Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Conservative, Economy, Liberal, News, Policy, Politics, President, Recession, Socialism, Wall Street

Pete Sessions, Socialism and Barack Obama

As big a political junkie as I am, one would think I’d be past the point of being shocked when a politician says something stupid.

I’m not.

Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX) believes Obama is both driving the stock market down and unemployment up on purpose.

He’s quoted in today’s NY Times as saying that Obama “intended to inflict damage and hardship on the free enterprise system, if not to kill it.”

Lord have mercy.

Have we been taken over by a power-crazed maniac whose sole purpose is to wipe out all that America holds dear, so that he can take over the entire world, reigning from Capitol Hill as…

… Gasp…

A socialist dictator?!?!

I suppose the fact that Sessions believes Obama to be some sort of socialist terrorist, hell-bent on thoroughly demolishing Capitalism and the free market as we know it is nothing to be surprised at.

Sessions is, after all, someone who likes to use terrorism- specifically the Taliban– as an example when speaking.

What’s surprising is his deviation from the norm

Typically, he’s the one advocating terrorist behavior…

… At least where his own party is concerned.

It was a mere 3 months ago- in February- that he suggested, during an interview with the National Journal, that perhaps the GOP needed a “Taliban-like” insurgency.

His remarks, he claimed, were the result of what he had determined to be a lack of bi-partisan politics in the House of Representatives.

So clearly, strange terror-esque statements are nothing new.

Not from this guy, anyway.

So let me get this straight.

He wants the Republican Party to act in a non-American fashion… actually going as far as to suggest the party adapt the strategy of one of the worst terrorist, anti-American groups in the entire world to survive… and then condemns Obama for non-American behavior… behavior that he not only condoned within his own party, but completely imagined and fabricated where our President is concerned.

Ok, got it.

Truly, this nonsense would be absolutely hilarious if there weren’t several actual, bona-fide yahoos out there taking him seriously.

People do believe President Obama is a closet Socialist.

People do believe that our President hates our country, its governmental structure, its free market economy, our constitution- and all the rights and freedoms we all hold both near and dear.

Never mind that he has yet to take a single fundamental right away from any of us, and in fact has spent his adult life advocating for equal rights- for minorities, women and homosexuals, to name a few.

Never mind that he inherited a real live nightmare of a mess to clean up- and has done more for the average Joe in this country in his first 100 days in office than his predecessor ever did in 8 years.

What is it about him that draws such ire?

Is it jealousy?

Is it the color of his skin?

Is it the fact that he actually cares about people other than the top wealthiest individuals and organizations, and we just don’t know how to accept that kind of compassion?

It’s funny to me how a man who has lived his life trying to protect the dignity of the impoverished and preserve the little things the middle class holds dear, can be painted as the evil villain.

It’s ok, haters.

He hears you…

… And despite your ugliness, he still wants to serve you.

You certainly don’t deserve it.

Posted in C-Haze, Children, Current Events, Economy, News, Parenting, Policy, Politics, Recession, Single Mom, Single Parent, Wall Street

Recession: Are We Working Too Much, Or Not Enough?

By now, there are few of us that haven’t been affected by the recession in some way.

Personally speaking, while I have managed to remain employed by a company that still offers great benefits and good pay…

… Even I am feeling the burn.

Most recently my company froze our salaries, offered a “voluntary” reduced work schedule, reduced our medical coverage, and slashed our 401K match.

Everyone, world-wide it seems, is being forced to make do with less.

We need to be more productive than ever, even as our resources are diminishing.

If we slip up… we could lose our jobs… and with unemployment hovering around 8.5%, we know there are many workers that will be happy to take our places.

At home, we have to figure out a way to continue supporting our families with a smaller number of resources- be it finances, time or energy.

I have a friend, for example, who is a single mother with 2 sons.

She never got much in the way of child support from her ex, so she’s accustomed to having to get creative, figuring things out on her own.

Most recently, my friend, who already works full-time for a large company, had to get a 2nd job.

She has a bachelor’s degree in Finance from a very prestigious university…

… And now finds herself working part-time at Blockbuster Video.

That (small) additional income is buying her groceries every month.

She doesn’t get to spend as much time with her kids as she used to able to…  and now their grades are slipping… they’re developing major attitude problems… their teachers are complaining… she barely recognizes them… but dammit, the mortgage is paid.

I know this problem isn’t a new one.

For generations- well before this particular recession, people- single parents, low income families- have been struggling to learn how to get more out of less.

How do you mandate your children’s behavior, or whether they’re outside playing with friends when they’re supposed to be inside doing homework, when you have 3 jobs- all 3 of which are necessary simply to put food on the table and have gas and electricity?

So many of us are having to choose between that all-important family time and working, so that our rent is paid.

I remember trying to comfort my sobbing friend after her son’s teacher called to let her know he’d been caught stealing another child’s homework… she was also surprised to learn he was failing his classes.

“We’ve talked to your son, and he says you’re never around anymore- that you’re too busy to help him with his studies. You really need to take a more active role in your son’s life”, snarled the teacher.

“Sir, with all due respect, I love my children, and I am doing the very best I can”.

“It’s not good enough”, she was told.

They’re both right.

She is definitely doing the best she can…

… And, as evidenced by her son’s behavior, it isn’t good enough.

So what is it that we’re to do, when the very best we have, simply doesn’t cut it?

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Current Events, Economy, News, Policy, Politics, President, Wall Street

Bonuses, Bailouts and Buttheads

Like many of us, I was pretty upset to learn about AIG’s decision to pay out more than $165 million in executive bonuses.

Much of the funds are retention bonuses for employees that are no longer with the company. All of it is going to reward AIG’s top decision-makers for decisions that were…

Well…

… Shitty.

The recipients of this money are the same people who ran the company into the ground to begin with, resulting in four federal bailouts to-date.

AIG claims they had no choice, that they were obligated by contract to distribute the bonuses.

The federal government has considered forcing AIG to stop the pay-outs, voiding the employer/employee contracts but wisely decided against such a move. I’m as ill as the next person over AIG’s nonsense, but I don’t like the idea of my government involving itself- potentially nullifying- legal contracts.

I wouldn’t mind the fallout in the case of AIG, but I cringe at the precedent such a move would set.

The Senate is currently mulling legislation that would allow the government to recoup the bonuses, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s effort to pass the legislation by unanimous consent was blocked by Representative Jon Kyl, from Arizona.

I think blocking the legislation is the right move.

AIG has made some terrible business decisions… and has definitely shown that they haven’t learned their lesson, as evidenced by the greedy, nonsensical method in which they have spent their billions in bailout funding.

However, horrible business decisions do not equate to illegal activity.

Currently, as far as I know, it is still legal in this country to be both stupid and greedy.

Simultaneously, no less.

Next we learn that the House, no doubt knowing Congress doesn’t have a leg to stand on with regards to pulling AIG’s bonuses, yesterday passed a bill that would instead tax the bejesus out of the funds.

The bill stipulates that any employee who works for a company that has received more than $5 billion in federal bailout funds and makes more than $250,000 a year will be heavily taxed on their bonuses- and by heavily, I mean 90%.

Huh.

Now that’s what I call a bonus tax!

If this crap didn’t so drastically effect my loved ones- their day to day lives, and their hopes for financial security during their later years- it would be downright humorous.

Unfortunately, because the stakes are so high, and so many little people are paying the price for these shenanigans, the situation falls less in the “ha ha funny” category and more in the maddening “OMG how can people fuck up this damn badly?!?!” category instead.

Many of us were against the idea of a federal bailout to begin with.

Some of us were against it because of our belief in a free-market economy… a notion that is decidedly in jeopardy once the government gets to intervene any time it chooses.

Most of us simply don’t trust Uncle Sam- not to the extent of handling our investments, anyway. We knew, instinctively that if the government started runnin’ this particular show, mass chaos and huge amounts of dumb-assery were sure to follow.

True to form, the government has managed to make a huge clusterfuck out of an already distasteful situation.

Does anyone else remember, for example, back when the bailout was orignally being mulled by congress, that Senator Dodd (Chair of the Treasury Committee) was busy messing with the law to make sure that once the bill passed, the bonuses would be legal?

Seems to me, had he not done that, perhaps we could have already had a bill in place- one that is part of the original bailout legislation- that would have stopped AIG (and others) from even considering such wasteful spending as bonuses for irresponsible executives who have made deplorable financial decisions… and special spa retreats… and million dollar office renovations.

So, am I pissed off that it has come to this?

You bet.

Do I think AIG is comprised of a bunch of greedy bastards?

Yep.

More importantly though, I am even more pissed off at our own government and its hasty, poorly thought-out involvement in this mess.

Hindsight is 20/20, but had our congressional representatives heeded the wishes of their constituents- the little people like you and me- and not jumped headfirst into this stinky hole to begin with, perhaps we wouldn’t be dealing with this bullshit today.

The vast majority of us were against the bailout to begin with. We knew Congress was going to figure out a way to make a jacked up situation even worse.

Will they ever listen?

Not if the currently pending legislation is any indication of lessons learned (or not learned, in this case).

Oh well.

I don’t know about you, but at this point, I’m just going to sit back, grab some popcorn and watch the show.

I hear there’s gonna be fireworks towards the end.

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Change, Children, Conservative, Current Events, Economy, Elections, Governor Mark Sanford, Hope, News, Policy, Politics, President, Race, Wall Street

Stimulus, Schools and Sanford

A few weeks ago (on February 24, 2009), Obama addressed the nation in front of a joint session of Congress.

It was a moving speech, focusing primarily on the economy, and the challenges faced by America today.

There were a couple of attendees at the event that are not politicians, but rather, people whose personal stories touched the President and First Lady personally.

One was a banker by the name of Leonard Abess Jr.

Located in Miami, Mr. Abess was recognized for his generosity- he received a $60 million bonus from the proceeds of the sale of his bank’s shares- and rather than keep it for himself, he split it up among his 399 current employees- and more than 70 previous ones.

Another guest of the Obamas was Ty’Sheoma Bethea, an 8th grader from South Carolina.

Once President Obama told her story, we all fell in love with her.

Ty’Sheoma is from a tiny town in South Carolina. Her school is dilapidated- in fact it isn’t even up to code. Classes are interrupted several times a day to allow for the noisy trains that roll through the area.

Desperate for a decent school- a building that isn’t falling apart around her- a place where learning can be uninterrupted, Ty’Sheoma wrote to Barack Obama.

She requested some of the stimulus money for her school.

Her letter read, in part, “We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself and one day president, so we can make a change to not just the state of South Carolina but also the world. We are not quitters.”

Our President was so moved by her words that he invited Ms. Bethea to attend his speech, sitting with his wife in a place of honor.

We all had warm fuzzies at the close of the speech, knowing there were hundreds of millions of dollars in that stimulus package- set aside just for South Carolina- money that the state’s governor could use for education.

Ty’Sheoma, her fellow students and their teachers can now attend a school that stands on its own and isn’t interrupted by the constant din of passing trains.

Right?

Ha.

Not so much.

Now comes news that South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford will not accept the more than $700 million in stimulus funding that is available for his state.

Money that will patch holes in the roofs of public school buildings… money that will go to purchase school books and teaching supplies- replacing outdated and inaccurate materials… money that will save teachers’ jobs… money that will pay the salaries for qualified educators to join the ranks of the South Carolina Public School System.

Is Governor Sanford really so arrogant as to think we aren’t watching him? Does he believe that we have forgotten Ty’Sheoma Bethea? Does he assume we don’t care about her, her fellow classmates, her teachers and their administrators?

If so, he is sadly mistaken.

Sanford only wants to accept the stimulus money if he gets to choose how to spend it- and has stated if that were the case, he would focus on paying down South Carolina’s other debts- not on extending unemployment benefits and education.

Oh.

In that case, I’m sure Ty’Sheoma will understand.

I mean, let’s face it.

She wasn’t going to be a doctor, lawyer or anything else, right?

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Change, Current Events, Economy, Hope, News, Policy, Politics, President, Race, Science, War on Terror

Beyond War: A New Economy Is Possible- Part III- Militarism

By Andrew Heaslet, guest Author, Coordinator, Peace Economy Project

Militarism

 

“I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of nuclear annihilation… I believe that even amid today’s mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Address, Dec.10 1964

 

 

Out of Iraq and Afghanistan

 

A 16  Month Plan for Iraq is 16 Months Too Long

 

Reuters reported last December, “Obama said a new security pact between Iraq and the United States already put the United States on a “glide path” to pulling out of Iraq. He also noted that a “residual” U.S. force may need to remain in Iraq longer than combat troops.”

 

16 months does not fulfill our demand for “Troops Out Now,” and we will not be satisfied until every American serviceman and woman is back on US soil.  “Residual” forces existing in Iraq is unacceptable.  John McCain mused about being in Iraq for 50 to 100 years – if the American people wanted that, he, not Obama, would have been elected president.

 

End, Don’t Escalate the Occupation of Afghanistan.

There is No “Good War”

 

For all of his flaws, former president Bill Clinton has sagely said, “you cannot kill, occupy or imprison all your actual or potential adversaries… You have to try to build a world with more friends and fewer terrorists.”

 

The spouse of the current secretary of state’s words should be heeded, especially considering Foreign Policy in Focus’s Conn Hallinan words: “As the United States steps up its air war, civilian casualties have climbed steadily over the past two years. Nearly 700 were killed in the first three months of 2008, a major increase over last year. In a recent incident, 47 members of a wedding party were killed in Helmand Province. In a society where clan, tribe, and blood feuds are a part of daily life, that single act sowed a generation of enmity.”

 

Hallinan continues, “According to U.S. counter insurgency doctrine… Afghanistan would require at least 400,000 troops to even have a chance of “winning” the war. Adding another 10,000 [or 30,000] U.S. troops will have virtually no effect.”

 

Furthermore, Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith, “Britain‘s most senior military commander in [Afghanistan]” has said “We’re not going to win this war,” and, according to the Telegraph.co.uk, “said the goal should be to find a non-violent resolution.”

 

Finally, the FY 2008 supplemental spending bill already pinned the cost of the war in Afghanistan at $173 billion.  At a time when our economy needs a boost to the tune of a trillion dollars, increasing spending on an unwinnable war is not only a strategic mistake, but also a cost we simply cannot afford.

  

Nuclear Weapons

The United States should make nuclear disarmament the leading edge of a global trend towards demilitarization and redirection of military expenditures to meet human and environmental needs. (Nuclear Disorder or Cooperative Security?)

 

In 1995 testimony before the International Court of Justice, Hiroshima Mayor Takashi Hiraoka told the Court: “History is written by the victors.  Thus, the heinous massacre that was Hiroshima has been handed down to us as a perfectly justified act of war.  As a result, for over 50 years we have never directly confronted the full implications of this terrifying act for the future of the human race.”

 

The Nuclear Information Project has estimated that there are still more than 25,000 nuclear weapons in the world. The United States and Russia have by far the largest nuclear arsenals, with thousands of deployed weapons, capable of destroying any country and killing tens of millions.  The United Kingdom, France and China each have hundreds of modern nuclear weapons and long-range missiles capable of carrying them. All of these countries promised the world, decades ago, when they signed onto the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), that they would negotiate to get rid of their nuclear arsenals. There are no such negotiations underway. 

 

Remaining outside the NPT are India and Pakistan, believed to have fewer than 100 nuclear weapons each and engaged in an unpredictable new arms race; Israel, the only country in the Middle East with nuclear weapons, believed to have several hundred nuclear weapons that can be delivered by plane or missile; and North Korea, which claims to have conducted a single nuclear test in 2006 and which has not tested successfully any missiles that could carry a nuclear weapon to the United States. (Western States Legal Foundation Information Report, Fall 2006)

 

The United States is the only country that has used nuclear weapons in war.  And it is the only country with nuclear weapons deployed on foreign soil. Nuclear weapons continue to play a central role in U.S. “national security” policy. Today the U.S. possesses approximately 9,400 nuclear warheads.  Of these, some 2,200 strategic (long range) warheads are actively deployed on intercontinental ballistic missiles and at long range bomber bases.  Another 500 or so tactical (short range) nuclear weapons are actively deployed, about 200 of them in Europe. (Federation of American Scientists, Strategic Security Blog)

 

But it’s not just about the numbers. A September 2008 Department of Defense report on the Air Force’s nuclear mission describes “the importance of nuclear deterrence” this way: “Though our consistent goal has been to avoid actual weapons use, the nuclear deterrence is ‘used’ every day by assuring friends and allies, dissuading opponents from seeking peer capability to the United States, deterring attacks on the United States and its allies from potential adversaries, and providing the potential to defeat adversaries if deterrence fails.”

The Pentagon’s 2001 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) expanded the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. national security policy, including the possible use of nuclear weapons in “immediate, potential, or unexpected contingencies” and called for indefinite retention of a large, modern, and diverse nuclear force.  The NPR has served as the primary justification for each subsequent annual nuclear weapons budget request as well as the current “Complex Transformation” plan to modernize the U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories and manufacturing plants for decades to come. (Western States Legal Foundation, Information Brief, Spring 2008)

According to a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace report entitled, Nuclear Security Spending: Assessing Costs, Examining Priorities ,in fiscal year 2008, the United States spent $52.4 billion on nuclear weapons programs alone.  This staggering amount is a drop in the bucket compared to overall U.S. military spending ($711 billion), but it exceeds the entire military budgets of nearly every other country. In 2006, the last year for which figures are available, only China ($121.9 billion), Russia ($70 billion), the United Kingdom ($55.4 billion) and France ($54 billion) spent more on their militaries than the U.S. spent on its nuclear weapons. (CACNP)

 

Atomic Audit, a study by the Brookings Institution completed in 1998, found, as a conservative estimate, that the United States spent $5.5 trillion dollars on nuclear weapons from 1940–1996 (in constant 1996 dollars). The Brookings study found that nuclear weapons spending during the 56 year period it examined exceeded the combined total federal spending for education; training, employment, and social services; agriculture; natural resources and the environment; general science, space, and technology; community and regional development, including disaster relief; law enforcement; and energy production and regulation.

 

 

Foreign Bases

Bring all troops, everywhere, home.  Now.

 

Former Cold War hawk and CIA analyst, Chalmers Johnson, has written: “As distinct from other peoples, most Americans do not recognize — or do not want to recognize — that the United States dominates the world through its military power.  Due to government secrecy, our citizens are often ignorant of the fact that our garrisons encircle the planet. This vast network of American bases on every continent except Antarctica actually constitutes a new form of empire — an empire of bases with its own geography not likely to be taught in any high school geography class.” Without grasping the dimensions of this globe-girdling Baseworld, one can’t begin to understand the size and nature of our imperial aspirations or the degree to which a new kind of militarism is undermining our constitutional order.”

 

Noting that “official records on these subjects are misleading,” Johnson in 2004 estimated that the Pentagon maintains more than 700 overseas bases in about 130 countries, with an additional 6,000 bases in the United States and its territories. “These numbers,” he concluded, “although staggeringly large, do not begin to cover all the actual bases we occupy globally…. If there were an honest count, the actual size of our military empire would probably top 1,000 different bases in other people’s countries, but no one — possibly not even the Pentagon — knows the exact number for sure, although it has been distinctly on the rise in recent years.”  According to Johnson, “Pentagon bureaucrats calculate that it would require at least $113.2 billion to replace just the foreign bases – surely far too low a figure but still larger than the gross domestic product of most countries. . . .”

 

When establishment of the new United States Northern Command was announced in April 2002, the official press release declared: “For the first time, commanders’ areas of operations cover the entire Earth.” (DefenseLink.mil)

 

Military Industrial Complex

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. 

            Dwight D Eisenhower, Jan 17, 1961

 

James Quinn’s article entitled “The Economic Cost of the Military Industrial Complex” summarizes the current status of this nexus well: “The top five U.S. defense contractors generated almost $129 billion in revenues and $8 billion in profits in 2006, double the revenue and profits in 2000 when George Bush became President. The War on Terror has been a windfall for the defense industry and their shareholders. These companies have intertwined themselves into the fabric of our government and defense department. They contribute tremendous amounts of money to Congressional candidates and have thousands of lobbyists pushing for more defense contracts.”  Boeing, for example, reported spending $16.6 million on lobbying in 2008 (opensecrets.org).

 

There is also the issue of the “revolving door,” where politicians cycle between governmental positions and private sector companies posing serious questions about conflict of interest.  Famous examples are Dick Cheney, who went from the government to CEO of Halliburton, back to the government.  In the new administration, Obama’s national security advisor, Gen James Jones (Ret.) sat on the board of major military contractor, Boeing as well as oil giant Chevron (TheHill.com).  Additionally, a former Raytheon senior vice president now sits as the nation’s deputy defense secretary (Bloomberg.com).

 

B.R. Reece recently summarized some of the Economic Conversion guru, Seymour Melman’s arguments against the power of the Military Industrial Complex in a book review for The Peace Economy Project. “The defense industry profits through inefficiency at the expense of the general population,” she writes. “The difference is that consumers are free to purchase vehicles that are price competitive, efficient, have high technical standards and low failure rates, and so the inability of domestic automakers to produce competitive vehicles has resulted in lost sales. No such situation exists in defense contracting: inefficiencies and losses are absorbed by the taxpayer, not by the producer. The contractors thus have an incentive not only to ignore the hemorrhaging created by inefficiencies, but to build in greater inefficiencies in the form of huge bureaucracies, inefficient production and innovation practices, and pricing methods designed to maximize cost to the final purchaser (a practice that would be impossible to sustain if the company had to compete for buyers).”  Melman’s commentary, though 35 years old, still describe the waste we encounter today; a 2005 NY Times article notes, “The Pentagon has more than 80 major new weapons systems under development…  Their combined cost, already $300 billion over budget [emphasis added], is $1.47 trillion and climbing.”

 

 The Pentagon is NOT a Jobs Engine

Jobs should never be used as a justification to produce instruments of war.

 

31 year veteran of the defense analysis field, Winslow Wheeler has written extensively against the idea that Pentagon should be used as a jobs program: “With its huge overhead costs, glacial payout rates and ultra-high costs of materials, I believe the Pentagon can generate jobs by spending but neither as many nor as soon as is suggested.

 

“…even if Congress appropriated today the USD11 billion needed for [60 new F-22s], the work would not start until 2010: too late for the stimulus everyone agrees is needed now.

 

“…if employment is the aim, it makes more sense to cut defence spending and use the money in programmes that do it better. As for the defence budget, less money offers the opportunity for reform – just what the doctor ordered. Despite high levels of spending, the combat formations of the services are smaller than at any point since 1946. Major equipment is, on average, older, and, according to key measurables, our forces are less ready to fight.”

 

The Center for Economic and Policy Research released a report in mid 2007 noting the following: “It is often believed that wars and military spending increases are good for the economy… In fact, most economic models show that military spending diverts resources from productive uses, such as consumption and investment, and ultimately slows economic growth and reduces employment.”

 

A 2007 University of Massachusetts, Amherst study wrote that dollars invested in alternatives to defense spending such as education, healthcare, mass transit, or even tax cuts “create more jobs and,” potentially, provide “both an overall higher level of compensation… and a better average quality of jobs.”

 

An honest look at the defense industry does show that millions of jobs are related to massive military contracts but it does not have to remain this way.  As the above comments demonstrate, creating jobs in other sectors would be a more effective means of widespread employment.  The workers who design, build, and maintain these elaborate, high priced machines are incredibly skilled workers whom could relatively easily be retrained to produce goods that create and maintain higher levels of capital.

 

Our current military philosophy and actions are unnecessarily dragging our nation to the poorhouse.  If we actively confront the threats of illness, disease, poverty, racism, unemployment, and the environmental crisis, our dollars will create more jobs and capital and will finally honor the words of one of our nation’s greatest heroes, Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

 

 

 

*              It should be noted that increasing reliance on biofuel is controversial.  A Sustainable  Energy Future is Possible Now, a report by Abolition 2000, warns that “unconstrained industrial biofuel production will produce dire consequences for the natural environment.” Concerns range from biofuel feedstock taking priority over food crops due to limited arable land, to use of pesticides, to widespread deforestation.  The report makes the case that solar, wind, and geothermal power, tidal and smaller scale hydro-electric energy, and hydrogen fuel are good choices for the economy, citing a University of California finding that sustainable energy sources provide more jobs “per MW of power installed, per unit of energy produced, and per dollar investment than the fossil fuel-based energy sector.” The report concludes that “switching to sustainable energy would have an added benefit of promoting democratic values and the international aspirations embodied in the United Nations.”

 

A “renaissance” in nuclear energy is being promoted as part of the solution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  But nuclear power is fraught with problems including the potential for proliferation of nuclear weapons by virtue of the connection between nuclear power and nuclear weapons materials and technologies; the potential for catastrophic accidents; the unsolved problem of nuclear waste storage and disposition; and the very high financial costs associated with all aspects of nuclear power production.

 

The United States can and should implement energy production, distribution, and use policies that will phase out the use of fossil fuels and nuclear power by the year 2050. A recent book, Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy, by the Institute for Environmnetal and Energy Research and the Nuclear Policy Reseach Institute, provides a detailed analysis that shows that this goal is technically and economically feasible. The Roadmap lays out how we can get from a 4 percent reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear energy (as of 2005) to none by mid-century. Oil imports would be completely eliminated along the way.

  

Document compiled and organized by:

Andy Heaslet, Coordinator of the St Louis based Peace Economy Project

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Change, Current Events, Economy, News, Policy, Politics, President, Wall Street

Stock Options, Politics and Bully Pulpits

Alright, we need to talk about this bailout stuff.

Again.

In speaking to someone whose political views I greatly respect (ok, ok- it was my daddy), I learned that perhaps President Obama knew exactly what he was doing  when he recently announced that the regulations he plans to put in place on what’s left of the $700 billion bailout funds would not apply to executive salaries.

When I originally heard that Obama had no plans to restrict the irresponsible spending of the executive recipients of the bailout money, I blew a gasket, as evidenced here.

Now I’m beginning to wonder… things are not always as they seem, right?

Perhaps Obama knew exactly what he was doing… maybe it’s all part of  a plan, something entirely different than what I originally assumed.

The more I think about this situation (and keep in mind that I am no financial analyst), the more I wonder if it would even be possible to truly restrict- through legislation- the reckless spending on Wall Street.

On its surface, it seems that yes, this would be more than possible… simple, even… to accomplish…

… But then I look back on all those finance and accounting classes from college and begin to wonder if doing so would actually be downright impossible.

Yes, one can legislate things like salary increases and salary caps- say, for example, that no employee of any recipient of government bailouts can make more than (fill in the blank) dollars per year.

Unfortunately, however, that would only restrict a tiny portion of what actually goes into these folks’ pockets. How do you legislate such things as stock options, warrants (similar to stock options, warrants give a person the option- but does not obligate them- to buy an underlying security at a certain price and quantity at a future time), and countless other perks?

A good accountant- any CPA worth their salt- could easily find loopholes around the legislation… therefore allowing these bigwigs to continue taking home millions upon millions of dollars- while never once breaking the law.

I am reminded of the Big 3 auto makers, and their offer to congress last year to accept a salary of $1 per year in exchange for bailout funds for their companies. What they didn’t tell us was that they would still make 90% of the money they always made because stock options and bonuses are not part of one’s flat salary… but they do often comprise the bulk of an executive’s take-home pay.

Next, I began thinking about Missouri Representative Claire McCaskill, and her recent- very public- comments, directed at the irresponsible jackasses on Wall Street.

For those who don’t recall, McCaskill went on record calling them all a bunch of idiots.

Were those comments merely the spur-of-the-moment rantings of a politician losing her temper?

Or were they very orchestrated comments, planned meticulously by the Obama administration, as a means to fully utilize the bully pulpit?

A bully pulpit, for those unaware, was originally perfected by Theodore Roosevelt, and simply means that high-ranking officials can use the platform of the White House as a means to advance one’s agenda. Simply put, politicians make use of a bully pulpit to put a bug in the public’s ear… it’s a great way to put an idea in the general public’s mind without having to go through a bunch of b.s. redtape in the process.

The way I see it, Obama knows he cannot successfully reign in the spending of Wall Street bigwigs by simply using a political platform. He can’t sign an executive order, or pass a bill in Congress to accomplish this goal because there are too many loopholes that people would be able use to continue their fatcat ways.

So he is instead turning the entire issue over to the court of public opinion- the little people like you and me- knowing full well that as the reality of the financial sector’s shenanigans begin to really sink in, we are going to get PISSED.

I know I got mad as hell… as did millions of others…

It was all part of the plan.

We, as consumers, as regular ol’ citizens of this country, possess way more power in this situation than Congress ever had.

Not only can we take such action as boycotting Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, CitiGroup and all the others… but we can make it known to these CEOs that we are watching them, and we are not happy about what we’re seeing.

With that in mind, these bigwig jerks, knowing we are paying extremely close attention to their every move, will have no choice but to watch their step and curb their behavior… if they want to stay in business, that is.

Obama, I have learned, does nothing by accident.

I believe he knows damn good and well what he’s doing here, and quite frankly, the more I think about it, the more I realize…

This man is a genius.

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Change, Current Events, Economy, Elections, Hope, News, Policy, Politics, President, Wall Street

Barack Obama, Executive Pay and a Whole Lot of B.S.

President Obama said in his recent weekly radio address that he will be presenting a new bailout spending plan soon.

Sounds good to me, though I was never really one to support these ridiculous bailouts to begin with.

What I am shocked- and quite frankly, a little pissed- to hear is that this new spending plan contains no added restrictions on executive pay.

Apparently officials are concerned that new restrictions on executive salaries could discourage other companies from asking for government aid in the future.

What the hell?

I didn’t realize the point of the bailout package was to encourage anybody to put their hands out and beg for money. And even if that was part of the point of this bullshit package to begin with, so what? How the heck is it a bad thing to require executives looking for our assistance to first commit to cutting spending- including their own astronomically sized salary packages?

Otherwise, by my estimation, they shouldn’t be getting a damn dime from us or anybody else for that matter.

Can we please back up and review for a moment?

In recent months we have AIG taking employees on luxury spa trips after receiving funds from the government bailout… we have CitiGroup attempting to purchase a new $50 million luxury corporate jet… we have some schmuck CEO over at Bank of America spending over a million bucks to redecorate his damn office… we learn that more than $18 billion of the original bailout went to executive bonuses…

… And no one seems to think we need to add a few provisions to this new proposal?

Seriously.

Obviously we’ve learned absolutely nothing from our past mistakes.

These asshole bigwigs are living high on the hog on taxpayer dollars- OUR money- while the rest of us are scraping by.

Actually, if we’re lucky we’re scraping by… and luck these days, unfortunately, is hard as hell to come by.

People are losing their jobs, their cars and their homes, dammit, in record numbers.

The few little pennies we do make seem to be going to help the rich get richer… and from way down here where I’m sitting, isn’t going to help me or my fellow middle-class Americans at all.

The stock market is still in the shitter, wall street is still acting like a bunch of complete and total retards where fiscal responsibility is concerned… Congress is either steadfastly refusing to pass the one stinkin’ package that could actually help our broke asses to survive- or are insisting on beefing the damn thing up with so much pork that it’s becoming a useless peice of legislation altogether.

These punk ass politicians need to get this shit together and get to the responsibility of actually standing up for the people they were sworn into office to represent…

… Or they need to get the hell off the stage.

Cuz I’m sick of it.

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Economy, Elections, Joe Biden, John McCain, News, Politics, Presidential Campaign, Sarah Palin, War on Terror

A Spoonful of Sweetener Makes the B.S. Go Down

The Senate has passed the bailout.

Crap.

I had really hoped they wouldn’t.

They didn’t just pass it… they did it with “sweeteners”.

Doesn’t make that shit any easier to swallow now does it?

Nope.

Sure doesn’t.

Let’s hope the House has the balls to kill it- again.

Regardless, here it is in its entirety…

… for those of you who need a little bathroom reading.

Enjoy.

Senate Bailout Plan

 

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Economy, Elections, Joe Biden, John McCain, News, Politics, Presidential Campaign, Sarah Palin, Single Mom, War on Terror

Rescue Plan- Tastes Even Worse Going Down the 2nd Time

The Economic Bailout– Take 2- is going before the Senate today.

I’m a little disappointed… I know they’ve added some stuff, and yanked other things… but…

The bill still stinks.

I was hoping that the unexpected no-vote in the House on Monday would have given lawmakers some incentive to scrap this butt-ugly thing and start over again…

Maybe get to work on passing something that’s worthwhile.

Unfortunately they either think it’s legislation worth saving, or feel that they don’t have the time to write a new bill.

I say, work some over-time if you have to…

… But stop trying to shove this worthless joke of a “Rescue Plan” down our throats.

 Either come correct, or don’t come at all.

I expect it to pass the Senate today, but like most regurgitated stuff, it tastes worse going down the second time.

Yuck.

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Economy, Elections, Joe Biden, John McCain, News, Politics, Presidential Campaign, Sarah Palin, Single Mom, War on Terror

Economic Ramblings of a Broke A$$ Woman

It’s taken some days, but I’ve finally figured out how I feel about this economic bailout thing that’s been monopolizing my radio, my tv, my internet, and the proverbial water cooler at work.

I hate it.

Should Congress be successful in resurrecting the bill and bringing it to another vote, I hope it fails miserably.

There.

I said it.

I’ve been waiting- for days- to hear how this thing is going to help Main Street… and now finally understand that Main Street won’t benefit at all.

With that in mind, I say…

Fuck ’em.

Why should my broke ass incur the debt of financial institutions that A) did this shit to themselves and B) aren’t even willing to throw me a bone by way of thanks for bailing them out?

The answer is, I shouldn’t.

From my vantage point… waaaay down here where I’m sitting… it looks like I’m going to be just as screwed if this thing passes as I will be if this thing fails…

Except that one of those options will result in my incurring a mind-blowingly huge debt on top of everything else I’m trying to shoulder right now.

Either way it goes, my fellow taxpayers and I are no more or less likely to remain in our homes, nor are we any more or less likely to be able to afford fuel for our cars, food for our families, or medical expenses for our loved ones.

The Treasury Secretary, the President, Wall Street and Congress are all running around like some chickens with their heads cut off, screeching about how if we don’t pass this thing, the world is going to come to an end.

Honestly, it’s been real tough to get too stressed about it considering the behavior of Congress- especially yesterday. Our representatives have been cluck-cluck-cluckin’ about how important this bailout legislation is… but when it failed in the House, we learned the reason it died was baby-ass, pansy pettiness.

Our esteemed representatives thought it was more important to let their personal vendettas dictate how they voted on this oh-so-important bill than it was to vote on the issues contained in the thing itself.

Let’s see…  they didn’t like Nancy Pelosi’s speech from the floor of the House yesterday morning, so rather than pass the damn thing like they swore they would, they voted Nay.

Seriously?

This is how they make decisions? This is how our elected officials decide whether or not to pass legislation that according to them may be our last option to save the economy?

Perhaps they don’t really care as much about Main Street as they claim they do… or maybe this shit isn’t quite as big a deal as they’re trying to make it out to be after all.

… And don’t misunderstand- I’m not giving Nancy Pelosi a free pass either… so settle down, Republicans.

Why did she decide to give an Anti-Bush-Administration-and-anything-GOP campaign speech at that particular moment?

Talk about inappropriate.

Seems to me, had the bill been that stinkin’ important, perhaps the representatives would have been concentrating on coming together… not tearing each other apart… and while Nancy-girl was not the only person guilty of doing it, she did it the biggest, in the worst possible place, at the worst possible time.

Yet these same people, who cannot, for the lives of them, bring themselves to put their petty differences aside- for less than an hour- so this thing can pass, want me to believe that the bailout is the end-all-be-all to all things financial?

Doubtful.

Perhaps I would have shared in their urgency had they behaved like adults.

As far as I’m concerned, if the legislation wasn’t important enough for them to stop bickering long enough to pass it, than it likely isn’t important enough for me to get all excited about either.

While our oh-so-mature Congress was been acting like a bunch of spoiled rotten three year olds, I have been patiently waiting to hear what, specifically, will happen, should this bill fail again.

Are we headed for another Great Depression? Will the very fiber of our economy grind to a halt? Will the meager pennies I have in the bank no longer be insured, causing me to lose the little cash flow I currently enjoy?

No one has an answer.

Not a single person knows what the heck is going to happen, should this bailout fail.

Is it possible the market will right itself, causing no additional strain on We The Tax Payers?

Yep.

Is it possible that life will get really miserable for investment bankers?

Yep- that’s almost a guarantee.

Other than the fact that regular ol’ middle class Americans will get no relief whatsoever from bailing the financial sector out, not much else can be stated for sure.

Sorry guys.

Not good enough.

Perhaps it’s time the fat cats in the banking world learn to sink or swim- just like like the rest of us have had to do- while they were gorging themselves- excessively and unnecessarily… and quite frankly, criminally.

I say, welcome to my world…

And there is no life guard on duty.

Crunch.