Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Being Republicans

John McCain has become a disgrace. Here he is blaming the federal government for the unjust law that Arizona has passed as if he himself has not been a part of the legislating body of the federal government for eons. On the senate floor yesterday he essentially said that because illegal immigrants violate the rights of Arizonians that the State of Arizona has the right to violate the civil rights of all Americans with brown skin.

Will the real McCain please stand up? He and Senator Kyl's performance on the senate floor seemed strictly to give him free ad time. His seat is being hotly contested by a Tea Party candidate. The staged question and answer session between he and Senator Kyl was obviously for the purpose of giving him a platform. He was clearly grandstanding. The once self-professed maverick denier has no shame. Perhaps this is the real McCain.


Jeb Bush, former Florida Governor, spoke out against the Arizona law today: "I think it creates unintended consequences," he said in a interview with Politico Tuesday by phone. "It's difficult for me to imagine how you're going to enforce this law. It places a significant burden on local law enforcement and you have civil liberties issues that are significant as well." Jeb Bush is the first among Republicans to do speak out against this bill. Perhaps the fact that he is married to a Latina whose children look markedly like Latinos have something to do with this. I don't know, but it shouldn't. We should all be outraged at such a bill.

Backed by the Republican legislature, wasn't Arizona the state that didn't want to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. with a national holiday? Not until the NFL removed them from the running for a Superbowl game and the city of Phoenix alone lost some $300 million dollars did they change their minds. We need to boycott Arizona. Personally, I had enough when Arizona State University refused to give President Obama an honorary degree after his commencement speech, having given the same honor to by far less deserving people in my opinion.

What's up with the longstanding governing Republican body in Arizona--really?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Being Inspired by Others

"Music is an agreeable harmony for the honor of God and the permissible delights of the soul."

--Johann Sebastian Bach

Being Goldman Sachs

The internal emails that have been released proves what many have been saying about Goldman Sachs for some time now: It is a toxic firm. Goldman Sachs benefited on the front end and back end. As people were losing their homes, this investment bank positioned itself to win on the front end by creating and bundling an alphabet soup of complex derivatives that were given bogus AAA credit ratings by credit agencies. (Credit agencies were complicit in the financial meltdown too. Why should our credit scores have so much weight when the game system is obviously rigged? They lowered Berkshire's credit rating long after it was quite clear that they were not deserving of the coveted AAA credit rating. It currently has some $20 billion in debt on its balance sheet.) On the back end Goldman was bailed out by tax payers to the tune of $12.9 billion via AIG, not to mention the tens of billions it received directly from the government. I have been writing about Goldman Sachs' double dipping everywhere for nearly two years now. This seems illegal.

One email from Goldman Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein dating from November 2007 read: "Of course we didn't dodge the mortgage mess. We lost money, then made more than we lost because of shorts." In a released statement Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) said of the email: "There it is, in their own words: Goldman Sachs taking 'the big short' against the mortgage market. Investment banks such as Goldman Sachs were not simply market-makers, they were self-interested promoters of risky and complicated financial schemes that helped trigger the crisis. They bundled toxic mortgages into complex financial instruments, got the credit rating agencies to label them as AAA securities, and sold them to investors, magnifying and spreading risk throughout the financial system, and all too often betting against the instruments they sold and profiting at the expense of their clients." The SEC civil case may need to broaden; this seems criminal. The credit agencies need to also be investigated for their role in the financial crisis.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Being General Motors

Although many Republicans were against the bailout of the U.S. auto companies, GM has repaid the $8.1 billion dollars it received nine months ago from the American and Canadian governments and saved some one million jobs according to analysts if GM and Chrysler were allowed to fail. During this time a management guru wrote on his blog that GM should be allowed to fail and that we should move on, investing instead in technology and service. I was vehemently opposed to this. Technology and service, whether produced by big or small businesses or sole proprietors, will not create enough jobs alone. We need to make things again. Our concentration on technology and service has created this debt economy by diluting the middle and excluding many from viable jobs. The AP reports that "GM CEO Ed Whitacre announced the repayments Wednesday at GM's Fairfax Assembly Plant in Kansas City, Kan., where he said GM is investing $257 million in that factory and the Detroit-Hamtramck plant." Oh, Detroit so desperately needs this investment and America needs to regain its status as a great industrial nation. We need to re-evaluate our sense of capital. Let's wish GM and Chrysler well.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Being Kids

Here is Richard Pryor imitating kids lying. It's priceless.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Being Sick and Absurd

The absurdity of this video actually made me laugh aloud until the last 33 seconds where the sickness is especially heart-wrenching. A young child is clearly being abused. When I watched it again my heart also ached for the young people in the video who have probably been brainwashed from the time of that beautiful child.

Being Meg Whitman

Eight years ago Meg Whitman was accused of defrauding ebay shareholders when she was accused of being bribed by Goldman Sachs to favor this Wall Street investment firm as she sat on its board. Whitman did not admit guilt but settled by paying a measly $395,000-dollar fine. She was released from Goldman's board summarily, probably merely for the sake of appearances. Goldman has long prided itself publicly on being above board; what happens privately is being investigated yet again. As with the SEC case against Goldman which charges the firm with defrauding shareholders, naming and implicating the former Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson, ebay shareholders were apparently screwed too. Goldman Sachs will probably pay a fine and Meg Whitman will probably become the governor of California. How sick is that? Many of these people need to be charged criminally and go straight to jail. We need financial reform now!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Being Inspired by Others

"I've loved opera since I was a child. I study her; I mean of course I can't sing like that, but she has taught me a lot about discovering how to deliver the inner narrative of a song. Because I listen to her songs--I don't speak Italian or I don't speak whatever language she's singing--but I understand what she's conveying through her emotional interpretation."

--Patti Smith on Maria Callas, December 4, 2009

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Being a War Contractor

Billions of dollars later amid a sea of speculation and corruption, the AP reports that General McChrystal, a top general in Afghanistan, announced that "we've gone too far. I actually think we would be better if we reduced the number of contractors involved. I think it doesn't save money. We have created in ourselves a dependency on contractors that I think is greater than it ought to be." So, without billions of dollars in government contracts, what will become of KBR, formerly Halliburton and Xe, formerly Blackwater?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Being Goldman Sachs

The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged with fraud. Great! The Wall Street Journal reports that Goldman Sachs was charged with "defrauding investors, alleging that Goldman let a big hedge fund fill a financial product with risky subprime mortgages and then failed to disclose that to the product's buyers. The SEC's civil lawsuit is one of the biggest moves by authorities in response to the financial crisis of 2007-08, and it sent Goldman shares sharply lower. The firm's shares were down about twelve percent around midday, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was off more than one percent." Hallelujah!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Being a Tea Party Leader

Sarah Palin spoke in Boston today to a crowd of 5,000 of the Tea Party Express. For comfort I watched native Bostonian, Matt Damon, and laughed heartily. Why anyone would go to hear her or worst yet pay to hear her is just so beyond me.

What's up with these people?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Being Compassionate

This image of Demi Moore and Susan Sarandon's recent trip to Haiti is very moving.

Let us be compassionate toward each other, especially toward children.

Being President Barack Obama

There were forty-seven heads of states in Washington for the Nuclear Security Summit "with a final communiqué that pledged to lock down hundreds of thousands of tons of weapons-usable nuclear fuel by 2014, and set a 2012 summit in South Korea to measure progress," the Wall Street Journal reported. The United States, Mexico and Canada have agreed to secure stocks of separated plutonium and weapons grade uranium that could fall in the hands of terrorists. While conservatives continue to rant, President Obama continues to act. He is bringing the change promised on the national and international front.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Being Inspired by Others

Come, I will make the continent indissoluble;
I will make the most splendid race the sun ever yet shone upon;
I will make divine magnetic lands,
With the love of comrades,
With the life-long love of comrades.

I will plant companionship thick as trees along all the rivers of America, and along the
the great lakes, and all over the prairies;
I will make inseparable cities, with their arms about each other's necks;
By the love of comrades,
By the manly love of comrades.

For you these, from me, O Democracy, to serve you, ma femme!
For you! for you, I am trilling these songs,
In the love of comrades,
In the high-towering love of comrades.

--Walt Whitman

Friday, April 9, 2010

Being the United States of America

You can imagine my surprise this morning as I worked on my novel to hear a cast member of the 1955 musical "Daddy Long Legs" with the awesome Fred Astaire exclaim, "A person is not a corporation. A person is flesh and blood and feelings!" Yeah, that's what I've been saying! Why doesn't the Supreme Court understand this?

With the Supreme Court decision, will the American flag look more like this?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Being Tax Exempt

Leona Hemsley was right: "Only the little people pay taxes." According to Forbes magazine the largest U.S. corporations paid no taxes last year. The "most egregious" of these were General Electric and Exxon Mobil. GE "generated $10.3 billion in pretax income, but ended up owing nothing to Uncle Sam. In fact, it recorded a tax benefit of $1.1 billion." (Didn't GE benefit from billions in the bailout via AIG?) Exxon reported making $45.2 billion in profit and paid no, zilch, nada taxes to the IRS.

How do these companies not pay taxes? Forbes noted that "Exxon tries to limit the tax pain with the help of 20 wholly owned subsidiaries domiciled in the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands that (legally) shelter the cash flow from operations in the likes of Angola, Azerbaijan and Abu Dhabi. No wonder that of $15 billion in income taxes last year, Exxon paid none of it to Uncle Sam, and has tens of billions in earnings permanently reinvested overseas. Likewise, GE has $84 billion in overseas income parked indefinitely outside the U.S."

In 2008 the Government Accountability Office found that "two out of every three United States corporations paid no federal income taxes from 1998 through 2005." So, can we agree that what Leona Hemsley said was true and that she undoubtedly went to jail not because she did anything different than many others in her tax-exempt bracket but because she was stupid enough to say so?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Being Robert Gibbs

Micheal Steele, the RNC Chairman in Black Face, blamed being black for the heat he is receiving for donor monies spent during his tenure on outrageous escapades and personal items. Robert Gibbs, the Press Secretary for the White House whom I have written of here more than once for his wit, responded, "I don't think Michael Steel's problem is the race card; it's the credit card."

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Being Liberals

There has been a knee-jerk response by liberals to President Obama's offshore drilling announcement without seemingly an appreciation for process and politics. Flip flopping? How about governing? How about pragmatism? I'll wait a bit and see exactly what's being proposed as a complete environmental policy. After all, the many "we are going to die" voices, prominent and otherwise, have gotten very little done.