Bernanke wants your Social Security check

Bernanke starts talking about repealing Social Security and Medicare. Really.

On December 3rd, Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, testified before the Senate Banking Committee seeking reappointment to his job. They spoke about the economy and Bernanke suggested cutbacks in Social Security and Medicare.

Not a word about making the rich pay more taxes, oh, no, that’s off the table. Just take the money from old people and cripples and such.

He actually had the gall to quote a bank robber.

“Willie Sutton robbed banks because that’s where the money is, as he put it,” Bernanke said. “The money in this case is in entitlements.”

Does this surprise anyone? There’s less money in the economy and they want access to what’s left.

At least since the ’80s we’ve had jobs and factories all going overseas. Everyone who works for a paycheck has seen it get thinner and thinner.

Back in the ’60s your mom didn’t have to work unless she just wanted to; now if both parents don’t work, they’re liable to not make ends meet at all–and maybe not even then.

Unions got busted up or intimidated to where they weren’t very effective in securing higher wages and benefits for their members.

Companies used to promise pensions to their workers upon retirement, and now it barely gets a mention on the news when the pensions disappear.

Welfare got “reformed” to the point that hardly anyone can qualify for it anymore, and no one seemed to give a crap what happened to all those moms and kids that got no longer got any support.

House prices went up…and up…and up…until a $200,000 house started to look cheap and no one in their right mind expected to actually pay off a mortgage on a house in their lifetime.

Health insurance and health care costs seem to go up by the minute, and all our leaders want to do is kiss the shoes of the bastards who are ripping us off.

There’s a difference between wealth and money. You can make money without creating any wealth…just look at anyone working in Wall Street. Do they grow food? Teach kids? Fix cars? Build houses? Clean toilets? Heck no. They’re busy sitting around a big table, passing pieces of paper back and forth to their buddies, changing the numbers here and there, and calling it “making money”.

Anyone that works at a real job is poor, and anyone working a scam is rich.

You can only have so many people in a society “making money” without creating wealth before the wealth starts to dry up. This is what’s been happening for decades. The wealth of our factories are gone. The wealth of a well-fed and well-educated populace is greatly diminished.

The rich in America are busy grabbing the last of whatever money is left that they can lay their hands on now, and welfare reform worked so well, why not go after Social Security and Medicare, too?

There wasn’t much outcry about taking money from kids and mothers in the 90s, especially after the media spent so much energy demonizing welfare mothers on the news. Look for them to do the same thing with Social Security…maybe they’ll put out some propaganda blaming greedy old people for taking those exorbitant checks and ruining our economy. (Curiously, all the people in the news stories will be black.)

Or maybe they’ll just take the durn money from Social Security and Medicare in broad daylight and not even make a pretense of caring what the American people think. It certainly didn’t matter to them how pissed off we were about the Wall Street bailouts.

Picture that little top-hatted capitalist guy from the Monopoly board, lighting his cigar with your dollar bill, thinking: yeah, go ahead and protest, you guys. Good luck with that.

In the article I’ve linked to here, the Democratic Congressman from Rhode Island, Sen. Jack Reed suggested to Bernanke that since there was a lot of money at the very top of the income ladder, perhaps Congress should tax that money.

Sen. Bernie Sanders from Vermont, an Independent, didn’t mince any words when he heard about it. “Bernanke wants to cut entitlement spending? Well, that confirms everything I’m saying,” he said.

“The CEOs and top people on Wall Street make huge bonuses, and what? We’re going to cut back on Social Security and Medicare? That’s what we’re going to do?”

“That’s the solution? To cut back on the middle class and the elderly? That only adds fuel to the fire.”

I suspect that even if they did totally repeal Social Security and Medicare tomorrow, that money wouldn’t last them very long or help the economy. It would just get eaten up by the same greedy pigs that are feeding at the government trough now.

Remember, when they wanted to reform welfare, they pretended that it would help fix the deficit somehow, and yet looking back it made no perceptible difference to the deficit or the economy. It certainly didn’t do anything to create wealth in America–it didn’t bring back any factories, it didn’t raise any wages, and it created a whole lot of really desperate poor people.

So now I suppose they’re ready to have lots of dying desperate old people around, too. And Sarah Palin was worried about death panels! Who needs a death panel to ration health care to the elderly when you can just shove their asses out the door in the cold with no money?

Right-wing radio host an FBI snitch

November 30th Monday–

Remember a while back when I put up a post on this blog suggesting that maybe not everything we see is real?

Well, here’s an update on that subject.

Turns out the FBI was using a right wing radio host named Hal Turner as an informant.

I never heard of Hal Turner before. Apparently he’s your average hate spewing radio talk show host, with the usual invective against Jews, blacks, and of course, Barack Obama.

So, the FBI was getting information from Hal about his more extremist listeners. He also claims that they coached him on the limits of what he could say, which of course the FBI denies. Turner says that the FBI asked him specifically to criticize African-American leaders Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

The reason he’s being found out now is that he went just a teensy bit too far. After some Chicago judges upheld handgun bans, he posted some not-very-veiled threats against them on his blog:

“Let me be the first to say this plainly: These judges deserve to be killed. Their blood will replenish the tree of liberty.”

As if that wasn’t enough, he went on to post photos of the judges, their work phone numbers and office addresses as well as a map of the courthouse that pointed out “anti-truck bomb barriers”.

So, yeah, then he ends up in handcuffs. And he starts talking about his involvement with the FBI.

Now, that’s pretty out there. I’m all for free speech but if anyone had actually bombed the courthouse, I think he oughta get tried as an accessory to terrorism. I mean, just ask yourself what would happen to some unknown brown guy if he had put this stuff up on a blog. Yeah, that’s right, he’d be disappeared before you could say “Gitmo”.

So, we know of at least one media person in the employ of an arm of the government. Think he’s the only one? Do you think you know of anyone else on tv, the internet, radio, or wherever that’s maybe acting a part, or being given directions by someone else (government, church, political think tank, other) ? It doesn’t have to be someone who’s an informant like Hal, it could also be any person, celebrity or anonymous, who isn’t all they seem to be. I’d like to hear about it.

Just because sometimes we might need a reality check.

Buy Nothing Day or Black Friday?

November 27th, Friday–

Thanksgiving’s over! I’m so thankful!

Now, today, of course is another sort of “holiday”, and which one you celebrate depends largely on your financial circumstances.

The people running the stores want you to go and shop! shop! shop! til you drop! ‘cuz they’ve got big! big! big! savings on everything you need for Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!

And then they cue “Santa Claus is coming to town”. All those Christmas songs they play in the malls and Wal-Marts aren’t just because the store owners are jolly–it’s an musical reminder. “It’s Christmas”, says the song, which reminds you of all the things you have to buy. Buy! Buy! Buy!

For some of us, the day after Thanksgiving is Buy Nothing Day. This is the holiday I am currently celebrating.

Now, I could act all smug and say the reason I buy nothing on Buy Nothing Day is because I want to protest unbridled consumerism and rapacious capitalism, but the honest truth is that I just don’t have any money to spend. Who’s got money after laying out for all that food on Thanksgiving? (You know most people on food stamps are out of them by the last week of the month.)

Plus, if you got up early Thursday morning to make extra pies, and stayed up late Wednesday night doing the same thing, you’re probably too burnt to get up at some godawful hour to go buy Christmas presents. I slept till almost seven this morning, despite the guinea pigs squeaking at me at six, demanding to be fed at the usual time.

But, now that I think of it, if someone was really wanting to do their Christmas shopping early! early! early!, and that person had money, it’s entirely possible that their family ate out on Thanksgiving rather than do the traditional feast at home.

Hey, that’s not a bad thing, either. If I had money I might do that, too, on one of these turkey days. But I kinda like the day after Thanksgiving being an easy one at home. Sometimes I think I’m more thankful just after Thanksgiving than on Thanksgiving. The guests are gone so the pressure’s off to keep the house all perfect looking, there’s a ton of food still around so you don’t have to cook much, don’t have to run the kid to school today, etc. Who would want to ruin that just to get up early and throw oneself into the Christmas chaos?

I like Christmas ok. I’m not anti-Santa or anything. But I suspect that even if I was rich enough to just hit some buffet on Thanksgiving rather than cook at home that I’d still rather not do the “Black Friday” thing.

By the way, who came up with that stupid name? “Black Friday”? Yeah, I know, it’s when businesses hope to “end up in the black” for the Christmas season…but every time I hear it I think of the stock market crash of 1929 (didn’t they refer to that as “Black Friday” too?). And of course there’s that Steely Dan song called “Black Friday”, in which the term seems to also refer to a day when all the stock markets would crash, etc.

When Black Friday comes, I’ll stand down by the door

And catch the gray men when they dive from the fourteenth floor

Yep, I’ve got that running through my head now. Good think I like Steely Dan. Beats the hell out of you-know-what music.

I’m starting to resent Christmas taking up so much space on the calendar. It used to be they didn’t start playing you-know-what songs on the tv until after Thanksgiving…this year, I swear I started hearing them before Halloween. It’s just too much. Giving gifts is nice and all, I like giving ’em and getting ’em, and shopping can even be kinda fun when you have money and you’re into it, but jeez, it seems like they just want to beat Christmas into us.

Also, I think Christmas is a perfect demonstration of why we need real public transportation in the US, instead of everyone driving around in their individual cars. I like being able to drive in my car, wouldn’t want it taken away from me, but the worst thing about Christmas shopping is the traffic and the trying to find a parking spot. It makes the whole experience suck.

For what it’s worth, I think every Wal-Mart in the country oughta be required by law to pay for putting a traffic light in at their entrances. I don’t know about everyone else’s W-M, but ours in Hilo is a bitch to get into or out of. They could afford to put in a light if someone made ’em do it.

(Don’t have anything against Wal-Mart, particularly…my mom worked for Wal-Mart…my brother worked for Wal-Mart…my daughter-in-law worked for Wal-Mart…I think my nephew still works for Wal-Mart. Just to clear that up.)

When Black Friday comes, I’ll fly down to Muswellbrook

Gonna strike all the big red words from my little black book

Gonna do just what I please, gonna wear no socks and shoes

With nothing to do but feed all the kangaroos

Now, if you’re just bound and determined to buy something, you could buy stuff online. Avoid those crowds! You could sit butt naked in front of your computer and shop if you want. Like…you could buy some beautiful handmade crocheted snowflakes on etsy.com.

(Who, me? Plug my own etsy shop in a blog entry decrying consumerism? Uh, yeah…but in my defense there’s a good chance that y’all might not be reading this right on the day after Thanksgiving…and if you are, you certainly don’t have to buy anything today…and if it does offend someone, well, there’s only a handful of people reads this blog anyway! So, the two or three people that might be offended are welcome to think of me as a total hypocrite.)

When Black Friday comes, I’m gonna dig myself a hole

Gonna lay down in it till I satisfy my soul

Gonna let the world pass by me, the Archbishop’s gonna sanctify me

And if he don’t come across I’m gonna let it roll

I bet I’m gonna hear this in my head all day. I don’t mind.

PS–was just looking up those song words and found this little blurb about “Black Friday”:

The driving shuffle “Black Friday” (from Katy Lied, 1975) was the first single released from their fourth album. Black Friday occurred on September 24, 1869, a day of securities market panic in which thousands of Americans were financially ruined, but the term is now applied to any financial crisis on either side of the Atlantic.

The Fort Hood shooter was a religious nut.

 

The gunman in the Fort Hood shooting was a religious nut.

I don’t give a crap if it’s politically incorrect or not. This guy was out there.

MAJOR Nidal Malik Hasan, the gunman who killed 13 at America’s Fort Hood military base, once gave a lecture to other doctors in which he said non-believers should be beheaded and have boiling oil poured down their necks.

How could the Army miss this? He’s giving public lectures saying this shit and they let him stay in the Army?

I could see being kinda tolerant of someone who’s a Muslim in the armed forces if they’re at least loyal to their country and their commanders. I mean, I don’t like religious weirdos of any stripe but if they’re keeping it to themselves, I see no need to mess with them.

But it really sounds like this guy was pretty obvious, saying that he considered himself a Muslim first and an American second. Now, to be fair, I can picture some Army guys saying they’re Christians first and Americans second, but Christianity hasn’t (yet) come out in favor of going postal on your fellow soldiers.

He also told his colleagues that non-Muslims were infidels condemned to hell and should be set on fire.

Ya know, I bet if I went into an airport and got in line and said some of those same things in a loud voice, I wouldn’t make it onto a plane. Yet this guy was in the Army. And a psychiatrist, too.

(Why do I suddenly hear “Shrink, I wanna kill,” in my head?)

Well, there’s one more point in favor of sacking the whole meme of Islam. To the dustbin of history, and not a moment too soon. Sorry, but any meme that says I ought to be set on fire can–well–go to hell!

 

Breckinridge Colorado legalizes cannabis

Yay!

Breckinridge, CO legalizes cannabis!

If you’re in the mood to go skiiing, you might want to consider hanging out in Breckinridge, Colorado. They just totally legalized pot and paraphernalia.

Of course, it’s still not legal according to state law. You’ll still get in trouble if you’re caught driving stoned (although I don’t know how they’d prove that, unless you’re actually toking up in the car). Breckinridge is just this little small town (pop. 3000), so a local ordinance like that doesn’t really have any effect if you get busted by state cops or DEA or something.

But hey! The good citizens of Breckinridge not only made pot legal, and paraphernalia legal, they chose to make it legal for everyone, not just medical patients. Not any of this sorta-kinda-maybe legal stuff. They actually had the balls to just go ahead take that big step.

Hurray for Breckinridge! Maybe if enough little places in America turn sane like this, we can have a real “land of the free and home of the brave”.

Single payer quietly croaks

Oct 30–

Well, it’s official.

No single payer option single payer option in this health care reform bill. Maybe we’ll get the public option, but states won’t have the option to set up a single payer system in their states even if they want to.

Surprised? Me neither.

Not that I’m all that sold on the public option, I think single payer would have been better, but, hey, I’ll take what I can get. But I’m wondering if the public option will survive this whole process.

County Council asks why the durn helicopters are still flying

Oct 23–

Just in case you’re following our local news about how the lowest law enforcement priority, known here as the “Peaceful Sky” initiative, is playing out, here’s a link to a story about our county council talking to the local police.

I wasn’t there, but the story in our local paper here says that every single private citizen who testified urged the police to stop eradicating marijuana.

Now, in a way I can kinda sympathize with the police and prosecutors who are in the sticky position of being sworn to uphold state and federal laws, as well as being answerable to the local citizens here on the Big Island. They’ve got 58% of the voters telling them to make pot eradication the lowest priority, and state law telling them that certain medical patients are legal for marijuana, and then federal law telling them to bust all them damn potheads.

The three helicopter eradication missions flown this year were before the Department of Justice released their recent memo telling prosecutors to leave medical marijuana patients alone; so perhaps now that there’s a more sensible federal policy in place, our prosecutors can follow the local law without being pulled in two different directions.

Our local low priority initiative directs the council to reject grants or funding earmarked for cannabis eradication; so where’d they get the money to fly all those helicopters? They’re not cheap.

Supposedly they had leftover money from the last fiscal year, and the Department of Land and Natural Resources received a $475,000 eradication grant from the DEA in February. (Yes, that was after we voted in the “Peaceful Sky” law.)

I strongly suspect, and actually hope a little, that these flights we’ve been having are just somebody’s way of spending the rest of the money that’s left without actually giving a crap about the actual pot. I could see that. There’s money in the budget–if you give it back some other jerk’s gonna spend it on himself–so why not fly a few last helicopter missions and give the money to the people it would have gone to anyway? Of course, if that was what was going on, couldn’t they have just handed out the checks and left the helicopter on the ground? Just saying.

So. Hopefully they’ve spent all there durn eradication money. I suppose the DEA will still fly us, though.

Yay for Kelly Greenwell, council representative from Kona, who took the opportunity to rip the cops and lawyers a new one, saying, “The number of rapes, the number of lost children, the amount of horror that goes on in the dark corners of this island need to be looked at. Chasing somebody who’s smoking a goddamn cigarette made of marijuana is insane.”

Another Councilman apologized to the cops for having to defend themselves, but hey, did they think we were going to be all happy that they’re flying right over our yards after we already told them to quit wasting time going after cannabis? You’d think the name “Peaceful Sky Initiative” would have tipped them off. Maybe they thought we’d just smoke another joint and forget all about it.