Who Won?

October 22, 2013

The hostage crisis is over for the moment and the Tea Party caucuses are scurrying back under their rocks. Ted Cruz called what they did a “profile in courage”, but the reality is it was a profile in hatred and stupidity. Ted Cruz manipulated Republicans to engage in a fight they could never win so he could do fund raising. Cruz made millions from the crisis and has emerged as the leader of… who? Or what? Republicans knew this attempt at extortion was doomed from the beginning, but their hatred of the President trumped logic. Like any terrorist, their hope was to cause terror by inflicting senseless injury.

What did the Tea Party accomplish? The shutdown cost the country about $24 billion dollars adding to the deficit, the cost of borrowing money for the country went up – further adding to the deficit, the estimates are that the shutdown and threat of default will slow economic growth by about 1% – and that means nearly 1 million lost jobs. In other words, the country is under attack by a small number of extremists called the Tea Party. Their hope is to cause terror and inflict damage to get their way without bothering with elections.

The Tea Party hates the government and they are willing to destroy the economy to destroy the government. These are hateful people – waving Confederate flags and racist caricatures of the President; they are ignorant people with Sarah Palin mouthing their extraordinary ignorance of the Constitution, or with psychotic ranting on bowing to Allah and the Quran; they are frightened people who imagine boogey-men under their beds such as the idea that ObamaCare will destroy the country and invite God’s punishment on all of us.

How do we resist such reckless hatred? No reality seems capable of relieving them of their sickness. We will never convince them to give up their delusions, especially when they are underwritten by a few billionaires. I suppose the first step is to not fear them, not negotiate with them, and to arm ourselves with logic and to do everything we can to keep them out of political office.

“I am a Man”

October 21, 2013

“I am a Man”, the iconic sign of the Civil Rights Era, has been resurrected in the struggle to help fast food workers to earn a living wage. In protests that continue around the country (although not covered by the corporate media), fast food workers are organizing to gain the ability to earn a living wage. This is an important struggle for all Americans. The fast food industry is now second only to the health industry in the number of people it employs. These workers essentially earn minimum wage, which is to say Third World Wages, but that is a somewhat deceptive statistic in itself. If the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation since it’s inception, the minimum wage would now be over $10 an hour. Even that would be barely enough to keep a full time worker above the poverty level.

Most Americans might believe that fast food jobs are held by teenagers still in high school, and are “transition jobs” by helping them to move on to better jobs. Both beliefs are incorrect. Most people who now hold those jobs are adults and a significant number of them have families to support. Many of them formerly held gainful employment, but lost their job and could only find employment in that sector. The argument that fast food jobs are transition jobs is right in the sense that they are a transition from a good job to poverty, crowding out first time job seekers out of desperation to support their families. “I am a Man” is a message that the dignity of their labor and the right of people to organize for a better life for their families should be respected.

I hope that fast food workers do organize, and it may be the best chance of reviving a union movement. This could stop the slide toward the next generations of American from becoming the first generation to grow up in a third world economy. 

Bankers to the Rescue?

October 21, 2013

As we inch nearer to the debt-limit deadline, we also seem to be inching toward another political irony: it may be the bankers that come to rescue the American economy. The World Bank, European Union and other European banking institutions are all starting to join Wall Street voices in an a type of “intervention” on Congress. I can only imagine the scene with Boehner surrounded by Wall Street and European Bankers:

Jamie Dimon (Chase bank):    John, we’ve asked you here to help you. We all love you and want you to get healthy. We are worried. Even your European family joined us today. We all want you to stop this destructive slide and end the government shut down and raise the debt limit… Cold Turkey.

Boehner:             You don’t understand what it is like. I can’t live without the Tea Party. When I enter a meeting with those guys, I can be drunk as usual and by the end of the meeting I am stone-cold sober. I feel like I don’t matter. It’s not a problem. Default would be good for the Country.

Richard Gnodde (Goldman-Sachs):          John, you’re in denial. We all have supported you financially and if you don’t get help then we will cut you off.

Boehner:             Ok, ok. I need to take care of a few things first, so after 30 more days I will end it.

Jim Yong Kim (World Bank):         No negotiating John. We must all have our boats moving in the same direction. You are dragging the whole family down with your Tea Party addiction. They are poison and you are being poisoned. No more money contributions, no more private jets, no more tanning until you stop.

Boehner:             (crying now) I know, I know. I hated them at first, but now they seem so good for me… Palin, Cruz, Paul… they really do love me. .. what’s left for me? Going back to live in Ohio – noooooooo!

It goes on for hours and days. Markets begin to crash and even the Koch brothers begin to lose money. That’s when the GOP will relent – when their billionaire sponsors in the USA and Europe begin to feel the pain. The Tea Party is not responsive to reality. The only question is whether or not Boehner is still in touch with reality.

“Fairness for All – Republican Style”

October 21, 2013

Apparently the GOP spin-meisters have decided that the attempt to extort their way to defunding The Affordable Care Act will revolve around the word “fairness”. The House GOP followed the Tea Party jihadis off the cliff, and now want to claim they were risking our economy for “fairness”. Remember that when the debate over health care reform began the GOP argued that it was unfair that Americans who already had medical insurance should not be forced to be covered by the ACA. They said it was “unfair”. So the ACA exempted people who already had medical insurance. It so happens that Congress and their staff and the White House all had nice premium insurance policies.

Now the Jihadis who insisted on the exemption to be fair, are insisting on removing the exemption for “fairness”. In other words, it is just another delaying tactic or some focus group driven, Orwellian rationalization for harming the Country. Meanwhile, the “fairness” of the jihadis means that while 800,000 Federal workers and thousands of other workers are laid off from collateral damage without pay, Congress and their staff are getting paid for not doing their jobs, and Congressional perks such as the gym and health spa continue.

That’s Tea Party “fairness”. 

This is the End

October 10, 2013

Well its finally here. Even with the heroic efforts of the Tea Party and their historic leaders such as Ted Cruz, the United States ceased to exist today. Obamacare finally began. For over 2 years now we have been hearing how Obamacare will “destroy the economy”, “end democracy and usher in an era of government takeover worse than Nazi Germany”, begin the decline and destruction of the United States” (all quotes from Tea Party leaders in Congress).

At Fiegerlaw, we are all hunkered down in our basement bunker, locked and loaded and ready for the riots and mayhem that is sure to follow any second now.  Michelle Bachman, high priestess of the Tea Party, tells us that God is angry about Obamacare and will punish us. Not that they haven’t tried to help God’s will along by creating crises that have undermined the economic recovery, but if God is with the Tea Party then we are a doomed nation.

Maybe decades and dozens of doctoral dissertations from today we will be able to say that the gigantic wave of ignorance, anger and insanity peaked and crashed in the halls of Congress and the corporate fueled malignancy known as the Tea Party faded back under their rock.

ObamaCare Day 3

October 10, 2013

Dateline FiegerLaw Bunker…

Post ObamaCare day 3 and the enemy have very cleverly done… nothing. We should not be fooled. As many Tea Party prophets have warned, ObamaCare means the end of Democracy, murder and mayhem. Early indications of millions and millions of Americans inquiring about insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act is not an indication of the need for ObamaCare, it may be the sign of some Zombie apocalypse. The fear of what will happen after ObamaCare is implemented is now amplified by the fear of why the fears have not been realized.

I guess I could continue to poke fun at the Tea Party (a.k.a. forces of ignorance and fear), but with the shutdown of the government – now likely to continue for weeks and morphing into the debt ceiling crisis – is becoming the most serious economic crisis in our lifetime and not a laughing matter. Since the Republicans have expressed the certainty that God is on their side and hates ObamaCare, maybe this old story will help them find a way out of the disaster they have created:

It had been raining for days and flood waters were rising. The Governor ordered the National Guard to evacuate. One boat arrived at a house where the flood waters had risen to the first floor, and as the rescuers peered in they saw a man on his knees in deep prayer. They told him to get in the boat, but he responded “I have great faith that the Lord will save us from this disaster.” Hours later the boat returned when the flood waters had risen to the second story of the house and, sure enough, there was the man still praying. Once again, he refuses to get in the boat. “God will save us all from this flood” he said. Finally the National Guard returns to find the man clinging to the chimney on his roof because the flood waters had risen so high: “Get into the boat now… this is your last chance because the dam is about to burst!” The man refuses saying “I know it looks bad right now but God will save us.”

The Dam bursts and the man of great faith is drowned. As he arrives at the Pearly Gates he is a bit upset. “Listen,” he tells St. Peter “I had faith and prayed to be saved and look at me – I’m dead. I am disappointed in you guys.” St. Peter responds “Listen buster, we aren’t too happy with you either. We sent the boat 3 times and you refused to get on it.”

Maybe the Republicans can get on the boat and stop creating crises before they hurt us all. 

Fire Sale in Detroit

October 3, 2013

Maybe the tag “fire sale” is a bit insensitive to characterize what is happening in Detroit, but how else could you capture a potential Mike Duggan administration? The current representative of corporate interests in Detroit, the Emergency Manager Mr. Orr, is busy cutting deals to “save Detroit” and Mr. Duggan promises total salvation. What is the “saved Detroit” looking like?

Mr. Orr is angling to auction off the water works, privatize city services, breaking the unions and defund pensions. He has a busy agenda and must be working hard in his corporate-funded housing. However, the reality of Detroit is that it has been so bad for so long that real estate is available at fire sale prices, and primed for exploitation. Enter the duo of downtown Detroit.  Gilbert and Ilitch are dividing up the city center with the Gilbert empire stretching in an east-west direction along the river, and the Ilitch empire stretching North-South from the river. When I say empires, I mean it. They own tremendous stretches of real estate, much of which was acquired for a song. Don’t get me wrong, I prefer private investment in Detroit rather than forced divestment, and the downtown duo may be good in the short run but I get concerned with any monopoly, be it real estate or other. Keep in mind that Gilbert and Ilitch are developing real estate to make a profit, not as an investment in the community.

On the other hand, if you look at the history of Mr. Duggan and the money being poured into his campaign (from the very people who are buying up the real estate), you have to be concerned about what would happen to a city just getting on its feet. Wayne County, the Metro Expansion, the DMC… there is a long list of missing millions and the patronage of big money contributors to his campaign is his legacy.  He clearly represents corporate interests. Kwame put Detroit up for sale to his childhood crony. He is a piker compared to how Duggan will do it.      

Am I Bad?

October 2, 2013

I have to confess a little secret to you all. There is a part of me that wants to see a government shutdown. It is an irrational thought, maybe even a little sadistic, but there is method to this madness. This is another crisis manufactured by Tea Party wing-nuts. A few weeks ago I mused about the destructive nature of the Tea Party and how prone a political movement based on fear and anger is to demagogues, like Cruz. And now here we are with Cruz threatening to be a one man political suicide bomber, intent on putting at risk the financial standing of our Country, let alone vital supports to children and the elderly.

Considering the fact that the vast majority of Tea Party supporters are white and older Americans (“hands off my Medicare!”), maybe not getting a social security check from the government they hate so much will sober them up a bit. I don’t doubt that there are many Tea Party members who hold onto their anger for reasons other than politics, but I also believe that many Tea Party members are simply uninformed and frightened people. They have these fears and anxieties and a vague notion that someone or something is out to get them or their financial security. They’ve been convinced by corporate princes that it is “Obamacare”, or big government” that will usher in their personal apocalypse. Never mind that it is Obamacare that has already reduced their premiums, provided rebates from insurance companies, and otherwise will provide them with medical security, or that it is the same “big government” that sends out that vital social security check every month.

So perhaps when they don’t get the benefits of government they choose to hate, they will hit bottom like some angry drunk and recognize the piedpipers of self-serving billionaires and demagogues and become reasonable, rational Americans again.

It was that last thought that makes me recognize that thinking that a government shutdown will have benefits is an illusion. My bad…