Monday, August 15, 2011

Dear Barack, It's Me Enchilada

When I have nothing better to do, I like to check in on the souls that read this little blog. There's my loyal reader in Finland, sundry readers who want to know about churros and/or Nazis, or who like me, hate bed & breakfasts, or somebody in Riga, Latvia, in need of info about micheladas.
So imagine my surprise when I saw this in my stats page:

Is David Plouffe coming to get me? Am I a target for a CIA covert assassination plot a la Abbottabad? Or could this be the very Barack H. Obama I've been giving grief to for the last couple of weeks? If this is the case, let me put on my make up. 

Hey, Barack, (you dreamboat, you) if you can hear me: HI!!!!

How's it going? Not too good this Summer, huh?  Well, at least you are not David Cameron. The rioting hasn't started stateside yet.

I'm sure you understand why I'm upset with you. You, of all people, are very hard to accept as a disappointment. I never believed you were a die-hard liberal, but when people start missing the liberal policies of Richard Nixon while a Democratic president is in office (and not any Democrat; you, sir: hope personified), it means we're in deep doodoo. What pains me and many fellow Obamaniacs, is that you seem to have landed to the right of moderate Republicans. We don't understand where you are coming from. You got a raw deal coming after the Worst President Ever, but there is no reason why you should make it rawer. I hate it when I read that your administration is still practicing many of your predecessor's odious policies. I do not agree with your policy of non-confrontation and conflict avoidance. It probably sounds good and lofty enough on paper but in reality it makes you weaker. You cannot be above the fray. You ARE the fray. You won the mandate from the American people and now you have to lead and impose the values that got you to this office in the first place. Screw compromise. Compromise works when the two sides are rational, but this is not the case with your Republican foes.
So please stop being nice to Republicans, listen to Warren Buffett, raise taxes on the rich and the corporations, make sure the horribly watered down health bill goes into effect and don't forget to run the country, instead of a campaign.
If you do this, and raise stimulus spending, stop dicking around with immigration, and please your die-hard constituents like moi, I will vote for you come 2012.
Don't think for a second, and this goes for your campaign advisers too, that I will vote for you no matter how much you screw up because there are no better alternatives. I don't care if this country goes to hell in a hand basket. I will castigate the democratic party if you guys don't get your act together. This may be the first time in my life that I sit out an election. Or I may vote for Rand Paul, just for spite.


ps: my best to Michelle (luv her) and the girls.

Wake Up and Smell The Coffee

Here's a little news digest brought to you by the delicious wave of public discontent that is sweeping the country right now:

• Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks has an idea: let's all (individuals and corporations, no matter their political leanings) stop giving campaign donations. Let's strangle the vermin from both sides who have taken this country hostage so that they don't have access to billions of dollars. Since actual campaign financing reform ain't gonna happen any time soon (it is not in the interest of the lawmakers to do so), Mr. Schultz is asking his fellow CEOs to withhold campaign money to both parties. I think it is a lovely idea, but I think it is naive. Are corporations really ready to follow suit and be "team players" (God, how they love to deploy the term but how little they use it), or are they just gonna pat Schultz on the back and continue buying our politicos? I can't imagine the Brothers Koch pledging to stop giving money to their favorite tea party causes. Or any other big business risking the opportunity to buy an election.
Billions of dollars are raised, mostly by corporations, for political campaigns. If this was a true democracy and not the increasingly revolting sham it is, elections would not be bought by corporations. In a fair and level playing field, there should be an equal limit of a very modest federal budget for campaign financing. There could be a cap on fundraising and a cap on how much any given corporation or individual can give, let's say $5000 tops (this is the only country on Earth where, as Mitt Romney pointed out, corporations are people) up to a given amount. Airtime and media space should be donated by the major networks and or media, as public service announcements, and all parties should have the exact same amount of exposure, or use the same amount of campaign money as they see fit. Even though the contributions of individuals like you and me may amount to, as they say in Yiddish, a spit in the ocean, I for one will not give one red cent to the Democratic party or to the Obama campaign moving forward.

• I read that some states want to bring casinos so they can add revenue, since they are falling apart and nobody is raising taxes. This is brilliant, and makes total sense. Instead of raising taxes for corporations and the rich, let desperate people gamble their money away so that the states can have revenue.
Why are the poor always footing the bill in this place?

• The rich are begging to be taxed and no one is listening to them! Everybody should listen to Mr. Warren Buffett.

• After reading about Michelle Bachmann's krazy Christian leanings in The New Yorker, something that should make people truly tremble with fear, it occurred to me that this is one instance in which I would gladly take up arms and violent insurrection, if it came to pass that we elect a president that believes this should be a Christian nation. This is one cause, total separation of church and state, where I can already see myself mixing the Molotov cocktails.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Power Isn't What It Used To Be

Things have changed. People have stopped believing in the lies of those in power.
Obama, after behaving utterly nonsensically with the Debt Ceiling Circus, thinks that he can appear on TV and spin some mellifluous bullshit and people are going to buy it. Wrong. After he spoke, the markets collapsed further. He does not seem to understand that his deportment over, not only this financial crisis, but throughout his ridiculously "conciliatory" administration, has led to an actual lack of confidence in his abilities as a leader. Unless his words are followed by some righteous actions, why should anyone believe anything he has to say?
In London, after learning of the scandalous corruption of the Metropolitan police and the head of government cavorting in bed with Rupert Murdoch, after a royal wedding that cost millions of pounds, while many young people are unemployed, uneducated and ignored by those who are better off, a Black guy gets shot by the police and this is the pretext that ignites fearsome and barbaric riots. There is no excuse for the riots. But David Cameron takes two days to come back from his bloody holiday in Tuscany. The Mayor of London and the vice-prime minister think they can show up and do a little spiel of solidarity and do not expect, nor can they address in the moment, the outraged heckling of the people. Those in power are too used to the sound bite, to the choreographed routine; when something demands spontaneity and honesty, they are unable to provide it. Demagogy does not work anymore. Nobody believes these bozos.
People understand that power doesn't care for anything except to entrench itself, but they are also starting to understand that this makes power weak. It makes it look fake, it robs it of authority and legitimacy. By this I mean, not that the people have the power -- they don't -- but that they are not as gullible as they used to and that the abyss between those in power and those without is getting smaller. The fundamental change is of perception: there is nothing to respect anymore about those in power. Besides, there are new powerful digital tools that allow people to organize in a flash; whether it's legitimate protests and movements for social change, or massive acts of vandalism.
Politicians should be trembling, or at least adapting, but they continue to be completely oblivious of reality*. I found it rather funny and alarming that every single English figure of authority I saw in the news (Cameron, Clegg, Boris, the chief of police) was admonishing the rioters and looters like a parent chides an unruly kid after the fact: a lot of useless, patronizing, rather cowardly bluster. The fact is, they were not paying attention and now they are afraid.

*As for me, I would like nothing more than an enmasse public firing of absolutely every single member of the American congress, except perhaps for Bernie Sanders. All of them, out of a job at once. Is there any way to organize this?

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

I'm Floored with the Debt Ceiling

I don't pretend I understand everything about this topic but I know one thing: I am extremely disappointed with President Obama. With the Democratic Party I am just further infuriated. I never thought this would be possible, but they are the gift that keeps on giving.
Even though Obama never promised to be a diehard liberal, he spun enough liberal platitudes in his campaign to lead people to believe that we would be at least a moderate liberal. Being who he is, one would have thunk he'd have the interests of the majority of Americans at heart. He does not.
The day the debt ceiling debacle is averted, Wall Street still plummets. Why? Investors don't have confidence in the economy. Why? Not because now everybody's celebrating that the ultra rich and the corporations will not pay higher taxes, but because, from what I've read, it is a really bad idea to make huge spending cuts in a depressed, recessionary economy without raising revenue. Of course cuts are necessary. Cuts to our obscene military spending, for instance, would make sense. Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't get the feeling that the idiotic wars we are mired in are boosting our economy, like in WWII.
What happened to the stimulus package? What happened to raising infrastructure? Now services to the people are cut and not one cent is raised on corporate taxes. Where are all the brilliant economic minds that are supposed to be advising this president? Oh, sorry, they are cashing their checks on Wall Street. 
Some ardent admirers of Obama think he won the political strategy battle with this pathetic debt ceiling circus. They may be right. He may win another election. But will he be able to reverse the descending course he has set for this country? The banks (who are still not lending, still reaping huge profits) were treated to the most lavish free meal in history, while at the same time the victims of the criminal excesses of American capitalism, that is, the American people, were punished. This instead of fighting for a more just society. Is this going to be Obama's legacy?
Does the economic and political health of the country have to be sacrificed for an election strategy? This is what convinces me, to my deepest regret at having been so gullible, that Obama is a politico like the rest of them snakes. He is not a leader.
Making the Republicans look bad should not be considered such a momentous achievement. They are extraordinarily adept at doing this on their own. Presiding over the country as the gap between the rich and the poor widens abysmally, and not only not doing anything to stop it but encouraging it to happen, this is not what makes a good president. I am also deeply unhappy with his hypocrisy about immigration law, Guantanamo detainees, and gay marriage. Commit to something, man. Have the balls.
That he comes on the heels of the Worst President Ever should be no consolation. With Obama, people were expecting something in terms of domestic policy along the level of an FDR or an LBJ (hey, maybe we're idiots). All his achievements, as important as they may be, fall short. The health care bill is a case in point. What the fuck is it? Because universal health care it is not. His achievements are deeply compromised by his insistence on talking down to the Republicans, instead of fighting them. He's like a schoolteacher who chides a bully but lets him get away with murder. His sanctimonious self-righteousness prevents him from rolling up his sleeves and doing what we put him there to do, what he promised he would do. He was always going to be unpopular with the other side. What good is it for him to be unpopular with his own supporters?
I am deeply unhappy with a president who, 4 years into his tenure, is still acting like a candidate.
On the killing of Bin Laden, I give him some brownie points. However, the other day I was remembering the capture of Adolf Eichmann. The Israelis nabbed him all the way in Argentina, where he hid for years, and gave him a trial and ample opportunity to defend himself. Then they hanged his ass (the only time they ever used the death penalty). This is what democratic countries with solid institutions do. I understand that the cost (legal, political, human, economic) of putting Bin Laden on trial could be prohibitive. But we are becoming less civilized than we think we are.
I know there are movements out there that are trying to change the political dynamics in this country because our Congress is a stupid whore who sucks corporate dick, on both sides. We need a strong third way. We need more political pluralism, a reformed campaign system and less institutionalized corruption. Otherwise, we're going to the dogs.