* Joke of the Week ~ A pig in a $3000 suit is still a pig – President Obama, members of congress, cable news pundits and editorials across America bemoaned what Wall Street has done or not done with the $350 billion they received in a financial bailout several months ago. My local newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, said in an editorial titled Rewarding the Bad Guys, “Wall Street still doesn’t get it” as it was learned that these financial firms handed out $18.4 billion in bonuses this past year as their firms were reaching economic critical mass.
I am surprised and shocked that everyone is shocked and surprised. The financial collapse resulted from greed on steroids by financial institutions and head-up-their-butt government oversight. And the financial collapse changed nothing. Congress gave Bush and his Treasury Secretary $350 billion to bail out the Appalling Street of Financiers. These two geniuses then handed over the cash to the guys in fancy suits like drunks lusting for a lap dance at a gentlemen’s club - no enforceable guidelines, no strings attached, no oversight and the salacious alcohol-induced fantasy that the cash recipients will perform as desired. Now everyone is stunned that the money was not used intelligently, as intended, as naively hoped for. Like drunks with empty pockets and lust unfulfilled we gird for the morning-after hangover. Wall Street has given prostitutes a bad name and our government has once again proven to be hapless schmucks.
* Quotes of the week - The following two quotes are from the same article:
PBS Journalist Bill Moyers – “So here's the lens through which I see things. From my days in President Johnson's White House onward, I have defended Israel's right to defend itself, and still do. But killing innocent people is wrong, whether in Vietnam, Israel, Iraq or Gaza. Sometimes a candid critic is a country's best friend.”
Former Israeli soldier turned journalist, Jeffrey Goldberg, wrote in the NY Times this week – “Hamas cannot be bombed, nor cajoled, into moderation. Tanks cannot defeat deeply held beliefs. No. Waging war on an entire population guarantees one thing: the radicals get what they want, and the innocents, on both sides, suffer.”
The lessons identified above have been hard learned but remain elusive as the errors are repeated over many decades and in many locations. The loss of innocent lives is but one of the tragedies that taint the past 50 years.
The same noted article includes an exchange between Moyer and Abraham Foxman, National Director, Anti-Defamation League. It is a read I highly recommend for anyone attempting to seek clarity or a moral footing relative to Israel’s recent invasion of Gaza. To take a position that our own government or an ally can do no wrong is naïve and belies the evidence. I recall the pushback to protestors who were against the Viet Nam War being told, “America, love it or leave it.” This same mentality is exhibited by orators on the Fourth of July recognizing the brave men and women who gave their lives defending American democracy but then too often want to deny democratic expression when it does not suit their politics. How quickly we have forgotten the era of McCarthyism and the lives destroyed as Congress looked for Communists behind every curtain and every word spoken. Was this same political ploy not used by Bush and Republicans in the lead up to and execution of the Iraq war? Opposition was labeled as unpatriotic. Opposition was tainted as un-American. I would suggest that if the citizens who loved America enough to criticize their own country did not stand up we would indeed have a country and political system worth leaving.
* Derriere Orifice of the Week ~ ta da, Rush Limbaugh – This is not the first time the blunderbuss of talk radio has received this ignominious “award.” His recent exploits are so well documented that I will forgo the usual quote or explanation that usually accompanies this segment. I will simply say that this airwaves sewage pump is the Derriere Orifice of the Week because he is an unmitigated asshole. And, most fitting, he is now the spokes model for the Republican Party.
* Good News of the Week ~ hurray for less frequent mail – The Postmaster General has said it may be necessary to reduce the number of days that mail is delivered from 6 to 5 days. Personally, I could use an extra day of not receiving all the ad and solicitation mail that I did not request and do not want. The last time that there was a postal increase I had the thought to keep the rates lower by delivering the mail every other day. I will get over the disappointment of delaying for one day the receipt of the menu at the local Chinese restaurant, the next mattress sale or the discount coupon to have my chimney swept.
While on the subject of mail I suggest that the postal service be barred from increasing the cost of sending a letter by only one or two cents. I have a drawer full of odd stamps and I do not know what they are worth any more. I have to believe that when the cost increases by such insignificant amounts the post office winds up losing money given the cost of the transition and the millions of inquiries it must address relative to new postage rates. Like many departments in our government administration an upgrade in management skills would be a blessing.
* Comment of the Week – In an interview this week Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that Bush was a burden on the Republican Party. McConnel failed to note that he and the other Senate GOPers marched lock-step for eight years supporting George W. Bush and his failed policies. Republicans are full shareholders in the disastrous Bush years. Now they are rat-like abandoning the ship of fools. The American people have not been fooled as they have voted Republicans into minority status and given the White House to the Democrats. Unfortunately, it took a crushed economy, devastating foreign policy and further debilitating of the federal government by Bush and Republicans for the American people to fully grasp this failed leadership. Fortunately, you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.
* Election of the Week ~ meet Michael Steele – The former lieutenant governor of Maryland and long-time conservative commentator on FOX News has been elected the Chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC). What do we know about the man selected to lead the Republican Party out of purgatory? When Steele ran for the Maryland senate seat two years ago he ran a campaign “worthy” of his party. His backers went to Philadelphia and hired 300 poor, mostly unemployed African Americans and put them on Trailways buses bound for Maryland. They were deployed to African American communities and given fliers to hand out to residents. “They spent Election Day handing out glossy fliers headlined "Democratic Sample Ballot" or "Official Voter Guide." The fliers employed the phrase "Ehrlich-Steele Democrats." And they featured images of prominent African Americans, such as former Democratic congressman and NAACP leader Kweisi Mfume, above the words: "These are our choices."
Mfume was not supporting Steele and Steele was running on the Republican ticket. The group Progressive Maryland described Steele’s campaign as one of "Lies, Dirty Tricks, and Fraudulent Fliers Designed to Deceive African American Voters." Steele lost the election but apparently shored up his Republican credentials. Yes, Michael Steele meets most of the qualifications to be the leader of the Republican Party – the one exception being that he is an African American. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the almost last stronghold of the Republican Party – the Land of Dixie.
* This is the 100th post of Stephen Views the News. What began as a brief email to 15 friends in June 2007 soon became a forum to address issues I deemed of national concern and to publicize the machinations and failures of the Bush administration that I came across, often in less than mainstream media. By almost any standard this blog is narrow in influence and yet it has enabled me to feel I have made a small contribution to readers’ awareness on a broad range of subjects. The writing of SVN has resulted in making new relationships across our country and the resulting dialogue and feedback has contributed to shaping my views and opinions. In addition to my own web page SVN is posted at barackobama.com and the national website of Democracy for America where it is made available to hundreds of local DFA affiliates. It is impossible to know how many people read my work at these other sites. I do know that several thousand individuals have visited SVN, coming from 42 countries and nearly 1000 cities. The internet is truly an amazing gift and the newest tool for shining a bright light on our leaders.
* “It may well be that our means are fairly limited and our possibilities restricted when it comes to applying pressure on our government. But is this a reason to do nothing? Despair is nor an answer. Neither is resignation. Resignation only leads to indifference, which is not merely a sin but a punishment.”
Elie Wiesel (born 1928) Holocaust survivor, Jewish writer, professor, political activist and Nobel Laureate