Monday, September 7, 2009

The Wobble God Hypothesis--a personal caveat to How Not to Talk of God

One thing I do not understand about such discussions as these—and it is probably such a silly question that it does not deserve an answer—is why are we so focused on the generic God. Used to be that the God had a name: Kali, Shiva, Dionysius, Apollo, Zeus, Hera, Isis, Orisis, Set, Amon Ra, Thor, Loki, and so on and on. In the history of ideas there must have come a time when this generic God rose up and replaced these others.

I have three thoughts about this: One is that we forgot the name of God—supposedly—so we have to call him by the Generic. Two is that the name of God is so sacred that we dare not use the name, if we knew it.

I have heard, however, of a third explanation. That is that all these named Gods were associated with stellar phenomena so that constellations were named for them and so forth. These constellations and the dominance of the God associated with each of them shifted about once each 2,000 years. So we had an age dominated by the Apis sacred bull God associated with the constellation Taurus, an age dominated by the Ram God Osirus associated with Aries, an age dominated by the constellation Pisces which accounts for the fish imagery in Christianity, which has just come to an end to be replaced with the so called "Age of Aquarius."

When it was realized that there was a grand precession of the constellations ancient astronomers realized that this implied the existence of a super God who ruled over the others and placed them among the stars. Some think that the Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep IV in response to this insight overthrew Egypt’s ancient religion and created the solar religion of the Aten and created a whole new capital on the west bank of the Nile called Armarna to be the center for this new religion and renamed himself Akhenaten. From this new monotheistic religion many believe the Abrahamic religions rose.

Now astronomers realize that this grand precession of constellations is the result of a wobble in the earth’s axis which creates the way the constellations can be seen. Consequently, we might call this idea of a super God beyond all the ancient constellation Gods, the Wobble God hypothesis. The problem with the wobble God is that it did not have the personal accessibility apparent in the older gods such as Osirus and Isis and Amun Ra. That is the ancients could look up into the heavens and see the constellations, but they could not see the wobble, all they knew was that something or someone very powerful was causing the constellations to drift across the heavens in a 2,000 year precession, something that was literally beyond their comprehension.

Because they had no language to describe it, or conceptual ground to explain it, the Wobble God became the unknowable one, our generic God. Because it is much harder to have a personal relationship with a God created by a wobble they could not understand at the time, as soon as Akhenaten died, the Egyptians quickly returned to the worship of the older gods they could visually comprehend. Moreover, the 2,000 year change of the precession was far beyond their brief life times and hence impossible for them to comprehend the timescale involved in the recognition of this new super god. For hundreds of years as these different religions came into contact with each other, they recognized that each was an expression of these constellational divinities, so that they recognized Zeus as Osirus, Apollo as Ra and so forth. It was only the descendents of the Armarna experiment, as Jan Assman calls it in his book Moses the Egyptian, who persisted in worshiping the Wobble God rejecting all other constellation Gods as inferior to it.

What we are left with then is the Abrahamic religions who all reject the constellation Gods in favor of the unknowable force which set them in the heavens in the first place. And so we have the generic god who is without a name because its existence is literally beyond the ancient’s ability to comprehend as they had no knowledge of the spherical earth or its wobble which caused their view of the constellations to shift in a 26,000 year precession. This is similar to the enormity of the billions of years inherent in the geological concept of Deep time, which makes evolution so hard for those of us granted only three score and ten in our life cycles to comprehend that many reject it out right in favor of a much more familiar creation story from Genesis.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

An assault on the rights of the individual and freedom of conscience

In an Editorial published today (3/29/09) in the Washington Times, “The U.N. tackles religion” the editors argue that the Organization of the Islamic Conferences is making an effort to insinuate Shariah Law into the United Nations Human Rights Council’s approach to religion world-wide. This is a chilling “assault on the rights of the individual and freedom of conscience” under the guise of combating defamation of religion. That is to say combating the defamation of Islam. There is no effort to combat the defamation of Judaism or Hinduism or Buddhism or Christianity by Islamic voices, or for that matter by the Koran which apparently is filled with excoriations of every other religion. But then it must be ok for Islamists to revile non-believers.

What is wrong with this picture? If our Islamic friends would like to prevent what they feel is defamation within their own nations, that certainly is their right. But the effort to isolate the word “defamation” as if it were to apply only to Islam is an aggressive violation of what the freedom of religion should mean. Will our Islamic friends refrain from defaming Israel and Judaism? Will they refrain from defaming India and Hinduism? Will they refrain from defaming unbeliever’s generally? Is that even a possibility? Or would they see such a refusal to defame the unbeliever as a basic assault on Islam?

What we have here seems to be an unbelievable intrusion into the rights of member States to manage their own freedoms. Is this what we are to expect from Islamic states? Do they not understand that the United Nations is not a World Government and that membership in it is optional? Perhaps what we have here is a direct assault on the very existence of the United Nations as an effective community for diplomacy and free discussion. Perhaps this is a lesson to us all about the true nature of Islam as a religion that seeks only world domination and the elimination of all other faiths.

Where are the moderate voices in Islam? Where are those among the Islamic believers who recognize the rights of others to believe as they wish? Perhaps what we have here is yet another lesson about how there is no tolerance to be found in Islam, only a sham pretence of tolerance while it continues to be the fastest growing religion in America.
Let us hope that calmer more moderate voices are able to bring reason to the deliberations of the United Nations Human Rights Council in this matter.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Reefer Madness Revisited

When are we ever going to get it? The laws that include Marijauna as a class A drug right up there with heroin, LSD, magic mushrooms, methadone, morphine, opium, pethidine and penylcyclidine were originated by an effort of Henry Anslinger to promote marijuana as the drug of ax murderers. He is the guy who engineered the film “Reefer Madness” in order to promote the idea that America needed a second armed police force to deal with such drugs. The hysteria he generated gave us the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF). The marijuana he attacked in the 30’s was a minor herb compared to the hybridized and genetically manipulated monster we have among us today. We must take responsibility for creating this monster. Just as we must take responsibility for the enormity of the market we create when we make it illegal. Nothing makes a product more successful than making it illegal. We must admit we have done this to ourselves. We are the monstrous society that has created this monster—and others too wonderful for inclusion here.

The question is what to do? Do we continue to incarcerate one in thirty Americans, prop up the incredible for profit prison system in the United States? Or do we try to find someway out of our self imposed lunacy. The question that was asked of Obama Open for Questions forum yesterday: “With over 1 out of 30 Americans controlled by the penal system, why not legalize, control, and tax marijuana to change the failed war on drugs into a money making, money saving boost to the economy? Do we really need that many victimless criminals?" was bizarre on two fronts. First, it was amazing that he answered such a question: Bush an his cronies would never have tolerated such an impertinence, especially when the V.P. had invested so much money in for profit prisons. Secondly it was amazing that Americans seem so energized by the problem and so needy that they want to hear this president consider decriminalizing marijuana.

One has to wonder what would happen were the United States to suddenly abandon this prohibition. Could things be any worse than they are as we speak? It would certainly remove the income from one of the biggest narcotics gang enterprises in America. And it certainly might generate considerable cash for the tax revenue.

Did you know that the United States Government has the medical use of marijuana? After years of denying that there is any medical value in Marijuana, they have been issued Patent 6630507 titled “ Cannaboids as antioxidants and neruoprotecatants.” The patent claims that “Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and HIV dementia" [].

Someone somewhere is not telling the truth to the American people. Duh, I wonder who that might be.

Now the Obama administration has eased up on the Federal Government’s attack on medical marijuana so that there will be no more raids on the distribution of medical marijuana in states were that is allowed. A good first step, perhaps. But what is needed is a thorough review of the problem and a rapid move to decriminalizing the drug.

But in the midst of the rapid mobilization of our resources to save the economy from the Republican inspired wreckage this is one fight we do not need to wage right now. I agree with Obama that now is not the time, but the time must and should come soon. Like so many other traumas inflicted upon us by our Republican jackbooted friends, this is one that has to be solved and soon.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Wall Street Terrorists are back at it.

NOW JUST A DAMN MINUTE. We have seen how we got here: ten years of $5 billion spent on campaign donations paid out by Wall Street Banker-terrorists to key players in Congress and on lobbyists to make sure the pols do what is expected of them. These are not drive by shootings. These are not IUD’s that explode underneath HumVees. These are not even suicide bombers who send shrapnel mixed with their own blood and flesh jetting into Americans.

Nope. Modern Wall Street Terrorists do not do things quite so noisily. Terrorists usually love publicity. The old style Terrorists want the reporters on site, the cameras rolling, the first responders rushing with sirens blaring to the carnage. They play to the nightly news casts and want to spread fear among the opposition.

Not these new Wall Street Terrorists. They want to quietly move in with their money to corrupt politicians who might otherwise represent their constituents as they vote. They want to seduce these always-money-hungry pols with the soothing hypnotic siren songs: “you alone can save the economy. Let us show you how to preserve the ship of state.”

These narcissistic pols who have cut their teeth on campaign publicity know just how expensive attack ads are, just how costly it is to hire the young guns needed to put down the competition. The Wall Street Terrorists know just how to coax these ripe-for-the-picking week-kneed congressional opportunists into doing their bidding. They know just how desperate and leaderless and vulnerable the Republican pols are especially.

And in ordinary conditions these kinds of goings on are probably standard operation procedures in our corrupt congress. But not now. Now these Wall Street Terrorists have their coffers stuffed to over flowing with Tax-payer money. OUR MONEY.

These criminals do not even have the good sense to realize that things have changed. It is no longer standard operating procedure to corrupt the United States Congress with campaign contributions because they have no right to use OUR MONEY to poison the process of recovery.

Was it not bad enough that they wrecked our economy with these world wrecking unethical financial instruments enabled by the deregulation they bought and paid for in the late ‘90s? Was it not bad enough that they fixed the system to permit them such enormous wealth with bizarre arcane financial instruments which have now stolen the money from our 401K’s? Are we now to be stuck with the tab for corrupting the congress a second time?

What is wrong with this picture? Do we have to march on Washington to demand these Wall Street Terrorists be confined to ethical banking practices? Do we have to sharpen our pitchforks and light up our torches to get these terrorists’ criminal influences out of the governmental processes? The American Taxpayers own a controlling position in AIG, and yet unimaginably, infuriatingly these arrogant AIG executives continue to think they pretend they can continue to operate as they used to because they imagine they belong to the super class of oligarchs who own the system.

Someone needs to disillusion them, to remind them who owns them, and to demand that they keep their polluting influence out of the decision making processes trying to get us out of the wreckage they have left us.

We should purge these Terrorist-Bankers from the executive offices of AIG and other companies who are afloat only because they are stuffed to the gills with OUR MONEY. We should replace them with people who know they work for US.

FIRE THE TERRORISTS-BANKERS NOW! Send them packing to their colossal mansions or their giga-yachts. Better yet rendition their fat buttox to a Turkish prison for some well earned solitude

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The New Terrorists: Wall Street Bankers

America is confronted by a new and cryptic type of terrorists who are destroying America and castrating our system of government and extorting the American tax-payer to had over incredible wealth. These are not entrepreneurs, these are not even decent businesspeople: they are terrorists who deserve to be grabbed up off the street and sent to Guantanamo. A new article in The Rolling Stone [March 19, 2009] by Matt Taibbi called “The Big Takeover: The global economic crisis isn’t about money—it’s about power. How Wall Street insiders are using the bailout to stage a revolution” paints an appalling portrait of the wreckage the Bush Republicans have left us: what he calls “the gang rape of the American Dream.”

Beginning in the last half of the 90’s, Financial companies lofted $1.700,000,000 into campaign budgets of Washington politicians who might help defeat the built-in protections left over from the era of the Great Depression. In addition, during this same ten year period, they pumped another $3.400,000,000 into the Washington Lobby industry to make sure these bought and paid for pols—Republicans and Democrats alike—knew exactly what was demanded of them. The Grima Wormtongue these Wall Street Wizards enslaved was Senator Phil Gramm, who quickly mobilized the congress to repeal the offensive legislation which restrained their world wrecking plans. First, he repealed the Glass-Steagall Act facilitating the creating of mega terrorist banks like Citigroup. Then with the help of the Lobbyist Orcs set loose on Congress, this same grinning creature wrote and passed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act the last barrier was removed which set loose the chaos we are now experiencing.

Generating a gorgon’s knot of arcane financial instruments these Wall Street wizards began paying themselves enormous salaries compounded by golden bonuses. They got very wealthy very quickly, all the while the Bush Administration cut their income taxes so they could keep as much of their blood money as possible. The Black Wizard in the tower who generated much of this chaos was a culprit named Joe Cassano who ran the London based unit of AIG called AIGFP, the very group AIG tried to give bonuses too this month.

When the bubble burst one of these Wizards, Hank Paulson, was named Secretary of the United States Treasury by G.W. Bush. The TARP proposal this terrorist sent to Congress dared to describe the powers to disperse the requested $700 billion he demanded this way: “Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.” This extortionate request was met with shock by the Congress who realized they were being railroaded once again with the “do-as-I-say-or-world-comes-to-an-end” logic which had characterized many of the legislative initiatives of the Bush Administration. Even though they rejected this extortion and slapped a slew of restrictions and regulations on the money, dividing it in half, Paulson managed to give $254 billion to the terrorist banks while he took $176 billion in value in return. This represents a flat-out gift of $78 billion to these terrorists.

In the meantime The Federal Reserve Bank has been rushing $3 trillion into the hands of these terrorist financial institutions and has made another $5.7 trillion in guarantees of private investments. Neither the Fed nor the Treasury has operated openly about dealing with these terrorists, lest the American People discover just how this extortion works.

Now Obama’s Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy F. Geithner, who was trained by Paulson in the arcana of the extortion these terrorist Wizards have concocted, is planning another $1 Trillion for them. When will it stop? When we are reduced to a banana republic? When the last super power is reduced to a shrunken vestige of its once mighty bastion of freedom? I say, get the Gulag ready. Fill it up with these financial terrorists and throw away the key.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Happy 7th Anniversary Iraq War: March 19, 2003-2009

It was pretty transparent to me months before March 19, 2003 that Bush was taking us to war in Iraq. I also knew there were no WMD’s in Iraq, and told many of my friends they’d never find such a thing. The lie was so transparent; I never understand why no one else saw it as I did.

It was also transparent that the only reason we were going to war in Iraq was oil. I mean really, what do two oil men long for besides oil? Why wasn’t Afghanistan sexy enough to occupy the Bush Administration’s focus? That is easy. Afghanistan doesn’t sit on top of the world’s second largest oil reserve. So Bush was a liar, transparent and obvious. But to say so on March 19, 2003 was nearly to speak treason.

My best friend asked me why I wasn’t worried that there would be another attack from Saddam. Easy I said, there were no Iraqis on those planes that hit the Towers, hence we’d never had the first attack from Saddam, so it seemed somewhat illogical to anticipate a second.

More to the point, Saddam was our man in Iraq, as awful and nasty as he was, the CIA put him in power, Bush the first, knew full well—having been head of the CIA under Nixon, and V.P. under Reagan—that Saddam was in Iraq for a purpose: to keep the Iraqi Shia from uniting with the Iranian Shia and creating a Shia crescent power block in the Mid East. As bad as he was, he was our bad ass. In fact, when we did find some WMD in Iraq they were American made. George H. W. Bush did not attack Bagdad because he knew what was at stake, regardless of the brutality of the family and the havoc Saddam Inc. rained down of the Shia.

Now it is apparent that George W. Bush wanted to be a better president than his dad. We should probably call him Oedibush. And he thought the way to do that was to take out Saddam, besides as Bush said before the television cameras on September 2, 2002 “this is the guy who tried to kill my dad." So it was a personal vendetta to George the second. Did I say transparent? Still what I found amazing was the hysteria that gripped my friends and made my protestations seem unpatriotic and hardly tolerable. Now on the seventh anniversary of the launch of the war, that transparency seems available to a majority of Americans.

Americans now know no WMDs have been found, though one of my best students still claims that they were trucked off to Syria before the attack.

Americans now know that despite Colin Powell’s magisterial assertions before the Security Council there were no mobile germ warfare labs found. In fact, what Bush and Company insisted were such labs turned out to be vehicles designed to generate hydrogen for weather balloons.

Americans now know that Iraq never tried to buy Yellow cake uranium from Niger. In fact a huge scandal broke out from this when Vice President Cheney tried to take revenge on former Ambasador Joseph C. Wilson when he debunked the story by outing his wife, Valerie Plame Wilson as a CIA agent. Americans were shocked by this act of treason and were amazed when Scooter Libby was indicted and convicted for obstruction of justice and two counts of perjury during his testimony before a grand jury conducted inassociation with the investigation.

Americans now know that the threats of “mushroom clouds” appearing over American Cities from Saddam’s nuclear weapons program was a complete hoax. After we invaded Iraq we discovered that the program had been discontinued a decade earlier.

Americans now know that there was never a Prague meeting between Mohamed Atta, the lead 9/11 hijacker and Iraqi intelligence even though this was a lie repeated over and over again by the Administration and on Fox News.

Americans now know that Iraq never provided chemical weapons training to al-Qaeda and that in fact al-Qaeda and Saddam would have been bitterest enemies as he had no faith in radical Islam.

Americans now know that these six years of the Iraq war have been a reign of death unparalleled in recent military history. Besides the 4,239 American Military causalities, and over 100,000 American Military wounded there have also been an estimated 1,320,100 Iraqi civilian deaths.

Americans now know that during the 8 years of the Bush Presidency he apparently actually enacted the Unitary Presidency, giving himself unprecedented powers to become a virtual dictator. On CNN December 18, 2000 during a photo op with Congressional leaders the unscripted GW Bush before his inauguration said “If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." The Obama Justice Department has released a series of shocking Bush era memos empowering him to become just that. That he never chose to seize the absolute power is a mystery.

I mean here’s a guy who as Governor of Texas executed 152 men on Death Row and in at least one case bizarrely mocked the intended victim when he refused her clemency. He’s the same guy who squirmed out of serving in Viet Nam using every trick in the book. He’s the same guy who when confronted by the 9/11 disaster lollygagged about at that elementary school in a daze, then was whisked out on Air Force One to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana and then landed at Offcutt Air Force Base near Omaha Nebraska presumably to see shelter at the super secure headquarters of the U.S. Strategic Command were he hid out before it was demanded he return to Washington to speak to the public.

Dictators are made of sterner stuff. Now if Cheney had been President we WOULD have had a dictatorship I feel sure.

So it turns out that what G.W’s sweet little war did was to turn Iran into a superpower and generate that feared Shia crescent as a fact of Mid East Politics. G.W. gave the radical Islamicists the greatest recruiting tool imaginable in his crusader invasion. G.W. swore to capture and kill Osama ben Laden, but he sits safe and sound somewhere still fomenting plots against America. The economic wreckage G.W. left in the wake of this presidency is exactly what Osama ben Laden hoped his attack on 9/11 would accomplish—to bring down the world’s greatest economy. All in all it seems—in my humble opinion—that G.W. Bush was the greatest ally Iran and Osama ben Laden could have hoped to have and the greatest enemy America has known.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Why do some Democrats HATE some Republicans?

Today before I began my conversation about Flannery O’Connor’s wonderful short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” I started with a short prayer from our “Book of Prayers and Meditative Thoughts.” Since I had been charged with hating Republicans recently, it was an interesting serendipity to find this gem: “Father, I know You tell us to love everyone, but some people make themselves so easy to hate. They are rude and arrogant, prejudiced and sometimes “out loud stupid.” God, forgive me, I probably look that way to them sometimes. Help me to be blind to other’s faults and worry about my own. Amen.”

Do I hate Republicans? Hatred is a very strong word, but the quadrant of the emotional circle it comes from does accurately describe how I feel about what I have sometimes in moments of uncalm declared to be the God Cursed among us. There is a considerable vocabulary in this lexical quadrant that may come closer to what I feel when I think about things Republican.

Certainly I should worry about my own faults perhaps. But it is abundantly sure that I abhor the Republican behavior and policy as seen in the most recent eight years of the Bush Administration. I think lying us into an unnecessary war in Iran an abomination. The acrimony of right wing Republican talk shows filled as they are with illogic and falsehood generates in me a considerable animus. I find myself regularly alienated from my Republican representatives whom I know full well are not representing me in the decisions they make as they govern.

If an allergy is a spontaneous immune system reaction to an invading irritant, then I am certainly allergic to Republicans. The incredible corruption of the Bush administration is an enormous antagonism which provokes in anyone who believes in good government antipathy, aversion and bitterness. I admit to a cold contempt for the arrogance of Republicans who are mere corporate lackeys who allow corporate lobbyists to write legislation favorable to corporations and damaging to the general public well being such as the infamous Commodity Futures Modernization Act which is responsible for much of the financial chaos we are now experiencing.

I detest the attack on our 600 year old system of law when Republicans jettisoned Habeas Corpus, which allowed W to imprison whom ever he wanted without charging them with any crime. I disapprove of the rampant rubberstamping of Bush era policies which gave us the mistitled Patriot Act which was a savage attack on the Constitution. Displeasure is a mild term for the kind of emotion I have when I think about the Gramm-Leach-Bililey Act passed in late 1999 which repealed the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 and opened the floodgates to corruption on Wall Street generating the massive risks the Taxpayers now find ourselves paying for.

Distaste equally misstates the gorge that rises when I think about Guantanamo and the violation of the Genevia Conventions treaty we signed which forbade torture. Yes, I feel enormous enmity when I think about the possibility that the Vice President managed political assassination teams designed to eliminate those he thought were a danger to America.

Am I envious of Wall Street traders who get enormous multimillion dollar bonuses even as they drove their corporations into disaster. Oh, for the Republican dream where executives are to be awarded for abject failure and incompetence. Yes, I find myself regularly execrating Republicans for the odium of their looting the American Treasury. I do hold a grudge against Bush of leaving us in this economic wreckage. I have enormous hard feelings when I find my retirement income slashed by Republican incompetence.

I hate that Bush regularly cut Veterans’ benefits even as he regularly praised their sacrifice. I feel horror at the idea of turning Iraq into a modern Chernobyl through the use of depleted uranium shells which leave radioactive vapor and dust when they strike a target. Bush’s refusal to serve his country in Vietnam while he hid out as a drunken campaign worker is an ignominy I have never quite gotten over. I feel sick at the ill will Bush has created among most of the nations of the earth by his policies of savage interrogation, especially as they were exposed through the infamous Abu Grahib prison photo scandal.

I am provoked by the invidious attacks of the Republicans on Gay rights and the civil rights of immigrants. I have justified loathing for the Republican lie machine that regularly cranks out fabrications to mislead the American voter. I am shocked by the malevolence of Carl Rove’s treasonous attack on a CIA agent which broke her cover and exposed sensitive information to our enemies merely to seek revenge for her husband’s opposition to Bush’s falsified assertions that Iraq was seeking to buy yellow cake uranium in Africa.

I do not feel malice towards Republicans though I do not wish them well. I am politically militant against them as I work hard to defeat them in campaigns. I certainly have no use for them as drinking buddies or dinner guests. I admit to being in a pique when I hear Republicans at church jeering at Obama. I admit I have to work very hard to guard against being prejudiced against my younger radical Republican friends, reminding myself how young they are, and how they may well grow out of their conservatism when they discover the fruits of their ideology. I do feel rancor when I hear Congressional Republicans urging an irresponsible hooveresque do-nothing response to our current near depression economy.

Yes I feel rancor when I hear Rush Limbaugh’s repugnant diatribes force moderate Republicans kneel at his seat of power or else experience his bombastic over-the-air revenge. Is it repulsion or revulsion I feel when I see the sectarian violence set off by Suni Al-Qaida recruits against Iraqi Shia, recruits made possible by Bush’s “Bring it on” cowboy policies in the middle-east? I have only scorn for Governors like Mark Stanford and Haley Barbour and Bobby Jindal who would refuse stimulus money which would extend unemployment benefits for those in the midst of financial suffering. I am not sure there is spite in my heart or venom in my pen, though I am sure I regularly express my spleen at Republicans when they invite corporate executives to do the very thing they will not do, even though it is richly appropriate for them: to apologize to the American People and then resign or commit suicide.

Republicans are rude and arrogant, prejudiced and sometimes “out loud stupid.” Of that there is no doubt, and yes, I probably look that way to them sometimes. I wish the Lord would help me to be blind to others’ faults and to worry about my own, but that is an awful lot to ask in the midst of this economic wreckage and deeply personal suffering many are experiencing as they stand in the unemployment lines and watch their 401Ks wither.

So upon reflection it may be accurate to say I hate Republicans, deeply, richly, wildly. But hatred is only possible where there was once love. My mother was a Republican, as were her parents. As a child my older brother and I campaigned for Ike, even. I wish I could be utterly indifferent to Republicans—which is surely the opposite of hatred—but I find it difficult to be moderate in my reaction to them when they work hard to drive any moderation from their ranks.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


The recent comments of Senator Grassley that those who have wrecked our economy should apologize to the American People and then resign or commit suicide, preferably commit suicide strike me as an amazingly sensible notion, especially for Republicans.

What other block of Americans bears such responsibility for the wholesale wreckage of our economy than the Republican members of congress? Let’s start by demanding an apology from former Senator Phil Gramm. Then if he followed Grassley’s advice and committed suicide it might be a beginning of finding some solace in this wreckage.

So what did this Gramm fellow do?

1) As Senate Banking Committee chair, Gramm repeatedly refused to give the Securities and Exchange Commission the resources it needed to cope with fraud on Wall Street. In the 1990’s the SEC was overwhelmed with an 80 percent increase in its work, but it received only a 20 percent increase in staff. This is completely in keeping with the Bush administration’s willing underfunding of all kinds of regulatory agencies. Nothing new here, except that it was a clear and intentional effort to hamstring regulators who might have been able to reign in Grams’ big Wall Street campaign funders. As a result, we have Wall Street wreckage of an unprecedented kind.

2) Gramm is responsible for securing the amazingly damaging Commodity Futures Modernization Act which like many Republican bills of the time was conceived and written by financial industry lobbyists. This sweet little act, co sponsored by Senator Richard Lugar (R. Indiana) who might also consider obtaining an especially sharp tanto and obtaining the services of a skilled kaishakunin, made sure that both the SEC and the Commodity Futures Tradition Commission were forbidden from regulating any of the new financial products then coming into fashion on Wall Street. As a result, the booming new market in these financial products called Swaps, a $62 Trillion market—a market 4 times the size of the American Stock Market—was totally unregulated. What this meant was that no regulatory agency was there to ensure the Financial Institutions had the wherewithal to cover the risks they were taking. Only now are we discovering that the banks insured by the FDIC were functionally insolvent as they the funds to guaranteed the losses they now suffer.

3) As a result, Wall Street had access to our checking accounts, our IRA funds and many Pension funds to make unimaginable trillions of dollars of risky transactions completely in an unregulated shadowland. With no sheriff in town, every rascal with half a wit on Wall Street suddenly became a big player, earning huge bonuses as they took incredible risks with Main Street’s future.

4) Gramm is responsible for passing the Gramm-Leach-Bililey Act in late 1999 which repealed the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 one of the major legislative regulatory efforts to ensure there would not be another Depression. The Gramm-Leach-Bililey Act allowed competition among banks, insurance companies and securities companies. This bill, signed into law by Democratic President Bill Clinton, represented massive corporate welfare and opened the flood gates to the kind of risk taking for which the American Tax Payer is paying Billions.

How satisfying it would be to see Phil Gramm take responsibility for his debilitating attack on our fiscal regulatory system. How lovely it would be to see him follow Grassley’s recommendation and immediately apologize to the American People and then promptly commit suicide. Gosh, I love this Grassley fellow. He seems unusually wise for a Republican.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Letter to the Editor: Bush's Wrecking Crew.

Letter to the Editor:
Our republican friends [Sandy Brown "Career pols are at fault" CA March 14, 2009] regularly neglect some basic facts about this economic crisis when they try to blame either the Clinton Administration or the Obama Administration for the economic wreckage we are currently experiencing. Eight years of the Bush Administration’s incompetence has left Americans poorer, America weaker, and our National Economic Security seriously damaged. There can be no doubt this economic Pearl Harbor was caused by The Bush Administration and the six years of a Republican controlled Congress that rubber stamped his policies and budgets.

1) The FBI knew in 2004 about the widespread loan fraud. The Bush administration chose to do nothing about it. [See Paul Shukovsky. “FBI saw mortgage fraud early,” (01-28-09) Seattle Post-Intelligencer. (03.14.09),].

2) The Bush administration hid the expenses of the two wars it chose to fight, [see Adam Levine, “The dirtiest word in the budget,” (02.26.09), AC360, (3.14.09), and added $4 trillion in to the National Debt during its eight years in power. [See Mark Knoller, “Bush Administration Adds 4 Trillion to the National Debt,“ (9.29.08), CBS News: Couric & Co., (03.14.09),].

3) The eight years of the Bush administration were marked by wide spread looting of the American Treasury through government corruption and war profiteering, sweetheart deals and kickbacks, high level officials on the take, trillions of missing and unaccounted for dollars, non-bid contracts, as well as fraudulent contractor billing for reconstruction projects. [See Stephen Lendman, “Exposing Bush Administration Corruption,” (06.16.08), The Populist Party, (3.14.09),]. Any honest description of the fiscal misbehavior of the last eight years would catalog the most astonishing lawlessness which gave away Billions to Bush’s Republican friends and allies.

4) Much of the financial crash we have experienced is directly the result of the Bush Administration’s deregulatory policies and incompetence. Bush’s allies in congress, especially conservatives such as Senator Phil Gramm, were strong voices for freeing the markets from regulation on the notion they would be self regulating. Hell bent to dismantle the New Deal safeguards against Stock market misbehavior, Conservatives in Congress promoted the massive use of risky new financial products as they shut down FDR’s long respected traditions of oversight and regulation. Their misguided notion that the markets could regulate themselves opened the flood gates for massive securities fraud, the results of which we see all around us in our disappearing 401Ks. [See “The Consequences of Conservative Policies in our Housing and Financial markets,” (10.21.08), Center for American Progress Action Fund, (3.14.09),].

5) In addition, Wall Street firms awarded billions of dollars in executive bonuses to high flying executives even as they ran their firms into the ground demonstrating just how skilled they were as managers and just how irresponsible they were in honoring their fiduciary responsibilities owed to their investors. Even now, after massive infusions of Tax Payer money, these failed corporations continue to demand incredible so called “retention awards” for this class of unethical, greedy, and apparently unskilled executives. There can be no justification for these excessive pay levels, the inexcusable de-linkage between bonuses and company performance, and a complete lack of institutional interest in fair long-term performance assessment. [See Paul Hodgson, “The Wall Street example: bringing excessive executive compensation into line,” (May-June 2004), Entrepreneur.Com, (03.14.09),].

6) When the Bush administration’s wrecking crew had brought down the American Banking Industry, they launched the most audacious demand for $700 Billion to bail-out the banks, a fund they originally wanted complete control of without any oversight from Congress. [See David M. Herszenhorn, “Administration is Seeking $700 Billion for Wall Street,” (09.21.08), The New York Times, (03.14.09),]. Even with the controls Congress demanded, we have lately discovered that in bailing out the banks there was some $78 billion given out which was not guaranteed by any asset whatsoever: a flat-out gift to the corporate friends of Bush and the Treasury Secretary. Scandalously, the Bush Administration poured $254 billion into financial institutions but received only $176 billion in value in return. [See Reuters, “Regulator Says Bailout Fund is Misleading the Public,” (02.06.09), New York Times, (03.14.09),].

7) Wall Street is on record both in advertisements and television advice shows counseling Main Street investors to buy stocks and just leave them in their portfolios, to “stay the course” with their stock selections. Meanwhile in the back rooms on Wall Street was the real stock market where brokers were frantically making wildly dangerous deals and inventing exotic derivative products few understood to generate massive short term profits for which they are given incredibly inflated bonuses. This cowboy mentality was encouraged during the Bush Administration era with total disregard of the damage that would occur when this proverbial house of cards inevitably came tumbling down. [See “Jim Cramer Jon Stewart Fight Video with Transcript,” (from The Daily Show with John Stewart March 12, 2009),” Mahlo Answers, (03.14.09),].

8) We now know that for 10 years the SEC knew about the Madoff fraud but repeatedly refused to investigate the evidence exposing it presented to them by whistleblower Harry Markopolos. The irresponsibility and incompetence of these Bush operatives on the SEC has led to the greatest investment fraud in American History. [See Aaron Smith, “Madoff: ‘I knew this day would come,” (03.12.09), CNNMoney.Com, (03.14.09),].

That the American Treasury and the personal wealth of American Investors and Retirees were looted during the Bush Administration is incontrovertible. The horror stories of the origins and effects of this wreckage continue to emerge almost daily. Let us admit that we are well rid of G. W. Bush and his looters. Let us hear no more that our current economic troubles were caused by anyone else but George W. Bush as president and chief cheerleader of his “anything goes” attitude towards government.

Roger Easson