Wednesday, April 27, 2005

And you support this administration...why?

Ok, I was listening to NPR yesterday, and there was an interview with Bruce Springsteen. He was recounting why he was a Democrat, and he said it was because he came home one day as a kid and asked his dad if they were Republican or Democrat, and his dad said, "We're Democrats because the Democrats are for the working people."

He said that was his whole political education to that point, and then he and the interviewer discussed how so many working people are now staunch Republicans. Is it because the Republicans are now the ones fighting for the "working people"?

Well, if the only political information you get is from your church, and church sponsored broadcasts about the filibuster, you might believe it. But for God's sake, grow a brain and use it.

Let's set aside their belief that outsourcing jobs to other countries is good for this country. Let's not argue about the illegal war in Iraq and the overwhelming proof taht the invasion of Iraq was justified using information which was, at best, incorrect. Let's not talk about how they told us the war would cost $1.7 billion and be over quickly though it has lasted for years with an ever rising body count and costing over $4 billion a month. Let's not talk about how they are doing everything they can to subvert democracy in their all out effort to dominate all three branches of government while crowing about their success in spreading democracy abroad. Let's forget, for the moment, how they are quashing any opposition as anti-American and pro-terrorist. Let's forget how the administration that wanted to bring dignity and trust back to the White House supports changing the rules so that ethics investigations can only happen if you agree ahead of time not to find any fault with Tom DeLay. Let's forget that the President who swore to defend the Constitution tries at every opportunity to revise it or add to it provisions which would limit the freedoms of all Americans.

Actually, let's not forget all of that, we'll come back to it later this week.

For right now, let's just look at something as close to the average Republican's brain as you can get. His wallet. In that wallet are probably credit cards.

The credit card companies have been largely unregulated. Most cards are issued through South Dakota or Delaware because there are no usury laws in those states, so there's no cap on the interest rates they can charge. Credit card issuers made $30 billion last year.(1)

For years these companies have worked like tobacco companies in their heyday to get everyone they could, and at the earliest ages they could, hooked on plastic and mired in debt. Most outrageous are the efforts to get college students to become credit addicts. Many college students graduate from school shocked to find that before their earning power has a chance to kick in, their credit card debts are equal to their student loan debt and other school related expenses. (Which will be even harder to pay for if Republicans get their way.)

How many "working people" with a college education land jobs right out of school that will allow them to eat, live, drive and pay $300 a month in student loans and another $300 a month in credit card bills? For too many, the answer is to pay the bills with whatever they can scrape together and then buy groceries and gas with more credit. God forbid they have to fly somewhere for a job interview.

Once these companies have created a nation of credit addicts, they lobby Congress to change the bankruptcy laws, all the while calling it reform and convincing America that most people go into debt already thinking that bankruptcy is a cheap and easy way out...that these people filing for bankruptcy are cheats and frauds who need to be made to pay what they owe. It sounds convincing, huh? It must, you supported it and few people complained when Bush signed the new law.

What does the law do?

The "Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005" has been sold to America based on, like most of what this administration sells, lies. They tell us most bankruptcy is because of frivoulous spending, but the truth is 90 percent of all bankruptcies are caused by serious medical issues, loss of income or a family breakup. (2)

Before you go all Rush Limbaugh on my ass, 75% of those people had health in surance. Almost all bankruptcies are caused by unforseen circumstances, not fraud. Which is why the bankruptcy provisions were created in the first place. A 90% success rate in the application of this system is pretty good, especially when you compare it to the success rate of...say...the very expensive Intelligence services which got us into Iraq.

They say that only those who have the ability to pay will be forced to pay their debts. Sounds good, but it too is a lie. In truth, it does nothing to prevent the creation of asset protection trusts by those who can afford to do so. These trusts can be set up to protect valuable assets from creditors in a bankruptcy. However, this is only an option for those who can afford to set up such a trust.(2) In short, if you are rich and file for bankruptcy you won't lose your house. If you are poor and file for bankruptcy all bets are off and you could end up homeless and without a car. And they call this reform?

Catering to the mega-buck lending institutions who are making fortunes off the misery of the working poor...misery they created by calculation...doesn't sound like championing the cause of the working people to me.

And you didn't expect it...on the heels of that new legistlation paid for by the credit card companies, we get the news that the Feds will raise credit card minimum payments! Over the next year, the federal government is requiring all banks to raise the minimum monthly credit card payment from two to four percent of the balance owed (1). They're saying that this is going to help more people get out of debt faster and save them money.

Where do these people live? Oh, yeah, in huge trust protected homes isolated from the concerns of the family who is using their credit card to buy groceries at 29% interest* because they can't keep up with the other bills they have, rising gasoline costs, skyrocketing medical costs, and diminishing access to adequate health care.

Sure, if they pay more they will get out of debt faster, but how many American families are going to have a heart attack when their monthly minimum payments double? Would the bankruptcy legislation have gone through as easily if the Feds raised the mimimum payments before they tried to pass that law? Hell no.

But in the mind of George Bush and his cronies, you people making the minimum payments each month are doing it out of choice, and your credit card debts are your own fault because of your frivoulous spending. On food. And gas. And doctor bills.

These new rules hit us working people on top of already being clobbered by higher energy prices, rising interest rates, and record levels of overall household debt.

Household debt is now $10 trillion, or 87% of gross domestic product. (3)

Holy Crap!

American households, on average, possess nearly 8 major bank cards -- or 17, including store and gas cards. Either by choice or necessity, some 19 million households -- about 1 in 6 -- now make minimum payments on their cards, according to card tracking service

Look, most people do pay more than the minimum every month. I'm not arguing that if you can pay 4% instead of 2% you should keep paying 2%. That would be crazy. I'm saying that if you look at the facts, which is that almost all of the people paying just the minimum are doing it because they have no choice then the Government is forcing those poor people into default and that's wrong, but worse because before they did this they made it harder and more costly to declare bankruptcy.

If you want real credit reform, you corporate cronies in Washington, then do something to regulate the credit card insdustry because they are the ones who are creating the poverty and misery that you are punishing.

I know, you don't bite the hand that feeds you. Which is why the hand that feeds you is supposed to be THE WORKING PEOPLE OF AMERICA and not BIG CORPORATE INTERESTS.

And everyone out there with that stupid W on your back window....I blame YOU, and so will everyone else, including Jesus, when this house of cards you've built comes crashing down on all our heads.

Now, go kick a gay homeless person to make yourself feel better, you heartless bastards.

*(Borrowers who make a late payment -- whether it's for the phone bill, a credit card, or a house payment -- often are charged punitive rates averaging 29% on all their cards. These on-the-edge borrowers are the most profitable part of any bank's card operations, as long as they don't default.)(3)

(1)Feds Raise Credit Card Minimum Payment, Mike Doria, Jane Flasch (Rochester, NY) 04/27/05,

(2)Bankruptcy reform not what it appears, Cory Dulcos, The Signpost, April 27, 2005

(3)Tough Love for Debtors, Mara Der Hovanesian for Business Week Online, April 26, 2005

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Get the Drunk Home...

Get the Drunk Home

An excellent waste of time. Perfect to hold you over until I can bear to watch the news again and post a real editorial.

Just use your mouse--moving left or right--with no clicking to help him walk a straight line. A John Lurie soundtrack, I think.

My personal best is 48 meters. Then I had to go drink out of sympathy for the little german feller.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Leave the Dead to Bury the Dead...

That's what Jesus told Matthew. So, I guess that is what he'd do. I can't begin to tell you how angry I am about this whole Terri Schiavo situation. And don't think for a minute that just because she has finally been allowed to go home to God that you're going to stop hearing about her any time soon.

I checked the Rapture Index today and saw it had gone up a point. I presume because of the big earthquake this week. Earthquakes are a big biblical indicator of the end times, because that's one of the ways God shows his displeasure. Why he is so angry at South East Asia and not Florida, I have no idea, but the fanatical nut jobs down there are certain the earthquake was God being mad about the feeding tube removal.

Couldn't he be just as angry about the efforts to put it back in? In fact, isn't that more likely? I mean, if she were allowed to die, in the natural way God intended without man's intervention through artificial means, wouldn't she be rewarded and made whole in the kingdom of Heaven? That's what my Christianity told me. That's what they say at every funeral I've been to. I mean, when you listen to the Schindler's statement after her death, you can't help but add in the unspoken subtext:

"As you are aware, Terri is now with God and she has been released from all earthly burdens."(Despite our best efforts.)

"After these recent years of neglect at the hands of those who were supposed to protect and care for her, she is finally at peace with God for eternity."(Despite our best efforts.)

That last thing isn't even true. What kind of neglect of a person bed ridden for 15 years doesn't even result in a single bed sore?

I was watching CNN, you know, that most liberal of the liberal controlled media (also an End Times indicator), and when Terri's brother and sister came out of the hospice to make the announcement....I swear to the God they don't think Liberals believe in that I saw a person dressed in a clown costume come up and try to console them, and they made a bee line away from him. Probably not the metaphor ridden image they wanted in the papers the next day. This clown was, I think, part of a contingent of kooky Christians like Jugglers for Jesus who have been camped out down there calling Jeb Bush a Nazi for obeying the rule of law and not taking taking custody of Terri.

Too bad these guys don't read the Constitution as often as Revelations.

If Jeb Bush is a Nazi for not intervening then isn't God a Nazi for the same reason? Or when they say that the runaway activist judges are demonstrating that they are more powerful than Congress and the President, are they also saying the Judges are more powerful than God?

It is insanity.

Yesterday I was listening to Neal Boortz, and ABC news broke in to do live coverage of the President speaking about the very embarrassing report on failed intelligence regarding WMD's and the justification for our war in Iraq. I was so impressed that the media--with their overwhelming bias toward corporate interests--was going to cover this live.

Before George could get to the section on the report, he made his statement about Terri Schiavo and how in all cases where there is the slightest doubt, we must err on the side of preserving life.

"AHA!" I thought, "What irony! There was plenty of doubt before we bombed the shit out of all those people and deprived over a hundred thousand people of life!"

But, alas, the sly fox qualified it by saying "American Life" and then ABC broke in to discuss the statement about the Schiavo case and so far nobody is covering the WMD report. They didn't cover the rest of the speech at all!

All anyone in the media wants to talk about is the fight over Terri's body and the failing body of the Pope...then if there is time in the segment, we'll talk about Jerry Falwell's congestive heart failure.

I'm so furious about all this my heart might fail.

I can't believe Tom DeLay and his supporters are demanding an investigation of the Florida Courts and nobody gives a shit about one of the most alarming reports regarding the War on Terror and our invasion of another country to ever be released.

If the liberals are the ones politicizing this case, how's come Sean Hannity and Rick Santorum were doing Hannity and Colmes live from the hospice?

I can't believe people are calling Michael Schiavo a ghoul when Terri's parents have been selling their donor list to radical conservative anti-gay and pro-life interests.

Why were the people screaming about sanctity of marriage raising 6 million dollars to bribe Michael to divorce his wife?

Why are the people screaming about sanctity of marriage claiming Terri's parents have a better claim to her guardianship than her husband?

Why are some of the people screaming about sanctity of life offering a bounty on the head of Michael Schiavo, his lawyer, and Judge Greer?

Why were the people screaming about faith in Jesus fighting with everything they have to keep Terri from going to be with him?

Why are the people who fought to limit medical malpractice awards to $250,000 and working to dismantle Medicare not addressing the cost of keeping people like Terri alive?

Why are the people who claim to love the Constitution of this country so much fighting so hard to rewrite it or circumvent it?

And for crying out loud, if the media is so liberal, why is all the coverage slanted toward the Schindler's tragic efforts to save their daughter's life?

Why is advocating for the rule of law rather than praising the endorsement by Congress and the President of MOB RULE advancing a pro-death agenda?

I'm so damned mad....and hey....why the hell are you reading this rant about Terri Schiavo instead of reading Intelligence about Iraq 'dead wrong,' panel says
Harm caused by failure 'will take years to undo'