Category Archives: Books

To Kill A Mockingbird – RIP – 1960/2015

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Mike Hammer, disgraced by drug charges.   Clark Kent, quits the Daily Planet in disgust over the declining state of Journalism.    Batman, is shamelessly turned into a psycho-sexual nutjob by Hollywood.   O.J. Simpson, is charged with the double slasher-murders of Nicole Brown-Simpson and Ron Goldman.  Pete Rose gets booted from baseball in a gambling scandal.   Olympian Michael Phelps is caught smoking grass. Revelations that FDR was just a dirty old man in a wheel chair while Ike fooled around overseas and JFK was in a class all by himself, apparently, except maybe for Bubba Clinton, but who really knows?  Have you read or seen “Primary Colors?”

Everybody’s on performance enhancing drugs, including our favorite all-American boy,  Lance Armstrong.   At the same time, Michael Jackson was doing sleepovers with young house guests at Neverland, dear old Cliff Huxtable,  stands accused of drugging and then raping more than 30 women.   And then came “deflategate,”  ad nauseam.

Through it all we still had Atticus Finch, and he was rock solid.  If there was one book that impacted my young life, it was “To Kill a Mockingbird.,” and damn it, I needed Atticus Finch to remain unsullied.   But woe is me, the money-grubbing dirt-digging cynics have brought him down too, even though Harper Lee apparently had no intention of publishing “Go Set A Watchman,” which (I have read) puts my former hero and role model Atticus Finch,  in the KKK.   There is speculation that Harper Lee, would have opposed the publication, were she physically and mentally able to do so.   I don’t know, but I like to think that’s the case.

I could care less about those who try and justify the publication of “Watchman” by saying it gives us invaluable insight into the writing process,  how an author can take an idea in another direction in the developmental scheme of things, blah, blah, blah.   If that’s what you want then take a writing class.  I needed Atticus Finch to be left alone.

When all our heroes, both real and fictitious, have been laid low, what will be left to make us feel as though goodness and decency have a chance?  Who will be left for kids to look up to and model themselves after now that we’ve been told Atticus Finch was in the Klan?  Think societal role models don’t matter?    Don’t kid yourself, kiddo.  They do.

I am now bracing myself for revelations that the cowboy heroes of my youth were secretly into beastiality.

Whose Got The Oil?

  Former U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota is making the rounds promoting his new novel “Blowout.”  It’s about eco-terrorism.   While being interviewed about the book, the former Senator mentioned that “the three largest oil reserves in the world are (in) Saudi Arabia, Iran (and) Iraq.”  However, CNBC reports that Brazil, China and the United States have the biggest oil reserves, in that order.   Another list puts the top reserves with Saudi Arabia, Canada and Iraq.   The CIA says the top reserves are in Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Canada.

I think I’ll go with the CIA.  I have a feeling they usually get it right, no matter what Dubya Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, might say.  I can still remember CIA Director, George Tenet, shuttling back and forth between CIA headquarters and the White House, trying to convince George W. Bush, that there was no substantial evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass diversion.   Amazing how that part of the record has been all but erased, with Dubya giving Tenet the Medal of Freedom as a token of appreciation for the terrible job he’d done.   Or so the Bush Administration wanted everyone to believe.  See if this makes any sense to you.  Tenet, tells Bush he has no credible evidence of WMD’s in Iraq.  Bush invades Iraq anyway.  When it turns out there are no WMD’s to be found, the Bush Administration, basically, says it’s all the CIA’s fault.  He blames Tenet for giving him bad intel, presents him with the Medal of Freedom, and kicks him to the curb.

Was GWB to blame?  Did he really believe the WMD thing, or was he being mislead by NeoCon true believers who had been pushing for the U.S. to invade Iraq for years?  Difficult to say, since Saddam Hussein, apparently wanted the West to believe he still had WMD’s and was willing to use them.  It was a fatally bad bluff.   Just how much Iraqi oil had to do with the decision to invade remains open to debate.  Anyway, the whole thing turned out to be a real career killer for George Tenet.

It’s been done before, you know.  LBJ gave the same “kiss off” to his Secretary of Defense, Robert S. McNamara, after the Secretary told Johnson he should stop carpet bombing and negotiate a peaceful end to the war in Vietnam.  Apparently looking to make a repeat performance, Donald Rumsfeld took us into Iraq, using the war “metrics” thinking championed by McNamara.  LBJ, as we now know, refused to pull out of Vietnam, because he didn’t want to be the first American president to lose a war.  Since McNamara no longer thought the war was winnable, he had to be shown the door.  Presenting him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, was a means of ensuring he’d keep his mouth shut, so as not to embarrass Lyndon Johnson.  Which he did.  For a while.  Until he wrote his book and we learned the truth.  But we were talking about oil, which, coincidentally,  is now one of Vietnam’s biggest exports.  That’s not to say it had anything to do with our prolonged involvement there.

It’s being reported by msn money, that PetroChina and Rosneft of Russia, have now surpassed the former world leader, Exxon, in oil production.  And nobody seems to want to talk about the fact that not a single new refinery has been built on U.S. soil since 1976.  Not one.   Since 1976.  Think about it.  Please.  You can have all the crude in the world, you can build a monster pipeline bringing in oil from the Canadian oil sands, but without refineries to turn it into gasoline, supplies will stay where they are, which, in turn,  helps support current price levels at the pump.  Why isn’t Mr. Obama out stumping for more refineries?  Could it be he doesn’t want to alienate environmentalists, even with the economy so dependent on oil and gas production?  Why build a pipeline from Canada, when our refineries are maxed out and no new refineries are being built?

The world, and therefore the U.S. economy, runs on oil.  There are powerful economic and political interests that will do whatever they must to maintain our oil dependency.  However, as the cost of oil and oil products rises, the dominoes begin to fall sending prices shooting up on nearly every consumer good imaginable.   Doesn’t that make some sort of government oversight and control of the oil industry necessary – beyond the federal government’s current insane policy of giving big oil tax breaks in the billions of dollars while they rake in record profits?

It’s kind of like giving someone the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for doing a bad job at the CIA.

Are the real bad guys in the Middle East, or are they on Wall Street and in the board rooms of big oil?  Is it wrong to consider the cost of gasoline and diesel fuel a national emergency, requiring emergency measures?

When it comes to petroleum products the facts can be pretty slippery.   It’s probably a good thing Mr. Dorgan’s book is a novel.

Chasing The Social Networking Monster

   I quit Facebook, because I was concerned about the gathering up of, collating, and then profiting from, personal information available on the Internet.  Not that my personal info hasn’t been out there for years.  It has.   No, this was more a protest move on my part, just letting the Facebook people know that I can live without them.   I know, I know, they have more than 800-million users (per Wikipedia), so they could care less about me.  I get it.  But you know what?  I don’t care about them either and I’ve been just fine without Facebook.  Well, I do feel a bit cut off but the feeling is diminishing with the passage of time.   While I admire the role FB played in the Arab Spring, and is currently playing in bringing Israeli and Iranian folk together in a push to avoid war, I continue to have reservations about the move by third party companies to gather information on us and then sell our profiles to private business or academia — or others.  It’s just a nasty development, and something that somebody will eventually need to deal with or any semblance of privacy will be erased — and we’re well on our way.

Then there’s Twitter.   I’ve been using it to send out tweets alerting my massive base of followers (120) about my latest posts so that no one need feel threatened with missing any of my incredible insights.   Just today I discovered that people have been tweeting me back.   Some to comment on my writing and others just to say hello.  I wasn’t aware any of that was happening, so if I’ve ignored your re-tweets, or connect-tweets or whatever they’re called, it wasn’t intentional, I just haven’t invested an adequate amount of time to master the Twitter process.  Not sure I will.  I don’t even have an iPhone.  Don’t want one.   I almost never text.  If I have something that’s worth saying, I’ll call someone and say it.  Don’t have an iPad, either.  I don’t understand it.  Why bother with an iPad and a separate keyboard, why haul around all that stuff, when micro computers are available?  Yes, yes, I know iPads have an electronic keyboard.  I also know they don’t compare to the real thing.  That’s why companies are making add-on keyboards (real keyboards), for iPad users.

And we mustn’t forget so-called “Cloud Computing.”  It is, after all, a sort of social networking, offering to feed you apps and various services while storing your formerly personal information out there on a “cloud” (somebody else’s hard drive) floating somewhere in cyberspace for a monthly fee, as opposed to the sanctity of your very own hard drive sitting behind your firewall, protected by your anti-virus.  At least that’s what it seems to be right now.  It’s difficult to pin it all down as the definition of what Cloud Computing actually is appears to be in a state of flux.

What will those clever devils come up with next?  In the words of Michael Fertik, CEO of Reputation.com,  “Your personal information is the new oil.” 

I keep hearing Tom Petty in my head.  It’s his lyric that goes, “How much you’ll pay for what you used to get for free.”  (Add the ringtone to your cell phone for a small fee.)

Before Facebook and iPads, there was LinkedIn.   I’m there, but I only occasionally check my account.  I’m sure there are any number of things I could do with that too, if I chose to invest the time and effort.  But again, I choose not to.   There is so much of this stuff out there.  You’ve gotta draw a line somewhere, or you’ll spend all your waking hours online, tweeting, re-tweeting, Facebooking and updating your LinkedIn account, not to mention that new note-posting thing.

But there is an upside.  There’s a wonderful new form of entertainment out there and it’s absolutely free.  It’s watching the kids at the mall, doing a re-creation of George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead,” bumping their way along, threatening to crash into anything that might be in their way as they insist upon texting and walking at the same time creating a very real pedestrian traffic hazard.  Ever wonder how much of what they’re texting has any real value?  How much of their social media addiction represents something they and (or) their parents now pay for but which they “used to get for free?”

Something that isn’t really needed at all?

When was the last time you read a book?  Not an “eBook” mind you, a book made of wood pulp.  Something with paper pages and covers?  I recently picked up a copy of “The Lost Symbol” by Dan Brown.    I must admit his stuff is getting to be a little formulaic, following “Da Vinci Code” and “Angels and Demons,” both of which were set in Europe.  This time Brown brings master symbologist Robert Langdon home, chasing symbols and their accompanying mysteries here in the United States, making it a fun read even if it’s takes us down a familiar path with an ending that’s a little difficult to buy into.  Well, no more difficult, I guess, than the Camerlingo rocketing a bomb-laden helicopter high above the Vatican, where he straps on a parachute and jumps to safety just before the anti-matter hits the matter and the universe hits the fan.  I didn’t buy that either, but I enjoyed “Angels and Demons” nevertheless.  You can be sure “Lost Symbol” will eventually be made into a film, begging the question of how many people are thinking, “I’ll wait for the movie.”  No time to sit down and read a book, what with all those social media sites to update, clouds to coordinate with, tweets and re-tweets to be seen to and a pile of text messages that demand to be answered.

If you’ve been tweeting me and I haven’t responded it’s not because I was snubbing you.  It wasn’t that at all.  I’ve neglected the demands of social networking on the Internet for the alternative activity of reading a book.   And other analog activities.  A guy’s gotta draw a line somewhere.  Putting it another way, at some point you need to stop texting and look up or you’re liable to walk right off the edge of a cliff — and it could be a long drop to the bottom.

Bruce Bartlett: Republican Party Is “Insane”

   I’ve written several times about “what currently passes for the Republican Party,” as it is all too obvious that any number of prominent Republicans from the past wouldn’t recognize the form this current Party has taken.   Bruce Bartlett, a staff economist for former Congressman Jack Kemp, a domestic policy adviser for President Reagan and Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy at the Treasury Department under George W. Bush, appears to agree with me.

Appearing on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Bartlett had the following to say with regard to the Republican Party’s inability to compromise on tax issues-

Stewart:   “It doesn’t seem that complicated.”

Bartlett:  “It’s not.  The problem is purely political…Frankly, one of our political parties is insane and we all know which one it is.”  

Bartlett, is making the rounds on the talk show circuit, promoting his latest book, “The Benefit and the Burden: Tax Reform – Why We Need It and What It Will Take.”

Afghanistan – Deja Vu All Over Again

 photo: wiki commons

Was going back over Daniel Ellsberg’s excellent book, “Secrets: A Memoir Of Vietnam And The Pentagon Papers” and the following jumped out at me.

“He saw Nixon as intending and expecting by his threats to keep South Vietnam safe for the indefinite presence of large numbers of U.S. troops — from fifty thousand, at a minimum, to two hundred thousand — in a permanent conflict, a stalemated war at reduced costs to American taxpayers with very low U.S. casualties.  Alternatively, Nixon hoped, as the DRV recognized it couldn’t use NVA units in South Vietnam without suffering inordinately in the North, this might change its position on mutual withdrawal and it might seek a formal settlement on U.S terms.  Under either track, total U.S. withdrawal of combat troops, ever, was strictly conditional on mutual withdrawal by the North Vietnamese; without that, Nixon intended to keep sizable residual U.S. forces in South Vietnam indefinitely, as in Korea.”  (Secrets, pg. 259)

Nixon’s campaign pledge to bring the troops home from Vietnam was a lie.   A hoax.  It gets a little twisted when you make one thing conditional upon another, like bringing American troops home from Vietnam based upon the success of “vietnamization,” or bringing U.S. troops back from Afghanistan, based upon the success of the corrupt regime of Hamid Karzai.

Feels like deja vu all over again, doesn’t it?  Let’s see, Congress had to repeal the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and cut off funding to finally get us out of Vietnam.  And even then, congressional action came only after millions of Americans took to the streets to protest our continued involvement in the war.  Wonder what it will take to get us out of our current quagmire in the Middle East?  Not that there are any similarities.

Anyway, nobody seems to care all that much about Afghanistan and Iraq anymore.  Even though they continue draining our treasury of billions of dollars each and every month.  And people continue to die, both ours and theirs.  No, we have more important things to worry about, like the debt ceiling “crisis,” gay marriage, abortion, getting God back into government, and the need to oppose tax hikes on the rich (many of whom are invested in the wars).  Imagine that.

And what about al Qaida?  Remember those guys?  Why did they suddenly become irrelevant to the national political discourse?  Is it because Osama bin Laden is dead and his organization has been devastated?  Then why do we continue pouring money into conventional warfare, ostensibly to fight an international criminal conspiracy like the al Qaida?  Shouldn’t we pull our conventional forces out, saving the country billions of dollars?  Why isn’t anybody talking about any of this?  Could it be there are those in positions of power who want us to remain engaged in both Afghanistan and Iraq, indefinitely?  Do ya think?

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DRV – Democratic Republic of Vietnam  (north vietnam)

NVA – North Vietnamese Army

Finally, Proof That It’s Not Me

 the sociopath next door  Is it me, or is it them?  I’ve asked myself this question for years, after being confronted by what I often times viewed as irrational or even insane behavior.   I now appear to have verification that it’s not me.  America, is in fact, loaded with people who are certifiably mentally ill.  Dr. Martha Stout, writes in her book “The Sociopath Next Door,” that as many as one in twenty-five Americans, is a sociopath.  Meaning, friends and neighbors, that any number of the people you are bumping into each day is without a conscience and feels nothing — no empathy or affection for other humans or animals.    They are deceitful and impulsive and will lie to your face without feeling even a wisp of guilt.   Some, are superficially charming, and will pour it on to get whatever they’re after.   This explains a boss I once had who would make a pledge to do something on Monday and have no memory of the conversation a day or two later.  Some people are merely forgetful.  With this guy, telling lies was SOP.

In the old west, these people would probably have been called “double dealers.”  I would guess many of them would have been shot.

Can’t do that now, so we just have to put up with their lies and underhanded behavior.  However, at least we now know what’s going on.  A big chunk of the country is nuts.  Not politically correct to say it, but there it is.  And it’s true.  These people are nuts.  After so many years of putting up with their underhanded crap and wondering what was wrong with them — if they had been beaten by their parents, or if it was a chemical imbalance of the brain, or maybe my judgement of their behavior might be off — I could care less about political correctness.   The more understanding you are, the more you try and cut them a break, the more they will tear you to pieces.  The really skilled sociopath can slam you around emotionally, lie to your face, work on ruining your life, and make you think that it’s all your fault.   Some can do it with charm and without leaving any fingerprints and are experts when it comes to playing the victim.

I’ve been around any number of these people.  God help you, should you end up with one for a boss.  By the time his or her higher-ups determine that what’s going on can’t be tolerated, it’s usually too late.  The damage has been done, both to the company and to the lives of any number of innocent employees.

Let’s forget the war on drugs, which was lost before it was started, and do something to get treatment for the hundreds of thousands of sociopathic Americans that are are doing God knows how much damage on a daily basis.  Fix these people’s personalities and we might be able to turn the economy around.

I knew we had a problem, but I had no idea it was this bad.  Except in politics.  And with Republicans, in particular.  Oh no? Who has slammed federal aid to Jane and Joe America more than Tea Party darling, Michele Bachmann?  And guess who has received substantial amounts of federal aid?  She has!  Michele Bachmann!   Melanie Mason and Matea Gold, report in the Los Angeles Times, that “despite her broadsides against socialized medicine,”Bachmann’s husband, Marcus, applied for public funds for his counseling clinic, Bachmann & Associates.  Since 2006, he has received nearly $30,000, according to Minnesota state records. The bulk of the money — $24,041 — came in the form of grants from the state Department of Human Services to train staff how to deal with clients suffering from chemical dependency and mental illness. That program was financed in part by the federal government.”

The Times also reports that Bachmann’s family farm received nearly $260,000 in federal subsidies, mostly in “corn and dairy subsidies.”

But that’s not all.   The numbers just keep piling up.  The New York Daily News reports that the mental health clinic operated by her husband Marcus, accepted $137,000 in Medicaid payments over six years.  And all the while, Ms. Bachmann railed against the evils of Medicaid.

This is of course, hypocrisy at its worst.  You have to wonder if it might not be something more.

Our Bipolar Politics

 joe mccarthy and roy cohn at Army-McCarthy hearings (wiki commons)  Minnesota and Wisconsin are politically bipolar.  Wisconsin, in particular.  The home to so many progressives and union activists is the same state that gave us Joe McCarthy and Paul Ryan.  McCarthy’s  record of deception, witch-hunting, black-listing, career-wrecking and defamation, speaks for itself.  Congressman Ryan, who grew up in a nearly all-white town, attended a nearly all-white college and then went to work for his family’s small town business before being encapsulated by the bubble of conservative politics (great range of experience), is “ranked among the party’s most influential voices on conservative economic policy.” -Wikipedia

Lucky us.  No surprise that this guy is to the right of Attila.  Before long, he’ll probably be calling for hearings on un-American activities.  Like his fellow-traveler Michele Bachmann, he’s on the “Less government and more God!” track.

“Our founders got it right when they wrote in the Declaration of Independence that our rights come from nature and nature’s God, not from government. – Paul Ryan

Apparently Mr. Ryan sees no gap between the figurative and the literal, feels no real need for context (a number of the founders were Deists), and thinks that if we all pray hard enough everything will be just fine.  Hallelujah.

My home state of Minnesota, is also on tilt.   They’ve given us Humphrey, Mondale and Franken.  The good ol’ DFL.  Common sense at every turn.  Garrison Keillor’s written a wonderful book about Minnesota politics entitled, “Homegrown Democrat: A Few Plain Thoughts from the Heart of America.”  And now, like a bad cold that won’t go away, the great state of Minnesota continues sending us the uninformed right-wing mental machinations of Michele Bachmann.

Some years ago, The History Channel, featured panel discussions with educators talking about the historical legitimacy of the channel’s programming.    The movie “War and Peace” for example, would be followed by a panel discussion on whether the film was historically accurate or just an example of Hollywood fiction.  It was a great feature, very educational, and I’m sorry they dropped it.  Had to make room for Larry the Cable Guy, I guess.  Anyway, I recall a particularly enlightening discussion on the founding fathers and the comments of one professor who said that some or all of the founders would be amazed that the American experiment didn’t come apart at the seams long ago.

The Return of Marcia Clark

 Marcia Clark

Simpson criminal trial  lead prosecutor Marcia Clark is back…as a writer of fiction.   Her first novel, “Guilt by Association,” is set for release this week.   That’s her in the photo, prior to her Simpson Trial makeover, which preceded the even more remarkable Beverly Hills makeover of Rosa Lopez by “Mr. Johnnie” Cochran.  Oh Lord, the memories are coming back.

Best of luck to Ms. Clark.  She’s probably been through enough.   Her first book, “Without a Doubt” was published in 1986.

Gordon Brown’s Disconnect With Reality

photo: world economic forum

Just watched an interesting if somewhat unsettling interview Tavis Smiley did with former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.   The former PM, who is on a tour promoting his book “Beyond The Crash,” argues that the United States has a rosy economic future.   He sees us as innovators and exporters.   Apparently, to do that though, we’ll have to get our act together, which, according to Brown,  involves some undefinable and mysterious nationalistic innovation, science and enterprise spirit-quest, providing us with a much needed boost coming from God knows where and who knows what.

Peter  Pan?

I guess Brown means the innovative spirit exhibited by U.S. companies like DuPont, which, according to the AP, currently sells less than a third of its products here in the United States, while its sales to the Asia-Pacific area are up 50 percent.   Accordingly the companies stock price is up 47 percent while the number of people it employs in the U.S. is down by 9 percent.

If orders are up DuPont must be hiring somewhere?  Of course they are.  Overseas, where its workforce shot up by 54 percent.

Nevertheless, filled with what appears to be an unlimited and perhaps illogical amount of boosterism, Mr.Brown talks about our indomitable national spirit.  He says we can boom again in coming years by selling our products to developing nations like China and India.  Products?  Really?  You mean the stuff we used to make before millions of jobs were sent overseas, shooting the hell out of our manufacturing base and badly crippling the middle and upper middle class?  Those products?

I don’t know what Mr. Brown was keeping an eye on for the past several decades, but a number of us here in the U.S. were watching the economic indicators and business trends and noting with more than a little concern that we can’t all flip burgers for a living.

I don’t mean to be a nervous Nelly about the future, but somebody, please give Mr. Brown a copy of the story the AP is running entitled “Where are the jobs?  For many companies, overseas.”

AP reporter Pallavi Gogoi, points out that millions of U.S. jobs have been sent offshore.  I don’t know why or how Mr. Brown thinks we’ll be getting those jobs back.   The story further points out that corporate profits and stock prices are up while companies are experiencing most of their growth not here in the U.S., but overseas.   This keeps the stock market happy while unemployment in the U.S. remains unacceptably high.

As the senior international economist for the Economic Policy Institute Robert Scott puts it,  “There’s a huge difference between what is good for American companies versus what is good for the American economy.” 

It’s no wonder Tavis Smiley had a quizzical look on his face during much of his interview with Mr. Brown.

Will somebody please get a copy of Gogoi’s story to the former PM?  He may need to do a quick rewrite on his book.  Or at the very least, adjust his talking points.

Dubya Bush, An American Prince In Retirement

 George W. Bush - photo: wiki commons  An interesting review of Dubya’s new book “Decision Points” from Anis Shivani in the Huffington Post.   I particularly like this part of it:

-“Reviews in the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and New York Times treat Bush respectfully — much as a Machiavellian prince would desire to be treated after going into retirement; too often reviewers play Bush’s game by humanizing him, or treating him with humor, or safely relegating him to history.”-Anis Shivani

I have a hard time dealing with this ongoing national delusion.  It’s like believing that Peter Pan will fly in to save us, or that W. Bush himself actually did the writing in this book.

We are a nation of laws.  Or we used to be.   It is (or was) the foundation of our nation.   George W.Bush badly undermined that foundation, when, in a dictator-like fashion, he issued a proclamation that the United States would no longer abide by the Geneva Conventions.   In a move that can only be described as fascist, he set aside international law.  It was a monumental shift for the country, and yet, I have no memory of the American people being asked for their approval.

It was always my feeling that I lived in a country where those in power needed the approval of their constituents before moving forward to change principles that have guided the nation for a great many years.  What was it that Thomas Jefferson wrote?  Something about governments “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed?”

Nobody asked for my approval of torture.

Amnesty International is calling for “a criminal investigation into the role of former US President George W. Bush and other officials in the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” against detainees held in secret US custody after the former president admitted authorizing their use.”

There was no referendum on any of this, he just did it.  Much the same as when the Supreme Court shutdown the vote count in Florida.  And we let him (and them) get away with it.  He also laid the groundwork for the destruction of our economy and the ruination of the middle class by taking the country into two wars on a credit card after convincing the American people a second war was justified by his implication that we faced a real nuclear threat from a nation with no nuclear capability.   Any reasonable and rational person knows that in all likelihood, evidence was fabricated, with the exception of his statement;“…..this is the guy who tried to kill my dad!”   That one part of it appears to be true.

Do we even need to get into the fact that the sub-prime housing meltdown happened on his watch?  Do we even need to go there at this point?

And now he’s on a book tour?  And people are buying his book?  And reviewers are going easy on him?

At what point did the country go brain dead?

We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions. ” – Ronald Reagan

Barack Obama – Just Another Dictator?

David Swanson, author of the recently published “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union,” tells “Truthout” that the nation shouldn’t be satisfied to move forward with the idea that we have replaced “a bad dictator with a good dictator….It’s the wrong place to look for a savior,” he says.  “We should be looking to ourselves……There’s no question that he (Mr. Obama) committed to progressive ideals and went back on them.”

Swanson’s advice is to forget about the Senate and the President and focus on the House.

Here’s the interview from Truthout.org-

J.D. Salinger Dies

 J.D. Salinger

J.D. Salinger, the author of “The Catcher In The Rye” has died at his home in New Hampshire at the age of 91.   The book, featuring the adventures of the tortured and rebellious teenager, Holden Caulfield, was first published in 1951.  The impact of his writing is incalculable.

‘Enraged by all the “phonies” who make “me so depressed I go crazy,” Holden soon became American literature’s most famous anti-hero since Huckleberry Finn. The novel’s sales are astonishing — more than 60 million copies worldwide — and its impact incalculable. Decades after publication, the book remains a defining expression of that most American of dreams — to never grow up.’  -Hillel Itale for the AP

“Among other things, you’ll find that you’re not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior.  You’re by no means alone on that score, you’ll be excited and stimulated to know.  Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now.  Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles.  You’ll learn from them – if you want to.  Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you.  It’s a beautiful reciprocal arrangement.  And it isn’t education.  It’s history.  It’s poetry.”   -J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

A Train To Nowhere?

 It Takes A Pillage  Nomi Prins, the author of “It Takes A Pillage” and former Managing Director at Golman Sachs,  just put in an appearance on CNN to say “we’re sitting on a pile of subsidized public risk” that’s only going to get worse.   Prins says the amount of risk being taken by Wall Street has increased and so have their profits. That’s why the price-per-share value of the Wall Street firms has been rising.  At the same time all the indicators on main street she says, point to things getting worse, with more people falling behind in their mortgage payments and an increased number of foreclosures.   The situation out on main street she says, is worse now than it was before the feds forked over all that cash to bail out the banking industry.

” The Second Great Bank Depression has spawned so many lies, it’s hard to keep track of which is the biggest. Possibly the most irksome class of lies, usually spouted by Wall Street hacks and conservative pundits, is that we’re all victims to a bunch of poor people who bought McMansions, or at least homes they had no business living in. If that was really what this crisis was all about, we could have solved it much more cheaply in a couple of days in late 2008, by simply providing borrowers with additional capital to reduce their loan principals. It would have cost about 3 percent of what the entire bailout wound up costing, with comparatively similar risk.”  -From “It Takes A Pillage”

Most troubling perhaps, is that according to Prins the government hasn’t done much to bring the situation under control.

Kinda sounds like a runaway train, doesn’t it?  What a shock.   Could it be there has been no meaningful legislation to control the financial industry because lobbyists for the bankers have sent truckloads of cash over to the hill?   You know, the same thing the insurance and pharmaceutical companies have been doing to shoot down meaningful health care legislation?  In any other environment it would be called exactly what it is.  Bribe money.

Time for a reality check.    This is now a nation of, by and for investment and commercial bankers, insurance companies, multi-national pharmaceutical manufacturers and anybody else with millions to throw at the House and Senate.  The rest of us are basically screwed.   And the greed driven train wreck it would seem, is on the way.