It’s Friday Protest Song time again. My wife is about to kill me at this point, because I have been playing David Rovics album “The Commons” constantly for the past week. She doesn’t mind protest songs, but she doesn’t like folk music that much. She’s a much bigger heavy metal fan. Here is a heavy metal protest song. I do like this song, especially the chorus of “Why don’t presidents fight the war? Why do they always send the poor?” Makes me think of the “Draft the Bush Twins” pseudo-movement on-line a few years back. If you look at the (very few) members of congress that have children in Iraq, you see people who are ready for this insanity to be over. Here’s System of a Down, dedicated to my loving wife.

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John McCain stinks. Just reeks.

Cosign a complaint to the FEC over John McCain’s campaign.

This is something that is being put together by Jane Hamsher over at Firedog Lake and is something that needs to be done.

If you haven’t been following, here’s the Reader’s Digest version. In 2002, John McCain and Russ Feingold managed to get a bipartisan campaign finance reform bill passed to try and get some of the filthy money out of politics. One of the provisions is that, if you take federal election money, you have to abide by certain spending limits. You can back out of the limits later as long as you haven’t taken any money or used the promise of federal funds as collateral for a campaign loan. McCain got a loan using the collateral and the FEC knows this. He’s acting like the FEC just doesn’t care about what he’s doing and he is very very wrong. (PDF) The “Maverick” championed this thing and now he’s got hit by his own ricochet. Good job, grandpa. What’s that about people in glass houses?

 Bread, peace and freedom

New site from the DNC.

March 24, 2008

We need more stuff like this.

Democratic Party Chair today welcomed a new series of debates featuring Senator John McCain, launched by the Democratic National Committee and to be broadcast on www.mccaindebates.com.  The debates, which show Senator McCain debating himself on the vital issues confronting the American people, make it clear that even John McCain disagrees with John McCain. As the two McCains square off, voters will have the opportunity to hear the old McCain vs the 2008 McCain, the third-Bush-termer and pandering politician who will say or do anything to win.

It’s an animation in the style of the Jib Jab cartoons and, while not that funny, you’ll have to get a chuckle out of Bush giving a big thumbs up between questions.

This would be better if it was funny. David Rovics has a great post on his blog criticizing left wing activists for boring the hell out of people.

I ask, why is so much of the left in the US so attached to being so dreadfully boring? Why do so many people on the left apparently have no appreciation for the power and importance of culture? And when organizers, progressive media and others on the left do acknowledge culture, why is it usually kept on the sidelines? What are we trying to accomplish here? Read on.

He’s right. We need street theater. We need music. We need comedy. Entertain people, then educate them. If you just try to educate, eyes glaze over and your message isn’t heard.

Bread, Peace and Freedom

Last Friday I posted a video of Springsteen and Melissa Etheridge singing “Thunder Road”. Crooks and Liars has a Late Night Music Club that they host. I think that’s a great concept so I’m do somewhat of the same thing. On Fridays, I will post a protest song video on my site. This week, I’m posting the song “The Commons” by David Rovics. I especially love the verse about the music industry. I’ve never felt sorry for the fabulously rich artists that are griping because people are downloading their songs, as if the T-shirt sales and concert tickets don’t keep them comfortable. Ridiculous.

Here we are at the 5 year anniversary of the War in Iraq. The truth is that “War in Iraq” is being used in the media because it has a nice beat and you can dance to it. What this debacle has turned into is the Occupation of Iraq.

That’s right, occupation!

Whatever you want to say about Commander Codpiece’s carrier landing stunt, “Mission Accomplished” was pretty much accurate. We went in, kicked ass and took names. At the point that we disarmed their military, took control of the capital and turned the dictator in question into some kind of pathetic chipmunk the war was over. We won!

Mission was accomplished! Flowers and parades and big brass bands! Victory! It was like the Super Bowl, Mardi Gras and dollar lap dance night all rolled into one. And then, after the noise died down a bit, the soldiers looked at the officers and said, “Mission accomplished! Now what?” The officers responded, “Good question!” and they went to the generals and said, “Mission accomplished, now what?” The generals said, “Good question” and they went to the Pentagon and said, “Mission Accomplished! Now what?” The Pentagon said, “We’re waiting for Bush to get back with us, but he’s taking his afternoon nap right now, and after that it’s finger painting and a field trip to the Smithsonian so we’ll get back with you in a few days.”

Then nothing.

Nothing from the Commander-in-Chief.

Then there was a noise vacuum and Donald Rumsfeld had to fill it with something. He told us that all of the soldiers would be home soon. That we were close to finding the weapons of mass destruction that had them pulling their hair out. The press said, “I thought you knew right where they were.” Rummy said, “Yeah! We know where they [WMD] are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.” The press went, “What???” and Rummy said, “STFU!”

Things went downhill from there.

However, every time it seems we’ve arrived at the bottom of Mount Bullshit, some stupid ass republican breaks out the heavy mining equipment. 3 times this week Senator McSame said that Iran was funding and arming Al-Qaeda. He was laughed at and ridiculed but I guess he’s doing what Bush referred to as “jumpstarting the propaganda”.

War Occupation (I’m not calling this a war, goddammit!) is not good for working folks. It wastes the lives of our friends, family, and children. It wastes money that could be used to help the sick and poor. It wastes lives of folks in Iraq who, just like us, want to be able to feed and clothe their children and not worry about them getting blown to bits walking to school. It wastes the energy of the American people. Is it any wonder that drug use, obesity, and reality TV ratings are going through the roof? The attitude on the streets is despair. Despair that we’re ever going to be out of this mess. Despair that our elected representatives give a rat’s ass what we think. Despair that this country will ever work for most of the people in it again. When people are despairing, they will turn to any sort of shit that makes them feel good no matter how bad it is for them (I’m talking to you Moment of Truth). And when a presidential nominee stands up and says things that are patently false and don’t jibe with conventional wisdom, you have to wonder if it will ever get any better.

Bread, peace and freedom.

Iraq War Blogswarm

March 18, 2008

Tomorrow is the Iraq War Blogswarm. I will be posting something on this illegal, immoral war tomorrow. Check back.

Today, the Fed and JPMorgan Chase are in the process of bailing out Bear-Stearns, a sub-prime lender facing serious failure. Apparently, JPMorgan Chase is buying the bank for 2% of market value and the government is tossing in 30 billion taxpayer dollars to make things go smoother. Charles R. Morris writes in the Huffington Post:

Over the last few months, [Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke] has opened up the Fed’s coffers for banks and brokerages to the tune of hundreds of billions, and is accepting riskier loan collateral than ever before. Last week, he threw his body — or, more accurately, ours — over the railroad tracks to slow an onrushing Bear Stearns trainwreck….

Why did the the Fed think it had to pay to make a deal happen, instead of just letting the market take its course? According to Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, who made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows, it is because Bear is at the center of a web of other funds that look a lot like Bear – heavily leveraged and holding lots of mortgage-backed paper. If the Fed didn’t act, a lot of them, perhaps most of them, would also fail.

The hard truth is that a decade of flooding markets with easy money enabled greedy and stupid lending, and probably a good deal of conscious fraud. Houses, like most other leveraged assets, are now grossly overpriced relative to home-buyers’ ability to pay. Home prices have perhaps another 15-20 percent to fall – maybe even more as the recession starts to bite.

“Placing a floor under home prices” benefits nobody but the banks and hedge funds, and will delay essential market adjustments. It’s time to start letting the dominoes fall. (Read full post)

Here is another shining example of socialism for the rich and rich alone. Admittedly, bank failure is good for no one, but why all of the taxpayer money going to rich guys who took bad bets. Can I start gambling my money away and when the dice come up craps get the government to pay my markers? That would be absurd! It’s not like these guys are hurting for money. They have angrily demanded on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal that the government needs to stay out of their business for years. I think there are really 2 good courses of action here. First option, if JPMC wants the goodies of this deal, they have to take the sewage as well. Pay off the shareholders of the bank at fair, free market value and cover the debts. This is not likely to happen. Financial papers everywhere are acting like JPM is getting a hell of a deal, and they are, but not on share prices. BS at this point is probably only worth $2 a share at this point, because most of its’ assets are locked up in mortgages that are almost as likely to be repaid as money loaned to an out-of-state brother-in-law. The second idea is that the executives at BS be required to put up some of their personal fortunes as assets to cover this bad debt that exists in the bank they are about to sell. Their assets should be used like assets are used in bankruptcy courts for all of us average joes; you get to keep one house, one car and if you get caught hiding anything, you go to jail. This would reduce some of what the American taxpayer would have to put up to prevent (or at least, forestall) this crisis and mandate some of that personal responsibility that conservatives and libertarians like to talk so much about.

Make no mistake about it, these are the people that are responsible for this crisis. These are the free market fundamentalists that have spent the last 28 years spouting the deregulation verses from Atlas Shrugged and financially suicide-bombing our economy and government. We are now in what Thom Hartmann calls “the cancer stage of capitalism”. What the hell do we do about it? For starters, we need some protection in our trade policies. The international corporatists have managed to find a way to export our jobs and take our money. But this bail-out shows that they don’t want deregulation. What they want is for the government to let them gamble any way they want and then bail them out when things go pancake shaped. These rich men have caused most of the problems that we are seeing now by tarnishing the American name and the American dollar, making both worthless to the rest of the world.

Bread, peace, and freedom.

My wife and I went to a concert 2 weeks ago at The Back Room and saw a great blues singer named Piper Leigh. She had a guitarist with her named Jim Sanders. On the Back Room’s website, you can watch clips from this concert, but due to copyright restrictions, none of the covers they did can be put on the website. This is a shame, because Jim did an amazing cover of the Bruce Springsteen song “Thunder Road”. I trolled a bit on YouTube and found this performance of The Boss himself performing an acoustic version of this song with Melissa Etheridge. Amazing. Amazing. Amazing.

P.S. Don’t forget… Meeting tomorrow at the Library in GB.

Last night, my wife and I were sitting watching the primary returns come in (on network tv, I don’t have cable) when I heard my wife repeat an idea that I’m hearing more and more. I’m going to call it the “no way in hell I’m voting for that bitch” meme. This has got to be the biggest load of crap I’ve ever seen. Progressives, listen closely.

We have to stop the circular firing squad.

I’m not kidding around here. I’m not saying that healthy debate and discussion are bad things. To the contrary, they are what allows the bright sunshine of reason to break through stinking clouds of bullshit (and if you don’t think bullshit can form into clouds, visit Dodge City in August).  But if you think that McCain would make a better president than Hillary (or Barack for that matter) you better make sure the cops don’t catch you with whatever you’re smoking. Pundits say that Democrats face a hard choice. I’ll give them that, but it’s more like a choice between the filet mignon or the seared tuna steak at a 5 star restaurant; both will be great, you have to decide what your personal taste is. If you were to pull McCain into this analogy, he would probably be something in the dumpster behind the McDonald’s down the street. The idea that you’re gonna get so pissed off if your candidate doesn’t wind up with their name on the ballot that you’re going to vote for Grandpa War (or go third party; aka pissing your vote away) has got to be the most ridiculous petty bullshit I’ve ever seen.

 Besides, change comes from the ground up. Even if we get 60 in the senate, an expanded majority in the House and either one of these wonderful presidential candidates in office, that’s just step one! If you don’t keep after these folks to do the right thing, they will start doing what the lobbyists tell them to. It’s us versus the lobbyists everyday in Washington. So don’t talk like you are willing to throw your vote away and thusly help elect someone who is in bed with the lobbyists. That’s like breaking a toy so your brother can’t play with it.

Bread, peace, and freedom.

We will be welcoming Jaqueline Bujanda to Great Bend again to help with an activism training session. This will take place in the basement of the Great Bend Public Library on March 15th at 2:00 PM. The library is located at 1409 Williams. I can’t get the map to imbed properly so just click the link for a map and directions.

This is another great opportunity to get active in your community. RSVP to Jacqueline if you are going to be there or just leave your contact info in the comments on this post. I look forward to taking back our country, will you join me? Bread, peace, and freedom!