Thursday, September 01, 2005

August 31, 2005

Good Morning, Suckers!

So, fellow chumps, how ya doin' this morning? Man oh man, did voters ever buy a bill a goods when they elected George W. Bush, or what! In all my six decades I have never seen a free, prosperous people who had a choice so enthusiastically make the wrong choice, not once, but twice.

I suppose we deserve what we got -- certainly those who voted for Bush and his merry band deserve it, but also those of us who did not work hard enough to make sure that didn't happen. We all should have seen what was coming. It was your basic "does a bear poop in the woods" situation. But this bear wasn't satisfied with pooping in the woods, he had to poop in our workplaces, homes, bank accounts and lives.

Now we can't do anything but duck and cover. Reports from the front lines of the class war are rolling in today:

Poverty Rate Continues To Climb
Despite robust economic growth last year, 1.1 million more Americans slipped into poverty in 2004, while household incomes stagnated and earnings fell, the Census Bureau reported yesterday. The number of Americans without health insurance rose by 800,000, to 45.8 million.....The Census Bureau's annual report on income, poverty and health insurance sheds light on voter discontent with the economy in the face of seemingly strong economic data. The broad data draw a picture of a labor market still struggling to find its footing, three years after the 2001 recession. (Full Tale)

Nearly 50 million Americans Lack Health Coverage
The number of Americans without health insurance rose by 800,000 last year, reaching a record high of nearly 46 million, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday. Officials blamed the increase in part on the continuing erosion of workplace-sponsored health insurance. A majority of Americans still get their coverage by sharing costs with their employer, though a smaller and smaller percentage of American jobs are now accompanied by medical benefits. (Full Tale)

Personal Bankruptcy Filings Soar
U.S. personal bankruptcy filings in federal courts surged 18 percent in the three months through June from the prior quarter, as consumers rushed to beat the deadline for a new law that makes erasing debt more difficult, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts said. (Full Tale)

That's the news from the part of the economy most of us live in. Now, let's look at how the other side is living.

CEO pay: Sky high gets even higher
NEW YORK (CNN/Money) – If sky-high executive pay at publicly traded companies gives you vertigo, you might want to read this sitting down. In 2004, the ratio of average CEO pay to the average pay of a production (i.e., non-management) worker was 431-to-1, up from 301-to-1 in 2003, according to "Executive Excess," an annual report released Tuesday by the liberal research groups United for a Fair Economy and the Institute for Policy Studies....That's not the highest ever. In 2001, the ratio of CEO-to-worker pay hit a peak of 525-to-1...Still, it's quite a leap year over year, and it ranks on the high end historically. In 1990, for instance, CEOs made about 107 times more than the average worker, while in 1982, the average CEO made only 42 times more...The cumulative pay of the top 10 highest paid CEOs in the past 15 years totaled $11.7 billion. (Full Tale)

Mega Yacht Sales Soar
From miniature submarines to multiple helipads, boats of the business elite keep getting fancier.
NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Imagine yourself cruising the high seas in a lavish, super-secret ocean-faring vessel complete with a remote controlled undersea rover, a 12-man submersible and a personal crew of 60, including several former Navy Seals and a recording studio....No, you're not 007's nemesis in some 1970s James Bond flick. You're aboard Microsoft (Research) co-founder Paul Allen's $200 millionprivate yacht...Details about the 416-foot boat, named Octopus, are hard to come by. Spokespeople for all the boat owners in this story declined to comment. One even asked if this was an investigation into executive compensation.Of course it isn't -- it's simply an unabashed celebration of maritime largesse....Whereas Allen's Octopus is like the rugged Land Rover of the high seas, Rising Sun is more the plush Caddy. It's got 82 rooms spread out over 5 stories, with a staggering 86,000 square feet of living space, roughly the size of an average Wal-Mart. (Full Tale)

Tiffany profits up 53%
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tiffany & Co Inc. on Wednesday said quarterly profit rose a better-than-expected 53 percent as consumers snapped up more expensive jewelry in both U.S. and international stores....Sales rose to $526.7 million from $476.6 million. Sales at the company's U.S. stores rose 8 percent, while international retail sales rose 12 percent. (Full Tale)

Get the picture? And these stories, all out of today's papers, did not appear in The People's Daily either, though they might sound like they did. They appeared in our regular old, perennially behind the curve, mainstream media.

So, if you are waiting for any of Bush's $1.6 billion in tax cuts to trickle down to your wallet you can forget about it. Those who were already rolling in it before Bush's tax cuts are now wallowing in it. But instead of creating the jobs with the extra dough Bush granted them, they are using it to ratchet up their lifestyles from just plain opulent to obscene.

Five Star hotels that have traditionally pampered to the rich have been forced to add a sixth star of service to feed this growing appetite for exorbitant luxury. One of the fastest growing segments of the resort industry are private membership resorts that provide the weary wealthy luxurious homes around the world. Private jet sales are flying higher and higher as the rich shun commerical first class travel in favor of their own jets. No security lines, no taking off of shoes, no rubbing elbows with the commoners they are robbing blind.

Oh, and about those jobs they were supposed to create -- they figured out how to make even more money by out sourcing them to cheap labor venues like India and China where their earnings can be even further insulated from US taxes.

We've not seen the likes of this since the turn of the 18th century, when the first batch of robber barons raped and pillaged America's golden goose economy right into collapse and depression. They made a brief reappearance during the Reagan administration, convincing that clueless president to deregulate savings and loans, and not to worry because "greed was good." It was a short, but quite profitable, run. Mike Milken bagged a cool billion bucks in less than six years. Ivan Boesky, Charley Keating and host of other sociopaths posing as business geniuses pocked hundreds of millions each as well. Taxpayers picked up the tab, of course.

That was our first brush with the GOP scam known as "supplyside economics." One would think we would have learned our lesson. But if Americans are anything we are suckers for a sales pitch. Oh sure some of use knew better and tried to stop the Bush tax cuts, but such voices of reason were drowned out by the Amen Chorus from the right. Dim-whitted blue collar voters, whipped into a frenzy of righteous and clueless indignation by right wing demagogues eagerly donated their own and their kid's futures to Elmer Gantry Bush. It was so easy. They went like lambs to the slaughter, led by neocon herdsmen waving bibles and promising abundant milk and honey. Suckers.

Dare to Diss Cindy
Oh man did I step into it yesterday. I have a ton of emails blasting me for refusing to become a Cindy Sheehan Moonie.

OK, Cindy is a grass roots leader with her finger on the TIPPING POINT and that is the whole point. What other individual could you say that about? I'm waiting. I thought so. - Anyway, lay off her. She may be the best catalytic agent right now for what this country and the world needs - peace. Criticize if you must, but make it clear that her message trumps Dear Leader's in every way possible. With a perfect Halloween storm brewing, I'll take my catalysts where I can get them.


I have to strongly disagree with you regarding Cindy Sheehan. The woman is standing up for what she believes in and is asking a question that Bush is incapable of answering. The war has been based on lies from day one and more and more Americans are starting to realize that and I think she’s been instrumental in that. She’s as far from being perfect as I am but she’s shown a lot of courage regardless of the cost to herself.

You get the gist. I acknowledge Cindy has standing in this debate, more than I do in fact. She lost a son over there. But if the anti-war movement is going to declare her its leader – by default – it's making a big mistake. I recall Woody Allen saying once that "Ninety percent of success is just showing up." Cindy showed up.

So, I credit her for being the spark to a peace movement that seemed incapable of getting its own act together. And now that same movement seems terrified by that if Cindy disappeared the movement would as well. Pathetic.

Cindy Sheehan's place in the history of this sorry war is secure. Now it's up to the rest of us to build on what she started. Her usefulness from here on comes with hefty liabilities -- to put it mildly, In fact, if Karl Rove were allowed to handpick this movement's leader, he would pick someone exactly like Cindy Sheehan. Someone the GOP attack squads could discredit – and so the movement itself -- with half their brains tied behind them, one eye closed, balancing on one foot while singing Yankee Doodle Dandy in four part harmony.

So, go ahead now and build on what she started. But beware of Cindy as anointed leader, because she ain't no Rosa Parks. Not by a long shot.

From the Couldn't Have Said it Better, Department
Hi Stephen:
I actually think that for the antiwar movement to coalesce around someone like Cindy Sheehan is a mistake.

The movement, if it can be called that, is so desperate for some credible viable leadership that it is trying to hijack this woman’s grief as a catalyst for future growth. I believe that is wrong. I think Sheehan should politely or not so politely tell all the hangers-on and the remoras who have gathered at Camp Casey that it’s time for them to get their parasitic little asses out there and to make their own movement. Then she should invite all the other parents whose kids have lost their lives (or the husbands/wives with kids who’ve lost their fathers to this horrific war) to come to Crawford or Washington or wherever this war criminal tries to appear without acknowledging his responsibility so that they can confront his ass with their legitimate grievances.

Can you imagine the teenagers whose parents went off to the reserves never dreaming that such a clusterfuck would ensue and who are now left without a parent and with one who is completely wracked with grief at a time when the kids need both of them? Who the fuck ever thought we’d see people in their thirties and forties dying in significant numbers in military action? Who ever thought we’d see women getting killed without one bit of debate over it (I must admit to being a little chauvinistic in this area)?

And now wacky white supremacists trying to climb onboard the Cindy train to protest what they call Israel’s war. I wonder when rove got the idea to fund those f--kers. What better way to discredit this group of dissenters than to have the real lunatic fringe join the parade? Wanna bet real violence will follow them like flies on shit?

Leave Cindy to her own protest while pillorying the left for its total lack of originality and perspective. What the democrats should be doing right now is jettisoning assholes like Carville who lost all credibility the minute that wife of his went to work for Cheney and the entire membership of the DLC. That group should be looked on as the ladies’ auxiliary of the Republican National Committee and treated as such by everyone who believes the Democrats have sold us out over the past 25 years.

I graduated from high school in 1968 and arrived in Vietnam as a marine in 1969. Little did I know that the next 35 years would be more harrowing than the time I spent in-country. It’s time for the politicians responsible for that to pay the piper, whether it be Ted Kennedy, that disgrace Dodd, Lieberman the sellout, or the asshole senators from New York, Schumer and Clinton. Let’s not forget Joe Biden, John Kerry, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Daschle, Gephadrt and all the rest.

Keep the faith, brother,

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