Posts Tagged ‘corporatocracy

30
Apr
09

Specter’s Move a Reflection of Ugly Realities

MOTIVATIONS OF THE CONGRESSPERSON

I’ve said many a time and I’ll say it again: Congresspeople make decisions under the influence of one, two, or both motivations: either to achieve reelection or to land a cushy job once they have left office. This is why they have ceded all their decision-making powers to the

Ill take Jowls for 200, Alex.

I'll take "Jowls" for 200, Alex.

corporations that fund their reelection campaigns.

Specter’s turncoatitude is merely a reflection of this reality. Was his decision just a fulfillment of megalomaniacal goals? Yes, but he is no different than any of his colleagues. This will again lead me to raise the call for congressional term limits (though it would be nice to see them apply to the Supreme Court as well), which would limit the strata of ambition congress people may climb.

Specter wishes to remain in congress? Well, that’s just plucky for him. However, and feel free to correct me, I’m sure Pennsylvania has a multitude of qualified and capable candidates for Senate. And seeing as how Specter has enjoyed, what?, 30 years as Senator, isn’t about time for some new blood, fresh talent? As far as I’m concerned, seniority is overrated and Specter is acting more like a geriatric toddler than elder statesman.

SPECTER SQUEEZED OUT BY THE ELEPHANTS

And do you think Specter will deliver votes to the Democrats now that his head pokes out the ass of a donkey? Not bloody likely.

The center of the country has now headed back toward its previous center. Under the political climate of the last eight years, Nixon would have looked like a liberal and all the right wingers were claiming this is a center-right country. A shortsightedly inept commentary  – especially seeing as how the independents and moderates are now naturally waving blue flags because all the right wingers want to legislate our uteri and keep men from kissing each other because baby jesus doesn’t like it. The logical and rational no longer have a place in the GOP Circus Freak Show.

Specter is still a moderate, and his votes will reflect that. Now that the Repubs have no room for moderates, Specter is by design a Democrat and a natural illustration of this recent political shift of quite monstrous proportions.

ELEPHANTS BECOME OSTRICHES: ALL IS GRAND WHEN YOUR HEAD’S IN THE SAND (god, i am so awesome with the rhyming)

Academically and as a voter, I am not amused to witness the decaying of the Republican Party. I used to consider myself among its ranks and I’m acquainted with quite the few logical, Republican in-the-knows. Many are finding themselves more comfortable inside the confines of the Libertarian parameters now – and that’s extraordinarily fun for me to watch as a liberal. But the fracturing of the GOP is a symptom of how fringey, how cultish, how clinically insane a great many of my fellow Americans are. And that’s sad.

This Grand Party has a great cancer and it is the refusal of honest self-analysis. A reasonably-minded fellow could easily diagnose the cause of the Republican death spiral: its limited ideology fewer and fewer Americans share.

repubs-head-in-sandBut Republicans don’t see it that way. “Specter’s out? Good riddance! McCain lost? Hated him anyway!” Tom Delay, and what a specimen he is, graced Hardball with his presence today and said (now don’t drink anything at this moment because you might spit it out all over your keyboard) that the real problem with the Republican Party right now is NOT a failure of principles, it is a failure to communicate them. Mm-hmmm…Mkay…I hear that….Excuse me while I choke on the eyes that have rolled into the back of my head.

You see, the Republicans erroneously believe that simply because Bush was a big spender, deficit creator, Americans are fleeing the Right. Well, let’s take a tally: he was “strong” on defense (in the worst kind of way), he kept the government small in terms of regulation, he was as conservative on social issues as a president of booblical proportions can get, AND he lowered taxes (for the wealthy, who – by the way – doubled their wealth under Bushie Two Shoes while the rest of everyone watched their 401ks erode faster than Specter’s party loyalty).

Except for the whole spending thing, W. was a bona fide, ideological, stick-in-the ass, card-carrying member of the old white guy Gto-theOto-theP. Americans didn’t just reject his spending in this last election, they rejected all those other inherently flawed tenets of the Republican foundation.

The problem with Republicans is their principle. Their principle allows them no logical solution to offer for the dramatically diseased state of our health care system. And they only adhere to their principle of small government when it suits their purposes – which is many times not the case, such as farm bills and subsidies (ahem, fructose corn syrup). Then their “small government” banner drives us into the economic ditch through lack of regulation and their adherence to abstinence-only education translates into more teenage pregnancy with no government assistance after these babies have been pushed to have babies.

Republican principle and ideology is a failure of decision-making, of study, of analysis and of progress. It doesn’t work. The last eight years proved so. Specter’s defection is merely a symptom of this reality.

And now the Repubs are just sitting on their hands, praying to their precious baby jesus that Obama fails. Because only in Obama’s failure and the subsequent harm to this country could Republicans find their strength again. And from this atheist-leaning agnostic’s mouth: God help us if that happens!

02
Apr
09

Is Chris Dodd the New Britney Spears?

Remember a year ago when the news was all Britney Trainwreck all the time? It was anthropologically delicious watching the vag-flasher self-destruct one Red Bull at a time. And how glorious that we political junkies have our own disaster-seeking boobs hellbent on claiming their tragic turn at the gallows of public opinion.

Sure the vast majority of America couldn’t care less as Connecticut’s senior senator careens vehemently toward electoral self-destruction, but I giggle a little bit as each new day brings one more nail-in-the-coffin decision Christopher Dodd seems unable to avoid. Lest you think me walking the left-wing plank, shame on me that I might be tickled by events possibly resulting in the election of a Republican to the Senate, here’s the 411:

Doddsy ranks at the top of the 1998-2008 AIG campaign donation list (George W. Bush came in second). And, a few weeks ago, he tried to deny to CNN that his office had inserted language into the stimulus bill allowing for AIG exec bonus payment. The next day, he embarrassingly reversed his claims and came clean in a gut-twisting moment for most lefties, such as moi.

And NOW, now the idiot extraordinaire will bask in an April 7, $1,000-a-head fundraiser to be hosted by a hedge fund manager who made out like a bandit betting against the subprime housing market in 2007. At least Dodd people had the foresight to move the fundraiser from its original venue – an exclusive club under fire for having no minority members. What friggin’ geniuses. And I’m sure there will be plenty of minorities at the fundraiser. Maybe the rich AIG residents of Connecticut can give the minorities protesting outside their homes a ride to the bash.

As you can imagine, Dodd’s poll  numbers are in the crapper without a chance of seeing sunshine anytime soon. I mean NO chance. In this era of Obamalove, C.D. is coming in a cool 16 points behind a potential Republican contender. Ouch. What’s even more hysterical about this political Hindenburg is that New England has rebounded from Bush to such an extreme, that the last Republican House member from the region lost his reelection bid last November. Even in this climate, Dodd is headed for severe senatorial, exit-Stage-Left carpet burn.

Yes, of course I like to see more Dems in Congress than Repubs, but as I’ve said before, I think the vast majority of congresspeople on both sides of the aisle are big business whores. Can’t say it enough. Whores, whores, whores – the lot of ’em! Dodd is obviously no exception and if he has to serve as the sacrificial lamb for this “teachable moment,” so be it. The pied piper of judgment is calling and Dodd’s ain’t got no bank.

I hope his colleagues are watching. And one more thing, TERM LIMITS.

13
Mar
09

Rick Perry: Big Business Bitch

Rick Perry is by far one of the worst governors Texas has every seen for a myriad of reasons.

And now, by rejecting part of the federal stimulus money, Perry proves once again that he is ankle grabber prostrating himself ass-up to the wishes of big business. Who cares if the Texas unemployment fund could be operating at a deficit later this year?! Just like all these other no-solution right-wingers, he cares more for his electoral prospects than helping Texans through tough times.

Perry has never considered the interests of Texans over his own relations with big biz, whether its helping to fast-track the building of coal plants ahead of new environmental regulations or attempting to issue an executive order requiring the vaccination of pubescent girls with Gardasil – a medicine proven to have serious side effects in many recipients and made by a company who has given Perry money.

The man’s overdue for some “Texas Justice” and I’m not just talking about branding his ass (though, that’s worth considering as well).

I’m tempted to vote in the Republican primary next year for Kay Bailey Hutchinson even though I would never vote for her in the gubernatorial election – I just want Rick Perry out and I don’t have confidence in the intelligence of Texas voters to wake the hell up. Of course, voting against a candidate instead of for another violates my unwritten code of ethics, as does voting for douchebags. And there is hope – with Harris Country going blue in the last election, it’s a start.

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.

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.

19
Jan
09

With Less Than 24 Hours to Go, I Say NEVER AGAIN

With just one day to go all I can say is I never thought this day would come. This is my long accounting of George W. Bush and that which he wrought upon our nation. It’s not a full catharsis, but merely the start so that we may say Never Again.

2000 Election – My Confessional

I can remember exactly where I was the moment the news stations called the 2000 election for Bush. On a treadmill in Perth, Australia. Everyone in the gym looked in my direction to see what the lone American thought of her next president. Mind you, this was before the news stations realized they had committed the media blunder of the century and we’d have to wait for characters like Katherine Harris and hanging chads to become famous before the Supreme Court decided who our next president was.

Having recently graduated college and, thus, deciding to party like a rock star, I was too clueless to get my act together and send in an absentee ballot to participate in the election. It’s the only one I’ve missed and will carry the shame until dementia erodes my cognitive abilities. I would have voted for Bush, though. Gore was such a lame douchebag (not to mention Lieberman) and I had yet to fully shed the Republican shackles of my youth. Hell,as a University of Texas student, Bush had been my neighbor. No one knew the gravity of the election and most people I knew were eager to see our governor succeed.

During the campaign, Bush kept saying the U.S. had to stop being the world’s policeman and scale back our military entanglements around the globe. Having recently studied the Vietnam War, international diplomacy, nuclear weapons policy and the fall of the Soviet Union – his rhetoric hit home with me. How was I to know he’d do a 180 once he had his finger over the red button?

This was before the convenient days of Google and Wikipedia. And I was clinging to the bubble of youthful ignorance with full force, which meant I did not research W’s history. I did not discover that he was an utterly failed businessman who had skated through early adulthood like many rich kids on his daddy’s name without forging a worthy identity or principle. I did not know the man was a hollow shell with only a pre-determined ideology and a daddy complex to steer decisions that would determine the fate of millions.

2004 – Was Bush Sent to Make this Nation Atone for Sins of its Past?

By 2004, it was glaringly apparent that Bush was incapable of the necessary consideration and deliberation to benefit this country or any other. In the primaries, I voted for Wes Clark, thinking him to be the only Democrat candidate who could reasonably compete with Bush for votes while the Iraq War of choice was being waged. Instead, John Kerry walked away with the nomination and I knew Bush would be reelected. Kerry was a non-starter, running on an “I’m Not Bush” platform, echoing the dismal reality that the Democrats had no voice, no testicular fortitude, no message.

Our country was to be held hostage for another four years by the evangelical, anti-intellectual far right and their moronic leader. I truly believed (living in Oklahoma, at the time) that the majority of this country were actually uneducated hicks who cared more about their guns than community service and thought it more important to have a big dick than humility. It was as though the America I thought existed was being suffocated by the intolerant and selfish and stupid.

I immediately bought a “01.20.09” bumper sticker, proudly displaying my patriotic desire to alter the direction of our nation. I wasn’t alone. Every time I saw another car sporting the same sticker – more than you’d expect here in north Texas – my heart leapt for joy. The peeps were waking up.The tide was turning, biatch.

THE WORST PRESIDENT IN HISTORY

It has been a most painful four years. Gay marriage bans, attempts at abortion redefinitions, no repentance for sending thousands to die for a war of choice – a war based on lies and deceit and salesmanship, and almost every department under the Executive Branch in ill repute for either illegal activity or preventing progress.

Bush is so smug with pride over the fact that the U.S. has not been attacked since 9/11. “I’ve kept America safe,” he repeats. But another leader of higher caliber could have kept us safe without sacrificing our dignity, integrity and honor. A better leader would have questioned his decisions, would not started or outsourced a war designed to establish a legacy. A better leader would have known things are not so simple, not so black and white, and not easily designated “good” and “evil.”

How many Americans did Bush keep safe from Alzheimer’s and diabetes and paralysis by supporting the limitless possibilities of embryonic stem research? How many teenage girls turned to abortion because Bush decided federal funds would support abstinence-only programs proven time and time again to fail, aptly demonstrated by the 2008 Republican V.P. nominee herself? Bush’s legacy entails auctioning off national protected lands (why?) and hindering the listing of many species (including polar bears) from the endangered species list.

At every turn available, the Bush administration sold out this country and it’s citizens to the mega-corporations designed to bleed every penny we have and every penny we’re approved for from our shrinking wallets. He sold the war and soldiers’ safety to Blackwater, Halliburton and myriad of other war profiteers. He sold our energy policy to the energy companies, the EPA to business hell-bent on raping the environment. Even the FDA is a joke, a corporate gimp with a failed record for protecting the consumer.

Under Bush, our nation became a budding autocracy who spies on its citizens at home and abroad. The Justice Department was politicized, the State Department was a Yes Man, the Defense Department was the epitome of incompetence, Homeland Security is a theatrical presentation, FEMA is a mythological black hole, the CIA is a plaything of the Executive.  The FCC has multiplied its interference in our “freedom of speech” a thousand-fold.

There has been no shining light from this President. No progress. No national greatness achieved. He came to office promising to unite and instead tore our country asunder.

With less than 24 hours to go it almost doesn’t seem real. Probably because it will take a generation repair the endless damage that clouds the horizon.

Obviously, I do not believe history will smile on George W. Bush. Unlike others, I do not think that his legacy will mirror the future of Iraq. The Iraq War empowered Iran like nothing else could for centuries – and history knows. In this age of information, ALL the destruction by this administration is on record and serves as a reminder that it does matter who the President of the United States is. Their character and integrity and intellect matter. Their decision-making matter.

We must remember George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. We cannot let time sweeten the memory of the last eight years. We must record it and remember it for the sake of future generations. So that we may say with conviction: NEVER AGAIN.

Is it real? It doesn’t feel real.

12
Jan
09

Why Are Oil Prices So Volatile?

Hint: It ain’t supply and demand.

Last night, 60 Minutes aired an invaluable report explaining the roller coaster oil prices – a must-watch (or must-read, if you prefer the trascript) for anyone confuzzed by the inanity of the energy market.

Spoiler: those manipulative bastards from Enron make a comeback.

Video and transcript here. Really, watch it or read it.

24
Nov
08

Corporations Too Big To Fail

Here in the U.S., we celebrate unrepentant capitalism. Conservatives constantly ward against punishing success with higher taxes. Friedman and Greenspan followers across the land espouse unfettered, free market ideals.

Now, an unprecedented lack of regulation has brought many of these bastions of unfettered success to the brink of failure. Despite greedy management and poor decision-making, our government has deemed AIG, Citibank, and probably the Big Three too big to fail.

Question: Why should we allow these corporations to grow so big they hold the U.S. (and, thus, global) economy hostage? Why should we promote free markets that allow these corporations to be rewarded with tax payer money for years of shitty operations?

I understand the government must do what it must and shore up these weak giants. Wouldn’t it be prudent (I hate that word), however, to exert regulatory measures that prevent these corporations from being able to hold our country by the balls? From continuing this Corporatocracy of America?

13
Nov
08

Corporate Lobbyists Have Their Sticky Hands All Over This Bailout Mess

corporate-lobbying-bombLike bees to honey, the government bailout has triggered an explosion in corporate lobbying on behalf of banks, savings and loan institutions and insurers. Only these bees are very rich and very greedy. According to CQ Politics Nov. 1, K Street reported nearly $830 million in expenditures and revenue for July, August and September of this year – with no end in sight after registering 500 new clients just this October.

Corporate lobbyists are about as reputable as used-car salesman. And for good reason. Imagine, as a politician, your source of information on an industry, company, town or organization is a person paid directly by that entity to encourage legislation if favor of said entity. It is the height of conflict of interest. Would you trust a prostitute if he/she told you they were the best lay on the strip? No! But if you’re a john, you’ll probably do them anyway.

And this is the problem we have with big biz lobbyists. Their information and opinion are skewed, biased and unreliable. The lobbyists who represent the wealthier entities are inevitably more successful, securing de-regulatory measures, earmarks, etc. for their clients. And money continues to power the Washington merry-go-round, as we’re seeing with Paulson’s bailout.

During the lame duck Congressional session in 2000, our public-serving representatives legalized unregulatedmoney-equals-power over-the-counter derivative markets (ahem, gambling). Now, would our legislators come up with this idea on their own, under the assumption that this loosening of the stock market rule book would benefit society as a whole? NO! Slimy little wankers in the form of lobbyists undoubtedly sent oodles of cash to specific designations to earn those Yeas. The lobbyists likely wrote the legislation itself.

The U.S. bailout package, unlike the U.K. bailout, includes unprecedented loans to the banking industry without stipulating the banks in turn must issue loans to help lubricate financial markets. The bailout loans come with no restrictions that the government money cannot be used to pay stockholder dividends, nor for the payment of executive bonuses. It would seem elementary to obligate banks to use the bailout appropriately and in the best interest of the economy. And yet our Treasury Department and Congress have been the Daddy Warbucks to Little Orphan Annie – as you wish, my dear. How does such an asinine lack of oversight, transparency and intelligent governance fall by the wayside during this worldwide torrential economic plunge?

Lobbyists. Under the orders of the corporate pimps. Conducting trades of cash and influence in the backs of the American public. The examples of manipulations, misdeeds, proliferation of misinformation and the results of such actions are endless:

  • Reuters: “The Government Accountability Office said 72 percent of all foreign corporations and about 57 percent of U.S. companies doing business in the United States paid no federal income taxes for at least one year between 1998 and 2005.”
  • AP: “Some of the nation’s biggest banks are in for a windfall — on top of the $700 billion government bailout — thanks to a new tax policy quietly issued by the Treasury Department. The notice gives big tax breaks to companies that acquire struggling banks hit hard by the mortgage crisis. In some cases, the tax breaks could exceed the cost of acquiring the banks, according to analyses by private tax experts. The change could cost the Treasury as much as $140 billion by enabling firms that acquire struggling banks to use more losses incurred by those banks to offset their own taxable profits.”
  • Bloomberg: The Federal Reserve refuses to identitify the recipients of $2 trillion in taxpayer loans, despite promising transparency in return for approval of the bailout plan.
  • ABC: Pelosi (and Obama) is calling for more of the $700 bailout to be given to the Big 3 American automakers, who received $25 billion in September, with environmentally friendly strings attached.

Corporations are convincing our federal representation, through Olympic lobbying efforts, to collude in efforts that secretly and overtly reward poor financial judgment, strengthening corporate power and influence and coporate-lobbyist-stickman1proving that our government is no longer beholden to the voters, but to big business.

Obama is taking baby steps to quell the loud voices of corporate lobbyists. Transition team leader John Podesta introduced new lobbying restrictions for the transition process. CNN – “Those who leave the transition team will be barred for a year from lobbying the incoming administration on matters related to their transition jobs, and current lobbyists who join the team are barred for 12 months from working in policy fields related to their lobbying work.”

Hopefully, an Obama presidency and Democrat-led Congress will find time in their busy schedules to legally amputate the greedy fingers of corporations – their lobbyists. I’m not holding my breath.

And while lobbying is protected by the first amendment, the flood of cash through these unethical vessels into D.C. must end. These people make and distribute far too much money, assualting our democracy with each greedy cent. They divert power from the people to self-interested corporations, delivering an economic crisis that could easily define the next age.

11
Nov
08

Term Limits, People, Term Limits!!

I have to be honest, it irritates the damn hell out of me that House Representatives and Senators and elected officials across our great 50 can engross themselves with political power and influence with little accountability due to the relative inability of the electorate to instate reasonable term limits.

Year after year, term after term, we watch as our elected officials gerrymander, vote themselves pay raises, trade influence for donations and gifts of all sorts – above the radar and beneath it. We watch with disdain and judgment as Russia closes the curtain on its sovereign democracy and Master Putin asserts his constant iron-fisted rule. Haha, you fools! America has the most superior democracy in the land!

Bullshit.

Sure, our president has term limits. The Legislative Branch, however does not. Nor does the Supreme Court.

The longer Reps and Sens serve, the more their influence and name recognition and fundraising ability grows and the more difficult it is to vote them out of power. Ted Stevens, who has been a senator since 1968, was just convicted of seven felonies and Alaska still can’t manage to vote the bastard out (though many votes are yet to be counted, so it could potentially happen). Barring a scandal or once-in-a-blue-moon alteration in voter sentiment on a national level, the vast majority of incumbents find themselves sitting pretty on election day.

Every day a government official serves, is another day closer to the next election. And these people are pathologically competitive – they are not driven by a selfless need to serve. Their arrogance and certainty in their superiority keeps them fighting toward election day again and again. Politicians can’t take steroids, however, to win their races. So they take lobbying donations.

And who do you think they were talking to during bailout negotiations? As House Reps were hearing from their constituents across the land not vote for the bailout, the many Representatives held back, claiming to abide by the wishes of their specific supporters.

Not so. An army of lobbyists were unleashed by the banking industry to insure a little extra sugar was inserted into the bailout package. You see, Great Britain included stipulations in their bailout package requiring the banks to start issuing loans in order to receive government funds. Not ours. And, golly gee, they’re not loaning any money. Neither Congress, nor the Bush administration specified the bailout cash could not be used for executive bonuses. And with Christmas coming up, who do you think Santa will visit? Right.

The latest stinger is that the Treasury Dept. issued a notice during all the bailout hubbub giving banks a tax break if they acquire other failing banks. Tax payers could end up paying nearly $140 billion for this new policy. Certain legislators have openly questioned this potentially illegal move (Congress never even got to debate the new tax policy), however, we’re only now hearing about these reprehensible shenangians AFTER the election and most congresspeople won’t even touch it with a ten-foot pole because they think the attention could lead to greater economic mire.

As the bailout battle waged, the package grew sweeter by the hour for the banking industry. The Reps weren’t holding off because of their constituents, they were playing fast and dirty with banking lobbyists. Most of them will be returning to the House next year, spank you very much. The lack of term limits once again ensures the Corporatocracy of America thrives, feeding voraciously off the American consumer and taxpayer.

term-limits1Furthermore, there is an entrenched dance and culture in Congress new members must learn. Obama felt the wrath of McCain after offering bi-partisan cooperation on lobbying and ethics reform and then having to rescind that offer to save his hiney from uber-partisan Harry Reid. Obama had yet to learn the dance. Hillary learned it fairly well – junior Senators keep their mouths shut, nose to the grindstone and prostrate themselves before their party elders. With such unspoken, yet rigid rules and ginormous egos, it is no wonder our Congress is fairly ineffective much of the time and certainly slow to respond to voter sentiment.

This petrifying and paralytic condition in our legislative branches both state and federal would have a much harder time clogging the engine of government if the cleansing of term limits were permitted.

Now, U.S. Term Limits asserts House members should be limited to three two-year terms. Other proposals have been for Senators only have two six-year terms available to them while House members have six two-year terms available.  I think giving everyone an opportunity for two four-year terms, like the president, would be optimum solution.

The Supreme Court should also have term limits. Justices should serve no more than 12 years  I see no benefit in the appointment, especially of younger justices, for life as times, supreme-courttraditions, cultures and the American people change and grow and progress. Our leadership should reflect our values and opinions. We should not be held hostage by the ideologues of yesteryear or yesterdecade.

The argument against term limits is that if the government official is not performing properly, they should be ousted through an election. Term limits punish good performances and erase the motivation for good behavior by a lame-duck representative. This is a short-sighted argument. There are plenty, plenty of qualified Americans to represent Americans at the federal level. Term limits hinder the ability of career-politicians to sacrifice the good of the American people for their self interests.

Would we lose a few good politicians? Sure. But term limits would profit voters and Americans in a significant decrease in lack of corruption and lobbying influence. Lame duck legislators would have an eye on their legacy, not their approval ratings, which would be a much more effective motivator for proper governance.

Americans overwhelmingly approve of term limits. According to a Pulse Opinion Research Poll, 83 percent of Americans believe elected officials should serve limited terms. Though this poll only surveyed 1,000 people, many ballot initiatives in the 1990’s for term limits were approved. In fact, movements against term limits are largely funded by special interests whose livelihoods depend on the success of the Corporatocracy of America.

The national electorate, however, is practically powerless to have term limits approved. The debate over length of terms and specific term limits would be long and hard fought. And the Supreme Court decided in 1995 that the states could not issue term limits on their federal representatives. You cannot have some senators under term limits and others not. Basically, the Congress would have to approve their own term limits – and it ain’t happenin’ any time soon, sister.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful we could just have a national election and let the American voters decide if our federal representatives should have term limits? How democratic! But you see, we have a representative democracy – not a direct democracy. We elect representatives to carry out the will of the majority of the electorate. It is meant to protect against tyranny of the majority. Ergo, no national proposition on term limits.

So, we must wait until the fat kid decides it’s time for him to put the cookie jar down. We Americans can lobby the kid, yell at the kid, try and try and try to convince the fat kid that cookies aren’t good for him. He needs vegetables, dammit! But that kid has the “over my dead body” look in his eyes. Maybe one day we’ll get close enough to the fat kid to choke him until he sees the light. I’ll certainly try.

And I’ll be keeping a close eye on fat kid Bloomberg up in New York who led the City Council in sneaking term limits out the back door while the peeps were paying attention to the crashing stock market and plummeting retirement savings. Some concerned citizens and future politicians are suing to stop the mayor from poisoning their well of democracy and I wish them all the success in the world. His behavior is shameful.

And that’s the problem with politicians. They all want to save the world. But they want to be the ones to do it. The only ones. The first ones. No one else can save the world the way they can. So, they hold on to their seats by whatever means possible. And until we decide as a nation to give more and more good citizens their opportunity to serve their country and remove then remove them before they are sullied by the game, we will suffer in a multitude of unfortunate and unnecessary ways.

Federal politicans always claim they’re going to change the way things are done in Washington. Every election season find change in Washington the main mantra. The biggest change, the best change would undoubtedly be the limitation of terms. It would be revolutionary. And we’d be pissed off at our government a lot less.

14
Oct
08

Why “Drill, Baby, Drill” Chanters are Idiots

I’m sure most of you who watched the Republican National Convention saw the goobers in hardhats and safety vests which said, “Drill, baby, drill!” Their captain, Rush Limbaugh said June 18,

They’re (Democrats) going to oppose the economic growth of the country. They’re going to oppose your prosperity. They’re going to oppose all of that by standing in the way of this.

They’ve (Democrats) got their talking points and they’re lying through their teeth about it.

Bill Nelson of Florida, one of, ahem, my senators, is out there saying that, (paraphrasing) “Hey, the federal government’s already leased a whole bunch of land to the big oil companies; they’re not even using it.”  It’s such a smoke screen, the number of years left on these leases is very few, and the whole thing is a lie anyway.  I have the figures to prove it.

Entrepreneurs of all stripes, all sizes, create business of all sizes. They’re a wide range. And who is it that always sets out to punish them and destroy them?  Liberals, the American left! Absolutely right, Brian. I could read your lips in there.  Good going.  What does Obama want?  Barack Obama wants you to suffer.  Barack Obama wants higher prices on fuel. right now.  Barack Obama wants a windfall profits tax. right now.  Barack Obama wants to raise your income taxes, by the way, right now.  He wants to raise capital gains taxes, right now.  He wants to raise Social Security taxes, right now.  Obama wants you to suffer.  The Democrat Party wants you in pain.  They want you angry, and they are willing to block any remedy to this problem in order to keep you suffering and in pain and angry.  Obama wants prices up, he wants your income down, and he wants taxes up, ladies and gentlemen.

I know, he’s a crackpot. I recommend reading the whole transcript because it’s incredibly laughable. Let me continue. Here’s Sarah Palin during the VP Debate,

The chant is “drill, baby, drill.” And that’s what we hear all across this country in our rallies because people are so hungry for those domestic sources of energy to be tapped into.

Barack Obama and Senator Biden, you’ve said no to everything in trying to find a domestic solution to the energy crisis that we’re in.

If that’s not enough to make you want to sprinkle cyanide on your cheerios, country singer Aaron Tippin has a new hit, “Drill here, drill now,” you can listen to here. I’m posting the second verse:

Every time a foreign tanker pulls up to our shore
They got us over a barrel while they bleed us a little more
And think how much it costs just to bring it all that way
And how many American jobs that’d make if we were drillin’ in the USA
Oh and God forbid if our oily friends should decide to cut us off
We’d be standin’ around with our britches down now listen to me ya’ll

Perhaps Aaron’s legendary tight pants have seized up blood flow to his brain.

What I’m trying to say is that all these calls for offshore drilling and energy independence have made it clear there’s a drought of information on the Right. I’ve decided to rectify the situation by gathering what we informed people call FACTS to help explain the error in this argument – which many Democrats are perpetuating as well. It’s almost criminal.

So, I beg of you – educate yourself. Even if you don’t want to read my lengthy presentation of reality and possibility, conduct your own research of the effects of increased offshore drilling, the possibility it will lower gas prices, and the addition to jobs and U.S. prominence alternative energy technology will provide.

Here’s my crack at it. It’s long, but it’s worth it. Jesuschrist, it’s worth it.

The clamors for energy independence only surfaced following the rise in gasoline/petrol prices. Because gas prices are largely determined by the decision made by OPEC regarding production levels, Americans are under the incorrect impression that drilling for more hydrocarbon off our shores will provide energy independence and lower gas prices.

OFFSHORE DRILLING ≠ ENERGY INDEPENDENCE ≠ LOW GASOLINE/PETROL PRICES

The American people are uninformed, which is nothing new, and their politicians are doing nothing to correct this problem because they are whores for campaign contributions, which lead them to feed the corporatocracy that is pimping America by trading money for favorable legislation. The oil & gas lobby is one of the biggest john of them all. According to the Federal Election Commission Sept. 2, 2008, and reported by the Center for Responsive Politics, campaign contributions for the 2008 election cycle totalled $22,543,340. Republicans were the most successful streetwalkers, receiving 75 percent of these contributions, while Democrats only garnered 25. Apparently, it’s hard out here for a pimp Democrat.

Because Americans don’t understand the realities of domestic hydrocarbon production, 67 percent answered in the affirmative to the RasmussenReports poll question, “In order to reduce the price of gas, should drilling be allowed in offshore oil wells off the coasts of California, Florida, and other states?” According to the survey, the results of which were released June 17, 64 percent of voters “believe it is at least somewhat likely that gas prices will go down if offshore oil drilling is allowed.” Now, I’m sure you know embittered former pollster for the Clintons, Dick Morris runs RasmussenReports and is now a sweetheart of the Right – which is why they quoted this survey endlessly.

The false assumption is that offshore drilling will lead to energy independence which will lead to lower gasoline prices.

Wrong.

U.S. WOULDN’T OWN OFFSHORE OIL AND GAS ONCE IT IS DRILLED

As Cenk Uygur correctly pointed out of the Huffpo, the United States government does not own all the hydrocarbon that is produced within its borders. The company that is awarded the contract to drill owns the oil or gas and may decide to sell their unrefined product to whomever they like and will likely do so to whoever is the highest bidder, be they India, China, etc. Simply because the U.S. government decides to open leases off Florida, California and ANWR does not automatically assume the U.S. markets will be the recipient of those energy resources.

Secondly, the U.S. refineries are operating near capacity. According to the latest numbers provided by U.S. Department of Energy for July 2008, U.S. refining operable capacity was 17,610,000 barrels per day. Of that capacity, U.S. refineries produced 17,464,000 barrels per day. The last major refinery built in the U.S. began operations in 1976. This is partially due to strict standards set by the EPA and the high cost of such an endeavor, but also NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard), an acronym describing a residential opposition to nearby industrial building. People want to use the oil and gas, they just don’t want to be near the production of their precious energy. With my family from in and around Lake Charles, I can see why.

The point is that politicians – Dems and Repubs alike – encourage the drill, baby, drillers; they just forget to mention that even if we increase offshore drilling, we do not have the refining capacity to ensure those energy reserves serve the American market. Sure, we can loosen environmental standards and attempt to rush the establishment of some refining infrastructure before oil companies bring that offshore hydrocarbon online. But visit Lake Charles for a weekend and decide if you want those big daddies in your backyard or if you would rather just drive less, switch to fluorescent light bulbs and inflate your tires.

U.S. ENERGY COMPANIES WILL CONTINUE TO KEEP PRICES AS HIGH AS THEY CAN

Americans are also assuming that oil and gas companies, in all their benevolence, would flood the American market with hydrocarbon to allow gasoline prices to decrease. Not gonna happen. FOR EXAMPLE, PLS’ ProspectCentre reported Oct. 1, 2008 that Chesapeake Energy, the largest producer of natural gas in the U.S., will “reduce it drilling capex (17%) through year-end 2010 by ~$3.2 billion in response to recent price collapse that has driven gas prices down (~50% since July 1)…Of the capex reduction through 2010, $1.9 billion is associated with reduced drilling activity.” WHAT??? you ask. Gas prices are over $1 more than when Hurricane Katrina hit. My car cost $12.50 to fill up eight years ago and now requires $40. And Chesapeake Energy is reducing drilling because energy prices are falling. Yes, Chesapeake produces natural gas, which is different than gasoline – but prices of energy originating from hydrocarbon sources are closely related.

Translation: Chesapeake Energy is decreasing their drilling of natural gas in order to reduce supply, despite typical ravenous demand of Americans for energy, which will help keep prices high. Politicians have given Americans the idea that American oil and gas (natural gas) companies are operating at capacity and we need to open more leases to bring more energy online in American markets. False. Major companies in the United States are right now decreasing domestic energy production because prices have fallen, causing these companies what they see as budgetary constraints.

The interesting tidbit about Chesapeake’s maneuver is that they’ve done it before. BNET Sept. 27, 2006: “Effective October 1, 2006, the company plans to temporarily shut-in approximately 100 million cubic feet (mmcf) per day of net natural gas production (approximately 125-150 mmcf per day gross) in various areas of operations in the southwestern U.S. until natural gas prices recover from recently depressed levels.” What has happened since the end of 2006? Prices have risen! How surprising! Of course, I’m not suggesting Chesapeake’s activities alone have caused gasoline prices to increase, but I’m giving you an idea of how the oil and gas industry responds to any decrease in gasoline prices.

You see – and this is very important – even if oil and gas were produced as much as possible within American borders and even if refineries were built to handle the capacity of oil and gas sucked out of the ground, oil companies would keep production low. Why? Why? you ask. I will tell you.

The oil companies have discovered that Americans have a high pain tolerance when it comes to energy prices. Americans will let gasoline reach $4.00 a gallon before really pulling back. They will never allow gasoline prices – profits – to fall back to the yesteryear of cheap gas and easy energy. No matter how available or plentiful that energy is domestically, the companies will manipulate the market to keep prices high. Oh, they’ll give us a load of “reduced supply” mishegoss, but make no mistake – they only have eyes for profits. Right now, according to PLS, XTO, EOG and Petrohawk “may watch Chesapeake’s stock to determine if they should follow the same plan.”

The main point is that even if all our hydrocarbon energy supply originates within U.S. borders, prices will remain in the nose-bleeds. Them’s the brakes. Yes, we are currently experiencing a reduction in prices, but it won’t last.

DON’T FORGET ABOUT REFINING

Now let’s assume that we do open all our oil and natural gas reserves to quell demands for more resources. We throw open every lease available off various coasts and in protected wildlife preserves and give them to the exploration and production companies like letting a fat kid loose in a candy store. We would have to assume that demand would remain the same or decrease in order to bring gasoline prices down.

Just one thing. Remember that last refinery that was built in 1976? Yeah, American consumption of energy has increased 25 percent since it was built. If prices are cheap, our consumption will not decrease unless there is a national mandate Americans understand is necessary to preserve our environment and the health of our children. With demand high, prices will remain so as well.

Because American oil and gas demand will always rise above domestic supply – especially with cheap prices – we will never be energy independent as long as our main source of energy is hydrocarbon. Our demand will always outpace domestic supply. Can’t say it enough.

If we do throw open all the leases possible and build refineries to service the American market as much as possible, we will end up polluting the shit out this country. Perhaps this wouldn’t be such a big deal if the only pollution we had to deal with was only that which we create ourselves. It’s not. Pollution from China has already started having worldwide effects – especially in California, where emissions regulations for local industries will have to be sharply curbed to deal with the fallout from China’s production boom.

“GREEN REFINERIES”? SURELY, YOU JEST.

No, I don’t, Willis. There have been recent movements toward establishing “green refineries” – if there is such a thing. Arizona Clean Fuels Yuma fought for seven years and finally received a permit to build a 150,000 barrels-per-day refinery that it says will operate within strict environmental regulations. Hyperion Resources, based in Dallas, is planning an environmentally sound refinery that will turn Canadian crude into low-sulfur gasoline and diesel at a rate of 400,000 barrels per day. According to a Reuters article describing the project, it often takes five years before companies receive the required permits for construction, which can often lead to investors jumping ship.

And if that wasn’t enough to whet your appetite for green gas, Hunton Energy of Houston has proposed the first green refinery on the Texas coast, shooting for a 340,000 barrels-per-day facility to convert Canadian bitumen crude into clean-burning jet fuel and diesel. According to the Houston Chronicle, “Its defining feature is the integration of a gasification facility, which would capture most of the plant’s carbon emissions before they reach the atmosphere.” It will be interesting to see whether this refinery – in ten years, if the project succeeds – will live up to its “green” claims.

There is, however, no definition for “green” and its subjectiveness has allowed it to be used as a major selling tool by energy companies who tend to be colorblind when it comes to the environment. In this case, “green” refers to reduced emissions by the refineries. It does not mean “zero emissions” as such as thing is currently impossible.

Obviously, the greenest refinery will likely do more detriment than wind and solar combined. Although one has to take into account the energy needed to produce a wind turbine, transport it and set up the massive thing (I see them in parts on 18-wheelers all over the highways here in north Texas). How long would a windmill have to generate energy before justifying its very existence? Just a question.

CLEAN COAL, JUMBO SHRIMP, PRETTY UGLY

Still, the term “green refinery” calls to mind another potential oxymoron: “clean coal.” Politicians say it all the time and the term even enjoyed a bit of attention during the recent Vice Presidential Debates. Jeff Biggers of The Washington Post has taken notice as well. He writes in a scathing opinion piece of the coal industry and its treatment by the Bush administration, “Clean coal: Never was there an oxymoron more insidious, or more dangerous to our public health. Invoked as often by the Democratic presidential candidates as by the Republicans and by liberals and conservatives alike, this slogan has blindsided any meaningful progress toward a sustainable energy policy.”

“Clean coal” is referring to reduced emissions from coal-firing plants and efforts are underway around the world to find the means to reduce the environmentally detrimental affects of this energy source. The release of carbon dioxide into the air is one of the biggest offenses of coal use and scientists are trying to discover new means to deal with this greenhouse gas, included rerouting it under ground. Capturing the CO2 is a top priority in “clean coal” technology. According to National Geographic News, however, technologist Gordon Couch, with the International Energy Agency’s Clean Coal Centre in London, says zero-emissions coal power is a realistic goal – though years away.

“NUKULAR” ENERGY

John McCain likes to repeat that nuclear energy is just fine because he served on a Navy ship powered by nuclear energy and all Senator Obama needs to do is talk to one of our sailors serving a nuclear-powered vessel (yeah, because they’re experts) to learn the benefits of this energy. But nuclear plants are some of the most dangerous sources of energy – the fact that Chernobyl and Three Mile Island are household terms is a large indicator of public concern regarding this energy option.

Nuclear waste is an even larger concern. And since no real long-term solution has been found regarding the storage of nuclear waste, it is irresponsible for politicians to tout this as an option for energy independence. Nuclear waste is also tremendously costly to store – the Department of Energy has said the controversial proposed storage facility at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain would cost $96.2 billion to build and operate. France is repeatedly used as a positive example of the use of nuclear energy. However, France reprocesses its nuclear waste – which is banned in the United States due to proliferation risks – and still has leftovers, which it stocks in hopes that, perhaps in 100 years scientists will have found away to eliminate the toxicity of the waste. Bonne chance.

SUSTAINABLE ENERGY…HEAD OUT OF THE ASS

Geothermal Plant in California

Even with the environmental benefits of nuclear energy, the question still looming is the cost-benefit ratio of investing such an enormous amount of funds into a technology that is detrimental in the long-term, rather than positive alternatives: biomass, geothermal, wind, solar, tidal, hydrogen.

Powerful lobbyists, greedy politicians and corporate executives have convinced the more uninformed Americans, including Palin – who chanted, “Drill, baby drill. Mine, baby, mine,” on the stump – that we must turn to domestic oil, gas and coal to increase energy independence, which will bring down gas prices.

I don’t just disagree with them, I have shown that they are wrong. They are incorrect. And almost every source I have provided in this blog is available on the internet.

So, why does the truth not out? Why do Democrats participate in this charade as well? Bucks, dollars, contributions. The building of the United Corporatocracy of America. The oil and gas industry has been the 12th largest campaign contributor to John McCain’s quest for the presidency, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Had we focused our surplus budget and American acumen for technological development on alternative energy sources back in the 1990’s instead of cheap housing developments, we might already be energy independent. Perhaps Detroit wouldn’t be in the economic doldrums. Perhaps we might not be transferring all of our wealth to “countries who do not have our best interests at heart.” But, then ExxonMobil and ConocoPhilips and many other oil & gas companies wouldn’t be receiving record profits this year. Without their political involvement, Halliburton probably wouldn’t have received a number of sweet, no-bid contracts in Iraq from the Bush administration.

Instead, we’re left with “shoulda, woulda, couldas” dangling in front of our rose-colored glasses to the past.

To make matters almost unpalatable, the Right continues to dupe many of its followers – legendary anti-intellectuals, consistent swallowers of Fox News Propaganda who disdain facts, truth, research, reality and education – into believing offshore drilling will produce energy independence and lower gas prices. It won’t. It will only make the same white men richer year after year and worsen our environmental contributions.

RENEWABLE ENERGY IS BEST CHANCE FOR U.S. TO RETAIN GLOBAL PROMINENCE

Renewable alternative energy is our chance to regain and retain our primary position on the world stage. Global citizens are hungry and demanding alternative power and the U.S. has every opportunity to develop it, deliver it, and benefit from it. Like Obama said, renewable resources can give the U.S. the same economic positioning as the computer. Renewable energy technologies could be a major cultivator of domestic jobs and prop the U.S. up again as a major supplier to global market demands.

U.S. domination is subsiding, our economy is not growing as fast as other countries and we are losing our hegemonic status. Instead of tackling this development head on through education and technology, the idiotic dipshits of the Right are attacking our science classes, trying to shrink budgets for math education and calling for the same failed energy policies that will cripple our best chance to retain American greatness.

Republicans are selling our future to win elections now and their mindless followers are not only heading toward that cliff, they want to drag us over the edge with them. It is shameful and embarrassing and hopefully only a footnote in our country’s history. “Drill, baby, drill” is not the answer. It is “Dead Man Walking” for the U.S. economy and perhaps if these people knew exactly what they were proposing, they wouldn’t be trying to doom our country’s attempts to lead the world into the next technological era.

Let me be clear. I am not opposed to increased offshore drilling or increasing refining capacity. I am opposed to presenting it as a method for attaining energy independence and lowering gasoline prices. Such an assertion is untrue and only increase the falsehoods with which many voters make their decisions at the polls. It is harmful to democracy and it is harmful to the economic future and sustainability of this country. We must refocus our priorities to renewable and sustainable energy sources.

UPDATE 10.15.08. FYI, beeyotches, Time (as I spotted on Think Progress) is reporting that despite Sarah Palin’s calls for energy independence, she herself has supported efforts to send domestic hydrocarbon to more-profitable foreign markets.

According to Time, “Palin personally intervened in April, 2007, but her concerns were strictly local. She asked DOE to condition its approval on guarantees that gas needed in Alaska not be diverted to the better-paying foreign venues — a position she held until this past January, when the producers reached separate agreement with the state to meet its needs.

At no time did Palin or her government cite the desire to preserve Alaskan gas for the lower 48 states. The Sempra terminal began operations just four months after Palin announced unconditional support for the Marathon and ConocoPhillips request and a month before DOE approved their plans to export gas to Asia.”

Will the hypocrisy never end???

24
Sep
08

Pharmaceutical Company To Disclose Payments To Doctors

I’d put the hallalujahs off for just a minute, though.

According to AP, Eli Lilly and Co. has said they will report payments made to doctors over $500 for services, speeches, etc. How unusual.

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Every time you go to the doctor, they have another prescription for you. Words such as “bi-polar disorder,” “anxiety disorder,” “clinical depression,” “attention deficit disorder,” and so many more are in our everyday vernacular. Do you fee sad sometimes and then happy sometimes? Well, that’s not right! Have a pill and this pill and this pill even though we have no idea who their chemical interactions will affect your body!

Do you think any of those diseases exist in developing world? No, they have to deal not with disorders of conveniences, but actual maladies such as starvation and AIDS and tuberculosis. Drugs do not cost nearly as much in those areas of the world because people could never dream of affording them and entire countries’ economies would face collapse. The cost of one pill here in the U.S. could feed the population of Sub-Sarahan Africa.

We’ve raised a population of entitled Americans who expect easy street and look to quick fixes when times get tough. We don’t even need to leave our bedrooms to have anything we need in the world. Is it a coincidence that obesity numbers go up the same time as depression and a infinitesimal amount of other diseases increase? I don’t think so.

Furthermore, the drug companies use people as their guinea pigs by pushing drugs far too quickly through governmental approval – though many times due to pressure by patients. Many times, these drugs prove to cause extreme harm over the long period. You know every time you turn on daytime TV and some ambulance-chaser is talking about Vioxx? There you go.

The drug companies pour a load the money they make with their high-priced drugs into the pockets of doctors who recommend them and write prescriptions and the law makers who decide (de)regulation. Ever heard of Medicare? As Wikipedia says, “According to Marcia Angell, the former head of the New England Journal of Medicine, ‘The United States is the only advanced country that permits the pharmaceutical industry to charge exactly what the market will bear.'”

Drugs that Americans depend on to live and stay healthy will cost them the quality of their life simply because of corporate greed and the idea of “free market” which does not exist in this country. Drug companies will tell you that their profits are focused on providing more products. They don’t reveal the salaries of their executives. It’s sickening, really.

So, now Eli Lilly and Co. says they will disclose doctor payments in expression of good will. AP reports,

Dr. Peter Lurie, deputy director of the health research group at Public Citizen, said the state laws can let patients know when their doctors have a connection to a drug firm, but the state laws are not working very well. The laws have various exemptions and sometimes don’t even disclose the information to the public, he said.

Lurie was skeptical that Eli Lilly’s announcement represented a step forward on the issue of more transparency in health care.

“There are dozens of pharmaceutical companies. This is just one of them. Most won’t follow this guideline at all, and there will be no enforcement,” Lurie said. “This is Ely Lilly’s attempt to forestall the federal legislation by saying we’re in effect complying anyway.”

Needless to say, my skepticism remains high. Why wouldn’t Eli Lilly disclose all payments? How many of the payments they issues are under $500?

High drug prices are simply another example of the myth of the free market and “American capitalism.” This manner of economic laissez-faire hurts the lower economic echelons – which is the majority of Americans. Until we start being honest about the reality of our lack of regulation, American voters will never demand better treatment from the Corporatocracy our country has become. Socialism is not a bad word and does not work in its pure form. But for our citizens to reap the benefits of economic growth, we must pepper our capitalism with a bit of socialism. Pro-capitalism is not patriotic. Being honest is.

22
Feb
08

Corporatocracy Update – CEO’s Face Congressional Questioning on Pay

Woohooo! I will have the popcorn ready of C-SPAN broadcasts these hearings!

CNN is reporting the “A total of 10 witnesses are due to appear before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Thursday including Countrywide Financial’s (CFC, Fortune 500) founder and CEO Angelo Mozilo, former Merrill Lynch (MER, Fortune 500) Chairman and CEO Stanley O’Neal and ex-Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) chief Charles Prince.”

“Upon his departure from Citigroup in November, Prince left with approximately $68 million, while O’Neal collected about $161 million after he stepped down in October.

Citigroup and Merrill Lynch lost billions of dollars on risky investment in mortgage-backed securities.

Countrywide’s Mozilo reportedly stood to collect a windfall of $115 million dollars after his firm agreed in January to a $4 billion sale to Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500). But after facing heavy criticism from lawmakers, Mozilo said he would forfeit $37.5 million in payments tied to the deal.”

Praise jeebus! You know all that talk about the widening wealth gap in this country? Makes sense now, doesn’t it?

19
Feb
08

Dems Cracking Down on Pharmaceutical Companies – Commentary on Republican Aiding of Big Corporations

While this just might be political payback – after all, Edwards kept accusing Obama and Clinton of taking contributions from big drug companies – but, either way, Democrats in Congress have launched investigations into pharmaceutical corporation’s behaviors regarding Medicare, television advertising and the drug approval process. I for one, am thrilled. The pharmaceutical companies committed many transgressions under the approval of the Republican Congress.

Political philosophy has long held the belief that a vote for a Democrat means a vote for bigger, more powerful government. And this may be true (though not under Bush, who has expanded governmental powers above and beyond what any democrat could have ever gotten away with). The philosophy that a vote for a Republican will result in smaller government. Hmmm. That might be so, but instead of the powerful government you get with Democrats, you get powerful corporations with Republicans. And that is not good for the everyday American.

The pharmaceutical industry is simply one example of the havoc unregulated companies and industries can wreak on Joe Schmo. Just this past Sunday, 60 Minutes offered a report on the deaths caused by Bayer’s Trasylol each month due to the FDA’s unwilling to pull the drug that is 200 times more expensive than other drugs that are just as effective and don’t lead to renal failure and death.

Drug companies have armies of lobbyists who push the approval of drugs onto the public without effective clinical trials, who push for the approval of the use of adult cold medicines and antibiotics for children with no testing on children, who lobby doctors incessantly to prescribe chemicals for people for the slightest ailment and questionable diagnosis. Has anyone ever considered depression to be a developed-world condition and perhaps a visit to Sierra Leone or a labor camp in China or regular exercise might help to alleviate the symptoms rather than a myriad of tablets and pills? Just wondering…

Furthermore, and this is a comment on the free-market ideals of all the Ron Paulies out there, pharmaceutical companies control the patents on their drugs for years and can assign any cost they choose to life-saving medication. Customers simply cannot wander over to another drug company if they are unhappy with the services provided by the makers of Drug X.

Corporations collude, they merge, they control prices when unregulated. The free-market ideals introduced by Adam Smith and others that came during the Industrial Age in their purity do not apply in today’s setting. Pure theories, such as Communism, Capitalism and Socialism fail when taking into account the human psyche and cognitive dissonance. A balance must be struck. And the Republicans certainly are not willing to attempt such an endeavor. And so, we have unregulated industries.

The oil industry, with its record profits soaring – along with the prices of consumer goods; the airline industry, with its delays, overcrowding, and mass consumer disapproval; out-of-control lenders with their adjustable-rate-mortgages preying on subprime borrowers; dangerous toys from China making their way to kids’ mouths; CEOs with bonuses in the tens of millions while bottom-level employees can’t afford healthcare; monolithic corporate mergers; insurance companies that won’t pay their customers’ claims; the list goes on an on.

Personally, I’d rather a vote for bigger government. With a vote, I still have the power over who has the power. With a corporatocracy, I have no control over board-room deals that dictate my expenditures and consumer choices.

I do not prefer the idea of government regulation of our life, such as media censorship, but I choose react to the political reality of today, rather than the political ideal of what is supposed to be. The result of a Republican vote no longer means limited government, if it ever did. Republicans limit government when it comes to corporate behavior, not citizen behavior.

If it were up to Republicans, government would have greater control over what we do and don’t teach our kids in schools (creationism, abstinence) with very detrimental consequences. If it were up to Republicans, the government would control our decision to have an abortion. If it were up to Republicans, we would be much more concerned with NFL coaches destroying tapes of opposing teams’ play signals than the destroying of the CIA tapes and much more concerned with a boob shown during the Superbowl than genocide in Darfur. If it were up to Republicans, the concentration of executive powers acquired under Bush would remain, thwarting the effort of checks and balances intended by the founding fathers. If it were up to Republicans, government would launch a massive effort to criminalize undocumented workers in this country, going against the very foundations of our country’s greatness. Small government? Whatever!

We have a reality that must be recognized. Political party philosophies no longer apply to political party behavior. It is a shame we do not have a greater choice in the political parties to whom we may assign our votes. Given the two we got, however, I’m going with the Democrat. Because, in reality, with the Democrats, I stand a much better chance at determining the situations which affect my life rather than ceding them to Republican power whores and their corporate pimps.




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