These past two years have certainly helped my personal growth.
The sell-out of Obama & most Democrat office-holders has schooled me in the total hypocrisy & destructiveness of politics based upon “party above all.”
Policies that should & would evoke unrelenting condemnation from all liberals if perpetrated by W.Bush are tolerated from B. Obama. Democrats plead for patience in the face of neglect of the jobless, growing poverty, continued war, environmental catastrophe, etc. Would they be so patient if President McCain’s track record were so dismal?
On the other side of the aisle, Republicans despise Obama & label him a Socialist, Nazi, anti-Christ, etc. But oddly enough he has done nothing that, under George Bush (or President McCain), would not have been tolerated if not happily welcomed.
As for me, I plan to follow my conscience & good sense without regard of political party. I will support & vote for only those candidates whom I can count upon to protect my interests. All Republicans certainly have failed that test & so have most all Democrats. Therefore, to Hell with both parties.
A while back, I read a few postings that propounded President Obama is frustrated & bored with the presidency. White House insiders say the day-to-day tasks of governing fill him with ennui and he perks-up only when focusing on sports or campaigning or hob-nobbing with celebrities.
Yep, it shows.
Here, definitely, is a disinterested worker who finds his job tedious to the point of incompetence. I have seen it many times. The Prez is the kind of place-holder who does just enough and does it just well-enough to barely get by while reserving his real attention for playing-around on the job. In the average American workplace, Barry would be the guy who spends most of his time running the office sports betting pool, ducking-out early, & talking about golf. I once had a boss like Obama: an intelligent physicist whose workdays were filled with working on his antique clock collection, reading joke-books to his subordinates, & tracking his investments. Meanwhile, his entire department was in chaos because he spent virtually no brain-power on managing. Eventually, he was moved-aside where he could play without harming the organization.
But I called this essay, “Hail Caesar!” And that is because there is an historic personage who puts me in mind of our Commander-in-Chief: Emperor Nero, ruler of the Roman Empire 54 to 68 A.D.
In what way does Obama’s character resemble Nero’s? Well, Nero, who assumed office at the age of 16 had little interest in running the vast empire… he left that to his subordinates. Instead, he saw himself as an artist and concentrated on his love for music, theater, & poetry. He regularly entertained Roman audiences by singing on stage & performing in classical Greek plays. He loved to be the center of attention and wallowed in the power of his office but dodged the actual work.
In the beginning, Nero’s subjects loved him but grew embittered as he ignored problems such as famines in favor of having fun. In 64 A.D. 70% of the city of Rome burned to the ground. At first, Nero refused to return to help during the catastrophe because he & his entourage were vacationing at the seashore. It is a myth that Nero played his violin while Rome burned; the fiddle wasn’t invented until the 1700′s. But the myth probably got its start from Nero spending his time immediately after the fire plucking his lyre (a type of harp) and composing a song about the tragedy. Some of Nero’s enemies spread rumors that the by now-unpopular Emperor had set the city afire. Nero distracted the public’s attention by blaming the fire on followers of the new Christian religion. He held huge gala mass executions of Christians accompanied by the Emperor, dressed as the god Apollo, driving a chariot through the streets.
In 67 A.D., near the end of his reign he undertook a year-long tour of Greece where he entered singing competitions & chariot races. To feed Nero’s deluded ego, his aides filled the audiences with paid applauders. His weary subjects felt betrayed by negligence. He returned home to be overthrown (& commit suicide).
Am I the only one who can see echoes of Nero in our president? Faced with our economic collapse, our corrupt & creaking system that is grinding people around the world to bits, and an exploitative ruling class that thinks only of enriching itself, Obama seems disinterested in tackling the problems. He is distant & disengaged & his eyes glaze-over. But his eyes brighten during vacations, fluffy tv talk-show appearances, & events with Hollywood stars. I honestly think he was more interested & involved in the recent Oval Office redecorating than he was in creating the odious healthcare “reform” legislation.
Not that Barack Obama would be alone in evoking comparisons with the oppressive rulers of the latter-day Roman Empire. In fact, our entire aristocratic class has assumed the mantle of the decadent monsters of old Rome. Whereas Nero had much competition for the title, he is widely considered worst emperor in Roman history. I believe future historians will examine deserving competitors such as both Bushes, Buchanan, & Grant but they will settle on Obama as the worst president in American history.
Oh, how I wish I was still innocent-enough to be surprised by this news.
Haiti still languishes under a mountain of rubble nearly 8 months after its earthquake. Only 2% of the wreckage has been cleared. Why? Because no one inside or outside Haiti has come-up with a “master-plan” to deal with the mess. And until the mess is removed the rebuilding cannot begin.
Thanks to efforts by the powerful nations, who continued to undermine Haiti in every way as revenge for Haiti having thrown-off enslavement to France back around 1800, Haiti was one of the armpits of the world. But remember the reaction immediately following the quake? Haiti was suddenly one of the darling beloved spots of the globe. Weepy eyes, sending in the U.S. troops to quell unrest, Slick Willy & Dubya jetting in to grab the limelight & pledge help .Billions of dollars were raised for disaster-relief. But those billions are still unspent on relief for the Haitians. Hmmm… the money hasn’t gone for something else, has it? Chelsea Clinton did have a very expensive wedding recently.
Thank Zeus that back when Dayton, Ohio was destroyed by a flood in 1913 we didn’t have the bunch of empty suits we now call “leaders” in charge. If so, we would still be waiting for the city to be rebuilt.
Look for Haiti to be rebuilt about the same time as New Orleans and under similar circumstances: i.e. only after the poor darkies are dispossessed of any property rights so Capitalists can swoop in & make some big bucks without interference.
In a posting titled, “The Clinton Legacy,” over at the Bad Attitudes site, Jerome Doolittle reminds us that Bill Clinton, more than any other person, is responsible for passing the NAFTA (North American Free Trade) treaty. And therefore, he is responsible for many of our present problems with illegal Mexican immigrants. I was aware that NAFTA has undermined the U.S. workers but did not know that the legislation also allowed cheap U.S. and Canadian corn to undercut & bankrupt Mexico’s small farms. With their farms gone, the Mexicans come to the U.S. looking for a way to make a living (can we really blame them?)
Wait a moment! Did Bill Clinton not already apologize for ruining Mexican farmers this way? Oh, no…sorry…that was Haitian farmers to which Clinton apologized in March. He helped ruin them by getting Haiti to import cheap U.S. rice. I talked about it in my March 16 blog, “The Bill and George Tour.” Fortunately for American laborers so-far, the Haitian farmers could not get off their island so easily to come here. Instead, they have to just tough it out until U.S. Capitalists can ship the jobs down there to them. I figure that should start to happen very soon. The U.S. military occupation that started in March after Haiti’s big earthquake is even now making the island safe & stable for the empire’s business interests.
One could cut through my NAFTA-related disgust with a knife! I voted for Clinton twice but no wonder by the arrival of 2000, I voted for Nader mostly to send a message to Democrats that they needed to be more than “Republican-lite.” Those odious ogres, Reagan & George Bush #41 would have loved to have passed NAFTA during their times, but it took a Democrat, the worker’s friend, to coordinate that sell-out. (BTW- get ready for Obama’s similar Democratic presidential sell-out of Social Security)
Back in the pre-NAFTA days I still thought our “representatives” wanted to hear voters’ opinions and so I wrote them frequently. I mounted a one-man anti-NAFTA campaign where I wrote letters to political and business leaders and had as many of my family, friends, and coworkers sign them as I could get. And I got many.
I closely watched the sham debate leading up to the passage of NAFTA. The media and their Capitalist owners were of one voice: NAFTA would be a boon for Americans. Prices would drop and U.S. workers would safely move into high-tech jobs that are immune to being exported for cheap labor. Opponents of the treaty were portrayed in editorials & political cartoons as cretins on the level of cavemen afraid of the introduction of fire. The only notable person I recall as being anti-NAFTA was Ross Perot, who warned that businesses would move to Mexico so fast we would hear a “giant sucking sound.” 99% of working people I talked to were not fooled, they knew NAFTA meant unparalleled disaster for their future.
NAFTA passed and there was much rejoicing among the moneyed-crowd. The newscasts featured politicians and their owners grinning ear-to-ear in celebrations rivaling VJ day in 1945. I threw away my filing cabinet full of letters I had written over the years. I vowed never again to bother writing the politicians; a promise I kept until the run-up to the Iraq war.
Today we see the ramifications of NAFTA and similar policies that have been enacted by the evil monsters that pass for American “leadership.” Our industries lie in ruins. Working class income is in free-fall, with all classes but the topmost close behind. My beloved Dayton, Ohio, once one of the premier manufacturing cities of the world is little more than a ghost of its former self. Like most everything in the 21st U.S., the Capitalists made money off this economic destruction while the citizens got sold a pig in a poke.
Once again, as I did back in March, I ask: Will Bill Clinton will ever apologize to U.S. workers for NAFTA?
P.S. I was going to end this essay with the above question. And then I remembered that, during the 2008 campaign, presidential candidate Obama (now President George Bush III) said he would “renegotiate NAFTA.” Shockingly, he has since changed his mind about it.
A month has passed since BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil-rig blast in the Gulf of Mexico. My how time flies!
At this point, rational people (that excludes Rush Limbaugh & company) have started to ask themselves whether this mess may become the biggest man-made environmental disaster. Well, if BP and its wholly-owned subsidiary, the Obama Administration, keep things on the present course then the answer looks to be a resounding “Yes!”
BP had said the two holes in the ocean floor are spewing 5,000 barrels of crude per day into Gulf waters. Earlier today, the oil giant announced the latest fix it tried, which involved using a siphon tube to capture the gusher, is catching 5,000 barrels a day. Problem solved! Whew, we’re glad that’s over… what’s that you say? BP now says 5,000 barrels a day is just a fraction of the amount of oil that was leaking?! Independent scientists told Congress yesterday that BP’s hole is likely spewing 100,000 gallons of oil per day. Uh oh!
And speaking of holes… when fat-cats from the 3 companies (BP, Transocean, & Halliburton) directly involved in creating this catastrophe appeared before the U.S. Senate, they promptly and passionately helped clarify the situation by blaming one-another for the problem. Were any of us actually surprised at their cowardice? I am sure the Senators could appreciate & respect the blameshifting tactic since they themselves use it so well. It relies on obscuring who is specifically responsible for a disaster by making it look like everyone is responsible, because then no one is responsible. That same game-plan was used to explain the lack of response by the intelligence community and military to stop the September 11th attacks. They all failed so no one failed.
Yes, worthless Senators & environment-raping industry executives are all cut from the same cloth. They probably met for cocktails after the show, once they were safely out of the light of public scrutiny. Had I been a spectator in the Senate chamber during those ridiculous hearings, I can imagine myself reacting much like the downtrodden creatures at the end of George Orwell’s book “Animal Farm,” as they “looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”
And speaking of another hole… just where is our brave Commander-in-Chief during all this? By now even W, Godawful as he was, would have hopped into Airforce One and flown-over the disaster area.
Tragic, endless wars; largesse for big-business while the common folk foot the bill; and now, dawdling while destruction overwhelms a large part of the nation. The Deephole Horizon finally completes Barack Obama’s metamorphosis from agent of change to dark-skinned George Bush clone.
Bill Clinton and his BFF, George “W” Bush are still making the rounds in Haiti. The two of them together remind me of the old George C. Scott comedy movie, “The Flim-Flam Man,” wherein two traveling con men bilk inhabitants of the American south (if you have not seen it, I highly recommend it). If the Haitians have anything of value left they better check on it before those two leave the island, or it might turn-up missing.
Clinton now apologizes for helping undermine the ability of Haiti and other impoverished nations to feed themselves by strong-arming them to buy cheaper U.S. (subsidized) rice. Doing so eventually killed their domestic farming and brought them higher unemployment. I wonder when he will get around to apologizing to American workers for NAFTA?
As for Dubya, he actually shook hands with some Haitians. He really is a caring guy after all! Oops, and then he was caught on-camera wiping his hand on the back of Clinton’s shirt.
by Colonel Girdle
Dayton, Ohio, 3:30 a.m.
Since I could not sleep because of worry, I got online to find-out how to apply for a job with the U.S. Census. I have applied for job after job, even the ones that would probably not pay enough for me live. So that means I’ll have to work at two crappy jobs… or maybe three. I know people who are already doing that. Once upon a time, I was middle-class. I had worked my way through college and then, with 22 years of hard work, had made my way up into management at one of Dayton’s many solid, large companies. Then one day nine years ago, I was downsized along with hundreds of my co-workers. The company went away to greener pastures of cheaper labor/fewer regulations, and also there went my insurance, vacation, & retirement; all casualties of the only developed nation that ties everything to a person’s job.
Since that day, I have worked at jobs far worse than the crummy ones I had in my youth. For just one example, for about a month I was a subcontractor (that is like an employee, but they are not responsible for anything bad that happens to you) for a company that “recycled” the boiling-hot oil from restaurant deep fryers. I would pull the greasy van up to the back door, trundle a 200 lb. filtering machine on tiny wheels down the slippery ramp and into the building. There I vacuumed the 350 degree oil from the fryer so it could circulate through the filtering machine while I used putty knife & steel wool to scour char off the scortching cooker (all the while praying I wouldn’t get badly scalded), shoot the oil back into the fryer, then head to the next location. By the end of the day I was covered with reeking sour oil & sweat and could hardly stand-up because the bottom of my shoes were slick as snot.
In between the crummy jobs I owned a few small businesses. I sold natural pain cream at a flea market, I had a janitorial company where I did 90% of the janitoring, I sold used CD’s & DVD’s at a flea market. If any of those things were once a good way to make money, they sure aren’t now. Myrtle helped me with these, as best she could, while working at her own jobs.
I wound-up working in a convenience store and from that experience my desperation gave me the really awful idea that taking all our remaining assets and buying a store was a good idea. Blinded by love, Myrtle went down that bumpy road with me. I will not go into further detail recounting that four-year-disaster and the constant 100 hour workweeks we put in. Memory of it brings on a sort of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Suffice it to say that it was not too big to fail. It went belly-up during the late 2008-early 2009 crash with nary a peep from the Bush nor Obama Administrations.
As a result, I am more broke than I have ever been in my life. Actually, I’m far, far into the negative net worth zone. At first, I still hoped to find a way to dig myself out of debt. But I soon learned that was the impossible dream when, for instance, the credit card company I had for 15 years lent a helping hand by increasing my interest rate to 29.99% – when I had never missed a payment. Now they are getting 0%, since I’ll be filing for bankruptcy (guilt-free I might add) just as soon as I can finish the paperwork. I am far from alone in my struggles. My circle of friends & family recommend good bankruptcy lawyers the way we used to recommend good restaurants. People I know who used to “have it made” are sinking and everyone under them is drowning or already drowned. I personally know (and try to help) people who have taken to living in basements, cars, and tents! (By the way – See our “Friends” link to A Voice for the Commonwealth)
Being poor wasn’t a huge adjustment. Myrtle and I had never been big-spenders. We did not believe in materialism. We’ve never had a desire for trendy clothes or the latest electronic gadget. Instead, we put our spare time, money, and energy into charity work and enjoyed the simple things in life. However, I was used to paying the bills and having money left-over. Now buying a cheap bottle of shampoo is a financial decision that requires thought.
Our system will collapse, probably soon, from its own crushing weight. Every time I see, hear, or read about the latest actions of our business-government “leaders,” I derive comfort from knowing I am speeding that collapse along: My lack of spending denies money to the military-industrial-entertainment-healthcare complex and I’m too poor to pay taxes to the rotten government it owns.
But I don’t mean to sound bitter.
Wesley Quick, a good friend of mine read my essay “Outstanding in His Field” and, instead of just accepting my complaints, sent in a comment that asked me to put forth a solution. A fair question, since I do not believe in whining without having a course of action for making things better. I started to put my answer into the “comments” section but thought I’d post it more widely on the blog.
In order to move toward a solution, we must first realize the fundamental problem we are up against. Some political commentators have come close to seeing the problem by talking about how the ultra right-wing has been allowed to “frame the discussion” in their own terms. But it goes deeper than that. The haters have actually been allowed to create the reality in which we now live. And that reality is a nightmare. A nightmare, that is, for all but the haters who use it to exploit and abuse the rest of us for their own gain.
Although each of us has our own viewpoint of reality, our larger world is shaped by the consensus of what we as a group agree the world looks like. And the future is shaped by what we believe the world should look like and what we think is possible. To turn an old quote on its head, “If you don’t believe it, you can’t achieve it.”
In the famous book “1984,”George Orwell showed an oppressive world where an omnipresent & evil government had achieved near-total control and oppression of the populace. The government expected to keep the oppression going forever, since the inhabitants of that society could no longer even conceive of a different, better way of life. The tools to do so had been taken away from them. They were kept in constant fear & hatred: of their neighbors, coworkers, and even their children accusing them of traitorous non-conformity; of scarcity of the necessities of life; of the enemies with which their nation was at war; of their own natural urges for freedom, sex, or love. By keeping them locked into emotional upheaval they had no time to think about rebellion. The government “framed the discussion” by corrupting rational thought through insisting on nonsense ideas, such as that “war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength.” The basic ability of people to evolve ideas of freedom and rebellion was short-circuited by dumbing-down the language. Actions start with thoughts and thoughts start with words, so words that expressed taboo thoughts (such as freedom or rebellion) were removed from the vocabulary. And history was molded to the government’s whim by destroying all documents that were contrary to the officially approved story. Anyone who remembered events that did not fit the official story would be a nut who could show no evidence. In these ways the government created its own “reality.”
During an interview with an“Esquire” magazine reporter in 2002, an unnamed senior adviser to President Bush made a strange assertion to the effect that the Bush Whitehouse was creating its “own reality.” This sounds like arrogance of the most ridiculous kind. But I think that is exactly what they’ve done. Now it is their world and we only live in it.
Through 30 years of steady, stubborn, concentrated, and crafty effort the loonies took over the asylum. It all started with Ronald Reagan, who started by convincing the most vulnerable Americans that they were being milked by Welfare Queens, that marijuana was “the most dangerous drug,” and that trickle-down economics was the path to national salvation. His quakery was reenforced by the newly forged right-wing (hate) talk radio & tv. Our perception of reality began to change under a steady assault of being told to “just say no” and that ketchup was a vegetable suitable for a balanced school lunch. Then we had the first George Bush and his “kinder, gentler” America that was really meaner and nastier (freedom is slavery), followed by “liberal” Bill Clinton who lead us into conservative territory where Reagan would have been proud. By the turn of the century, much of the country had bought into the lie that a rising stock market was the lifeblood of the nation.
Then came Dubya. If you remember, after the Supreme Court selected him President he seemed pretty much an irrelevant hick. But in the atmosphere of fear & hatred following September 11th, 2001 he and his minions were comfortably in the driver’s seat, creating their own reality. Liberals, progressives, populists, peaceniks, leftists, dissenters, doubters, and other “traitors” were buried under shouts of “united we stand.” My daughter & I attended a Geoge Carlin concert in Dayton shortly after the attack wherein the normally uninhibited comedian declared a moratorium on attacking our government (I would not have believed it if I had not heard it with my very own ears).
Obama’s America still lives in Bush’s reality: We still fight endless wars to bring democracy to the world; we still bail-out the too-big-to-fail banks and corporations; universal healthcare is still off the table; we still have to globalize our industries until none remain; programs like food stamps, Social Security, and unemployment are too still too expensive to keep funding; we still must spend more on “defense” than the next 46 countries combined. Our new President has turned-out to be politically to the right of Dwight Eisenhower but he is labelled a liberal-socialist-communist-marxist. Business leaders and politicians spout-off about how they are “doing God’s business” or compare poor children getting reduced price school lunches to feeding stray animals- and they are treated like reputable, sane people!
We must change the nightmare that America has become and the nightmare America has become for the world. I absolutely believe the first step is that we must regain our power to imagine the world as it should be. See that a better world is necessary and that it is possible. We must stop accepting the visions of reality created by crazy, hate-filled cranks! Once we do that, good change will naturally follow.