Archive for the ‘Money’ Category

The New Retirement? You’re Better Off Dead. The Kochs And The Waltons Got Your Money.
March 3, 2014

From Common Dreams:

Seven Numbers that Add Up to a Death Tax for Retirement

by Paul Buchheit

The dream of a comfortable retirement is dying for many Americans. It’s being extracted as a form of tribute to the very rich, a redistribution of our nation’s wealth, a "tax" imposed on the middle and lower classes and paid for with their retirement savings.


1. A $6.8 Trillion Retirement Deficit in America. But $8 Trillion in New U.S. Wealth Was Created in 2013.
The problem is that most of the new financial wealth went to the richest 10% (almost 90 percent of all stocks excluding fast-disappearing pensions). Basically you already had to be rich to share in the new wealth, and the people taking the wealth can defer taxes as long as they want, and then pay a smaller rate than income earners. Meanwhile, according to the National Institute on Retirement Security, Americans are at least $6.8 trillion short of what they need for a comfortable retirement.

2. $6,500 is the Median Retirement Fund for Upper-Middle-Class 50- to 64-Year-Olds
That’s based on an analysis of the second-highest quartile of Americans by the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis. It may get worse before it gets any better. The percentage of 75- to 84-year-old seniors falling into poverty doubled from 2005 to 2009. That was BEFORE the recession. And the number of elderly Americans, notes the Administration on Aging, is steadily rising, likely by 75 percent between 2010 and 2030, to almost 70 million people.

3. ZERO Wealth Gained among 93% of Us, While the Richest 12,000 Families Made $100,000 EVERY Day
It’s estimated that the richest .01% each made at least $40 million last year. A work day for many of them consists of logging in to their portfolio to see how many tens of thousands of dollars were added in the previous 24 hours. A stunning 93 percent of Americans LOST wealth, on average, in the post-recession "recovery."

4. TWICE the Cost of Pensions — That’s What Ten States Pay in Corporate Subsidies
This comes from a study by Good Jobs First of ten states with severe pension issues. The study found that "in all 10 states, the total annual cost of corporate subsidies, tax breaks and loopholes exceeds the total current annual pension costs."
Americans who have worked all their lives, dutifully paying for their retirement years, continue to be accused of greed and threatened with pension cutbacks. David Cay Johnston calls it "nothing short of theft."

5. 40 Cents of Every 401(k) Dollar Goes to the Banks
Saving $1,000 a year for 30 years in a non-fee 401(k) fund and then holding the accumulated sum for another 20 years would net an investor $269,000. With a smallish-sounding industry average fee of 1.3%, the same investor would net just $165,000, a 39% reduction.

6. Two Dollars: The Approximate Wealth of Black Families for Every $100 of Wealth for White Families
According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), median wealth for black families in 2009 was $2,200, compared to $97,900 for white families. (Pew Research reported $5,677 for blacks, $113,149 for whites).
It doesn’t seem possible that this number could get worse. But since the recession, black and Hispanic wealth has dropped further, by 30 to 40 percent, as the wealth of white families dropped 11 percent.

7. Almost 10 Percent of an Underserved Household’s Retirement Money Goes for Financial Fees
A U.S. Office of Inspector General survey reports that "The average underserved household has an annual income of about $25,500 and spends about $2,412 of that just on alternative financial services fees and interest." That includes fees for payroll cards, prepaid cards, subprime auto loans, and numerous other financial products that are sold to over 68 million financially underserved U.S. households.

A Death Tax? It’s not the tiny amount paid on multi-million dollar estates. Instead, it’s the slow death of millions of baby boomers, the victims of 35 years of deregulated greed at the very top of our nation’s mountain of wealth.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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Cato Institute and Forbes Magazine: Deceit Incorporated
May 9, 2011

What follows is an article from the April 25, 2011 issue of Forbes magazine, written by two Senior Fellows of the conservative Cato Institute. I’ve commented paragraph by paragraph as an instructive exercise in identifying deceptive rhetoric as used by conservatives. This particular piece is, I feel, an excellent example of sloppy and shallow thinking parading as serious thought under the aegis of a respected, if suspect, conservative think tank, and a magazine devoted to little more than making money and reducing government to nothing more than a tool of the corporations.

[The article text is indented.]

The Green Energy Economy Reconsidered
Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren,

The last we saw such an economy was in the 13th century.

"Green" energy such as wind, solar and biomass presently constitute only 3.6% of fuel used to generate electricity in the U.S. But if another "I Have a Dream" speech were given at the base of the Lincoln Memorial, it would undoubtedly urge us on to a promised land where renewable energy completely replaced fossil fuels and nuclear power.

Odd choice of image. Why the MLK speech? Why reference that at all, as it is completely unrelated to the topic? The trope of the ‘promised land’ is completely accessible without referencing that speech. This suggests a certain sloppiness of thought, or more darkly, an attempt to inject a note of white supremacy by adopting a sarcastic tone towards ‘promised land’ and the civil rights movement. The authors appear to be using a speech and movement denigrated by the white financial power structure and associating it to the environmental movement, which they are about to trash. They are also using the idea of a ‘dream’, in the sense of something being impractical pie in the sky.

What may be more likely is that the authors simply didn’t give the matter much thought. They needed a ‘promised land’ trope and grabbed an easy one. But it is interesting that they grabbed a racial one that is irrelevant to their topic.

How much will this particular dream cost? Energy expert Vaclav Smil calculates that achieving that goal in a decade–former Vice President Al Gore’s proposal–would incur building costs and write-downs on the order of $4 trillion. Taking a bit more time to reach this promised land would help reduce that price tag a bit, but simply building the requisite generators would cost $2.5 trillion alone.

Who is Vaclav Smil and why should we trust him? According to the authors he is an ‘energy expert’. That may be so, but consider the following from Deep Climate:

Here’s an astonishing segment from a  recent interview with futurist Vaclav Smil, conducted by New York Times environmental reporter Andrew Revkin. Smil claims that there has been “no global warming in the past ten years” and appears to suggest that we can safely ignore the problem of climate change because it won’t hit with “full force” any time soon, and its full impact is as yet unknown.

The authors Taylor and Van Doren found an ‘expert’ whose view contradicts the work of legitimate climatologists, thus supporting the argument they are building. He’s got chops in various areas, but he’s not a climatologist, and apparently is not inclined to believe the overwhelming evidence of climatology in the matter of global warming.

And of course Al Gore is widely accepted among the financial cognoscenti as either a) a joke or b) a dangerous threat to profits. The authors, as we will see, are concerned only with profits, with putting money into their pockets, into the pockets of the already wealthy.

The $4 trillion dollar figure the authors give may be true, or may not. There’s no basis to judge, other than the already suspect word of Smil. But it is also irrelevant.

Let’s assume, however, that we could afford that. Have we ever seen such a "green economy"? Yes we have; in the 13th century.

Ah, peasants. Barons. Lords. Kings. Feudalism. Huts and castles. Serfdom. Ignorance. Bad times.

Also, no electricity. No electronics.

And yet they fed themselves and produced what they needed to live, even to thrive. They lived in complex social structures. They had technology sufficient to their needs.

Their economy was ‘green’ because it was the only economy available, and it worked reasonably well for them. And they adjusted and adapted as needed.

It is misleading to judge the 13th century by our times.

Renewable energy is quite literally the energy of yesterday. Few seem to realize that we abandoned "green" energy centuries ago for five very good reasons.

There was no intentional ‘abandonment’ of ‘green’ energy. There was a gradual evolution from one way of doing things to other ways of doing things. The people learned from experience and adopted ways that worked better for them.

The authors will now go on to list five reasons why humans ‘abandoned’ so-called green energy, as if a decision were made in some council chamber to quit the old ways and adopt the new ways. Perhaps the authors are tricked into such thinking by the way they and their peers normally go about their business – decisions made in boardrooms by a CEO and corporate directors and handed down to the rest of the company from on high.

First, green energy is diffuse, and it takes a tremendous amount of land and material to harness even a little bit of energy. Jesse Ausubel, director of the Program for the Human Environment and senior research associate at Rockefeller University, calculates, for instance, that the entire state of Connecticut (that is, if Connecticut were as windy as the southeastern Colorado plains) would need to be devoted to wind turbines to power the city of New York.

Jesse Ausubel, another expert dragooned into the authors’ argument, also has some academic chops. But he is also against green energy:

Renewable does not mean green. That is the claim of Jesse Ausubel of the Rockefeller University in New York. Writing in Inderscience’s International Journal of Nuclear Governance, Economy and Ecology, Ausubel explains that building enough wind farms, damming enough rivers, and growing enough biomass to meet global energy demands will wreck the environment.

Ausubel has analyzed the amount of energy that each so-called renewable source can produce in terms of Watts of power output per square meter of land disturbed. He also compares the destruction of nature by renewables with the demand for space of nuclear power. "Nuclear energy is green," he claims, "Considered in Watts per square meter, nuclear has astronomical advantages over its competitors."

It is certainly debatable that nuclear energy is green. One need only examine the wreck of Chernobyl or the ongoing catastrophe at Fukushima; or consider the enormous costs of nuclear plants and the vast energy that goes into creating them; or think about the massive problem of dealing with radioactive waste from these plants. Nuclear ‘green’ glows in the dark. Without looking at all the costs of nuclear, and all the dangers of nuclear, Ausubel’s statement about ‘Watts per square meter’ having a huge advantage is meaningless.

While it is true that wind farms take acreage, they are not the only source of renewable energy. Tidal, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric: all are on the table, all are being improved. And while wind turbines are familiar to us as giant towers with three bladed fans, there are other forms and structures being developed that are more efficient and less acreage-intensive.

Second, it is extremely costly. In 2016 President Obama’s own Energy Information Administration estimates that onshore wind (the least expensive of these green energies) will be 80% more expensive than combined cycle, gas-fired electricity. And that doesn’t account for the costs associated with the hundreds of billions of dollars worth of new transmission systems that would be necessary to get wind and solar energy–which is generally produced far from where consumers happen to live–to ratepayers.

It is interesting that the authors are willing to consider ‘all the costs’ of a green energy establishment, but ignore all the costs of nuclear energy.

Third, it is unreliable. The wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine when the energy is needed. We account for that today by having a lot of coal and natural gas generation on "standby" to fire-up when renewables can’t produce. Incidentally, the cost of maintaining this backup generation is likewise never fully accounted for in the cost estimates associated with green energy. But in a world where fossil fuels are a thing of the past, we would be forced–like the peasants of the Dark Age–to rely upon the vagaries of the weather.

It could be said fairly that any specific energy source may not be available all the time. But just as nuclear, coal, oil, and gas sources are available, there are a variety of renewable sources available, as well as fossil back-ups, and new technologies for energy generation are being investigated and developed. It can also be said that the fossil sources are unreliable in terms of availability and cost. Demand for oil is growing rapidly in an unstable global economic and political environment, driving prices up and down (mostly up), and pitting nation against nation in the oil markets. Add to that the decline in fossil fuel stocks – oil in the near term, then coal and gas – and the image of fossil fuel reliability isn’t as pretty as the authors would like us to believe.

Fourth, it is scarce. While wind and sunlight are obviously not scarce, the real estate where those energies are reliably continuous and in economic proximity to ratepayers is scarce.

All humanity can fit into the state of Texas, according to somebody or other who did the math. That leaves a lot of room. But the giveaway to the thinking of these two authors is the phrase ‘economic proximity to ratepayers’. Ultimately, as we will soon see, that is all they care about.

Finally, once the electricity is produced by the sun or wind, it cannot be stored because battery technology is not currently up to the task. Hence, we must immediately "use it or lose it."

That paragraph is bogus from beginning to end. Electricity generation is demand based. When you flip on your light switch, the generators spin a little faster. Flip the switch off, the generator slows down. That’s the simple version. We do not store such generated electricity in batteries now, generally speaking, other than in small rechargeable ones. And electricity produced by sun or wind or any other means is the same as electricity generated by fossil fuels. Electricity is nothing more than the movement of electrons through conducting materials. The source is irrelevant. All electrons are alike.

And battery technology is indeed up to the task of storing generated electricity. Ask any homeowner who has installed solar panels or uses a wind turbine to power his home. The power generated is stored in batteries. These installations are often sufficiently powerful and technologically sophisticated to the point that the homeowner can disconnect entirely from the commercial electrical grid; or he can sell his excess electric power to the commercial grid.

So here the authors are either lying or they are ignorant of the subject they are writing about. That they are not trustworthy is evident here, and nothing else they say should or can be trusted. They expect, however, the reader to take them at their word because of who they represent themselves to be, that is, Senior Fellows at the Cato Institute, a right wing ‘think’ tank. Given the lack of thought in this article, one might be forgiven for thinking that the authors are indeed in the tank for the fossil fuel corporations.

Fossil fuel is everything that green energy is not. It is comparatively cheap. It is reliable; it will burn and produce energy whenever you want it. It is plentiful (we use only a tiny bit of oil in the electricity sector). And you can store fossil fuels until you need them.

Mostly true. Except for the ‘comparatively cheap’ part. Fossil fuel can only be considered cheap if one ignores the tremendous costs to the environment – to the air we breathe, the water we drink, the oceans we pollute, the health costs of polluted air and water, the destruction of species and their habitat. Apologists for fossil fuel, generally people who seek or stand to profit from their continued use, will never speak of those costs. If they did, if those costs were honestly factored into the price of using fossil fuels, there would be a wind turbine on every block of every town and city.

Proponents of green energy argue that if the government can put a man on the moon, it can certainly make green energy economically attractive. Well, notice that government was not trying to get a man to the moon profitably, which is more akin to the challenge here. Even before the Obama presidency began, about half the production costs of wind and solar energy were underwritten by the taxpayer to no commercial avail. There’s little reason to think that a more sustained, multi-decade commitment to subsidy would play out any differently. After all, the federal government once promised that nuclear energy was on the cusp of being "too cheap to meter." That was in the 1950s. Sixty-one billion dollars of subsidies and impossible-to-price regulatory preferences later, it’s still the most expensive source of conventional energy on the grid.

But according to the New York Times:

But an examination of the American tax code indicates that oil production is among the most heavily subsidized businesses, with tax breaks available at virtually every stage of the exploration and extraction process.

According to the most recent study by the Congressional Budget Office, released in 2005, capital investments like oil field leases and drilling equipment are taxed at an effective rate of 9 percent, significantly lower than the overall rate of 25 percent for businesses in general and lower than virtually any other industry.

Not to mention, of course, the subsidies and impossible-to-price regulatory preferences handed to the oil industry.

The same article notes that the oil industry gets tax breaks of $4 billion a year. Undoubtedly some of that money supports the legions of tax lawyers and lobbyists who fight to see that the industry gets more subsidies and pays as little tax as they can convince their bought-and-paid for Congressmen to hand out to them.

It would be instructive to note that the challenge to put a man on the moon was not, as noted, intended to produce a profit. It was a program developed as part of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, a program intended to push American science to the limits by putting men safely and efficiently on the moon.

What our intrepid authors fail to note is the great number of spin-offs from NASA programs, which is a government program, that have produced profits for private companies that benefited from technology and discoveries: 

Applications on Earth of technology needed for space flight have produced thousands of "spinoffs" that contribute to improving national security, the economy, productivity and lifestyle. It is almost impossible to find an area of everyday life that has not been improved by these spinoffs. Collectively, these secondary applications represent a substantial return on the national investment in aerospace research.

The fundamental question that green energy proponents must answer is this: if green energy is so inevitable and such a great investment, why do we need to subsidize it? If and when renewable energy makes economic sense, profit-hungry investors will build all that we need for us without government needing to lift a finger. But if it doesn’t make economic sense, all of the subsidies in the world won’t change that fact.

And here’s the nub of it. Profit. If they can’t make a profit, they won’t do it.

Unfortunately, not doing it condemns the earth, condemns human civilization, condemns virtually all of the current biosphere to end. Not doing it means pouring more carbon and methane into the air and the seas, raising the temperature of the planet to levels that will not sustain complex life.

Perhaps we should have waited for profit-hungry investors to build the atomic bomb; or the interstate highway system; or create the TVA. Those were major felt needs which only the government could manage, yet private companies profited to one degree or another from those projects.

Civilization faces a fatal catastrophe brought on by our ignorant and profligate use of fossil fuels. There is no legitimate debate over the matter. Continue to fill the atmosphere with greenhouse gasses and life on earth, as we know it, will cease. Humanity will end. We are as subject to the laws of physics as the rest of the universe.

Only massive involvement by government, by all governments, has a chance of preventing the disaster. And it can be done, according to the latest report from the IPCC:

Renewable energy could account for almost 80% of the world’s energy supply within four decades – but only if governments pursue the policies needed to promote green power, according to a landmark report published on Monday.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the body of the world’s leading climate scientists convened by the United Nations, said that if the full range of renewable technologies were deployed, the world could keep greenhouse gas concentrations to less than 450 parts per million, the level scientists have predicted will be the limit of safety beyond which climate change becomes catastrophic and irreversible.

And yet all these two writers can see is the need for profit. One must assume, since they know they are writing for people who read Forbes, a magazine for the wealthy, that they have an entire constituency of readers who agree with them.

Apparently none of them can see that to accept the argument Taylor and Van Doren present means an end to profit, an end to greed. Indeed, these two writers present a prescription that undermines completely the very system they are so enamored of.

But beyond the particulars of the argument, it is important to note that failing to critically examine what they say, as so many people do,  can easily lead one to accept their argument as true and an acceptable basis for policy decisions. As we have seen, it is full of distortions, deception, and lies, the tools of the Conservative trade.

None of that is to say that the other side doesn’t use similar tools, though it seems evident over time that the progressive side uses them considerably less often, and generally from a motive to benefit all of society rather than to enrich a small segment.

We have to read carefully. We have to think about what we are reading, about who is writing what we read, about why they might be writing it, and about their sources.

We can no longer accept information as given. We must think about it. We must analyze. And when we come across pieces like the one analyzed here, we must speak out. To do otherwise is simply to let ourselves die, on more than one level.

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Free Trade? Milton Friedman? He’s Dead And Free Trade Is A Doom
July 14, 2009

There’s an interesting piece by Thom Hartmann over at Common Dreams about the myth of free trade. Interestingly, he points out how President Obama has bought into the myth by getting his facts wrong in his recent speech in Ghana. Worth reading.

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Kuttner Tells It Like It Is… Your Government Is Going To Give You An Enron Screwing
March 23, 2009

Robert Kuttner takes apart the Obama plan to rescue the rich with Tim Geithner’s and Larry Summers’ new plan over at Huffington Post.

A nice summary…

If this all sounds vaguely familiar, Geithner’s Treasury, with no sense of irony, is offering a reprise of the several abusive and opaque gimmicks that produced this crisis, a tour that winds back down Memory Lane, from AIG to Enron.

The Lion just loves the bit where Kuttner says the Geithner gang wants to take some of the money for this from the FDIC, the only agency that is behaving rationally and competently as banks fall all around the country, and that is running out of money. Note that the FDIC folks are the ones who can do the most to protect your money in the banks. Timmy and Larry are dedicated to protecting their old buddies on Wall Street, and neither has demonstrated that he has a clue about Main Street.

Obama’s intentions are being subverted by the Old Rich Boy network on Wall Street that is apparently actually running the country. And they don’t give a flying goddam about the country.

Maybe those outraged citizens parading around in front of AIG ought to start thinking about picking up some bricks and taking down some windows and some fancy cars, because the so-called Big Boys need to have their dicks shrunk with some of the fear pervading the Main Street where the Little People live.

The Lion notes the stock market has gone up a thousand points in two weeks. Not surprising since so many stocks are so cheap. Not surprising since the government keeps saying in effect that it will protect shareholders and will finance a giveaway of taxpayer money to any of the Wall Street/Hedge Fund/Old Boys/Rich People’s network who like privatized profit and socialized risk for themselves while they piss on the peons who work for a living and provide the tax money that keeps the rotten bastards afloat in champagne and yachts and fancy cars and expensive whores. You can bet your shrunken pension they are just drooling at the thought of getting their hands on taxpayer money. Hence, the rise in the stock market, which, by the way, is not the economy.

To quote the famous, the notorious, the devoutly perceptive Evo, “We’re fucked.”

BCS Bowl… (yawn) Games Selection… (zzzzz) Complaints Again… (phrppp)
December 9, 2008

Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe writes a long tedious column in today’s sports section about the inequities of the Bowl Championship Series.

For the incognoscenti, the BCS is the answer from the college football bureaucrats to the question of ‘Who’s Number One?’

Considering that every year the complaints about the system fly thick and fast it’s apparent that no one really knows Who’s Number One. But it’s important to the football folk, their lives apparently on hold at this time of year, to be able to say knowledgeably at the water cooler or the bar that “Yup, yup, Huge Freaking College is Number One this year. Yup, yup, sure is.”

The process that the BCS folks use to determine Who’s Number One is so arcane that it puts intelligent people to sleep. (The Lion would note that he is so intelligent that he fell sound asleep at the end of the first paragraph of Ryan’s column.) It is rumored by odd men wearing cheap black suits and sunglasses that the people who designed the BCS system don’t understand it either.

Of course central to understanding BCS is that it doesn’t matter how it works or if it works to actually determine Who’s Number One. What matters is that it keeps people talking about the BCS and that money keeps rolling into college football coffers.

Consider if you will the Naming of The Bowls. There’s the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. The Citi Rose Bowl Game. The FedEx Orange Bowl. The Allstate Sugar Bowl.

There’s even the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Imagine how proud it must be for a player to say, perhaps when he’s in his forties or fifties, “Yup, yup, I played in that chicken fast food bowl back in the day, yup, yup.”

When the corporations are lining up to buy bowl games the jig is up. It’s no longer about Who’s Number One. It’s about Money. Big Money. The players aren’t playing for their school anymore. They’re playing for FedEx and Tostitos and the honor of millions of dead chickens.

The corporations want to own everything, and in the process they’ve made everything they touch into cold corporate product. The FedEx Orange Bowl is not the Orange Bowl. It’s just a corporate shill extravaganza for FedEx.

It doesn’t really matter anymore Who’s Number One. When your football uniform says Allstate or Citi, you’ve been bought, and we’ve been sold a bill of goods.

Mitt Romney Back Again, As Sleazy As Ever
December 8, 2008

After Republican Mitt ‘The Mitten’ Romney dropped out of the presidential sweepstakes he founded a political action committee to make money and took in $2.1 million dollars.

He got it by telling conservatives he was raising the money to support Republican candidates around the country. And then he spent the magnanimous sum of $244,000 in contributions to candidates. Today’s Globe, in a story by Frank Phillips, figures that to be 12 percent of the total.

Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom argued that the Free and Strong America committee’s contributions of $244,000 to other candidates represented a significant percentage of the committee’s overall expenditures. Its “level of financial support was extraordinary,” when compared with other national leaders of Romney’s standing, he said.

Twelve percent?

Extraordinary?

Pronouncements like that might suggest why Romney could barely buy a vote during the Republican primaries.

And, the story being about Mitt Romney, there are of course the usual disconnects between reality and pompous rhetoric. Here’s what Romney said in his fund raising appeal from his Free and Strong America Committee:

“It is more essential than ever that conservative candidates and organizations have the resources they need to get their message out to voters,” Romney said in the fund-raising appeal. “Because of your help, my political action committee . . . is supporting over 70 candidates this election cycle. Your continued support today will ensure that they have the assistance they need to win.”

And here’s what he did:

Qualifying for a donation from the committee did not necessarily depend on a candidate’s need for financial assistance. US Representative Rodney Alexander of Louisiana got $4,600 and his GOP colleague Lamar S. Smith of Texas received a $2,300 donation, although both had no opponents. They each had endorsed Romney in his presidential bid.

Mississippi’s US Senator Thad Cochran, who threw his support for Romney, was easily favored to win reelection, but he still got a $2,300 donation from the committee. Cochran won with 62 percent of the vote. Another Republican senator, Lamar Alexander, a popular Tennessee Republican who was under no threat of losing his seat, got a $2,300 check from Romney as he cruised to victory with 65 percent of the vote.

Reporter Phillips notes that the list of candidates receiving aid was ‘dominated’ by such candidates. Yeah, Mitt, you’re just a rough, tough guy who picks the hard battles. All mouth and no guts.

The meat of the story is neatly summed up in this paragraph by reporter Phillips:

In essence, Romney is financing a political enterprise that he can use to remain a national GOP leader and use as a springboard should he decide to launch another presidential bid for 2012.

Go for it, Mitten!

In fact The Lion suggests that the perfect Republican ticket for 2012 would be Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin. These two self-aggrandizing empty suits would be the perfect pair for a Democratic landslide in four years.

The Lion also notes that the name of The Mitten’s PAC, Free And Strong America Committee, has definite overtones and undertones of Joe McCarthy, the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, and nascent fascism. But maybe that’s just because the right wing of American politics (okay, okay, the Republicans) consistently tends to disguise their anti-democratic, dictatorial tendencies in the language of Orwellian propaganda.

Note to Mitt: Us lefty atheistic types will be waiting for you in 2012, Mitt.

Note to Sarah: See note to Mitt.

 

America The Socialist, Europe The Land Of Rugged Individualism
November 16, 2008

You think America is the land of rugged individuals battling against the evils of socialism?

Guess what? You’re wrong. You’ve got it backwards, you mollycoddled bastard.

Take a look at this story in today’s Globe.

And while you’re at it, keep in mind all the public tax money that’s spent to finance and build private sports stadiums in America. Talk about privatizing profit and socializing risk…

So You Think Bush And His Rich Friends Aren’t Planning To Screw You With Their Insane Bailout Plan? Think Again, Gumby.
September 21, 2008

Hop on over to Talking Points Memo and start reading. The financial lobbyists, you know, the same kind as the crew that’s running Crazy John McCain’s (the “Regulating Deregulator”) campaign, are already pushing to screw the taxpayers and make themselves a pile of money.

That’s the Republican way, baby. They’ll take care of their fat asses by emptying your wallet for the next two generations.

Bail, Bail, Bail Your Boat…
September 19, 2008

So the financial bigwigs got greedy, assumed that their ethics had been deregulated by all those Republican and Conservative politicians they bought, and now, when their ass is being handed to them by the free market so beloved by those same Republicans, want the government to bail them out, save their mansions, protect their fancy cars?

Oh, sure, okay. Here’s the deal.

The United States government, no, make that the Bush Administration of the United States Government, which is different from the government of, by, and for the people, wants to take the people’s money, hundreds of billions of dollars of it, to buy worthless securities from these companies that have gamed the system and with this deal continue to game it. Apparently the Bush Government will have to borrow the money, or maybe they’ll just print some, both options which will, of course, be really really good for the economy.

The Government will hold onto these worthless securities until the market ‘stabilizes’ and they can then sell them.

We know the securities and other items involved in this crime are worthless, because if they were worth anything there wouldn’t be a problem.

Let’s simplify.

You own a hamburger palace. Monday morning you come to work and discover that all your hamburgers and all your condiments are contaminated with hepatitis. Woe is you for you shall be bankrupt.

But your Uncle Sammy, out of the goodness of his heart, decides to borrow a lot of money to buy all your diseased stock, thinking perhaps he can sell it next week to some unsuspecting third world country, perhaps, where some fools have never heard of hepatitis.

So you get to keep your business as though nothing has happened, and Uncle Sammy goes deeper into debt, so deep that the only thing he can see now is the ceiling above the toilet as his company and life swirl down the pipe.

Bottom line – the taxpayer is being screwed again by the big boys and their Republican friends and Democratic enablers, all the result of Republican idiot ideology that took away the regulations and the rules and the systems that kept the greedy bastards from screwing you before.

And John McCain, who took money from Francis Keating to queer the regulatory investigation into the savings and loan scandal, who has the principles and ethics of a Wall Street shark, was one of the biggest deregulators in Washington, along with his friend and close economic adviser, Phil Gramm, who brought Enron to the grandmothers of California.

There is one sure thing in all of this, and that’s that the people who built this mess, the politicians, the brokers, the hedge fund billionaires, the financial ‘geniuses’, none of them will pay a price. They won’t lose their homes, their cars, their jobs. They won’t be charged with crimes, they won’t do time. They’ll just move on to the next scam, buoyed with the knowledge that their friends in Washington will probably bail them out again. And again. And again. That’s how the Republican free market works. That’s the Republican way.

Starbucks Pollutes The Lion’s Neighborhood. Clean Up Your Act, Coffee Bastards!
August 17, 2008

Every morning The Lion gambols a hundred yards across the parking lot to the Starbucks coffee store to buy a newspaper. Once in a great while he’ll buy a coffee, not because Starbucks makes such good coffee though. The truth is that The Lion makes better coffee in his little one cup Chemex after grinding beans in a Braun grinder and adding spring water to the mix.

This morning, after making a nice cuppa, The Lion noticed that the cream he added to his coffee had curdled. Certain that George Bush was somehow responsible, The Lion said ‘Screw this!’ and headed over to Starbucks.

As he stepped through the back gate he noticed immediately a line of cars- no, not cars, SUVs, and not cheap SUVs – in the drive-up lane, six of them, except the last, which was a bright orange, beat up, diesel pickup truck whose engine was so loud the driver had to turn it off to call his order into the microphone, after which he started the beast up again.

All the SUVs sat there, engines running, waiting for their precious lattes and grandes and christ knows what else. They were not unlike pigs lined up for their turn at a one-pig feeding trough.

Naturally The Lion made rude remarks as he walked by, but given the sound of their engines and the fact that they all had closed their windows, The Lion doubts they heard a thing.

About fifteen minutes later, The Lion, after waiting patiently for the dumbass tourists inside the store to order and pay for their exotically ridiculous drinks, left with his cup of plain coffee and a wonderfully tasty and fattening cinnamon twist. The profound question rattling around in The Lion’s old brain was, “Don’t any of you frigging idiots just drink coffee anymore? You have to gussy it up like a cheap whore before you’ll drink it?” It really shouldn’t take fifteen minutes to get coffee for five people.

Anyway, The Lion wended his grumbling way back across the parking lot to his gate. Before going through the fence, he looked back at Starbucks, and there, just then, the orange pickup truck was finally driving up to the window to get his goods.

That means that for fifteen minutes, at least, he sat there spewing diesel fumes and particles, and greenhouse gases into the air of The Lion’s neighborhood. That means those big, shiny SUVs sat there for a bunch of minutes pouring their pollutants into the air.

And that means that Starbucks is responsible for bringing the planet’s biosphere that much closer to extinction. As are, of course, the pig drivers of the SUVs, who can’t get off their fat asses to walk inside the store.

Generally speaking, nobody gets it. Despite all the evidence, despite the simple sense of it, people don’t get that the planet is dying and that we are killing it, and ourselves, when we sit on our asses in our machines because we’re too goddamned lazy or self-important to walk a few feet and stand in line for a few minutes for a cup of coffee.

The Lion will bet any number of cinnamon twists and cups of plain coffee that the people sitting in their SUVs in the drive-up window line this morning will be the first to whine about the unfairness of it all and whine to their gods and whine to the government (which is not only sitting on its ass, but ties itself tighter to the chair every day) when it finally becomes clear that drastic action must be taken and they won’t be allowed to drive their precious SUVs anymore, if they’re allowed to drive anything at all.

Starbucks and all the other merchandisers who run drive-up windows could do a big favor to the world by setting an example and closing those windows. And if they won’t, then maybe the lawmakers could get off their fat asses and stop taking bribes from Exxon and its friends long enough to make such windows illegal.

Maybe it’s not much, but it’s a start.

Special Note: The Lion maintains pretty much an open comment policy, unless you really annoy him a lot. However, if you want to comment here that global warming isn’t real or is a hoax or isn’t serious, The Lion will mutter ‘Fuck you, moron!’ and delete your post.