The One I Wrote on my 38th Birthday

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Goddamn Trojans.

On my 10th birthday, I scored a goal against my own team. I was a bad youth soccer player, except for one year - the first year after we moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to rural Ohio. I was awesome that year. Shockingly, youth soccer in Northern California had a talent base deeper than did rural Ohio a quarter century ago. For like 2 1/2 months I was the best 12 year old goaltender in Marion County.

On my 16th birthday, Mike Scott no-hit my San Francisco Giants, clinching the NL West for the Astros. That was a bad day.

Yesterday was my 38th birthday, and my Trojans got whipped. The final score was 27-21, it wasn't that close, we got hit in the mouth and couldn't recover. No national title game this year either. Grumble, grumble, grumble.

Oh, and my bank got seized. So there's that. And the President of the United States, talking about the economy, actually said "this sucker could go down."

I'm not going to have time for a separate political blog today, let me just offer the following - this is Bernie Sanders from CNBC Tuesday night talking to Larry Kudlow:

Larry, if I ask you that the government should intervene like every other industrialized country does and provide health care for all people, you’d say ‘oh no!’ And if I ask you to support government intervention so that we don’t have the highest rate of childhood poverty in the world, you’d say ‘oh no!’ But when Wall Street screws up because of their greed, you say, ‘oh yes, it’s a great idea!’

Which, if McCain shows up tonight, should be posed to him. As should the provision of the 2008 Republican platform that stands in diametric opposition to government bailouts. And he should name specific Bush Administration decisions he disagreed with. And if he believes the Iraq War was worth 3 trillion dollars. And the role he believes deregulation has played in the financial crisis. And if he believes economic inequality is a problem and what he's done to minimize it. And why he's opposed to bailouts for those foreclosed on. And why he's voted 19 times against minimum wage increases. And why he's stood in opposition to national health care. And how do you square Sarah Palin's actual record on the "bridge to nowhere" with repeated claims that she stopped it. And if, as Palin told Katie Couric, we've "won the war" in Iraq. And given that he will be 77 years old at the end of his first term, his evidence that Palin is qualified to be President, particularly given that she wasn't his choice to be the running mate.

As I've mentioned, the Republicans love socialism - socialism for the wealthy - you don't need to dig too far into American history to realize that "free market" capitalism has been based on tax breaks to corporations and sweetheart land deals for enormous developers. How do you think the railroads got built? As Dave Sirota writes:

Bolivian socialists nationalize to combat wealth stratification, remove greed from human necessities like energy, and allow the public to own the means of producing valuable commodities. Amerika’s socialists nationalize to preserve inequality and force the public to own the means of worthless production. Most recently, taxpayers’ $85 billion will purchase bankrupt AIG and its means of producing paper, all to let speculators continue profiteering off the human need for housing.

Close a factory in socialist Denmark, and workers get immediate government help, along with their free health care. Shutter one in Ohio, and workers get nothing, except politicians saying their jobs are never returning and national health care is “unaffordable.” But if investment banks teeter, those same politicians quickly find billions for bailouts.

At time of this writing, the bailout negotiations are stalled; apparently the House Republicans wanted to hold up the agreement until McCain could make it back to DC to claim credit for it (Barney Frank apparently compared McCain's arrival at the negotiations yesterday to Nixon's "blowing up the Vietnam peace talks in 1968"). Shockingly, the House Republicans alternate proposal, according to CBS, "include(d) fewer regulations and more corporate tax breaks."

After 5 1/2 years of the corporate money grab that has been the 3 trillion dollar Republican War on Iraq, clearly, they want as much time at the domestic trough as they can get.

And if you can't read the quote from the pic at the top of the post - it's Palin, giving her foreign policy credentials to Couric:

"As Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there, they are right next to our state."

She's Quayle 2.0, but not quite as hot.

Not to deviate too far from the American political party from which I am most closely aligned - but I'm glad the Democrats lost today in their efforts to get Bush's Bailout passed.

Now is exactly the time for legislation that helps the working class; now is exactly the time for legislation that minimizes the ability of giant corporations to hold Americans hostage. The Gilded Age didn't end because Rockefeller and Carnegie decided they had made enough money; the Gilded Age ended because Americans - forced legislative and judicial action. Regular Americans. Journalists and union members. Farmers and factory workers. Regular Americans, if we're going to hand out 700 billion dollars - someone has to explain to me how it's better for we "regular" Americans. the ones who have been putting Republicans in the Executive branch for the past 40 years - the ones who are supposed to identify with the "ordinary-ness" of Reagan/Bush/Palin - to give that money to the people who caused the crisis (GD2K?) in the first place. Henry Paulsen made 16 million bucks in his last year at Goldman-Sachs. I have two graduate degrees and a state Bar membership and can barely afford groceries. Why is my money going to bail out Wall St.?

We have, right now, the largest gulf between haves and have nots - hell, between the UberRich and Everybody Else - in the history of the Republic. Unlike every other western nation, we have only political parties devoted to large corporate shareholders - we have seen the Republicans pursue policies of deregulating everything, permitting modern day robber barons to amass obscene amounts of wealth while simultaneously the mass of Americans live perilously close to an economic precipice -- and we have seen the Democrats trailing not far behind in their support of those policies.

It is not a surprise that today, the BushBailout's chief supporters were the mainstream, corporately controlled, establishment Democrats.

We are in 2 wars, the Iraq War, as discussed in this space, will cost the United States economy 3 trillion dollars - and during those wars, we have slashed taxes for the wealthiest Americans, all policies, as discussed in this space, that would be furthered were John McCain elected President.

The New Deal was a massive legislative effort for the stated goals of "relief, reform, and reconstruction" - the massive amount of money, an unprecedented amount of money, designated by the federal government to essentially alter the nation's economic structure went to revitalize American infrastructure. Parks. Schools. Bridges.

That massive New Deal - not just the initial expenditures but the totality of the New Deal - in present day money was approximately 500 billion dollars.

The BushBailout, supported by the establishment Democrats - would have been 700 billion just handed over to Wall Street.

There is a bill that can be passed. There is legislation that should be passed. And much like the Progressive Era followed the Gilded Age, it can be that legislation which begins a turnaround from decades of an orgy of deregulation which has eroded our safety net, forcing millions and millions of Americans to live on the social margins - always an illness or a job loss away from absolute financial catastrophe.

We need a bill. We need lots of them. We need legislation. We need planned government involvement within the American economy, as did we to end the Gilded Age, as did we to end the Great Depression. A moratorium on foreclosures, universal health care, a comprehensive environmental policy should be front and center to a restructuring of the American economy.

Of course it will be expensive. The Iraq War has been expensive. The defeated bailout would have been expensive - as detailed here --

The National Debt has gone up 71+% in the 8 years of the Bush Administration - the greatest increase in American history.

And what do we have to show for it? The hungry are not fed, the sick are not tended to, the working class fall further and further in debt - the middle class - the vast majority of Americans, living on an increasingly thin edge as wealth - wealth becomes concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.

4 decades of conservatives in the White House. Including the two Democrats. A quarter century of a constant drive trumpeting the value of laissez faire. A quarter century of a constantly expanding military, swallowing up a greater percentage of our budget - currently, in adjusted dollars - a military more expensive than any point since WWII.

Wall St. has had its way - had its way for four decades - controlled both political parties - controlled the entire mechanism of government.

Today it didn't. Today they lost.

Have hearings. With economists. And consumer advocates. The Democrats, for decades becoming just pale, slightly less odious versions of Republicans (as seen just last week, honestly, by Obama's debate performance, "I agree with John, let's increase the bombing of Afghanistan") have a chance to capitalize on a real popular uprising - on real discontent -- to change the trajectory of the Democratic Party and the United States of America.

I'm not an economist. I'd rather just do the baseball list. It's fabulous. I have much comedy and wrestling analysis and whatnot. But "hurry, let's give Wall St 700 billion dollars with virtually no oversight or consumer protection or any fundamental change to the weakass fundamentals of the American economy" strikes me as error.

We can do better. I'd like my candidate to lead the way in articulating how. I'm gonna vote for Obama in November (and, as I've been saying for a year now, he's gonna win) I'd like to feel as if I were actually casting a vote for change and not just against more of the same.

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