Archive for October, 2011|Monthly archive page


In History, Politics on October 29, 2011 at 3:47 pm

During a recent trip to Europe, a young American encountered an elderly German who had lived through the horrors of the Third Reich.

“What do the Germans think of Herman Cain?” asked the young tourist.  “Do they want him to be President?”

“Nein, nein, nein,” cried the terrified German.

Maybe it was the fence.

On October 15, Cain offered his own “Final Solution” to illegal immigration.  Addressing crowds in Tennessee, Cain said he would build an electrified fence on the Mexican border.

“It’s going to be 20 feet high. It’s going to have barbed wire on the top. It’s going to be electrified. And there’s going to be a sign on the other side saying, ‘It will kill you — Warning.'”

This was not the first time Cain had proposed such a solution.  At a campaign stop in Iowa this summer, Cain suggested America build a border wall similar to the Great Wall of China.

“I just got back from China. Ever heard of the Great Wall of China? It looks pretty sturdy. And that sucker is real high. I think we can build one if we want to!

“We have put a man on the moon, we can build a fence! Now, my fence might be part Great Wall and part electrical technology. … It will be a twenty foot wall, barbed wire, electrified on the top, and on this side of the fence, I’ll have that moat that President Obama talked about. And I would put those alligators in that moat!”

The “alligators in the moat” comment referred to a joking remark by President Barack Obama last May. 

Speaking on immigration reform during a visit to Texas, the President said of his Republican opponents: “They’ll want a higher fence. Maybe they’ll need a moat. Maybe they’ll want alligators in the moat.  They’ll never be satisfied.”

The proposed fence–and the obvious relish Cain showed for electrocuting people–immediately sparked a backlash, especially among Hispanics.

So Cain blamed those who had taken his remarks seriously.

Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press with David Gregory, Cain said, “That’s a joke, David … That’s not a serious plan.  I’ve also said America needs to get a sense of humor.”

Thus,  Cain tries to have it both ways. 

First, he blasts his critics when they don’t take him seriously–such as accusing blacks of being “brainwashed” into voting for Democrats. 

And then he blasts his critics when they do take him seriously–by taking him at his word that he wants to build an electrified fence to fry illigal immigrants.

Of course, maybe what most appalled the German was Cain’s recent TV ad.  In this, Cain’s chief of staff Mark Block puffs on a cigarette for no apparent reason.

But maybe it wasn’t the smoking that upset the German.  Perhaps it was the swelling music and vocals that came at the end: “I Am America–One Voice, United We Stand.” 

A photo of a smiling Cain is to the right section of the screen.  The picture–and the music–clearly implies that the “I Am America” in the lyrics refers to Cain himself; that “One Voice” refers to Cain’s voice; and that “United We Stand” refers to his followers.

That was essentially the message that echoed through Germany during the 1930s and 1940s.  As Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler’s second-in-command said during a speech before a huge audience at Nuremberg: “Hitler is Germany–Germany is Hitler!”

And the Germans certainly were united behind Hitler–united enough to plunge the world into war and murder millions of innocents.

This might seem a far-fetched fear, except that Republicans take their annointed Fuehrers seriously.

Under Richard Nixon, those who peacefully opposed the Vietnam war were investigated and targeted for prosecution by not only the FBI but the CIA–a violation of Federal law. 

And those who ran against Nixon in 1972 were victimized by a series of dirty tricks worthy of the KGB.  Among these: The bugging of the Democratic campaign headquarters at the Watergate Hotel.

Under the most recent Republican President, George W. Bush, normally apolitical Secret Service agents roughed up and arrested non-violent anti-Bush demonstrators. 

And when a member of the Dixie Chicks said she was embarrassed that Bush came from her home state of Texas, she found herself targeted for threats and boycots by “mainstream” Republicans rallying around their Leader.

Americans would do well to remember the words of Robert F. Kennedy during his brief, doomed Presidential campaign in 1968:

“Those who now call for an end to dissent seem not to understand what this country is all about.  For debate and dissent are the very heart of the American process. 

“We have followed the wisdom of Greece: ‘All things are to be examined and brought into question.  There is no limit set to thought.'”

That should be especially true for candidates like Cain–who believes global warming is a myth, wants to eliminate all corporate taxes, and insists that to become more like China, America must rid itself of the minimum wage.


In Business, Law, Politics on October 21, 2011 at 10:52 am

The setting: The Republican Presidential candidates’ debate in Las Vegas, on October 18.

The speakers: CNN journalist Anderson Cooper, moderator; GOP candidate Herman Cain. 

COOPER: “How do you explain the Occupy Wall Street movement happening across the country? And how does it relate with your message?

“Herman Cain, I’ve got to ask you, you said–two weeks ago, you said, ‘Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks. If you don’t have a job, and you’re not rich, blame yourself.'”

“That was two weeks ago. The movement has grown. Do you still say that?”


CAIN: “Yes, I do still say that. And here’s why.”


CAIN: “I still stand by my statement, and here’s why.  They might be frustrated with Wall Street and the bankers, but they’re directing their anger at the wrong place.

“Wall Street didn’t put in failed economic policies. Wall Street didn’t spend a trillion dollars that didn’t do any good. Wall Street isn’t going around the country trying to sell another $450 billion. They ought to be over in front of the White House taking out their frustration.”


So, there you have it.  If you’re one of the estimated 14 to 25 million unemployed or under-employed Americans, don’t look to the GOP for help or even sympathy. 

It’s all your fault.

It’s your fault that, today, more than 2 million Americans have been unemployed for at least 99 weeks—the cutoff point for unemployment insurance in the hardest-hit states.

It’s your fault that the longer a person is out of work, the less likely s/he is to find an employer willing to hire.

It’s your fault that all “job creating” programs have one thing in common: They apply plenty of carrots–but absolutely no sticks.

It’s your fault that bribes–in the form of tax credits or tax breaks–are liberally applied to entice employers to behave like patriots instead of parasites.  

It’s your fault that there are no penalties for employers whose refusal to hire condemns millions of their fellow citizens to disaster.

It’s your fault that corporations across the country are now sitting atop $2 trillion in profits. 

It’s your fault that their CEOs are using those monies for enriching themselves, their bought-off politicians, their families—and occasionally their mistresses.

It’s your fault that CEOs are using those monies to buy up their corporate rivals, throw even more Americans into the streets, and pocket their profits.

It’s your fault that CEOs are using those profits to create or enlarge companies outside the United States.

It’s your fault that the one expense CEOs refuse to underwrite is hiring their fellow Americans.

It’s your fault that CEOs want to pay their un-American employees far lower wages than would be tolerated by employees within the United States.

It’s your fault that CEOs want to escape American employee-protection laws–such as those mandating worker’s compensation or forbidding sexual harassment.

It’s your fault that CEOs want to escape American consumer-protection laws–such as those banning the sale of lead-contaminated products (a hallmark of Chinese imports).

It’s your fault that CEOs want to escape American laws protecting the environment–such as those requiring safe storage of dangerous chemicals.

It’s your fault that the loss of jobs within the United States owes to companies’ moving their operations abroad—solely to pay substandard wages to their new employees.

It’s your fault that mass firings of employees usually accompany corporate mergers or acquisitions.

It’s your fault that many employers victimize part-time employees, who are not legally protected against such threats as racial discrimination, sexual harassment and unsafe working conditions.

It’s your fault that many employers refuse to create better than menial, low-wage jobs.

It’s your fault that right-wing politicians encourage corporate employers to extort “economic incentives” from cities or states in return for moving to or remaining in those areas.

It’s your fault that such “incentives” usually absolve employers from complying with laws protecting the environment and/or workers’ rights.

It’s your fault that many employers refuse to provide medical and pension benefits—nearly always in the case of part-time employees, and, increasingly, for full-time, permanent ones as well.

It’s your fault that such employers want, in short, to enrich themselves at the direct expense of their country. 

It’s your fault if you’ve forgotten that, in decades past, such conduct used to be called treason–and punished accordingly.

It’s your fault that crime rates are now rising, due to rising unemployment.

And it’s your fault if you vote for GOP politicians who support such corrupt and ruinous policies.


In Bureaucracy, History, Politics on October 19, 2011 at 12:09 am

Anita Perry, the wealthy wife of Texas Governor–and Presidential candidate–Rick Perry, sympathizes with the plight of the unemployed.

Anita and Rick Perry

She knows what it’s like to be unemployed–because her son, Griffin, resigned from his job at Deutsche Bank to campaign for his father.

“He resigned from his job two weeks ago because he can’t go out and campaign with his father because of SEC regulations,” she said in a Pendleton, S.C. diner on October 14.

The Securities and Exchange Commission recently adopted stricter rules for investment advisers undertaking political activity.

Anita Perry’s comment came in response to a question from a middle-aged voter who had lost his six-figure job and now works as a handyman.

“My son lost his job because of this administration,” she added.

Related image

Griffin Perry

Blaming the Obama administration is, of course, second-nature for those on the radical right.  Even its members who don’t believe Jesus actually lived are convinced that Obama killed him.

Anita Perry may have forgotten that, on October 13, she said that her son had eagerly resigned.

She recalled that her husband assembled the family to discuss his run for the Presidency last May.

“So, our son Griffin Perry is 28.  He loves politics, and he just couldn’t wait.  He said ‘Dad, I’m in!  I’m in!  I’ll do whatever you need me to do.  I’ll resign my job.  I’ll do what you need me to do.’” she said in a speech at North Greenville University.

Someone might have advised Mrs. Perry there is a difference between voluntarily resigning from a job and being involuntarily terminated from it.

And someone else might have consoled her with the news that, having a family fortune and the income of an attorney-wife to rely on, her son isn’t in danger of standing in a breadline anytime soon.

So why would Anita Perry stoop to mingling with those she considers her social inferiors?  And why would she pour out her woes to people she would otherwise cross the street to avoid?

Simple.  She needs them.  Or, to be more accurate: She needs their votes.

True, her husband is hauling in huge campaign donations that dwarf those of his rivals.  But money can’t vote.

And with an estimated 14 to 25 million Americans unemployed, the Perrys must reach beyond the minority of voters who would qualify for their country-club membership.

Of course, the voluntary resignation of her son isn’t the only complaint Anita Perry has to make.

“We are being brutalized by our opponents, and our own party,” she told a South Carolina audience on October 13.  “So much of that is, I think they look at him, because of his faith.

“He is the only true conservative–well, there are some true conservatives.  And they’re there for good reasons.  And they may feel like God called them, too.  But I truly feel like we are here for that purpose.”

Actually, it’s been Rick Perry–through his surrogate spokesman-pastor, Robert Jeffress–who has repeatedly attacked the Mormon religion of his campaign rival, Mitt Romney.

Jeffress told reporters at the Values Voter Summit in Washington he believed Mormonism was a “cult.”  While Perry has said he doesn’t agree with the charge, he has refused to repudiate the remarks–or support–of the influential Baptist pastor.

It’s the same strategy favored by demagogues like Richard Nixon: The “respectable” Nixon took the high road, while ordering his subordinate, Spiro Agnew, to attack the patriotism of anyone who dared disagree with him.

Why is all of this important?

Because the priorities of the leader of an organization usually determine the priorities of that organization.  And those prioroties, in turn, derive from the character of that leader.

As the ancient historian Plutarch observed in his biography of Alexander the Great:

“And the most glorious episodes do not always furnish us with the clearest discoveries of virtue or vice in men.

“Sometimes a matter of less moment, an expression or a jest, informs us better of their characters and inclinations than the most famous sieges, the greatest armaments, or the bloodiest battles.”

So consider the character traits that Perry has so far revealed:

  • He uses surrogates to attack the religion of his opponentts.
  • He holds his own religious beliefs sacred.
  • He seeks to slash programs for the poor.
  • He piles up millions of dollars for himself.
  • His family believes he has been chosen by God to redeem the nation from becoming “soft” and “Godless.”
  • His family believes themselves entitled to ignore laws that are supposed to govern all Americans.

It’s fascinating to imagine the verdict Plutarch would deliver on American politics today.  After all, he did shrewdly analyze the ruthless political maneuverings of such despots as Alexander and Julius Caesar.

Yes, it would be fascinating.  And more than a little frightening.


In Humor, Politics on October 12, 2011 at 4:50 pm


Factions of the Iranian government plotted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States with help from a member of a Mexican drug cartel, Attorney General Eric Holder announced on October 11.

Holder said the criminal complaint, filed in New York, alleges that “this conspiracy was conceived, sponsored and directed from Iran.”

Two men were charged in New York federal court.  One was a member of Iran’s special operations unit known as the Quds Force, a branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.
The charges included:
  • conspiracy to murder a foreign official
  • conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction
  • and conspiracy to commit an act of international terrorism violating national boundaries.

Far more about this plot will undoubtedly be revealed in the months ahead.  But now seems as good a time as any to celebrate this Islamic nation’s approach to resolving its disputes.


(To be sung to the tune of “Spirit in the Sky”) 

When I die in my suicide vest, gonna go to the place that’s the best.

When I lay me down to die, goin’ up to the Mullah in the Sky. 

Goin’ up to the Mullah in the Sky–that’s where I’m gonna go when I die.

When I die in my suicide vest, I’m gonna go to the place that’s the best. 

Prepare your bomb–you know it’s jihad.

Gotta have a friend in Allah.

So you know that when I die, gonna blow the lousy infidels goodbye. 

Gonna blow the lousy infidels goodbye, that’s what I’m gonna do when I die.

When I die in my suicide vest, I’m gonna go to my grave as a mess.

Never been a Christian–or worse a Jew.

I’ve got a friend in Allah.

So you know that when I die, He’s gonna set up with those virgins in the sky. 

Gonna set me up with those virgins in the sky, that’s what I’m gonna screw when I die.

When I die in my suicide vest, I’m gonna go to the place that’s the best.

Go to my grave as a mess.

* * * * *


Robert Jeffress, the evangelical pastor of First Baptist Dallas, said that Mormonism is a cult–and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is therefore not a Christian.

Jeffress, a supporter of Texas Governor Rick Perry for President, made his comments after introducing Perry at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. on October 7.

Polls have consistently shown that most evangelicals believe that Mormonism is a cult.  As a result, many Republican political strategists fear that if Romney gets the GOP nomination, millions of evangelicals will sit out the election.

But one need not be anti-Mormon to dislike Romney.  He is, after all, a wealthy former CEO (Corrupt Egotistical Oligarch). 

And in a time where 25 million Americans are unemployed, many will find good reason to distrust the motives of a man whose economic philosophy is “my corporation, right or wrong.”


(To be sung to the tune of “Can’t Buy Me Love”) 

Can buy me votes, votes.
Can buy me votes.

I’ll sell you a load of crap my friend if it makes you feel alright.
I’ll pander any way you want if it gets me through the night.
‘Cause I don’t care too much for losing, money can buy me votes.

I’ll give you all a plastic smile if you say you’ll vote for me.
I may not give a damn for you, but what I got I’ll spend with glee.
I don’t care too much for losing, money can buy me votes.

Can’t buy me votes, everybody tells me so.
Can’t buy me votes, no no no, no.

Say you don’t need no Herman Cain or even Huckabee.
Tell me that you want a stuffed-shirt shit and you’ll get that with me.
I don’t care too much for losing money can buy me votes. 

Can’t buy me votes, everybody tells me so.
Can’t buy me votes, no no no, no.

 Say you don’t need no Herman Cain or even Huckabee.
Tell me that you want a stuffed-shirt shit and you’ll get that with me.
I don’t care too much for losing, money can buy me votes. 


In Business, History, Politics on October 6, 2011 at 12:20 pm

“Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks.  If you don’t have a job and you are not rich, blame yourself!”

That’s the message that businessman-GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain has for the 14 million Americans now desperately searching for work.

It comes in an October 5 interview Cain gave to the business-slanted Wall Street Journal.

“What do they want?” Cain asked when asked about the “Occupy Wall Street” protests, now entering their third week

“I don”t have facts to back this up, but I happen to believe that these demonstrations are planned and orchestrated to distract from the failed policies of the Obama administration.”

Cain could have “the facts” if he so desired.

In its June 8 cover-story on “What U.S. Economic Recovery?  Five Destructive Myths,” Time magazine warned that profit-seeking corporations can’t be relied on to ”make it all better.”

Wrote Rana Foroohar, Time‘s assistant managing editor in charge of economics and business:

“There is a fundamental disconnect between the fortunes of American companies, which are doing quite well, and American workers, most of whom are earning a lower hourly wage now than they did during the recession.

“The thing is, companies make plenty of money; they just don’t spend it on workers here.

“There may be $2 trillion sitting on the balance sheets of American corporations globally, but firms show no signs of wanting to spend it in order to hire workers at home.”

In short:  Giving even greater tax breaks to mega-corporations–the standard Republican mantra–has not persuaded them to stop “outsourcing” jobs. Nor has it convinced them to start hiring Americans.

While embarrassingly overpaid CEOs squander corporate wealth on themselves, millions of Americans can’t afford medical care or must depend on charity to feed their families.

Cain and his right-wing supporters thus take a “my-corporation-right-or-wrong” view that totally ignores:

  • The loss of jobs within the United States owing to companies’ moving their operations abroad—solely to pay substandard wages to their new employees.
  • The mass firings of employees which usually accompany corporate mergers or acquisitions.
  • The widespread victimization of part-time employees, who are not legally protected against such threats as racial discrimination, sexual harassment and unsafe working conditions.
  • The refusal of many employers to create better than menial, low-wage jobs.
  • The widespread employer practice of extorting “economic incentives” from cities or states in return for moving to or remaining in those areas. Such “incentives” usually absolve employers from complying with laws protecting the environment and/or workers’ rights.
  • The refusal of many employers to provide medical and pension benefits—nearly always in the case of part-time employees, and, increasingly, for full-time, permanent ones as well.
  • Rising crime rates, due to rising unemployment.

Cain said the banks were in part to blame with the 2008 financial crisis, but he said, “We’re not in 2008 — we’re in 2011!”

This, in turn, ignores the increasingly predatory behavior of the nation’s largest banks, such as Bank of America.  BofA recently announced that, starting next year, it would charge customers $5 a month to use their debit cards, whose use had previously been free.

According to the New York Times: Wells Fargo and Chase are testing $3 monthly debit card fees. Regions Financial, based in Birmingham, Ala., plans to start charging a $4 fee next month, while SunTrust, another regional powerhouse, is charging a $5 fee.

The move comes as U.S. banks are seeking to increase their revenue in the wake of new regulations on the financial industry. Starting in October, a cap will be placed on how much banks can charge for overdraft fees.

In addition, banks will face a limit on how much they can charge merchants when customers use debit cards to purchase goods and services.  In 2009, this generated $19 billion in revenues.

David Lazarus, the consumer columnist for the Los Angeles Times, put this into perspective on the September 30 edition of PBS Newshour.

“The Federal Reserve says that it pretty much costs about 4 cents to process a debit card transaction, considering the huge economies of scale, 4 cents. So that means the current average of 44 cents represents a 1,000 percent profit.

“So now….that’s going to be cut in roughly half to 21 cents.  Well, that’s still a 500% profit. If you can’t make money off a 500% profit margin, you are in the wrong line of work.”

For Cain, the wealthy former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, those protesting economic policies favoring the richest 1% of the country are “unAmerican” and “anti-capitalism.”

Every major Republican Presidential candidate since the end of World War II has attacked his opponents as “unAmerican.”

In raising this slander once more, Cain has joined the ranks of such famous right-wing candidates as Joseph McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin.


In Bureaucracy, History, Politics on October 4, 2011 at 10:00 am

On August 16, Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said openly what most Republicans secretly believe:  Impeaching President Barack Obama “would be a great thing to do.”

Asked on a conference call with bloggers why Republicans couldn’t just impeach Obama, Cain responded:

“That’s a great question and it is a great–it would be a great thing to do, but because the Senate is controlled by Democrats we would never be able to get the Senate first to take up that action, because they simply don’t care what the American public thinks.

“So the main stumbling block in terms of getting him impeached on a whole list of things such as trying to pass a health care mandate which is unconstitutional, ordering the Department of Justice to not enforce the Defense of Marriage Act–that’s an impeachable offense right there.

“There are a number of things where a case could be made in order to impeach him, but because Republicans do not control the United States Senate, they would never allow it to get off the ground.”

In his famous indictment of the leaders of the Soviet Union, President Ronald Reagan said in 1981:

“The only morality they recognize is what will further their cause, meaning they reserve unto themselves the right to commit any crime, to lie, to cheat.”

The former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza thus revealed the bald truth about his fellow Republicans: They have become the moral equivalent of the Communists.

As if further proof of this were needed, consider the reaction of Texas Congressman Ron Paul to the September 30 killing of Al Qaeda cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki by a Predator drone in Yemen. 

The American-born Islamacist had been a senior talent recruiter and motivator for Al Qaeda.  Involved with planning operations for the terrArabist organization, Al-Awlaki used his sermons to motivate at least three attacks inside the United States.

Fluent in both English and Arabic, with a blog, a Facebook page, and many YouTube videos, he had been described as the “bin Laden of the Internet.”

But Al-Awlaki had declared President Barack Obama to be his mortal enemy.  And that gave him and the Republican Party something in common.

Asked at a Manchester, N.H., town hall meeting about Al-Awlaki’s killing, Presidential candidate Paul said it would be “possible” to impeach Obama. 

“I put responsibility on the president because this is obviously a step in the wrong direction,” Paul said. “We have just totally disrespected the Constitution.  He was born here.  He is an American citizen. He was never tried or charged with any crime. Nobody knows if he killed anyone.”

Paul ignored the fact that while Awlaki may not have planted any bombs himself, he did his best to inspire others to do so.  Under Federal law, anyone who conspires to incite violence is just as guilty as whoever carries it out.

Herman Cain offered his own solution to the problem: “If he’s an American citizen, which is the big difference, then he should be charged, and he should be brought to justice.”

Cain ignored the fact that Anwar Al-Awlaki was operating in the badlands of Yemen.  He traveled with heavily-armed bodyguards. This put him well beyond the reach of even the FBI, not to mention an American courtroom. 

But American right-wingers had made it clear, long before the Awlaki killing, that they subscribed to the Arabic motto: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” 

With the enemy, of course, being Obama.

No one has better demonstrated this than fascistic talk show host Rush Limbaugh.  Blasting the awarding, in 2009, of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama, Limbaugh said:

“I think that everybody is laughing.  Our president is a worldwide joke. Folks, do you realize something has happened here that we all agree with the Taliban and Iran about and that is he doesn’t deserve the award?

“Now that’s hilarious, that I’m on the same side of something that the Taliban, and that we all are on the same side as the Taliban.”

Limbaugh, of course, had every right to disagree with Obama’s fitness to receive such a prestigious award.  But he went out of his way to not only do this but to align himself with the men who had pledged to destroy the United States.

Embracing America’s enemies during a time of war used to be called treason.  And such treason was once punishable by death. 

Perhaps it is time to re-instate that particular conservative virtue. 

%d bloggers like this: