barney frank

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Yes, I’m spending too much time on facebook. Why? Well, it’ so easy. One waits for comments on your posts, posts on your comments, comments on your comments, and finds some posts, some comments, interesting even if you don’t comment back. It’s one gigantic blog where everyone is posting and commenting at the same time. The stream of information is sweeping by at an alarming rate. A hot topic one day disappears into the next. It’s information overload! But fun. Still, is it largely a waste of time? Not necessarily.

It can be a channel into interesting topics. Sam Harris has a FB page which I looked into and found an interesting two hour long debate between Harris and Shermer on one side and Chopra and Houston on the other. Juan Cole has a page. And Barney Frank. Then there’s Karen Armstrong with her Charter for Compassion. Countless others. Too much of course, and how does one pick and chose?

The net result is I ignore this blog. Not that I don’t have enough to do besides facebook. The Norway UU church keeps me busy. The stewardship campaign is beginning and there’s hardly anyone to run it. A flurry of emails amongst Chris Davis, Kathi Pewitt, Deborah Crump, Richard Beal, and me, plus a couple of phone calls from Chris to me, finally resolved a date for our kickoff meeting: April 16th from 5:30pm to 7pm. And then there’s all the church’s financial stuff with me as treasurer. Then there’s OUR financial stuff.

Enough for now. I’ve got to think about food and interact with Cynthia regarding the food, plus check our provisions.

Oh, but I’m reading an interesting philosophical book by James P. Carse, “Breakfast at the Victory: The mysticism of ordinary experience”. Fascinating but difficult. The need for silence. The heading for the sixth chapter is one of my favorites. It’s from the Rig Veda X:129:

Then even nothingness was not, nor existence.
There was no air then, nor the heavens beyond it.
What covered it? Where was it? In whose keeping?
Was there then cosmic water, in depths unfathomed?
Then there was neither death nor immortality,
nor was there then the touch of night and day.
The One breathed windlessly and self-sustaining.
There was that One then, and there was no other.
In the beginning desire descended upon it —
that was the primal seed, born of the mind.
The sages who have searched their hearts with wisdom
know that which is kin to that which is not.
But, after all, who knows, and who can say
whence it all came, and how creation happened?
The gods themselves are later than creation,
so who knows truely whence it has arisen?
Whence all creating had its origin,
he, whether he fashioned it or whether he did not,
he who surveys it all from highest heaven,
he knows — or maybe even he does not know.

Now I gotta go.

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Yes, I’m mad again! Every so often I get into this go getem mad mood where I feel like taking to the streets, pitchfork in hand, ready to go after the bankers and the rich, in other words after the usual right-wing manipulators of American culture for their own ends. But I’ll probably just remain a passive radical…. although mad.

Anyway, Frank Rich lays it on the line this morning in his NYT Op-Ed piece, Bernie Madoff Is No John Dillinger. This should be required reading for everybody.

Bernie Madoff is no John Dillinger because John Dillinger was a widely sympathetic figure during the 1930’s: he went after the bankers who people blamed for ripping us all off during the great depression. Today Bernie Madoff, as portrayed in the corporate controlled media, appears to be the focus of the blame for our great recession while Wall Street and the bankers who have ripped us off to a far greater extent than Bernie Madoff get off practically scot-free. Bernie Madoff is no John Dillinger. Let us wake up!

Frank Rich quotes from Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz’s Vanity Fair article as follows:

“In the developing world, people look at Washington and see a system of government that allowed Wall Street to write self-serving rules which put at risk the entire global economy — and then, when the day of reckoning came, turned to Wall Street to manage the recovery. They see continued re-distributions of wealth to the top of the pyramid, transparently at the expense of ordinary citizens.”

Joseph Stiglitz is mad.

Frank Rich quotes Barney Frank who told bankers back in February:

“People really hate you, and they’re starting to hate us because we’re hanging out with you.”

Barney Frank is mad.

Here’s Rich’s final paragraph:

In 2009, too many who worked hard and played by the rules are still suffering, while too many who bent or broke the rules with little or no accountability are back reaping a disproportionate share of what scant prosperity there is. The tepid national satisfaction taken in Bernie Madoff’s terminal prison sentence should be a warning to the White House. In the most devastating economic catastrophe since Dillinger’s time, many Americans know all too well that justice has yet to be served.

And I’m one of those. How about you Barack?

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I’ve been getting pissed at what’s going on. Here we have Obama trying to make nice with the Republicans, and you know? They could care less*. Some of them are masters at speaking out of both sides of their mouths simultaneously, while others don’t even bother to hide their sanctimonious nastiness. Mitch McConnell would be in the former camp, John Boehner in the latter.

Oh, but Obama’s just as bad as the rest of them! Look at all these tax swindlers he’s appointed to high office. Sure, squeaky clean you’ve got to be to get into high office these days, especially if you’re a Democrat. Tom Daschle’s tax problems seem large to the “ordinary person”, and they are. However, he is not a crook! He would have been the best choice to beat back the Republican machine which will pull out all the stops, along with the insurance industry, to beat back any attempts to establish what they’ll call “socialized medicine”.

The best guy for Daschle’s job would be Arnold S. Relman, M.D., but nobody’s ever heard of him and he’d have zero political clout amongst the hyenas. That’s why we needed Tom Daschle, tax warts and all.

I’m so sick of the news media, especially the sanctimonious news anchors, you know, Katie, Brian, Chris and Charlie, not to mention that slime journalist Maureen Dowd of the NYT. Oh, I’m pissed alright!

I try to read people who really know what the hell’s going on like Paul Krugman and Robert Reich, plus a lot of financial blogs all over the place. Hey, Robert Reich’s latest blog entries are really great!

Many economists feel the stimulus plan isn’t large enough! Even the conservative well-known economist, Martin Feldstein, Ronald Reagan’s chief economist, told Congress that the stimulus should be $800 billion.

I could rattle on but why don’t you just read Barney Frank’s latest comment? Frank to bankers: People hate you! OK, I’ll stop now!

* Well, according to this article he is making some progress.

UPDATE:
Here’s Josh Marshall on Denial As Political Strategy:

Behind all the back and forth over the Stimulus Bill is a simple fact: the debate in Washington is rapidly moving away from any recognition that the US economy — and the global economy, for that matter — is in free-fall. The range of outcomes stretches from severe recession to something closer to a replay of the Great Depression, though that label is perhaps better seen as a placeholder for ‘catastrophic economic collapse’ since the underlying place of the US economy in the world economy is very different from what it was in 1929. This reality was palpable in the political debate until as recently as a few weeks ago. But Republicans are using a strategy of conscious denial to push it off the stage.

Take stock of the last few weeks and you can almost visualize the two conversations — path toward economic calamity and debate over Stimulus Bill — diverging.

The other key into the current debate is that the Republican position is ominously similar to their position on global warming or, for that matter, evolution. The discussion of what to do on the Democratic side tracks more or less with textbook macroeconomics, while Republican argument track either with tax cut monomania or rhetorical claptrap intended to confuse. It’s true that macro-economics doesn’t make controlled experiments possible. And economists can’t speak to these issues with certainty. But in most areas of our lives, when faced with dire potential consequences, we put our stock with scientific or professional consensus where it exists, as it does here. Only in cases where it goes against Republican political interests or economic interests of money-backers do we prefer the schemes of yahoos and cranks to people who study the stuff for a living.

Of course, at some level, why would Republicans be trying to drive the country off a cliff? Well, not pretty to say, but they see it in their political interests. Yes, the DeMints and Coburns just don’t believe in government at all or have genuinely held if crankish economic views. But a successful Stimulus Bill would be devastating politically for the Republican party. And they know it. If the GOP successfully bottles this up or kills it with a death of a thousand cuts, Democrats will have a good argument amongst themselves that Republicans were responsible for creating the carnage that followed. But the satisfaction will have to be amongst themselves since as a political matter it will be irrelevant. The public will be entirely within its rights to blame Democrats for any failure of government action that happened while Democrats held the White House and sizable majorities in both houses of Congress.

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I’ve been following Robert Reich’s blog in recent days. He’s the incredibly short but friendly and articulate guy who once was Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Labor. You can see him every so often as a political commentator on various TV pundit shows.

Bob’s post for today, Friday, December 5, 2008, is captioned Shall We Call it a Depression Now? Here’s the final paragraph from that post:

Two things are needed: First, the massive Treasury bailout of the financial industry must be redirected toward Main Street — loans to small businesses, distressed homeowners, and individuals who are still good credit risks. Second, a stimulus package must be enacted right away. It needs to be more than $600 billion — which is 4 percent of the national product. It should be focused on job creation in the United States — infrastructure projects as well as services. Construction jobs are critical but so are elder care, hospital, child care, welfare, and countless other services that are getting clobbered. Service businesses accounted for two-thirds of the job cuts in November, meaning that the weakness in labor markets has shifted from the goods-producing sector of the economy to the far larger services sector.

I’d say he is right on with that. Reich is right! Not politically to the right, but simply right. The over half a million jobs lost in November should be enough to wake up even the most far right wing nut in the U.S. Congress.

But will it? There are still obstructionists in the Republican party. They’d rather have the whole country go down the tubes in order to embarrass Obama and have a chance for some votes come next elections.

Barney Frank is right too. Do we want an unmitigated disaster on our hands by not bailing out the auto companies? No. We’re forced to bail them out at this point, or the country really really goes over a cliff.

Hey, just my opinion. Of course I could be wrong. Any other opinions or alternatives out there?

UPDATE: Here’s an interesting little blogginheads debate between two guys, Mickey Kaus and Robert Wright. One is for the bailout of the big three autos, Kaus, while Wright is against it.

FURTHER UPDATE: Missy has a great post on The Myth of the Overpaid Union Auto Worker. Great cartoon and great comparison of the auto companies treatment with that of the banks. Check it out!

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