the federal agencies, and much of that is taken with the Homeland Security Administration.

This leaves only a few percentage points dedicated to the rest of our government, which is what the candidates complain needs to be cut and promise to cut. This is the part the pays for aid to cities and states, like police, education, infrastructure (roads, bridges, water/sewer, etc.), along with environment protection, forests, national parks, commerce, transportation, and so on. Everything we need a government to do and ensure everyone's wellbeing and safety.

And earmarks, the oft-cited enemy of the budget? They're a drop in the bucket of the total budget, a few billion in a budget in the trillions. We spend more in 2 months in Iraq than we spend on earmarks. While I grant you they're the most visible political target, especially in a campaign, some of which are clearly dumb and stupid, and shouldn't be in the budget, they're not that important in the overall scheme of the size and cost of government, and deflects the discussion away from the real issue.

So, why isn't all the other parts of the budgets also under discussion? In some cases, some parts aren't changeable, like the interest on the debt. Kinda' like we have to pay the piper for the debt the government has incurred, and don't forget it's not the fault of government (agencies) so much as Congress who writes the budget. Social Security is obvious, and although it needs some minor tweaking to stay solvent, it's just what it is. Now if Congress would stop borrowing its capital, it would be better.

The rest is off-limits only out of fear. War, Defense and Homeland Security seem to be off-limit's so we don't appear to be unpatriotic. That's pure and simple political bullshit. They're scaring you into this as all of these are wasting more money than all the other parts of government combined. We're losing billions to waste, fraud, and bad or unnecessary programs. They need to be more efficient, productive and effective, and that money put back into other domestic and social programs.

That's good government, not the republican tax and spend policy and practice they've had to date. And creating more debt than we will never be able to afford. Remember Clinton actually made the government profit to begin paying off the national debt? It was projected to be erased by now, but now look what GW Bush has done. It's nearly $11 Trillion. That's not conservative or republican, just stupid, at our expense too.

So that's what I want in the discussion. Not cutting useful spending and a handful of earmarks in the appearance of cost-cutting. I want real cost cutting where we can save big bucks. I want to hear about curbing Defense and Homeland excessive spending for programs we don't need and won't use. I want answers about the billions wasted in Iraq to fraud and waste. Money and equipment people can't account for and can't find anymore.

I want investment in America and the American people. That's what's needed, not political and campaign rhetoric.

I want to hear how we'll really get rid of the decifict and debt through real cuts, not accounting tricks, like taking the cost of the wars out of the budget and numbers.

I want to hear who really owns America, our trade and national debt so the American people really knows who owns us and our future.

I want real answers to real questions.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Truth has been lost

I was watching a trailor of a new movie and one of the characters said these lines in response to someone proving an accusation to be false.

"I don't need proof. I don't want the truth. I have my certainty."

And his applies to this Presidential election, and more so, that so many voters are simply ignoring the facts, truth and reality and simply saying what they want to believe. They don't care what's right, except to say the other side, especially the media, is wrong in their statements about their candidate.

We've long known campaign staff spin the facts, truth and reality to make their candidate look better and the opposing candidate look worse. And ever since the 2000 election and Karl Rove's antics and obviously false accusations and atttacks against other republicans in the primary and the democrat in the election, I've seen this get worse.

And honest candidate can't get any traction anymore because no matter where the stand and what they say, they''ll be demonized and people will believe that instead of what the candidate said. We've lost truth and reality in our political system, thanks to campaign staffs and Mr. Rove.

And yes, I realize how cynical this is but the campaigns are full of half-truths, spun to appear wholly true, and often full of outright lies. If you don't believe that, listen to Ms. Palin's speechs and then read the many articles proving what she said wasn't the truth, not even close, but just spun to allow it barly enough credibility so they can continue to sell to voters.

We have bought the lies, and we have lost the truth.

It's that simple, and no one seems to want to spend the time to explain, let alone us to spend the time to understand, the complexity of issues and the realities of the solutions. There are no simple issues nor simple answers. Yet, we're buying the simple and reciting it as our truth.

How many people think Obama isn't qualified to be President? Yet, how many presidents have had the similar levels of experience? Really? Check out John Kennedy's experience. A first term senator elected President. Sound familar? Long time Governors of states with little if any international experience. Check out Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton's experience.

How many people cite Obama's Muslim connections if not his faith? Yet, there is no evidence of this, only tales spun by republicans campaign staff. There is nothing there, and they invented something from that nothing, that many people now believe as true, and they don't want to hear the facts, truth and reality disproving all of it. Obama was taught in Christian schools and has always been Christian.

He has been exposed to Islam, to understand the diversity of the world, and this should be applauded and not condemned for his acceptance and understanding of other religions. If we isolate ourselves from the world and we continue to believe the lies, we will lose as people, a country and a nation. And I'm saddened that the trend does not seem to be changing the direction of this decline into lies.

I also know that sometime down the road we'll wake up and realize we can't trust anything we hear during political campaigns, and what will we say then? And how will we determine who is the better candidate if we don't know what really is the truth and reality? Or will we simply continue to believe our certainty without the proof or truth it's even close to right?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Palin windup doll

After reading the news during and after the Republican Convention and McCain's pick for Vice President of Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska, it's become clear to me she is nothing more than a windup doll, programmed with preloaded speeches, which are totally a bunch of soundbites of untruths, since we can outright call them lies which they are. You just wind her up, put her on stage and let her prerecorded message spew out.

She looks pretty and young girls will admire her for her fashion sense, except she has a paid staff of professionals just like celebrities. Mothers will like her because she appears strong, aggressive, assertive, and so on, except she has a husband and staff to do all her work while she takes the credit. Women will like because she challenges the status quo, except she did in Alaska only to put her only friends in positions, showing she can be just as politically corrupt.

She didn't cut spending in Wasilla, but increased every year in office. She didn't lower taxes, Alaska has no income or sale tax, and she increased taxes on oil, which we pay now in the price of gas. She's never had to balance a deficit budget, Alaska give money back to residents - she increased it this year from $500 to $1,200 this year too. She didn't challenge the oil companies, she demanded they pump more oil to increase state revenues.

She put unqualified friends in high position in state government. She collected per diem for over 300 days at home. She didn't sell the state jet on Ebay, it didn't sell and was sold to a private company. She didn't say no to the bridge to nowhere, she lobbyied for it and then cancelled it after getting the money, our money, for it, for other road projects, including a highway to the bridge to nowhere that isn't there.

She preaches abstinence but then has a 17-year old pregnant daughter. Wow, that's practicing what you preach to your children. She preaches creationism as science that the courts have rejected in every case as science. She claims her international experience is seeing Russia from Alaska, but has she ever done that? She wants to increase drilling in federal lands including ANWR, but the biggest landowner in Alaska is the State and she hasn't increase drilling there.

And she talks pretty, except none of it is true. She is a doll who can make you look foolish for believing her in the face of the truth. All you have to do is read the news stories about her statements. Her statements and claims are all lies, simple, straight-forward lies. But they sure sound good coming from a windup doll. And it's clear the Republican National Committee (RNC) is frequently recording new messages to fit the situation.

But none of all of this rhetoric coming from Ms. Palin, on her own and from the RNC, doesn't qualify her to be Vice President. The former mayor of a town (8,000) and the current Governor of the largest but one of the smallest states (47th population) for less than 2 years isn't enough in anyone's book for a national position of such importance, except to market votes, to sell herself as a doll with a voice and hide the reality of her history and experience.

If you want a windup doll, go to Toys-R-US, don't look for one in a VP. Expect a person with real experience. Someone who is really qualified to be Vice President.

No Bailout

I'm not an ecomonist or a Wall Street, or even main street, financial advisor, but after listening to and reading news stories with experts across the board, er, market. I'm convinced the Bush sponsored, Secretary Paulsen developed bill to bailout the financial market is bogus. It is, what folks seem to think, a check to the big, and maybe more, later medium, financial companies, to assume their toxic securities debts and subprime mortage packages.

It's amounts to $2,000 provided by every citizen in this country, or really $6-7,000 per household, taken from their taxes, or more, the national debt, but still paid by the taxpayers to let these failed finanical brokers off the hook for the ineptness and incompetence to drive our economy into the toliet. That's not fair or right, especially when a significant portion of those monies will go to international corporations and some governments, including China.

Congress and the Bush Administration with Secretary Paulsen are playing chicken with our money and I don't want to cooperate with my money. I don't want the government, in my name and with my money, assuming billions of bad debt, much of which isn't real debt like a mortages, but unsupported securities, brokers repackaging securities as insurance against the bad mortages.

And the companies walk away, whistling a new tune with the debt off their books and on the taxpayers. They're free to start all over again, with no assurances they won't do this again and we'll be on the hook in the near future again. Bush got us here and he should be held accountable for his ineptness and incompetnce as President, not unlike the Iraq war.

Between this and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the American people, and really the future generations, are on the hook for $1.5 Trillion, with a national debt of nearly $11 Trillion. That's double since Bush took office.

It's time the American people push Congress to say no. No bailout, and let the market solve itself. We know Secretary Paulsen came from Wall Street and he'll go back there after handing his friends their dream, freedom from debt. We'd all like that, but we all now we only can with our hard earned money. He should too, and Wall Street should too.

So, to my elected representatives, my vote is for NO period.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Why do I get this feeling

Why do I get the feeling the financial bailout package and extraordinary powers given the Treasury Secretary isn't about saving the financial institutions but simply taking their failures off their books and transferring them, mostly subprime mortages, to the Treasury? Why do I get the feeling Bush and cohorts are selling us a failure in favor of their corporate friends? Why do I get the feeling we're being fucked and paying for it?

One thing I've learned from George Bush is that when he proposes something to Congress and demands it be done immediately and with no changes I'm already suspicious it's not in our interest, meaning both the taxpayers and the American public. And what I don't get from the media is that most of this has in the last 7 years. Gee, isn't that his administration? The one who touted deregulation and free market?

And now we're seeing just how bad they can be and can get. But the sad truth is this isn't just about Wall Street and financial institutions, it's about people's retirement accounts, individual, corporate and government ones. All of those are in the stock market big time. And they're now feeling the failures of the few account managers who made millions screwing everyone else.

The whole series has shown to me, it's not about profits above all else. Nothing new there, but now we see the reality of the few who didn't believe this and only believed about making money, and the apperance of being profitable, when in fact it was and is a false foundation of debt. There is no money behind their money, only debt, and mostly mortages and market funds, the latter being repackaged mortages.

In the end, somehow I just don't trust politicians when they begin talking about money. Especially this time. I want more public debate, but really I wouldn't mind seeing what would happen if the government hadn't bought Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and bailout of Bear-Stearns. And I don't want to see the $700 Billion bailout of Wall Street. Maybe this country needs a really good recession to wake us up.

Yeah, I know that's not right or fair, and really stupid. And I really don't believe it, but we won't know will we? All we're doing now if accepting the debt of people who screwed us. Is that fair? Right? Or is it just the lesser of evils, where a few can destroy an economy and the rest of us write the checks?

But I also wonder about all those foreign corporations and many foreign government who also hold a significant amount of our debt, and significant stakes in financial institutions, and own parts, sometimes a majority, of US corporations. Do we write them checks as well? For what? We didn't cause or create this mess. Or is it just good international relations US taxpayers write checks to foreign corporations and governments?

And who will bail us out if this doesn't work and George Bush and his experts promise? After all, remember their past promises, how many of those were true? None? So, this one is any better?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Just passing through

Ok, I'm still on vacation, meaning working on other projects, and posting some thoughts here seems a bit stretched since there's really nothing I can add to the public debate on the issues. But then, it is my opinion blog. And the thoughts?

First, the bailout. Nearly $400 Billion to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, AIG, and now the subprime mortages from the ineptness and incompentence of the private sector. It's seems ironic that for the last 7-plus years the Bush Administration and cohorts and long advocated the good of the private sector, the market, and deregulation is the answer, and now we're seeing the folly of their view.

They screwed the American people. Nearly half of the entire Federal reserve (about $800 Billion) is being spent to buy and back the failure of the private sector. We now see the whole scheme was pyramid scheme and it's now collapsing quickly and dramatically. Greed run amuck. And now we, the American taxpayers, will bail out the greed.

Why? I know why, but I don't get it.

The Federal Government is now becoming the source where the private sector goes when they strip out their profit and leave the bankrupt leftovers the government will have to cleanup the mess. And it's not over. We still have two more securities companies which are failing and will need help. After that maybe some banks in trouble. And we have General Motors and other real companies, those who actually produce something than the appearance of money, are standing outside the office with a number.

How many people in the financial sector walked away with millions of dollars in personal profit and now how many of the American people are now fucked and on the hook for the stupidity of the financial sector? The ratio? The latter are an order of magnitude more and we're also paying the bills.

For all of Bush's hype about deregulation and the marketplace, he's shown he's the emperor with no clothes, and an idiot too.

Other news?

The US military invades Pakistan to fight Al Qaeda forces inside Pakistan. They've long used drones with missiles to attack the Al Qaeda camps but often hit innocent civilians in the process. And we know they've had spies and special operations forces inside Pakistan as observers, but recently they used troops and helicopter gunships.

Smart? Maybe from a military perspective to fight an enemy but not politically when it's another country, especially supposedly our ally. Is it really smart?

The campaign? Well, I'll listen and vote. Otherwise, it become too much to take. All the hype has become soundbites but mostly lies about themselves or against the other candidate. Their records are clear, and the evidence shows they're lying through the teeth. So, what's the deal?

I find McCain a fraud. I liked him in 2000 and wanted to see Bradley and McCain debate. I think Obama has the intelligence and skills to be President but lacks some experience. I think he can easily adapt and learn, and he will surround himself with excellent people. I think Palin is, and sorry to be so trite, a joke. She is lying about her record and is a hypocrite about her life and family.

I will watch the debates, maybe, but I'm really tired of the speeches saying nothing, the attack ads, the journalist reporting drivel, and the pundits being idiots. So why continue to watch and listen? To feel warm and fuzzy about your candidate as a celebrity? Well, as the saying goes, "Thanks, but no thanks."


Anyway, some random thoughts that invaded the synapses this last week, to which this was reaction.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Taking a vaction

Folks, I know I haven't written about the news in nearly three weeks and there is a stack of news article on the desk to research, ponder some thoughts and write my view. But I've decided my brain is full of the world and events and is tired of trying to compose some interesting perspective or view of the news.

In short I have more important things to do for awhile. I spent some time in Mt. Rainer National Park over the weekend and want to get some time in before the place stays cold and snow begins to stick in bunches. And I want to focus on some photo projects for my Mt. Rainier NP photo guide which are sitting on the deck, awaiting more research, and negotiating access to archive material.

I'll still read the newspaper 4+ days a week and listen to the news on NPR and PRI, but I probably won't write as frequently as I have done to date. And yes, there is a lot to write about with wars, presidential elections, and an inept, excuse me lameduck, President, but there are others who will easily espouse their view, albeit skewed as they all are - even mine - of the world and events. You don't need another voice in the global choir for awhile.

I will still be posting to my personal blog and Mt. Rainier blog, just not here except the occasional rant or vent. So, like the Marmot (above) at the 5,500 foot level on Mt. Rainier, go out on a nice day, find a warm rock, fill up on snacks, and just relax. The winter of our discontent will soon follow.