Re-Enforced Cynicism

December 5, 2010 at 4:28 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Last week, I took my 5 year-old granddaughter to McDonald’s so she could play on the indoor playground. While she romped, I became so bored that I read the Happy Meal box. To allay my guilt at supplying the yellow-arched juggernaut with more money the box proudly proclaimed, “Now with every Happy Meal or Mighty Kids Meal purchase, a donation is made to Ronald McDonald House Charities.

My sensitivity to corporate weasel-speak immediately set-off my bullshit detector. “…a portion…” eh? How large a portion of the $3.09 I paid for the Happy Meal is McDonald’s going to donate? I suspect most sheeple would give the matter little thought & expect perhaps 50 cents, a dollar, maybe 2 dollars to be channeled to such a worthy cause. But if that were the case, then the box would proudly state the generous specific amount.

“Probably a penny.” I said to myself with a smirk.

Within a split-second I berated myself for my cynicism. I reminded myself to give McDonald’s the benefit of the doubt. No wonder my wife, Myrtle, teases me about being such a pessimist. I felt shamed.

And then my eye fell upon the tiny footnote at the bottom of the box: “McDonald’s donates a penny per Happy Meal or Mighty Kids Meal sold.”

So McDonald’s trumpets its benevolence & then gives the smallest coinage possible. Once again I am reminded that I was not born a cynic but became one through long years of experience.
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I saw in today’s headlines that official unemployment has “leaped” to 9.8%. That is a laughable statistic in light that actual joblessness in America is easily double that figure. And two years into the economic depression, the only reliable solution our pathetic so-called leaders have devised is to let unemployment benefits lapse for the long-term jobless as they’ve been letting happen since summer. The jobless who are no longer eligible for unemployment payments are no longer counted as “unemployed.” Viola! “Unemployment” problem solved.
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About once a year I re-read Kurt Vonnegut’s brilliant 1990 novel, Hocus Pocus, a prescient satire about America in 2001 when the nation has been thoroughly raped by its Capitalist owners & sold-off to other countries. Here is a brief excerpt taken from where the college-professor protagonist recollects a speech given by the college’s Writer in Residence. A speech that causes consternation among the college’s Board of Trustees:

He predicted, I remember, that human slavery would come back, that it had in fact never gone away. He said that so many people wanted to come here because it was so easy to rob the poor people, who got absolutely no protection from the Government. He talked about bridges falling down and water mains breaking because of no maintenance. He talked about oil spills and radioactive waste and poisoned aquifers and looted banks and liquidated corporations. “And nobody ever gets punished for anything,” he said. “Being an American means never having to say you’re sorry.”

Could have been written in 2010, huh?
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Somewhere along the line I read that President Ohwhatabummer plans to let the Bush tax breaks for the rich keep on rolling for another few years. That is, long enough that he will have been voted out and then the new Republican president can finally make the tax breaks permanent. Also, I see B.O.’s Deficit Commission is getting bolder about letting us peons know just how much they are going to hammer us. Gotta pay for the billionaires’ tax breaks so wave goodbye to Social Security!

And you can be sure that in 2012 a whole bunch of liberals will still delude themselves into believing that Obama is worth their vote.
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I am curious. Just when did you finally realize that our system simply exists to work-over every non-wealthy sentient being in the Milky Way? For me it was last summer when all that oil kept gushing into the Gulf of Mexico & millions of ex-workers were losing the lifeline of their unemployment benefits & the multiple wars were grinding on and the attitude of our government toward those crises was one of… peaceful detachment.

The U.S. has now reached the level of the old Soviet Union. Our economic, government, & social systems are completely wrecked & getting worse by the day & instead of fixing the mess the elites in charge spend their time grabbing all they can. And the common people have divided into 2 camps: a small percentage who still believe the lies or at least hope those around them still do & hope to grab some swag for themselves & the majority who know it is hopeless & we are going off a cliff.

If you are one of the shrinking minority who thinks our democracy will repair itself, I urge you to take a look at what is happening surrounding the revelations of government & corporate lies exposed by Wikileaks. There is a clear-cut case of “shoot the messenger.” It is enough to make baby Jesus cry.

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Maximum Capacity, Part 1

November 15, 2010 at 1:37 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

I entered a very disconcerting phase of my life 5 months ago. All those things large, small, & in-between that made my 50 year’s of life a tough slog finally caught-up with me. And so, I checked myself into the psychiatric ward of one of the local hospitals.

Notice I said they were the things that made my life a tough slog. We each have our own menu of situations & encounters that we react to either positively or negatively. Some persons are devastated by a hangnail, others barely slow down if their arm gets amputated. I admit I am closer to the hangnail end of the spectrum. And not only would the pain of the hangnail itself bother me but I would want to know why I got a hangnail in the first place and why God allows anyone to suffer with hangnails and the whys of all hangnail-related questions in our universe.

During the week I was locked in the booby-hatch one of the group-therapists said I “ask far too many whys.” I responded that I had always hoped that, if I could understand why things are as they are, I could tolerate it better. “Things are what they are; just get over it!” was his answer. I still fail to see how that attitude is more therapeutic (or actually any different) than the religionists who say we must just accept whatever happens to us as inscrutable God’s will.

Thirty years ago, I went to my family doctor (one of those luxuries back in the days when I had health insurance) and told him I was extremely stressed-out. “Why are you stressed-out?” he inquired in his best bedside manner. I replied, “Over money.” He offered this advice as he immediately directed me out of the examination room to pay the receptionist $35: “Learn to relax.”

Sage wisdom, indeed! But not so easy to practice in a world that is determined to put us under unbearable pressure.

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Beyond Partisanship

November 2, 2010 at 4:42 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

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.

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Sisyphus Shrugs

November 2, 2010 at 3:59 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

During these past two years, overheatedly indignant Libertarian/Republican wackos (indignant, of course, about the election of black Communist Barack Obama to the presidency) have harkened-back to their college-days’ admiration of flaky author Ayn Rand’s work. Indulging their inner-brat, they fantasize the “truly productive” members of society (that is, the criminal-Capitalists) enacting the scenario from Rand’s homage to greed, “Atlas Shrugged” : The virtuous & brilliant owners of big-business, tired of bearing the weight of the world (like Atlas, get it?) while being unappreciated by the masses, reach the end of their patience & go on strike (shrug, get it?), withdrawing from society & causing the total collapse of the financial & industrial world.

Sales of Rand’s screed have been climbing since the 2008 economic collapse. Apparently, Social-Darwinist dunderheads find solace in its message that ordinary people are robbing the rich of deserved compensation for providing the rest of us with their leadership. All those pesky rules & regulations are dragging-down the supermen & we best be careful or the mighty just may go off someplace & sulk, leaving we lesser-humans to ruin civilization much like “Planet of the Apes.”

What is most laughable about this threat is the threatener’s absolute lack of awareness that the heads of big-business & finance are exactly the ones who repeatedly rape the environment, crash the economy, and continually feed-off the masses while providing very little (if anything) of real value to society. Time after time it is the peons who must pick-up the pieces & clean-up the mess caused by the crony-Capitalists.


If anyone should “shrug” (strike) it should be the masses who toil day after day, year after year, trying to get ahead in a system that swindles them at every turn. After a lifetime of work, most people cannot rely upon having sufficient income, retirement, & health care in a culture that strives mightily every day to knock them back to square one. America’s workers are like Sisyphus, whom the gods punished to toil exhaustingly each day pushing a huge boulder up a mountainside and when reaching the top watched helplessly as the boulder rolled down to its starting point.

All those vultures who style themselves as put-upon Atlases wouldn’t last two weeks without the people who do the real grunt work of this world.

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Hail Caesar!

October 3, 2010 at 2:46 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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.

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The Jobless Recovery

September 26, 2010 at 1:47 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

I went to a job fair on Thursday in a local hotel ballroom. It was scheduled to begin at 10 am and so I arrived 20 minutes early. By then there was a group of a couple hundred people waiting at the locked doors. When the doors opened, I was swept in with the tide of job-seekers.

The fair consisted of 15 “exhibitors” of which 5 were colleges & training schools looking to recruit students. Most of the remaining exhibitors were for companies that do things like paste advertising billboards onto automobiles.

I had attended so as to apply at a local retailer that was seeking management candidates. When I entered the fair I made a beeline for their booth, where I was 2nd in line to receive a job description & application package. By the time I filled-out the paperwork 10 minutes later, I found that I was well over 100th in line to hand it in.
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For this past week, a local grocery had a flier posted in its window saying cashier applications would be taken this morning. I arrived a half hour before time and was, therefore, 4th in line. Since I shop at the store regularly, the cashier on duty recognized me on my way out & I stopped to talk. She said she must have given-out 1000 applications during the week.

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Corporations & Government Exist for Us!

September 20, 2010 at 5:53 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Surely you noticed how much better the economy has gotten in the last 15 months.

Happy days are here again! Break out the bubbly!


You haven’t?

Well, neither have I. But the National Bureau of Economic Research, the august body charged with officially declaring when recessions start & stop, has officially declared that our latest recession ended in June 2009. An expansion started in July 2009.

Yes, I know, like you my first inclination was to almost fall out of my chair laughing. But in its report the NBER reminds us that they “…did not conclude that economic conditions since that month have been favorable or that the economy has returned to operating at normal capacity. Rather…the recession ended and a recovery began in that month.” Then they caution that business activity sometimes lags well into an economic expansion.

Sure, I think we all understand that the economy doesn’t instantly return to normal after a downturn. But 15 MONTHS should be more than enough time for the ground to stop falling out from under the feet of the bottom 90% of the country! And out here in the real world, that is the world outside D.C. & NYC, the ground is continuing to fall. Businesses are still closing, houses are still foreclosing, & jobs are still evaporating. And yet the NBER declares we are in a 15 month economic expansion & the politicians will happily grab onto that declaration as an excuse to keep ignoring the disaster they have brought upon the nation. After all, why help the jobless & poor when the rising tide is again lifting all boats?

Well, I think it is obvious that if the measurements show this is an economic expansion then THERE IS SOMETHING VERY WRONG WITH THE MEASUREMENTS! I do not pretend to know how the books are being cooked, do you? I suspect that all those bailouts to banksters & Wall Street con-artists & increased profits for offshoring our jobs is now being falsely measured as rising GDP (Gross Domestic Product). When a large portion, perhaps a majority, of a nation’s citizens can be on the financial ropes but the statistics show things getting better & the experts believe it, then the wrong things are being measured & the experts are fools.

One last thing. I keep hearing the “leaders” & “experts” telling us that we are in a long-term “jobless recovery.” They better keep in mind that for 300 or so million Americans it doesn’t matter how great corporate profits are or how high the Dow average or even how much the GDP grows. If all those things don’t translate into prosperity & a good quality of life for the citizens, then to Hell with the corporations, the government, & the few people who are doing great for themselves. That is why the corporations & government exist in the first place… to bring a good life to our communities!

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Impeachment? Bring it On! (And Pass the Popcorn)

September 3, 2010 at 2:44 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

This afternoon I took a break from my internet job search & joined Myrtle’s 22 year-old son in doing some yard work. While we worked, I mentioned to him that I had gotten on the website of a major retailer that has a large nearby catalog-center (they have a huge sign out front advertising there are jobs available & to visit their web address). But I could find nothing under the “careers” tab referencing jobs here in our area; indeed, I could find nothing that admitted there was any facility anywhere near here, everything was in far-away places such as Delaware . The young man agreed by saying that he, too, had visited the website recently & was stymied by the same thing.

A short time later, it occurred to me how odd it is: a man of my age & experience reduced to applying for the same entry-level jobs as youths. By age 22, I had landed a well-paying position with a large company where I would spend the next 22 years, working my way up to management. I mean no denigration to those who make near minimum wage manning fast-food counters, selling tickets at the cinema, or delivering newspapers. But 30 years’ ago those were kids’ jobs. Grown-ups had higher-paying positions which also came with fringe benefits. Now here I am (and I am far from alone) seeking employment that doesn’t pay what I made when my daughter was born 25 years ago. How are Americans going to support their families on the low wages paid by the majority of employers?

I have no doubt that, if our nation’s “leaders” had screwed the workers this much back when my parents were my age, those leaders would have been dragged out of their cushy offices into the street & soundly beaten or worse. The “Greatest Generation” remembered the Great Depression & what it was like to have no job, no money, & maybe no future while seeing the fat-cats do nothing to help. They never would have allowed themselves to be put back into that box.
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I see that a new literary sensation is climbing the New York Times’bestseller list. The number 7 book is “Crimes Against Liberty: An Indictment of President Barack Obama” by David Limbaugh and it’s moving up fast. Some speculate that if the Republicans win these upcoming mid-term elections they will seek impeachment for President Ojellyfish. Instead of hand-wringing about such a tragedy, I will quote Obama’s mentor, President W. Bush: “Bring it on!”

My interest in B.O.’s political or personal survival would not register on even the most sensitive lab instruments. I see nothing he has done or likely will do that will benefit ordinary citizens in any way. He has neglected & insulted those who believed in his election. I am so fed-up with seeing his endless stream of glitzy vacations & appearances on tv talk-shows that I would happily assist the Republicans by reading the impeachment articles in front of Congress.

However, the Republicans would never be stupid-enough to impeach the best thing they’ve had going this side of Dick Cheney. The power structure tricked us into putting B.O. into office as a way to de-fang the youth, the liberals, the poor, the peace-nicks, and the blacks. Those groups will never become militant as long as the first African-American president sits on the throne. He provides cover for he oligarchs’ continued gang-rape of the nation. In the next 2 years, he will help the incoming Republican majority torpedo Social Security.

Impeach the emptiest suit to occupy the presidency in at least 150 years? Once again I say: “Bring it on!” But it will not happen. Republican political bosses would not risk reinvigorating the constituents whom B.O. & company have so completely dis-heartened over these last nearly 2 years.

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The Tinkerbell Economy

August 25, 2010 at 3:08 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

This morning as I was driving a friend to work, I caught the top of the hour National Public Radio news. The lead story told that sales of existing houses dropped to their lowest level in 15 years & had the steepest one month drop in 40 years.

This bummer news report immediately assured listeners that within a few months the dark clouds hanging over the housing market would disappear. Source of this assurance: a housing industry expert whose sound-bite was then excerpted. Said expert confidently dismissed all the negative economic trends. Then he said something very much like that if Americans will just believe in an improving housing market, then things will get better. He concluded by stating that he hoped Americans would start believing.

So this blockhead’s assertion of an imminent improvement was really based upon wishful thinking. Not facts. Not logic. Not trend-lines. Just hoping it will happen. My reaction was to talk mockingly back to the radio: “Yes, everyone, clap your hands real loud and Tinkerbell won’t die!”

Blinded, stubborn ignorance just keeps spewing from our so-called experts. Each week, month, & now year brings news of the economy’s continued downward spiral. And first the experts profess complete bewilderment because they expected more encouraging numbers, then they reassure us that everything is getting better, future numbers will show improvement.

Until this morning, I thought the experts told the public a bunch of lies because they were trying to fool us. But now I wonder: Are they actually so daft that they really believe their utterly misguided projections? Perhaps as children they watched the Peter Pan cartoon & still think they brought Tinkerbell back to life by wishing hard-enough & clapping their hands; now as adults they think they can fix the economy the same way? Yikes!

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A Rude Question

August 4, 2010 at 2:07 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

As I go through the supermarket checkout or get online I see the headlines & skim over the fawning stories about Chelsea Clinton’s wedding spectacle: The gorgeous cake, the custom dress, the sumptuous floral arrangements. Is there really someone outside the circles of Washington D.C./New York/Hollywood aristocracy who cares about the details of such twaddle?

Not that I have anything against Chelsea Clinton; to me she is nothing either good or bad. However, there is one detail that catches my attention: The wedding will cost Ma & Pa Clinton $3,000,000 ! And the whole shebang will cost we taxpayers another $2,000,000 for all the Secret Service protection, etc! A total of $5,000,000 !!!

Zounds! When my ex-wife & I married back in 1982 we were hitched on a Saturday afternoon by the local Justice of the Peace for $20. Then we had a small reception at a local family restaurant. We couldn’t even afford a honeymoon & had to go back to work on Monday.

Paul Craig Roberts over at the Information Clearing House site asks a question some might see as being rude as a fart in an elevator, but it is a pertinent question nonetheless: Just where do those our nation once quaintly to as “public servants” get all that money? Their salaries aren’t near high-enough to accumulate that kind of dough, even if they saved religiously stashed every available penny into their piggybanks. Nope, it appears the money comes from appreciative rich people who feel these pols are very good & faithful servants while in office & afterward.

And while Chelsea’s guests are scarfing-up $11,000 wedding cake, Theresa DePugh struggles to feed as many as 3,000 poor citizens each month at the Athens, Ohio food pantry she runs. She had those she feeds write their stories on the back of paper plates which she then mailed to the White House. Now here is an American patriot & hero.

I believe that we Americans are furious about our ruling-class and livid at being coerced into paying taxes or being bilked by corporations to support such blatant decadence. Most citizens are absolutely fed-up but still have a glimmer of hope that somehow the corrupt pols & their corporate owners will come to their senses & fix the mess.

Unfortunately, there is no historical precedent for such hope. Throughout human experience governments have gone amok and I know of no example where the problems have been corrected without collapse and/ or rebellion by the populace. Right now in the USA the elite has lined its pockets with bail-outs, graft, & chicanery of all types while abandoning the bottom 90% of the country to ever-increasing poverty. Once enough citizens lose hope of fairness from the system there will be a revolution & it won’t be pretty.

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