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Streams Of Consciousness, Dec. 16
Posted by DownWithTyranny on December 16th, 2010

From our partners at DownWithTyranny!

I usually spend Christmastime outside of the U.S. and away from the annual desecration of Christmas in the name of commercial and political agendas. One year I was in Bethlehem; last year I was in Rome. This year I’m in Marrakech. I’ve been here over a dozen times, but this time I noticed a constant din from drums being beaten day and night… all week. Turns out it was Ashura yesterday. That’s the 10th day of their first month of the year, and during Mohammed’s time it happened to be a time when the local Jews fasted as a day of atonement. Mohammed liked the idea, and made it part of his religion too– although, like the traffic signals, fasting is just advisory, not mandatory. Obviously the Shi’a use Ashura as another day they can beat and flog themselves in parades to dramatize their grief and outrage and to reenact the pain that Hussein, Mohammed’s grandson, suffered at Karbala. So… yes, I miss the religionist hysteria in the U.S. around the idiotic right-wing meme called “the War on Christmas.”

[Don't forget to click to enlarge.]

I see, though that this year Fox seems to be turning their War on Christmas into a war on the Jews. It does look that the Jews are the unnamed “they” in Fox’s made up War on Christmas this year. Although… as the ad up top for Christmas Goggles clearly shows, religionist fanatics could be referring to anyone they don’t like, not just Jews, not atheists, liberals, gays… whatever.

A Better Way To Start The Dismantling Of Social Security

This country’s ruling elites found the most unlikely patsy to open up China for their business interests, red-baiter/China-hater Richard Nixon. No one could accuse him of being soft on Communism– and the ones who did, John Birchers mostly, he dismissed as “the animals”– and Big Business got what they wanted. We have, after all, always been at war at peace with Eurasia. The same dominant interests have other things they need to accomplish as they drive towards a near total concentration of the wealth of the nation in fewer and fewer hands: obliterating that pesky estate tax and getting rid of what they regard as immoral vestiges of socialism– like Medicare and, more than anything, government’s most widely popular program, Social Security. Bush bungled the job; now they’re taking another whack at it with Bush’s replacement. Matt Taibi:

I contrast this now to the behavior of Barack Obama. I can’t even count how many times I listened to Barack Obama on the campaign trail talk about how, as president, he would rescind the Bush tax cuts as soon as he had the chance. He stood up and he said over and over again – I can still hear him saying “Let me be clear!” with that Great Statesman voice of his, before he went into this routine– that the Bush tax cuts were wrong and immoral. He said more than once that they “offended his conscience.” Then, just as he did with drug re-importation and Guantanamo and bulk Medicare negotiations for pharmaceuticals and the issue of whether or not he would bring registered lobbyists into his White House and a host of other promises, he tossed his campaign “convictions” in the toilet and changed his mind once he was more accountable to lobbyists than primary voters…

I can live with the president fighting for something and failing; what I can’t stand is a politician who changes his mind for the sake of expediency and then pretends that was what he believed all along. You just can’t imagine someone like Sanders doing something like that; his MO instead would be to take his best shot for what he actually believes and let the chips fall where they may, budging a little maybe to get a worthwhile deal done but never turning his entire face inside out just to get through the day. This idea that you can’t be an honest man and a Washington politician is a myth, a crock made up by sellouts and careerist hacks who don’t stand for anything and are impatient with people who do. It’s possible to do this job with honor and dignity. It’s just that most of our politicians– our president included, apparently– would rather not bother.

As we’ve mentioned before, the financial sector donated more money– and in a shorter time– to Obama than to any other member of Congress in history. Wall Street showered him with $42,285,749 in just three years. The runners-up wer John McCain, whom they gave a thumping $34,036,462, and Hillary Clinton, who got $29,468,940.

But this isn’t a story of all bases being covered by the banksters. McCain’s father-in-law bought him his House seat in 1982, a year when Obama was just transferring from Occidental College in L.A. to Columbia University in NYC. Big Business identified Obama as a comer and invested wisely. They routinely do this with politicians they see as promising: Harold Ford, Lieberman, Steny Hoyer, Steve Israel, Max Baucus, Charlie Rangel and Rahm Emanuel in the case of Democrats; Eric Cantor, Phil Gramm, Miss McConnell, Spencer Bachus (yeah, the incoming head of the Financial Services Committee, who stated the other day that the role of government is to serve the interests of the big banks), Rick Santorum, Mark Kirk, John Thune, Paul Ryan, Roy Blunt, Jon Kyl, John Boehner…

Obama’s Catfood Commission didn’t go as smoothly as Wall Street hoped it would towards dismantling Social Security, but it laid some important groundwork, and it was hardly a bust. Incoming House Budget Chairman– and Catfood Commissioner– Paul Ryan, whom Wall Street has pegged for higher office and “great things,” has already promised to include the worst of the Catfood Commission’s proposals in the next budget. He’s Obama’s spiritual brother, and all that will be standing in the way of enacting these drastic “austerity” measures– “wealth concentration” measures is a better description– will be the House of Lords, a farce and a joke in the best of times when it comes to watching over the interests of ordinary families.

And now there’s the payroll-tax holiday Obama is pushing, ostensibly something that will give short-term relief to working families, but in the long run– and this is why Republicans love it– something that will seriously undermine the viability of Social Security.

Warning that a payroll tax cut would undermine Social Security, a group of House liberals introduced legislation Wednesday to eliminate the provision from the White House tax-cut deal.

 Behind Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), the Democrats maintain the one-year payroll-tax holiday will likely be extended in future years, leaving Social Security to compete with other programs for funding — and threatening seniors’ benefits over the long haul.

“There’s a very good reason why people pay Social Security taxes– so they’ll get Social Security,” Doggett said at a press conference in the Capitol. “I’d rather have nothing done in this area than to do great harm.”

Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) warned the provision could dismantle Social Security’s ownership-based funding mechanism, in which workers pay into the program while they’re employed to tap the benefits in retirement.

“It undermines the very rationale of Social Security in ways that could do long-term damage,” Holt said. “As much as we need economic stimulus now, we will need Social Security for decades to come.”

Doggett said it’s unclear how much support he’ll have for his amendment. The tax package– which passed the Senate 81-19 on Wednesday– is scheduled for consideration in the House Rules Committee on Wednesday afternoon. House Democratic leaders have said the final vote on the bill will likely occur Thursday.

Doggett and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), among the most vocal critics of the White House proposal, both said they intend to vote against the package unless the payroll-tax provision is altered.

Yes, Obama Is Big Business’ Dream Come True

Idiot blue T-shirt wearers still send me hate mail when I point out Obama’s more and more apparent flaws. In six months they’ll be directing those hate letters to him. But they’re slow. (You know who you are; get a clue.) Anyway, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich was never someone very deluded or self-deluded about who Barack Obama actually is. Yesterday he pointed out the cozy relationship between the Obama Administration and this era’s robber barons.

He starts with JP Morgan Chase’s crooked boss, Jamie Dimon. Instead of indicting him and throwing him into prison, Obama is all kissy-kissy with him. Damon, who makes over $20 million/year, is effusive about Obama’s joining forces with the Republican Party to pass tax breaks for the wealthy and give them the estate-tax breaks they were looking for: “If we’re going to strengthen our economy and grow jobs, this type of outreach– and cooperation between the administration, Congress, and the private sector– are critical.” He could have been reading right from Grover Norquist’s talking points. Wall Street, however, has its own talking-points writers.

The tax deal agreed to between President Obama and the Republicans will give Dimon and extra $1,179,000 next year, according to an analysis by Citizens for Tax Justice.

The bank Dimon heads was also the beneficiary of the giant Wall Street bailout of 2007 and 2008. JPMorgan Chase & Co, along with other Wall Street banks, also poured millions of dollars into a lobbying campaign to water down the financial reforms Congress considered earlier this year.

And now they have Bachus, Ryan… and Obama to see make sure everything goes smoothly for them as they consolidate power. Man, do we need a Roosevelt today– either variety.

Meanwhile, The Devastation In Afghanistan Proceeds Unchecked

You can’t single out Obama on this one; it’s the entire political elite. But he’s the president, and the “bullet train to failure” in Afghanistan is very bipartisan– unless you see the political struggle as one pitting ordinary Americans against the ruling elite. Ordinary Americans have fallen out of love with the war there; the newest polling shows that 60% of Americans say it isn’t worth fighting.

Public dissatisfaction with the war, now the nation’s longest, has spiked by 7 points just since July. Given its costs vs. its benefits, only 34 percent in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll say the war’s been worth fighting, down by 9 points to a new low, by a sizable margin.

This will do for Obama what Iraq did for Bush. Only in Obama’s case it will sour not just the opposition party’s followers but Democrats as well– big-time. But he’s just lying to the public regularly, painting a picture of how fabulous its all going. Today’s review emphasizes the illusory progress the Administration and the Pentagon claim, the same bald-faced lies no one was ever punished for telling us in regard to Iraq and Vietnam. Casualties have skyrocketed among the 150,000 NATO forces occupying Afghanistan, 100,000 of them Americans.

Meanwhile, over a week ago Mike Ferner, the president of Veterans for Peace, sent this unambiguous letter to Obama:

December 3, 2010

Dear President Obama,

A week ago, I wrote you on this same subject but since I’ve not yet received a reply either personal or automated, I felt I should try again.

As president of Veterans For Peace (VFP), a national organization of military veterans, I want to convey to you our serious opposition to your administration’s policy of ongoing wars, proxy wars, occupations and drone strikes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine and Yemen.

Your policies are taking innocent lives, causing untold, lifelong suffering, rapidly destroying our economy, our environment, and ultimately making all of us considerably less safe.

Since there are no logical reasons rooted in human or planetary betterment for these policies, we are left to conclude what is logical and obvious: that their purpose is to maintain and advance what has sadly become the global U.S. Empire.

VFP has voiced our opposition to these wars at every national demonstration and with countless local actions, letters, faxes, emails and phone calls.

We requested a meeting with you shortly after your inauguration, to no avail. We are now requesting another meeting. And since we have tried all the above many times over, this is what we now propose.

If, within 10 days from now, we do not hear a positive response to our request for a meeting, we are prepared to bring a large delegation of our members to Washington before the end of this month. We will come in person to the White House to meet with you or until we are dragged away in full view of our nation and the world– military veterans, carrying their nation’s flag, seeking a meeting with their president in the season of Peace.

Like the bonus marchers of the 1930’s, we demand our bonus be paid. The bonus for our service and the many sacrifices of our comrades is peace.

In this season of Peace I remain

Most sincerely yours,
Mike Ferner, National President
Veterans For Peace
USN Hospital Corps 1969-73

Deadline passed:

But At Least Gays And Lesbians Will Be Able To Join– Openly– In The Mayhem

With both Scott Brown and Olympia Snowe reportedly ready to join Susan Collins in breaking the GOP (+ Manchin) filibuster of the stand-alone repeal of DADT which passed yesterday in the House, this may be the week that military gays can have a great big coming-out party– unless Harry Reid blows it, something he’s entirely capable of doing, with alacrity. He needs to fast-track the bill. But will he? It’s his call now. He says he’s willing to keep the Senate in session right through New Years, though: “We are in session, if necessary, up to January 5th. That is the clock our Republican colleagues need to run out. It’s a long clock.” I’m glad gays won’t be discriminated against any longer… but why they want to go kill innocent Afghanis and other Third World people is something I never could quite grasp.

And… Is Boehner Too Drunk Too Often To Be An Effective Speaker?

Boehner, possibly inebriated, campaigning with Republican Nazi Rich Iott

That’s the word in DC these days. We warned Ohio voters all year… but they just wanted the dubious honor of having the Speaker as their congressman. Idiots! Clueless Washingtonians who don’t already know “are beginning to speculate that Boehner’s penchant for turning on the waterworks might have some connection to his consumption of wine.” Liberal MSNBC host Ed Shultz, half-jokingly, called Boehner a “cheap drunk” the other day; Capitol Hill aides of both parties are wondering; and there’s even a Web page devoted to it

As is to be expected, Republican aides and lobbyists are not anxious to publicly discuss whether the incoming House speaker might have a drinking problem. And Boehner’s staff declined to discuss the crying question at all. For his part, though, Boehner– who was described in one profile as “a heavy-smoking, hard-drinking former linebacker”– has made no secret of his affection for merlot, and those familiar with Capitol Hill know he frequents The Capitol Hill Club, as well as a favorite Italian restaurant on Capitol Hill, where he is frequently spotted sipping vino.

When President Obama mentioned that he ran into Rep. Boehner at a holiday party last year drinking eggnog, Boehner responded, “I was drinking wine.” And when recently asked about attending a “Slurpee summit with the president,” Boehner quipped, “How about a glass of merlot?”

For years, political professionals have quietly discussed Boehner’s drinking. Some have told me off the record that his mannerisms remind them of that of an alcoholic. So far, most of the public speculation having to do with the connection between drinking and Boehner’s crying has come from the left. In addition to Ed Shultz, liberal talk show host Randi Rhodes recently implied Boehner’s crying was due to his drinking.

But the speculation is becoming more widespread. Earlier this year, Joe Scarborough noted of Boehner that “by 5 or 6 o’clock at night, you can see him at bars.” And as Politico reported, “One of [Boehner's] GOP colleagues noted that Boehner cries more often later in the day.”

I hope he doesn’t start imagining Jews under the Christmas tree and join in with his pal Rich Iott in looking for a final solution.

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