Posts Tagged ‘barack obama

09
Feb
09

Obama on CEO Pay in 2006

A commenter on the HuffPo who must have been in hibernation the last few years wrote snidely when someone complained of CEO pay that no one cared about the exorbitant amount until the recent ridiculous spending in light of the taxpayer bailout.

Obviously, this commenter lives in an alternate reality. Or they go to one of those “prosperity gospel” churches who forget baby jesus didn’t like the rich and tell all their peeps that god wants them to drive Escalades and live in mini-manses, so they need to tithe regularly to get them.

I’ve long had a problem with CEO ever since. In 2005, I worked for the printing arm of an insurance company whose CEO made above 20 mill a year and had a private jet while the peeps who worked on the printing floor made around 7 bucks, received no sick leave and couldn’t afford the crippling fees for the company-offered health insurance for themselves or their children. Funny how a health insurance company couldn’t afford cheaper health insurance for their own employees – yet the CEO and the good ol’ white boys at the top were making out like bandits.

And remember the deserved hoopla over the $28 million paycheck Alan Mulally received after heading up Ford for only 4 months? Yeah. Stratospheric CEO pay had been a problem for quite a long white.

In fact, Obama wrote a few words regarding the subject in his last book The Audacity of Hope, which was released in 2006. In light of the new CEO pay restrictions, which – surprise, surprise, – some Big Business bitch Republicans have come out against, I thought it apropos to highlight Obama’s opinion on the issue before the economy took a nose-dive.

In 1980, the average CEO made fort-two times what an average hourly worker took home. By 2005, the ratio was 262 to 1. Conservative outlets like the Wall Street Journal editorial page try to justify outlandish salaries and stock options as necessary to attract top talent, and suggest that the economy actually performs better when America’s corporate leaders are fat and happy. But the explosion in CEO pay has had little to do with improved performance. In fact, some of the country’s most highly compensated CEOs over the past decade have presided over huge drops in earnings, losses in shareholder value, massive layoffs, and the underfunding of their workers’ pension funds.

What accounts for the change in CEO pay is not any market imperative. It’s cultural. At a time when average workers are experiencing little or no income growth, many of America’s CEOs have lost any sense of shame about grabbing whatever their pliant, handpicked corporate boards will allow. Americans understand the damage such an ethic of greed has on our collective lives; in a recent survey, they ranked corruption in government and business, and greed an materialism, as two of the three most important moral challenges facing the nation (“raising kids with the right values” ranked first). Conservatives may be right when they argue that the government should not try to determine executive pay packages. But conservatives should at least be willing to speak out against unseemly behavior in corporate boardroom with the same moral force, the same sense of outrage, that they direct against dirty rap lyrics.

Trickle-down wealth is a myth. The top economic class hoard the wealth, grow the poverty class and weaken the middle class – which weakens the economy. Our country needs to reevaulate whether we’re willing to allow the wealthy to take the rest of us for a ride. Obviously, I vote no.

And isn’t it nice to have a president a bit of common sense? Like a breath of fresh air.

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05
Feb
09

Politicians: Corporatocracy Whores

It seems most politicians are members of three clubs: former big biz, lawyers, and academics. Of course, there are exceptions. Ron Paul, Bill Frist, Howard Dean, and Tom Coburn were also doctors. California offers up actors from time to time, and Jesus give us his peeps:  Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Mike Huckabee. Sarah Palin crawled out from under a rock in White Trashville, as will have Joe The Plumber when he undoubtedly attempts to run for some public office.

Maybe we need to take a closer look at where our politicians come from and what type of background offers the most successful selections. By successful, I don’t mean longest-serving or highest-ranking. I mean most effective, the politicians that benefited the American people the most.

In pondering this topic, the most pessimistic observation regarding the state of our government is that there is an undeniable rotating door between government and big business. As I’ve said, this is not a democracy, but a corporatocracy. Lobbyists and politicians are one and the same and this is true of both Republicans and Democrats.

Sure, this is a well-known reality. So, what could have triggered my need to blog on the topic today? Well…

On Morning Joe this a.m. Joe Scarborough, in his usual pithy tone of egotistical disgust and certitude, derided Obama who, just like Bernanke, Joe said, is a professor. They’re just professors. And this is true. But maybe, just maybe, it’s not a bad thing.

Yesterday, Robert Scheer pointed out in his Huffpo blog entry, Runaway Wallstreet, that Geithner’s choice for top aide is Mark Peterson, Goldman Sachs VP and lobbyist. “It was confirmation that Goldman Sachs runs the Treasury Department–no matter which party is in power.” He also sites The NYTimes’ “The Guys From ‘Government Sachs'”, which details Goldman alumni in the government – Paulson, of course, but also Joshua B. Bolten, Neel T. Kashkari, Robert Rubin, World Bank Pres. Robert Zoellick, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine and a BUNCH, bunch more.

Goldman Sachs is one of the many Wall Street, financial institutions with a revolving door between itself and the Treasury Dept., the Fed, the SEC and more. What about Rahm Emanuel and Michael Bloomberg? And, most recently John McCain was greatly considering naming shamed former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain – you know the one who spent $1.2 million redecorating his office – for his Treasury Secretary. How can our government be expected to enact the best policy when they are all big biz wankers who have no priority over increasing wealth among their ranks?

The financial industry isn’t the only extreme conflict of interest in the government. Remember Dick Cheney? Yes, that ex-Halliburton CEO called in major energy execs to help write the government’s energy policy. No wonder Bush thought Kyoto was a bad idea. No wonder Bush wouldn’t let California set high fuel emissions standards. No wonder Detroit refused to acknowledge the growing demand for greener autos. No wonder Halliburton, its subsidiaries, and other companies close to Bush & Cheney received no-bid contracts in Iraq worth billions while our underfunded military continued to fight wars on two fronts. Nothing new – former head of Enron Ken Lay would trip over himself licking the heals of Bush I, leaving little surprise that the company was able to get away with manipulating the California energy market before its bubble collapsed.

Where do you think Tom Daschle went after his senate career? Yeah, a lobbying firm with clients in the health care sector. He would have made a great health care secretary. No conflict there. And you know how recruited him? Bob Dole. Even Bill Frist went to work for a health care investment firm after leaving the senate.

And there’s always a new crop of big biz lackeys knocking at the door all the time: Mitt Romney, Carly Fiorina, and  Meg Whitman are biding their time, waiting to make their big break on the national circuit. But it’s not just the politicians – it’s their spouses, their children, congressional aides, government inspectors for the FDA, SEC, CDC and more – everyone around these politicians are in bed with lobbying firms and corporations. Lower level government employees, eying big dollar jobs in the private sector, push their bosses toward pro-biz legislation and deregulation. The mainstream media, dependent on sponsor dollar, rarely publicize the siamese twins our government and big business have become.

And the American people suffer for it. In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry mandated the vaccination of teenage girls with Gardasil – interesting because of his ties to Gardasil’s maker, Merck. The governor thinks he can issue executive orders regarding the health of our children, ordering them to take a new drug with multiple questions regarding its side effects. The man should be jailed. He also tried to rush the building of coal plants before new “clean coal” (cough, cough lie) regulations were put in place. Yeah, we got a winner down here in Texas. Hey Perry – this isn’t a fucking autocracy! Asshole.

Now, sure most of the Democratic politicians are lawyers  – funny how they want to study law before becoming professional legislators. And many other government participants are academics. The main attack line against these people – and we heard it quite a bit this last election – is that they never ran anything. Somehow the recent big biz execs are winning elections to become today’s politicians on platforms that they were in charge in the business sector. And the last eight years have been the most pro-biz in recent history. Do you see what I’m getting at?

Maybe before we jump to criticize these professors and lawyers, we should take a look at how well the big biz peeps fared. Last I looked, our civil liberties were greatly reduced, we spent far more on a war sold with lies than we did on education the children of our country, a credit bubble formed and popped, health care costs became astronomical, unaffordable and the leading cause of bankruptcy, speculation drove oil & gas prices sky high and unemployment reached record levels.

At least the top 400 richest people doubled their wealth while Bush was president. The poverty sector grew by leaps and bounds, but who cares about those people? We have a corporatocracy on our hands and until we establish policy on data, information, evidence and reality and leave ideology and theory in the books where they belong, we will continue to suffocate the middle class. And without a healthy middle class, a healthy American economy cannot exist. The idea of a free market has become a joke, a myth. There’s nothing free about our market. It’s very, very expensive. And it’s not the rich who are paying for it.

29
Jan
09

No Repubs in House Vote for Stimulus

It’s funny when Rush Limbaugh said the Republicans are expected to bend over and grab their ankles for Obama. That’s exactly what the Democrats did for Bush. And I’m all for the Republicans presenting a reasonable opposition to a stimulus package with a lot of government spending. It drives debate and discussion and after 8 years with a federal government that shat out one bad policy after another, it’s good to see both parties sitting across the table from one another.

But not one Republican in the House voted for the stimulus package. And Obama made some concessions for the Republicans. Some family planning spending was taken out. Tax cuts were strengthened – despite numerous data indicating that infrastructure spending strengthens the economy much more quickly than tax cuts.

And yet not one Repub said Yea. The Republicans didn’t give an inch, not a millimeter. They demanded their way as if the majority of the American people voted to support them. I don’t know, perhaps they were all smoking crack together on Nov. 4. At least that would be a logical explanation for their current behavior.

So, now we’re looking at a future in which the Democrats give a bit to appease the constipated blowhards on the right – something the Repubs never did for the Dems did during the failed Bush Era – and Republicans still withhold every ounce of support. Obama will extend the olive branch again and again and make concessions and the Republicans will bat it away like the immature dittoheads they are.

How many concessions will Obama give before he finally says, if you are not willing to cooperate in the most minute manner, I will stop asking for your opinion entirely? Obama is not a small man, so I doubt he will never say these words that would make my inner child gleeful.

I prize common sense decisions and reason and it goes without saying that to do the same thing over and over expecting different results in an exercise in insanity. We tried it the Republican way for eight years. Bush met with the Democrats only three times during his administration. Obama has already met with the Republicans twice. If that doesn’t tell you who has more character and is a better decision-maker, then we likely disagree about much, much more.

The Repubs had their chance and failed immeasurably. They are now the party of yesterday. On the wrong side of history, as Obama says. Dying off. Rush looks like he could keel over any minute – then the Repubs would have to get some actual leadership. It doesn’t surprise me that the party would try to stay relevant by being obstructionists. They’ve been doing it the last two years.

As they are now, Republicans are shameful and harmful and pitiful, broken and soon-to-be-forgotten. And I am so thankful I am not one of them. I doubt they will change, put down the crack pipe and join the rest of us acknowledging and responding to reality. I have hope that the younger generation of Republicans are not the brittle crackers of a ruinous ideology the current leadership reveals themselves to be.

26
Jan
09

Quickfire Mpressions – Rush, Guantanamo, Govt. Spying

Rush Limbaugh: Says he hopes Obama fails. Joy Behar said on Larry King last week that anyone with a brain knows Ann Coulter is a wackjob. The same can be said of Limbaugh. He’s trying to stay relevant in a new era of reality and common sense and, to borrow the words of Obama, he’s on the wrong side of history. For Obama to fail would mean continued job losses, economic mire and an attack on the U.S. – meaning, Rush is anti-American success and progress. He’s merely a pimple on the ass of the U.S., no more. Buh-bye, you suck and thank you for not pro-creating. It’s the most American thing you’ve done.

Closing Guantanamo: It has to be done. Under the American Flag, everyone in U.S. custody is entitled to a fair trial. Period. If military authorities do not have evidence against these men, or have evidence obtained illegally (I’m talking torture, people), they must be released. If they go back to fight our military, so be it. And everyone who doesn’t want these combatants held in their backyard should sign a waiver giving up their right to a trial should they be held against their will. When you do not stand up for the rights of others, it will be your rights that are taken next. It is reprehensible that we have held these people for so long without even attempting to give them a fair shake at justice. Do unto others, people… Justice is not pretty. It is not comfortable. But it is necessary.

Cheney upset Libby didn’t get a pardon: Shut up, you fool! You helped set in motion the outing of a CIA agent. Even North Korea wouldn’t out one of their own. You should be tarred and feathered and placed in stocks in the public square so that we all might have a kick in your in the ass. You sick fuck.

Govt. spying on journalists: NSA whistleblower Russell Tice explained to Keith Oblermann’s last week that the warrantless wiretapping is being used for purposes other than listening to people talking to terrorists. Yeah. Big surprise. When you give the government the opportunity to run roughshod over the Constitution (right to privacy), you cannot be surprised at the subsequent raping and pillaging. In this instance, the government targeted journalists – so called, watch dog of the government. Here’s the interview:

What’s really interesting is that hardly any news program has covered this revelation. I guess those impartial journalists don’t want to get on the wrong side of Big Brother. We all saw what happened to Dan Rather. And you Obama lovers (I voted for him, too) need to remember that Prince O voted for FISA.

In response to the reckless and unconstitutional behavior, I resolve to use red flag words, like jihad and martyr and bomb and allah and more, during my wireless phone conversations. I urge you all to do the same.

States where presidents come from: Cool little piece by the NYTimes says states have to wait on average 70 years before one of their citizens is on a national ticket for president or vice president. This year, four first-time states contributed nominees: Hawaii (B.O.), Alaska (S.P.), Idaho (S.P.) and Delaware (J.B.). I love fun historical shit like that.

08
Jan
09

Quick fire Political Mpressions – Hillary, Caroline and Warren

Now that my blog slackoff has ended, I offer belated quick fire reactions to a few recent political ripples of import:

Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State: Boo. Sure, she’ll do a fine job. But I am so over the Clintons. I’m over being over the Clintons. Go away already. I was hoping the mamma drama those two titanic egos unleash would ebb on outta here after the election. A girl can dream. If nothing else, Hill, please just keep the cackling and self-martyrdom to a minimum.

Caroline Kennedy (or Fran Drescher, for that matter) as Senator from NY: Go run for something. Anything. Mom’s Club, your Neighborhood Association, Citizens on Patrol. Anything. Then you can be considered for senator. Kennedy would probably do a great job – but that’s not the point. There are other candidates out there who have paid some trench warfare dues and deserve the shot and would also perform well. Kennedy should set her sites lower and marinate until Schumer has found a higher calling.

Rick Warren: Are you freaking kidding me?? Just after the blow of Prop. 8, Obama pours salt over gay pride. Yeah, yeah, I get how he’s all “let’s teach the world to sing.” But, this is about human rights oppression and the wealthy, obese, unchristlike Warren carries that banner with all the hate it entails. The decision was unnecessarily costly in political capital and humanly disappointing. It’s sad that I’ll have to start Obama’s inauguration by waving my middle finger at the TV during the invocation. Way to rain on the parade, B.

07
Jan
09

Roland Burris is a Dipshit

But he must still be seated. No one ever said politics is pretty.

Roland Burris never should have accepted the seat from Blagojevich and he knew exactly what he was doing when he did. He’s waving his self-centered ego within the legal bounds of the Illinois political process and speaks falsely when claiming to be thinking first of serving the people of his state as best he can. My guess is that Illinois peeps just want the Blago bullshit to go away.

For the next two years his smug mug will only be reminder of the decaying stench of Chicago machine politics – of which he has repeatedly tried to be a hack over the years. Had Blagojevich not been in the position he is in a far better candidate, likely African-American, would have been chosen.

But Burris managed to make himself the conversation and take the spotlight from Blagojevich and gained the public momentum necessary to deliver himself straight into Obama’s coveted senate seat.

It’s nasty. He’s nasty and hopefully won’t win in 2010 – I’d rather it go to a Republican then stay in the hands of someone with such little integrity. Burris claims innocence and lack of taint. But all he did was keep is evaporating career alive by helping the bad guys win. Blech.

06
Jan
09

On The Blogging Road Again

I’m back, kids! My fingers must have been itching, because they readily retained the memorization of my WordPress password  – a good omen I suppose for my return to the ubiquitous blogosphere, my favorite cranny being the neighborhood of dark, naughty angry liberals. Yes, yes, I’ve been gone a while and most of those who know me personally and scanned my writings from time to time have asked, “When are you going to blog again??” Now.

For reals, yo – I was suffering from major blog fatigue. Last year’s election placed us in a historical battle to reclaim the good that The States once were. The stakes could not have been higher and we were literally at the brink of a national, knife-edged decision between a hopeless, abysmal rejection of progress and simple possibility. Every blog, every comment, every opinion and assertion felt not just like sharing my voice – but helping to wage an effort bigger than all of us to help put our country and the world right. Shut up, you cynics – you felt it, too!!

And we triumphed. We whooped some old white man, religioner, anti-intellectual ass! To me, it wasn’t sooooo much that we elected Obama (indeed there will be blogs a-plenty de moi criticizing, constructively, many of Obama’s decisions) – my savored elation had more to do with the rejection of McCain and his joke of a running mate, Palin. To have elected them would have wrought irreparable damage at home and abroad to the pursuit of an improved, tolerant and beneficial community most of us glass-half-fullers choose to foresee.

In those months and moments leading up to Obama taking Pennsylvania and claiming victory, I wrote blog after blog – read innumerable others, gorged on news sites of every persuasion and sought every uncaptured sprinkle of information in a quest to comfort my nervous inner prognosticator. Certainly, I was quite confident from 2007 the Democrats would take the election. The multiple stellar Democratic candidates had the edge on the best the Republicans had to offer – none of whom could satisfactorily unite the anti-intellectual evangelicals with the small government, fiscal conservatives.

But fear of the unknown resonated in my bones and it seemed the only way to quell my anxiety was to participate – to blog.

The blog, however, consumed me. No doubt this government major loves to produce political analysis. But I found myself bound to the blog in ways I had not imagined. Visitors to the site became like crack to me and I counstantly found myself refreshing my page to scan visitor numbers, what searched terms pointed visitors my direction and if any other bloggers linked to my site. The computer had become my pipe.

Everyday, I felt the need to blog. The call was constant and the obligation heavy – akin to laundry, if you will. If we want to change the world, we have to participate and this was my clarion call for the 2008 election. I am a creature of freedom, however, and the obligation to the blogoslavedriver made my enjoyment level wear thin. My ass was sore and my eyes stung from sitting in front of the computer for ungodly amounts of time. I looked at myself on Nov. 5 with jail pale from lack of sunlight. Oh – and finding out I had a hormone deficiency.

So, when the knockout punch was delivered Nov. 4 – the call to blog slackened and I turned to the freedom of days not being psycho, not checking every single one of my bookmarks, not commenting, not needing to find solace in reading blogs espousing views similar to my own, not having anything else to talk about but the election and painfully pretending to be interested in other topics of conversation when interacting with fans of McCain.

I understand I am not alone. Television news ratings are down, talk radio has lost listeners, blog readership has slackened. We all needed to take a collective sigh and wallow in the release of tension built by a two-year presidential election season and the possibility of Sarah “You Betcha” Palin being a heartbeat away from the 3 am phone call. We needed to lick the wounds inflicted by the hypocritical masses of religioners oppressing homosexuals and tarnishing the good name of our country.

While away, I have enjoyed my respite – full of Festivus poles, delicious holiday meals, ungodly amounts of alcohol consumption and a crazy-ass college bowl game series (wtf, Texas Tech and Alabama?!! At least my Longhorns squeezed out a victory against Ohio State. I almost had a MFing heart attack!! We seriously need a college football playoff system).

It’s time to get back on the horse. Riiiide the pony. We only have two weeks left of mistake-of-the-century Bush II – which is amazing and unbelievable and fanfuckingtastic. It’s going to be hard for Obama – he has a monumental task ahead of him and choices to make for which there are no right answers. He will make mistakes, already has actually, and we must respond by voicing our opinion. This is our country, too (remember that, gay-haters).

Bush and Cheney thought the presidency belonged to them and they were wrong and now leave their posts in shame. The presidency belongs to us and we must remind Obama of this as the bubble engulfs him and his position on the pedestal skews his perspective.

Needless to say, I’ve never been afraid to say what I think. Bottom line: I’m back, baby!

And now I’m going to log out so I don’t constantly check viewership numbers. What the hell was wrong with me??




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