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Forty Six Days to Go. No Bush Word Used. December 5, 2008

Posted by voolavex in Politics & Religion, Uncategorized.
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We all have watched with a sort of sickening amazement as the economy hit bottom in the last few months (years?).  I keep thinking of things that shouldn’t be surprising and yet people can’t seem to get a grip on some of them. 
Houses. Back when house loans were being hawked like bean pies on every corner* – why on earth did anyone imagine a person with no money, no credit history, no ability to read the fine print (and in fact – who does?) should get a house?  How did that concept become a good idea?  I didn’t think it was a good idea but I have never wanted to own a house – nonetheless, uncounted numbers did and do and so they sold their soul to the devil, signed the ARM and got a chance to live in their car.  Didn’t a little bell go off and say – this cannot be right?  And people didn’t just go for little sheds – they wanted those big ugly tract homes with the wrong proportions and the wrong doors for their family of 4 or 5.  I blame HGTV for that part.  Flip That House, Flop This House, granite counters, work islands, hardwood floors. THE GREAT ROOM. Get real.  Bigger and uglier is not always the way to go.   Which came first – the big, ugly house, or the features that go with?    Those dream houses are bad dreams and aftermath is a nightmare.   It is hard to weep for folks too thick to say – whoa – too good to be true –  but maybe it isn’t. It could have been me no matter what I believe inside.
And Detroit.  Didn’t they see it coming?  I did.  I drive a really great used car.  One owner; pristine, cheap and good on gas.  I can even fit a baby seat should I need one and a dog crate – which I won’t.  And this is L.A. – no one has sneered at me yet – but I have been pushed off the street frequently by morons in SUV’s texting and talking.  The SUV’s are gas guzzlers and the phone use is just dangerous – I love the phones but if you’re going to text while driving – why can’t I do the NY Sunday Times crossword when I drive?  Car lots are overflowing with unsold cars.  How many can you drive at once.  And why does the Miami-Dade CSI team need those Hummers?  Maybe if the Big Three and their minions had worked harder at making cars and and less time patting each other the back we might actually know someone who’s driven a Ford lately.
Hybrid cars.  I really want one for the obvious reason.  I can’t afford one but it hasn’t stopped me from wanting one.  People who do have them however have not been elevated to the Communion of Saints for their purchase.  Driving smug  is as dumb as the texting thing – you can’t really do it well.  Hybrid owners drive smug.  It totally negates the good thing the car represents.  I am growing to hate the drivers while still loving the cars – that is some sort of Christian thing I do not understand.
Wall Street.  Didn’t anyone read The Bonfire of the Vanities. Watched Wall Street?  Yes you did.  Three Card Monte artists in power ties and striped shirts. Short sales, puts, calls, brokerage, pork bellies, metals, in-is-der trading?  I knew about this years before there were computers. We had separate phone just for the broker – at home. When every call to your broker was a chance to buy more dog stocks because the broker’s pitch was so alluring.  Hedge funds (I still am not sure what they are but it cannot be legal). And while you bought – they bought and they spent and you paid and they lived large and you spent and they did not regulate themselves (as Alan imagined they would ) and now you may see them in front of Bloomingdale’s (Lex  Ave doors) playing Three Card Monte for real.  Your pension plan.  Don’t even go there.  You do not want to see it.
Bankrupt stores.  Stores that sell cheap crap at inflated prices.  Too many stores that sell cheap crap at inflated prices.  Too many folks who are going broke trying to lure underpaid, overworked humans in to buy the cheap stuff.  I want to blame China.  It’s hard not to blame China but it’s not all China’s fault -in fact I should blame the vendors not the makers because we order it and they create it and we palm it off as “collectible” or “hot and “must have”.  So while I am distraught for the many “Big Box” stores that are biting the big dust – didn’t they suspect something?  In many cases I would say good riddance to cheap rubbish but the loss of jobs is what keeps me from too much Schadenfreude.  I don’t think the loss of the giants will actually be so bad though – we may stop the imports from the outsources and try to make it here.
The Middle Class.  Somewhere along the line the term “middle class” has become a filthy thing to be called.  But it’s about the same as being a real person – and real is good. But no one wants to be middle class.  Why not.  Because you can’t be middle class and be a celebrity? You can be no class and be a star (No talent too). You lack importance?  To whom?  Here’s a clue – it’s not that important.  You don’t want to be the underclass (which is actually the lower class in terms of income – most people do try to escape that) but why not middle class?  Because in terms of cash flow you are just an Earth tad above the working poor and Space tad  below the Very Rich. Yet you can have a high functioning brain and skills and be middle class.  A real person. We pretend there is no class stratification in this country but it’s a lie.  But in this country we confuse money with class.   So we have a term for it – Nouveau Riche.  Class is a state of mind that is okay.  Politeness, good manners, speaking well (but not pontificating) and having a sense of style and taste gives you a classless sort of class – even dead broke.  People who read for pleasure have class.  Informed people have class. Black folks use a perfect term for it: “the way you carry yourself”.  That is real class – middle class – and it’s not a bad thing.  I would rather be known for the way I carry myself than for my bank account and what it buys.  At this point in time – we, of the middle class have been around enough to be old money.  One does not have to be to the manner born – it’s just a good idea to know what the manner is and learn from it.  And enjoy being middle class. Real.  We are the engine that runs the world.  Even the president-elect says so.

Ratan Tata– If you don’t recognize the name – check Wikipedia.  He shows us how the concept “Good thoughts  Good Words  Good Deeds”  has actually worked for hundreds of years in a still developing country.  He is very wealthy. I do  believe he did not set aside his beliefs to get that way.

The Bailout.  Hank Paulson should change his name to Brownie.  His handling of the so-called Bailout is being handled about the same way Brownie handled Katrina.  Someone please take the money away from Hank..

There’s more – but this is enough today  What do you think?.

*The sale of bean pies by well dressed, polite young men on street corners still exists and I respect it greatly.  That it exists only in certain areas is a statement about many other things.  If you have a chance, though, buy one.  Can’t find a corner – try a Shabazz Bakery.


We Must Not Close Gitmo November 14, 2008

Posted by voolavex in Politics & Religion, Uncategorized.
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According to his prepared testimony before the House Oversight Committee, Greenspan lamented that “those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholder’s equity (myself especially) are in a state of shocked disbelief.”  
Alan Greenspan – former disciple of Ayn Rand and former Chairman of the Fed
Why must we waste a perfectly lovely detention facility right in the luxurious Caribbean.  Of course it should be emptied of foreign detainees who are there without representation or any other right to which they may be entitled (we might ask John Cain about being detained for 5 years without a lawyer).  It seems these presumed terrorists (and I don’t doubt there are some there) are protected under several international acts that are reserved for presumed war criminals.  We have overlooked these pacts for 6+ years despite being signatories of each one.   We have created trumped up “acts” and rules to justify every sort of torture and deprivation imaginable.  The same stuff we condemned loudly for decades when others did it.  Apparently knocking down the WTC relieves us of every single law and rule in the book when it comes to enemy combatants.  The George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld Law of Double Standards.  It is my belief every person detained in that camp be channeled to a legally authorized facility with counsel available and allowed real justice to be meted out to each person based on facts and due process.
But we have this fabulous, large, working prison camp on balmy Guantanamo Bay – escape proof – like the Rock – and ready to go.  Let’s not be hasty.  Right here in this very country we have many yet to be indicted (but readily) indictable white collar crooks from our own terror locations right in New York, Washington and other large cities.  These are referred to as CEO’s, Board Chairmans, Bankers, Mortgage lender and Hedge Funders.  And of course political mischief makers.  In fact they are all basically crooks. I might start filling the place with the people who destroyed Valerie Plame’s career.   Next on my list would be the chairman of the Fed. The lovable and much respected Alan Greenspan who naively believed (because Ayn Rand said so?) that given a free reign – financial institutions would regulate themselves – no problem.  If that were actually true then it would be the very first time in the history of the universe – since the Big Bang – such a thing ever happened.  Even toddlers know that the king was in his counting house counting all his money.  It makes me chuckle when I think of the gasps and moans folks let out whenever the Mafia is mentioned.  All the bad things they do and how they rob and cheat and lie.  Right.  Even the mob has regulation – it may be harsh – but someone takes charge.  Recently Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute for {Get Rich and Run with the Money – oops} – Individual Rights said that Atlas Shrugged had foreseen it all.  That the government was at fault – oh crap – you read it:

Washington, D.C. –“Despite overwhelming evidence that government policies caused the current financial crisis, Congress is blaming businessmen,” said Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights. “What’s worse, the capitalists who have been shackled with unprecedented regulatory burdens are unable to defend themselves morally. Though the events are different, this pattern of abuse and submission is straight out of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

“The cycle starts with government intervening into the economy and imposing regulations and controls on business. This distorts the free market, leading to economic dislocations. When the problems caused by these distortions inevitably follow, everyone blames the free market and its greedy capitalists. The proposed solution? More government controls. Over the years, conservative critics of creeping government have repeatedly exposed this illogic but have always been helpless to explain why the cycle keeps repeating, decade after decade.

“The pattern keeps recurring because businessmen are willing to take the blame. From capitalism’s inception, its defenders have been morally disarmed by the widespread view that self-interest is morally suspect, and disinterested service to others is a moral ideal. So each new spate of controls has been grudgingly accepted as a fair price to pay for society’s toleration of the selfish pursuit of profit.

Atlas Shrugged depicted a society in economic collapse due to this recurring cycle, and today’s parallels are obvious. Government manipulation of money, credit, and lending standards over several decades caused the mess we’re in. Now, the offered solution is more of the poison that sickened the economy–more bailouts, more cheap money, more government-guaranteed loans, and above all, more regulations.

“This chronic cycle will not end until businessmen accept that their production of profit is neither immoral nor amoral–it is the capstone of moral virtue. Once they shrug off the role of scapegoat, businessmen can demand with moral certitude that government punish fraud and enforce contracts but refrain from interfering with voluntary trades among consenting adults.

“When America’s markets are finally free of all coercion–in other words, when laissez-faire is achieved–financial crises such as the one we’re experiencing will never happen again.”

Basing the current crisis on this rationale is not going to produce many guilty pleas in Federal Courts.  But there will be trials and there will be verdicts and yes, Virginia, people will go to jail.

Why not turn the ugly history of Gitmo into a place that houses the people that did this to our nation – not  alleged enemy combatants – but greedy, cheating, lying men and women who should know what it’s like to lose your home, your family, your income, your future, your sanity as you fill their bottomless pit of greed.  Let them live in a little bitty cell – like the family car  has become an itty bitty cell for the unemployed, disenfranchised, hopeless and homeless taxpayers of this country.  I would suggest a dress code – jumpsuits of khaki and oxford blue.  And cheap tacky slip-ons.  Nutritious food with no flavor and no variety.  No wine.  No bottled water.  Minimal health care ( just like everyone else’s) and no Ayn Rand tomes.  Let them know that Atlas has indeed shrugged and it has all landed on them.  Envision these detainees in the tropical splendor of Cuba’s southeastern shores hunting endlessly for John Galt as they try to jump start the engine of the world perpetually in motion but only in their direction.

Guantanamo Prison Camp is too symbolic and too perfect to  be closed and made into a museum – who would actually visit it owing to its location and the situation in Cuba?  But as a slammer.  It’s just perfect.  Please share your thoughts on this idea. 

And, if you are fans, supporters or believers in Ayn Rand and her Objectivism – you are welcome to comment – but I am personally not interested in her philosophy.  I have read her books and taken in her website and considered her views.  She is not my cup of tea.  I will read your comments but I will not post screeds, rants, apologies or propaganda on her ideas.  Sorry – but I did it once before and I found it distasteful.

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