Monthly Archives: October 2011

Herman Cain says he opposes abortion in all cases _ no exceptions – The Washington Post

GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain says he opposes abortion in all cases _ no exceptions – The Washington Post.

Herman Cain is now talking like a candidate who thinks he has a serious chance of claiming the GOP presidential nomination.

During an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Cain said he’s “pro-life from conception, period.” Far be it for me to give Cain political advice but at the very least, he should consider what he’s actually saying and whether he wants to include the word “period.” He might be better off with “end of story” or “that’s all, folks.”

This is a turn from Cain’s previous statement made way back sometime last week that confused a lot of people because they had either read it or heard it, which is really not the best way to encounter Cain’s stance on the issues.

CAIN:… Abortion should not be legal; that is clear. But if that family made a decision to break the law, that’s that family’s decision. That’s all I’m trying to say.

Far be it for me to give Cain political advice again but at the very least, he should consider what he’s actually saying and whether, as the former CEO of a pizza chain called “Godfather’s Pizza,” he wants to say it’s “the family’s” decision to break the law.

As wonky as that comment was, it was nothing compared to his attempt to link Planned Parenthood to racial genocide.

Cain said Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger wanted to eradicate minorities by putting birth control clinics in their neighborhoods, a charge that the group denies.

“In Margaret Sanger’s own words, she didn’t use the word genocide, but she did talk about preventing the increasing number of poor blacks in this country by preventing black babies from being born,” Cain said.

The indisputable logic here is that Planned Parenthood today is a racist institution because it was founded by a racist. Presumably, Cain also thinks that the United States is a racist country because it was founded by slave owners.

In his new campaign manifesto, “This is Herman Cain: My Journey to the White House,” the candidate states repeatedly and without qualification that “Our Founding Fathers did their job … a great job.” He makes no mention of the blacks who fled George Washington, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson during the Revolutionary War in search of their freedom, or the Constitution’s protection of slavery, or that the initial Constitution forbade Congress from prohibiting American participation in the international slave trade for 20 years and indeed made that provision unamendable.

Oh, I guess he doesn’t. Well, let’s not keep Cain’s apparent hand-waving over historical wrongs get in the way of his focus on Planned Parenthood’s racist actions in the present.

Cain said Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger wanted to eradicate minorities by putting birth control clinics in their neighborhoods, a charge that the group denies.

Cain said 75 percent of the organization’s abortion facilities were built in black communities.

“In Margaret Sanger’s own words, she didn’t use the word genocide, but she did talk about preventing the increasing number of poor blacks in this country by preventing black babies from being born,” Cain said.

I’m not sure if Cain actually believes this nonsense or whether he’s having fun making racially inflammatory statements that would have resulted in a full-day FOX News marathon of condemnation if Obama had said them or been in the presence of someone who said them. It’s actually possible that Cain supporters, offended by his racial genocide comments, will still blame Obama somehow for it.

During the “Face the Nation” interview, Cain was asked if his anti-abortion stance also extended to cases of rape, incest, or life of the mother. Cain went for the hat trick of reproductive regulation and responded, “Correct, that’s my position.”

Far be it for me to give Cain political advice yet again but at the very least, he should consider what he’s actually saying and whether he wants to utter the phrase “that’s my position” when discussing rape or incest. It’s just odd.

Perhaps instead of pizza, Cain’s next business venture will be “No Exceptions” jeans for women.


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The Tragedy of Bernie and Ruth Madoff…

According to a CBS interview with Ruth Madoff, wife of petty swindler Bernard Madoff, she and her husband attempted to kill themselves on Christmas Eve 2008:

Ruth Madoff, in her first public comments on life with her husband, said they swallowed a large number of pills because they ‘couldn’t go on any more’.

The couple lay down on their bed next to each other…  hoping to die, but woke up the next morning unharmed.

I guess it’s not surprising that Bernard Madoff could not even honor a suicide pact. It’s also not surprising that crushing guilt over having ruined the lives of people who trusted him did not lead them to this desperate act.

Mrs Madoff, 68, said she and her husband, 73, had been driven to desperation by the abuse they received since he confessed earlier that month to being behind the world’s biggest ever financial crime.

‘I don’t know whose idea it was, but we decided to kill ourselves because it was so horrendous what was happening.’

Yes, it is a bummer when people are upset that you’ve robbed them both blind and deaf. Unfortunately, the Madoffs survived and now Ruth is living in modest means in Florida. Considering all the Jewish victims of Madoff’s crime, it strikes me as odd that Ruth would choose the sunshine state for her exile. Idaho might have been preferable.

(Ruth Madoff) has exchanged the lifestyle of a billionaire for a modest £200,000 flat in Florida where she hands out meals to the homeless.

She is also now so poor that relatives are giving her handouts and she has been reduced to driving around a rusty 14-year-old car.

Someone should check to ensure how many of those meals actually get to the homeless. Also, her lifestyle sounds better than what many Floridians are experiencing, especially if she’s not actually living in the car. I also don’t get the conspicuous consumerism behind the statement that someone is “reduced” to driving a 14-year-old car. Does it have turn signals, brakes, and an engine? Air conditioning in Florida is close to a necessity but I’m fine with Ruth Madoff just sticking her head out the window when she comes to a traffic light.

Meanwhile, Bernard is in a North Carolina prison, where he is apparently happier than he was on the outside.

Walters quoted Madoff as saying: “… I have people to talk to, no decisions to make. I know I will die in prison. I lived the last 20 years of my life in fear. Now, I have no fear because I’m no longer in control.”

Are we certain Madoff was sent to prison and not some run-of-the-mill nursing home? He doesn’t seem to miss his wife that much — though who can blame him if you believe what his daughter-in-law has to say about her?

What was Madoff afraid of for the past 20 years? Just that his business was a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors – including charitable organizations — of about $20 billion, while he and his family enjoyed a lavish lifestyle right out of the Robin Leach playbook.

His current lifestyle, though, is somewhat preferable to the state he left many of his elderly victims:

I am an 80-year-old man in poor health whose remaining years have been totally devastated by Bernie Madoff. My wife and I have lost every dollar of our life savings in Madoff’s fraud scheme with no hope of recovery. We have had to sell every asset that we own in order to survive, and we don’t know how long the proceeds will last. I cannot begin to describe to you the toll that Madoff’s actions have taken on us financially, physically and emotionally…. Mr. Madoff is a ruthless and unscrupulous man with no conscience or remorse.

Leonard Forrest
Port Saint Lucie, Fla.

These people know fear, Mr. Madoff. You only know cowardice.

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Posted by on October 28, 2011 in Capitalism, Pop Life


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What If Atlas Really Shrugged?…

“Atlas Shrugged” is Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel in which rich people, upset because they aren’t rich enough, go on strike and society collapses as a result. It’s an absurd premise: The rich and powerful tend to have too much to lose to walk away from it all. It’s the same mentality you see when a game show contestant refuses to settle for his winnings so far and instead risks everything for a shot at the new car.

The reality is that the wealthy are easily replaced. Actually, I should clarify: The truly wealthy — those who live off the income derived from property or investments —  are definitely disposable. Anyone can have a staff of financial advisers briefing you on your portfolio over breakfast. It’s the type of job you can do from home. However, the merely rich — those who still have to go into the office on a daily basis if for no other reason than to escape their spouses — are also not the treasured commodity everyone seems to think.

For example, if your boss went on strike, you’d probably take his job for half of what he makes, and you’d still see a significant raise. That’s because most corporations compensate its employees according to an inverted pyramid — with those at the top making significantly more than those at the bottom. The supervisor of the mail room probably makes a couple dollars more per hour than his staff — at least before they downsized the mail room. Meanwhile, the CEO of the company makes 343 times more than the average worker. This disparity was not always the case: In 1980 — yes, the year before Ronald Reagan took office — CEO pay was equal to 42 times the average worker’s pay. This is probably why the 1970s was known as the Great CEO Famine.

The tricky thing about an inverted pyramid is that it’s only a matter of time before it topples. The jobs held by those in the top 1 percent — heck, even the top 20 percent — are desirable not just because they pay well but because of the associated perks, power, and prestige. Unless you’re a schoolteacher, it’s more likely to find careers that are described as “callings” in the top 20 percent. In Rand’s fictional world, the top architects walk and there’s not a line down the street to replace them. This is silly. It’s a faulty syllogism of believing there’s just the best and the worst. If businesses don’t pay a highwayman’s bounty for the best, then the businesses will suffer. It’s the same line that A.I.G. offered upset taxpayers when it gave out bonuses in 2009 after receiving a government bailout.

“We cannot attract and retain the best and the brightest talent to lead and staff the A.I.G. businesses — which are now being operated principally on behalf of American taxpayers — if employees believe their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury,” (Edward M. Liddy) wrote Mr. Geithner on Saturday.

This is nonsense of course: It’s not like A.I.G. actually tried to retain its staff without paying bonuses. The sentiment also seemed to imply that A.I.G.’s “best and brightest talent” still lived in the U.S. economy of the 1990s, when you could consider leaving your job for another one just because it had better coffee in the break room. And it takes a healthy amount of gall for Liddy to refer to anyone at A.I.G. as the “best and the brightest talent.” These are the same guys that ran the company so well it needed a taxpayer-funded bailout. To borrow from Woody Allen, maybe A.I.G. should consider hiring “some stupid people.” They’re cheaper and the results couldn’t have been much worse.

Yet at the same time, countless companies suspended compensation increases for average employees — apparently not fearing an inability to “attract and retain” them. Viacom even added insult to injury and rewarded its CEO Phillipe Dauman for “increasing cost effectiveness” by almost tripling his salary ($34 million to $84 million). Keep in mind that “increasing cost effectiveness” usually means firing people or not granting raises.

Earlier this year, on the road to Occupy Wall Street, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker removed collective bargaining rights from public employees. Everyone should see this as the inverted pyramid beginning its inexorable tumble. As Rand would say about a different tax bracket, how much abuse and exploitation are people expected to take?

Let’s reverse the question Rand posed in “Atlas Shrugged.” What if the people at the bottom of the pyramid said enough all ready? Their government has little interest in whether they live or die and has become even more brazen in its clear preference for protecting the interests of the wealthy and powerful. What’s the point? Even those who can find jobs will probably never erase the debt they accumulated when they were unemployed. Banks will come up with new fees to siphon off what’s left (the new “it’s currency” fee — we charge more for currency). Who’s going to rush to perform their tasks? Is Dauman going to take out trash or wait tables or even answer his own phones? Until replicant technology is perfected, those at the top of the pyramid need those at the bottom far more than the reverse. True “rational self-interest” would be keeping those at the bottom content enough so that the wheels of society continue to turn. What we’ve instead experienced in the past 30 years is the slow, steady strangulation of the country’s golden goose — the working class.



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Posted by on October 27, 2011 in Capitalism


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Woman on the Moon…

Michele Bachmann’s performance as a presidential candidate continues to resemble Andy Kaufman’s career as a wrestler.

On “Face the Nation” Sunday morning, Bachmann declared that Iraq should reimburse the U.S. for the war. Yes, the one the U.S. started. Yes, the one that destabilized their country and killed more than 100,000 civilians.

“I believe that Iraq should reimburse the United States fully for the amount of money that we have spent to liberate these people,” Bachmann said. “They’re not a poor country; they’re a wealthy country.”

Bachmann is also waiting for African-Americans to pay back the U.S. for the travel costs and in-flight entertainment associated with the Middle Passage. I believe Herman Cain has already written a check for his share.

Maybe Bachmann has uncovered the secret to ending the U.S.’s economic woes. The nation’s new chief export can be warfare: The U.S. military will come to your country, blow it to bits, and all for no money down and a reasonable payment plan. You don’t even have to worry about minor details such as when, where, or if you even want this service at all. The U.S. will take care of that. It’s what we like to call the “old surprise visit” a la “A Clockwork Orange.”

According to Bachmann, demanding payment for the Iraq War is for the Iraqis’ benefit, as well:

“I think that they need to do that, because what we will be leaving behind is a nation that is very fragile and will be subject to dominance by Iran and their influence in the region, and that’s not good.”

See, Iraq is already fragile after we slammed it in the kneecaps with our military baseball bat, so we need to stick it with a bill for roughly $700 billion.

Bachmann is currently pushing the “Noble Reason” for the Iraq War — liberating the nation from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. This surfaced after the “Self-Defense Reason” was proven about as legitimate as any part of Heidi Montag.

To review, the “Self-Defense Reason” was that Hussein was either involved in 9/11 or supportive through training or might assist Al-Qaeda or was at a dinner party that one of bin Laden’s wives threw and on and on until everyone in the U.S. was thoroughly confused. This was actually educated and perhaps tactical confusion, as the connection to the facts grew more tenuous in the months immediately after 9/11:

Polling data show that right after Sept. 11, 2001, when Americans were asked open-ended questions about who was behind the attacks, only 3 percent mentioned Iraq or Hussein. But by January of this year, attitudes had been transformed. In a Knight Ridder poll, 44 percent of Americans reported that either “most” or “some” of the Sept. 11 hijackers were Iraqi citizens. The answer is zero.

The intent to save the Iraqi people and “bring freedom to the galaxy” is buried somewhere in the Iraq War Resolution but ultimately the whole invasion was based in U.S. self-interest, which resulted in 4,796 U.S. and Coalition casualties. So, more U.S. citizens died in Iraq than died on 9/11 in an effort to avoid a similar attack on the U.S. that never materialized.

Bachmann and other conservatives are attacking President Obama’s decision to withdraw troops from Iraq. It’s hard to make sense of this: We know for a fact that ending the debacle will save U.S. lives. The Iraqi government gets it. That’s why they graciously want us to leave.

…the Obama administration announced it will withdraw all American troops from Iraq by year-end, at the behest of the Iraqi government. Bachmann said Iraq needs more continued U.S. troop involvement to prevent Iran from gaining influence in the region.

Bachmann called the Iraqi government’s insistence that American forces be removed from the nation “outrageous”…

“That’s the thanks we get after 4,400 lives have been expended?” Bachmann said, referring to the number of American troops who have died in the Iraq war.

The families of U.S. soldiers in Iraq will probably be content with the return of their loved ones from a war zone. They will find a way to do without the handwritten thank-you note and a bottle of wine.

It astounds me that we’d actually discuss staying in Iraq when its government wants us gone. If the situation were reversed, I think we’d be pissed. That’s called an occupying force or, as the U.S. refers to it in its history books, “manifest destiny.”

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Posted by on October 23, 2011 in Political Theatre


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Wal-Mart’s Bad For Your Health…

The fabulous perks and prestige associated with working at Wal-Mart have been reduced, as the world’s 18th largest public corporation announced on Friday that it was scaling back its employees’ health benefits package:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc will no longer offer health insurance to new part-time U.S. employees who work fewer than 24 hours a week and will charge workers who use tobacco more for coverage as healthcare costs rise.

I’m sure moving foward Wal-Mart would never cynically hire predominately part-time workers and actively keep them below 24 hours a week, and the tobacco penalty probably makes sense — even if it’s a bit shady given Wal-Mart’s relationship with the tobacco industry.

Wal-Mart, the largest U.S. retailer and the nation’s largest private employer, is also slashing the amount that it puts in employees’ healthcare expense accounts by 50 percent.

OK, that’s a lot. However, Wal-Mart’s a struggling small business that only cleared a quarterly profit of $3.4 billion. Still, that wasn’t enough to calm Wal-Mart’s nerves:

The poorer customers who shop at the nation’s biggest retailers are still on tight budgets. They wait inside the store at the end of each month with full shopping carts until the clock strikes midnight. Then, their electronic-benefit transfers from the government go through, and they pay for their groceries and other staples. They buy items in small packages, which cost less than big ones.

See, poor people insist on ruining things for large corporations. If they weren’t so broke, they could buy more cheap crap and make Wal-Mart even richer but they insist on not doing their fair share so Wal-Mart has no choice but to cut costs where it can — not in the DWI bail fund for its billionaire heiress but in the health coverage for its employees.

If I understand trickle-down economics and “job creation” correctly, it is lunacy to raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires because they create jobs but it’s a reasonable business practice to effectively reduce the income of the people who are most likely to shop at Wal-Mart. Perhaps they’re gambling on the employees who are no longer covered (because they don’t work enough hours and don’t have much money anyway) playing Russian Roulette with six bullets and going without insurance.

But no one regrets this more than Wal-Mart:

“The current healthcare system is unsustainable for everyone and like other businesses we’ve had to make choices we wish we didn’t have to make,” said Wal-Mart spokesman Greg Rossiter. “Our country needs to find a way to reduce the cost of healthcare, particularly in this economy.”

A sound argument backed up by Wal-Mart’s PAC and the Walton family’s choosing to make political contributions predominately to the GOP, which openly states its intentions to repeal President Obama’s health reform legislation and replace it with a brand-spanking new nothing.

No, really:

Hermain Cain is basically only alive now because he’s wealthy and connected. His position is basically you should be, too, silly poor person. Romeny is busy running away from the fact that he ever at one point cared whether U.S. citizens had access to affordable health care, which is kind of depressing if you think about it.

Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke earned $18.7 million in 2010 — basically taking home more in an hour than the average associate makes in a year —  but his employees will see their health care diminished during a time when they are least likely to afford it and — strictly coincidentally – least likely to find better options elsewhere. It’s the plantation owner’s market.

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Posted by on October 21, 2011 in Capitalism


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Espresso and Whisky at Les Petit Cafe…

Espresso and Whisky at Les Petit Cafe…

Shortly after 5 on Thursday, I enter Les Petit Cafe on Rue Descartes. It’s hard to resist a cafe on a street named after the author of “Discourse on the Method.” Descartes famously stated that thought cannot be separated from a human being. However, he lived centuries prior to the invention of cable television.

The cafe is at the top of the hill that’s Rue De La Montagne-Sainte-Genevieve, a few blocks up from the apartment I’m renting. As the day weakens into night, the smell of cheese from the fondue restaurant across the street grows stronger.

The chill in the late October air that sends me inside reminds me of previous Octobers spent in a similar coffeehouses in New York in the days before Starbucks where there were independently owned coffeehouses in New York. There are Starbucks in Paris, as well as in Barcelona and pretty much every major European city I’ve visited. They all look the same as if they are exported in a model kit with easy to follow instructions. The android barista probably has a switch to activate the appropriate language.

When I first moved to New York, in my early 20s when I had all the time in the world and was as overwhelmed by that as anyone else is at that age, I would often leave the office and go to a coffeehouse in Morningside Heights on 107 and Broadway. It was then called the Coffee Lounge — “the uptown coffeehouse with the downtown vibe.” In those days, it was very important for hip things to be downtown or have a downtown feel. It still is, I guess.

Cafes are different here — you can enter one and order an espresso, a good beer on tap, or an excellent French wine. That’s at least three different places in the states with a distinct decor. Somehow a dive bar, coffeehouse, and wine bar all exist simultaneously and harmoniously.

You can also peacefully read, jot in a notebook, or have a quiet conversation, as well. That is difficult to achieve during happy hour at a NY bar. Coffee Lounge expanded shortly before 2000 and became a bar — The Underground Lounge, which still reached to the downtown vibe but the increased volume made reading the paper impossible.

The 20something Parisian next to me reads his paper while sipping an espresso. A different young woman, each of increasing pulchritude, walks in every few minutes and greets him with a kiss. Later, a blonde lingers past the initial kiss, resting a moment in his lap, then moving to an adjacent chair when her Cotes du Rhone (the 3 Euro house red) arrives. She stretches her leg, which is long enough to reach Burgundy, over his as she chats with the waitress. He leans his head into her chest and she strokes his hair. He seems happy. This never happened to me at Coffee Lounge, presumably because I never ordered the espresso.

The young woman working behind the bar sings along to Portishead’s “Wandering Star,” which plays on the iPod speaker dock behind her — the only words I hear her speak in English the entire time I’m there are “please won’t you stay awhile to share my grief. It’s such a lovely day to have to always feel this way. And the time that I will suffer less is when I never have to wake.”

She was probably four or five at the oldest when Portishead’s “Dummy” was released in 1994. I wonder how many iterations of women her age have sung along to these words over the years? One of them was the woman I dated in 2001 — definitely a woman to me then; now, in retrospect, it’s hard to consider her more than a girl right out of college who wanted to avoid law school (she ultimately failed) and who liked to listen to “Dummy” and Bjork’s “Vespertine” in the dark – as did I.

It’s now past six, so I abandon coffee for liquor and the cafe feels just like a wine bar once the whisky is placed in front of me. If I stay until 8, I would find myself in a french bistro — the menu is similar to one of my favorite places in the East Village — but I leave to walk down the hill as the odor of fondue follows me.

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Posted by on October 20, 2011 in Social Commentary


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Cain and Obama: Thrilla in D.C….

The latest polls show Herman Cain beating Barack Obama in the 2012 general election. This is based on a complex, scientific process of predicting how people will vote a year from now (i.e. “guessing”).

This is exciting: Two blacks fighting for the title for the amusement of a mostly white audience and it’s not Ali vs. Frazier. Let’s hope the build-up to the big bout is at least as entertaining.

Unfortunately, if Cain does win, he doesn’t get to be the first black president. Sure, the second black president is sort of impressive — he probably still gets to make a speech, kind of like the salutatorian at high school graduation, but few people listen. This is probably why Cain supporter Laura Ingraham claims that he would in fact be the first black president.

INGRAHAM: And what happened with Obama is that he gets this job that he’s not qualified for… OK, so [Obama is] Constitutionally qualified for but he’s not really qualified for. And guess who pays the price? All of us. Because we had such a yearning for history.

Well I have a question. Herman Cain, if he became president, he would be the first black president, when you measure it by — because he doesn’t — does he have a white mother, white father, grandparents, no, right? So Herman Cain, he could say that he’s — he’s — he’s the first, uh — he could make the claim to be the first — yeah, the first Main Street black Republican to be the president of the United States. Right? He’s historic too.

See, Obama, who was a U.S. Senator, was not qualified to be president and only won because we wanted to have a black president (it was on everyone’s wish list in 2008, along with the iPhone) but Obama has white relatives so isn’t really black in which case, if we act quickly before our warranty expires, we should be able to exchange him for Cain, CEO of a profitable pizza company and thus perfectly qualified to be president, who does not have any white relatives because obviously Ingraham would have researched something like that and not just talk out of her ass.

I’m not sure how far back in the family tree Ingraham is willing to go, but Cain is from Georgia and it was pretty hard for blacks to get through the antebellum South sexually unscathed. Slave masters weren’t that picky. They couldn’t have been because — putting it bluntly — having sex with a slave was probably like having sex with a homeless person. I’m sorry. Hate me all you want but you’ve been watching too many movies with Halle Berry or Jasmine Guy if you think otherwise. Slaves didn’t get access to the quality deodorant, moisturizers, and bath soaps. You think they got to shave their legs? Take all that away from even Beyonce and you’ve got something nasty in a weave. Now take away the weave: Scary, isn’t it?

Even the house slaves were probably legally required to be sufficiently less attractive than the mistress of the house. And the mistresses weren’t Vivien Leigh, either. Look at some paintings from the period. We’re talking about 4s or 5s to be kind, so Mammy is probably a 2 at best and the slave master is still putting on some Rolling Stones and violating her because the guy owns human beings, you expect rationality?

I know this implies that it was predominately Southern men going after slave women. I’m sure some bored antebellum housewives fooled around with male slaves but in a more sexist period, it was certainly risky. If she gives birth to a kid who looks like Obama, maybe she can pass him off as the master’s kid with a suntan and curly hair. If she gives birth to a kid who looks like Cain, it’s her ass unless she then claims that she was assaulted because she wouldn’t willingly have sex with a slave, she’s a good Christian woman, after all. So, her husband rounds up all the male slaves and orders her to identify the guilty one. She goes down the line, winking surreptitiously at the Shemar Moore-looking slave and then points at one of my ancestors, Jebediah Robinson.

Mistress: Yes, darling, that’s the one! I’ll never forget. It was horrible.

Jebediah: Really? Oh come on! (turns to Shemar Moore-looking slave). Dude, I thought we were friends. Look, when I said I’d be your wingman, I didn’t think I’d wind up in actual wings.

However, let’s say Ingraham’s correct and Cain is 100% black — much like the lady who flipped out on Jeffrey Dahmer in court. This would mean that the United States had gone “all in” on a black president. It’s like the guy who is bisexual in college but when you meet him a few years later, he’s dating men exclusively. If we elect Cain, we’re not pussy-footing around. We’ve gone all the way.

And it’s not even about skintone: As Cain says, Obama’s never been part of the “black experience.” Obama, after all, cowardly chose to not even be born when Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of the bus, whereas Cain bravely followed his father’s advice to “not start trouble” and sit in the back of the bus.

“…If I had been a college student I probably would have been participating.” (Cain) said that, as a high school student, “it was not prudent” for him to be involved.

“Not prudent”? Well, if Cain’s elected, Dana Carvey can stage a comeback by impersonating him. Apparently, Cain’s father advised him to keep his focus on education and presumably the promising career in janitorial services he would have had without the efforts of the Civil Rights Movement.

“Did you expect every black student and every black college in America to be out there?” Cain said. “…You didn’t know, Lawrence, what I was doing…maybe, just maybe, I had a sick relative!”

If the Civil Rights Movement was the black Vietnam — although blacks fought in Vietnam, as well, but just try to follow me on this  — then Cain marched not in Martin Luther King’s path but Dick Cheney‘s and avoided service with, maybe, just maybe, a lame excuse.

But that’s all in the past. Let’s see who winds up king of the U.S. empire when Cain and Obama step in the ring! If my analogy holds, this means that we’ll probably wind up with a brain-damaged president regardless of who wins but we’ve been there before.


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The Peasants Are Revolting…

I read this piece in the Economic Times, which states that “many see lack of focus in growing Occupy Wall street movement.”

The protests that began on September 17 by a small group of people in Manhattan have snowballed into a movement against the financial institutions, income inequality and corporate bailouts with thousands taking to the streets and courting arrests.

However, the protesters are yet to ask local and federal governments to adopt specific actions to address their grievances.

I suppose the pun (“see” and “lack of focus”) is unintentional. However, the criticism is not new. Bill Clinton mentioned it recently in an appearance on Late Show with David Letterman.

“They need to be for something specific, and not just against something because if you’re just against something, someone else will fill the vacuum you create.”

I know the protestors have a lot of free time — as many don’t have jobs — but why is the onus on them to fix the problem? And maybe I’ve being even more cynical than usual but wouldn’t any specific policy recommendations be dismissed as uninformed anyway?

I thought widespread protests against “financial institutions, income inequality and corporate bailouts” would be a good place to start, right? That is if politicians genuinely want to resolve these issues. So far, they sound like a really bad boyfriend:

“I don’t get it, baby, why are you leaving me?”

“You slept with my sister and you maxed out my credit cards playing full-tilt poker.”

“Yeah, but all that aside, what specifically is wrong?”

It’s possible to infer from the political realm’s reaction to the movement that it has failed to accomplish more than some front-page media coverage. Let’s look back at the beginnings of the Tea Party movement. Everyone, Democrat and Republican, was in a hurry to either embrace them or not piss them off. Clinton’s position is almost eerily identical:

“I think that, first of all, the tea party insurrection … that you see in these Republican primaries, reflects the feeling of a lot of Americans that they’re getting the shaft,” Clinton said on CBS’ Face the Nation. “That the people who caused these problems …the banks that were responsible for the financial meltdown, they’ve gotten well again. And everybody has got money again who is in that business, but ordinary people don’t.”

“So there is a general revolt against bigness Which in the case of the Republicans is always directed more against the government than the private sector,” Clinton said. “It’s totally understandable.”

The Republicans meanwhile have no concern about giving the movement a united golden shower:

Cantor Deems Protesters Rabble Rousers

Cantor slammed the movement on Friday in a speech in Washington at the 2011 “Value Voters Summit” intended to energize social conservatives.

“I’m increasingly concerned about the growing mobs occupying Wall Street and other cities across the country,” said Cantor at the event sponsored by the Family Research Council Action, the American Family Association, and other evangelical Christian groups.

“And believe it or not, some in this town have actually condoned the pitting of Americans against Americans,” he said.

Oh no! Americans against Americans! Brother against brother in a vicious blood battle! These agitators are stirring up the otherwise peaceful peasants against their benevolent corporate masters! Where’s J. Edgar Hoover’s ghost when you need him?

Fortunately, presidential candidate Herman Cain was able to make Cantor’s statements seem benign in comparison:

Herman Cain steps up attacks on Occupy Wall Street protests

Republican presidential contender Herman Cain amplified his criticism Sunday of the growing Occupy Wall Street movement, calling the protesters “jealous’ Americans who “play the victim card” and want to “take somebody else’s” Cadillac.

Yes, the protestors do want to “take somebody else’s Cadillac” — so they can sleep in it. Wow, Cain sounds about as rational as two angry ladies at a beauty salon in the Bronx.

“Girl, did you hear what those Occupy Wall Street protestors are saying about you?”

“Oh, Laquita, they just jealous. Just jealous of how fine I am and how nice my Cadillac is.”

On CBS, Cain suggested that the rallies had been organized by labor unions to serve as a “distraction so that many people won’t focus on the failed policies of the Obama administration.”

Huh? Labor unions organized this? How many of the demonstrators were actually members of unions? Wouldn’t they possibly still have jobs if they were? The biggest union presence at the protests is arguably the police — the guys with the solid health insurance and retirement plans.

The banking and financial services industries aren’t responsible for those policies, Cain said.

OK, so the Obama administration forced Bank of America to screw its customers? I guess it is Obama’s fault that the economy is sputtering along so that banks can only make jillions instead of gajilions. They have no choice to charge fees that would shame your average loan shark — though a loan shark actually loans you money, rather than charging you for the burden of using yours to play a riskier version of full-tilt poker.

And if the labor unions are pulling the protestors’ poverty-stricken strings, then we all know who is the ultimate puppet master.

Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who appeared on the program with Cain, offered a more measured response, but blamed the White House for the discord.

“There a lot of people in America who are angry,” Gingrich said. “This is the natural product of President Obama’s class warfare.”

Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, also pointed a finger at the president, whom he accused of fear-mongering.

“He’s preying on the emotions of fear, envy and anger. And that is not constructive to unifying America,” Ryan said. “I think he’s broken his promise as a uniter, and now he’s dividing people. And to me, that’s very unproductive.”

I’m sure privately Republicans are shaking in their boots over Obama’s Army of the Destitute. They will collectively knock down the pillars of our economic system with their massive student loan debt.

So what if companies openly discriminate against the unemployed during a period of record unemployment? It’s unproductive and divisive to get upset. Stay home and come up with some specific policy positions that your elected officials can ignore. Better yet, watch some bad reality TV instead and let Wall Street continue to steer the country in the swell direction it’s currently going. These are busy people. They don’t need your jealous whining.

Cain later conclusively proved the Occupy Wall Street movement’s threat to national security:

“To protest Wall Street and the bankers is basically saying you’re anti-capitalism,” he said.

I sort of thought that this was a protest of Wall Street excess, which did play a part in leveling the economy, rather than an outright broadside against capitalism as a whole, but unlike Cain, I never ran a pizza chain named after a mafia figure.

Wait a minute: If you’re anti-capitalist, aren’t you essentially a communist? And the terrorists also attacked Wall Street, so maybe these demonstrators are communist terrorists or, depending on whether you’re a Northern or Southern Smurf, terrorist communists!

In fairness, Cain was equally protective of Muslims as even though a small minority of extremists were threats to U.S. security, he realized that they weren’t reflective of Islam as a whole and to protest Islam is basically saying you’re anti-religious freedom.

(Yeah, you see where I’m going here: To the YouTube Mobile!:)

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Posted by on October 17, 2011 in Capitalism, Political Theatre


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Recurring Feature (at least until I tire of it): “What’s the point of this?”…

The Huffington Post thought it necessary to publish the following:

After widespread allegations that Ashton Kutcher strayed from his six-year marriage to Demi Moore, his alleged temptress, Sara Leal, is speaking out to Us Weekly, saying that she and Kutcher did have unprotected sex. Leal claims that she slept with Kutcher on September 24th after a night of partying — including a naked hot tub jaunt — in the actor’s Hard Rock hotel suite in San Diego.

Is there any public interest in this? OK, I should rephrase that: Is whatever public interest in the tawdry lives of celebrities necessarily something that the media should enable?

“Widespread allegations” that Kutcher cheated on his wife? Is this Iran Contra? Is Kutcher going to have to suspend taping of “Two and a Half Men” to testify before a Senate subcommittee? Why does anyone need to know about this?

Although Kutcher has not outright denied a relationship with Leal, he has taken to twitter to urge the public and his fans to not put any weight into the things that they read as well as to continue to support his wife via the 140 characters or less venue.

The latest? Kutcher tweeted a link to a pair of cufflinks with the abbreviated words “Cntrl” and “Esc” on them writing, “if we are not looking for one we are looking for the other Ctrl Esc.” Could this be Kutcher’s way of saying he lost control and now cannot escape or might it be his wishful thinking that he can control or escape the media?

Really? So-called journalists are now deciphering a TV star’s tweets as if they are complex passages from James Joyce?

I noticed that HuffPost offers readers the chance to “contribute to the story” — send in corrections and tips. I know unemployment is high but should people really spend their free time serving as unpaid and mostly unreliable Deep Throats? Do I at least get college credit? Sure, it would probably be community college credit, as it’s meaningless celebrity gossip, but what if I write an especially compelling essay explicating Kutcher’s tweets from his gothic period?

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Posted by on October 16, 2011 in Pop Life, Social Commentary


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The New Daily Show: The Anita Perry Report…

Forget those amateurs Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert: Comedy Central should devote an hour to Gov. Rick Perry’s wife, Anita. What she lacks in lucidity, she makes up for in insanity. It’s enough to cause Michele Bachmann to stand back and say, “Damn girl!”

She’d previously stated that God had wanted her husband to run for president:

“It’s been a rough month. We have been brutalized and beaten up and chewed up in the press to where I need this today,” she said. “We are being brutalized by our opponents, and our own party. So much of that is, I think they look at him, because of his faith. He is the only true conservative – well, there are some true conservatives. And they’re there for good reasons. And they may feel like God called them too. But I truly feel like we are here for that purpose.”

You might think this sounds like paranoid, delusional ramblings with no bearing in reality and you’d be correct.

Perry later topped herself when she blamed President Obama for her son’s voluntary unemployment:

Rick Perry’s wife Anita said Friday that she could sympathize with the plight of the unemployed because her son was forced to resign his job to take a more active role on his father’s presidential campaign.

Anita Perry blamed the Obama administration for her son having to resign his position.

“My son had to resign his job because of federal regulations that Washington has put on us,” Mrs. Perry said while campaigning for her husband in South Carolina, after a voter shared the story of losing his job.

“He resigned his job two weeks ago because he can’t go out and campaign with his father because of SEC regulations,” she continued, referring to the Securities and Exchange Commission. “He has a wife… he’s trying to start a business. So I can empathize.”

“My son lost his job because of this administration,” she said a few minutes later.

I don’t think that’s empathy. I’m not sure what that is. Her son chose to resign his job at Deutsche Bank in an effort to help his father win the highest office in the land, which might come with some perks for him down the road.

I can understand her blaming Obama for the lousy economy. That’s sort of how the game works but does she really think that Obama should make it easy for her son to actively campaign to remove him from office? Does she also expect Obama to spend his free time calling prospective GOP primary voters on Perry’s behalf?

Full disclosure: Both of these statements were made while in South Carolina. I should warn Perry that despite her time in Texas, she should ease herself into the Southern diet: The sweet tea, which is 98 percent sugar and 2 percent tea, and the chicken-fried steak fingers can go to your head.

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Posted by on October 15, 2011 in Political Theatre