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Mike Check for President 2012

OFA on the way to a campaign rally!

President Obama got Mic Checked in New Hampshire last week and, well, this just about says it all:

Republicans who have been urging the Occupy movement to protest President Barack Obama finally got their wish Tuesday.

At a campaign event in New Hampshire, the president waited patiently as he was “mic checked” by a group of protesters.

“Mic check!” they shouted. “Mr. President, over 4,000 peaceful protesters have been arrested. While bankers continue to destroy the American economy. You must stop the assault on our First Amendment rights. Your silence sends a message that police brutality is acceptable. Banks got bailed out. We got sold out.”  

But the rest of their message was quickly drowned out by Obama supporters chanting, “Fired up, ready to go!” and “Obama!”

Ahh, yes, the “Fired up! Ready to go!” crap from the Obama Fan Base.  Why am I not surprised that the milk bar droogs from the Obama campaign were just waiting to drown out the 99%?  How does this differ from Karl Rove’s response to a mic check when he asked the occupiers “Who gave you the right to occupy America?!”

Shall we see a return of Hope n’Change next?

What is it with those aggressive assholes anyway?  Do they drink berserker juice before they brutally dash the dreams of millions of Americans who are not frat boys from Ivy League schools?  I wouldn’t count on the OFA to get the upper hand for long. The occupiers are a clever lot.  They’ll think of something to even the score.  Besides, 99% is a lot of people and the OFA may be very loud but it’s also very tiny.

So, after the milk bar droogs for Obama (MBDfO) quashed the Occupation, Obama went on to tell them to listen to him because he understands that they are frustrated.  No, no, no.  The chant says nothing about frustration.  The one you’re thinking of goes like this:

“Furious?  Furious?  You’re goddamned right we’re furious!”

Big difference.  The head patting and dropping the rhetoric to the level of a fourth grader is not going to work this time around, Barry.  And the Fired up! thing just comes off like a bunch of bullies kicking the 99% in the nutz with the tips of their hobnailed shoes.

You know what I think would send a message?  If Obama loses the Iowa caucuses to Mike Check.  And maybe New Hampshire too.  That kind of election result tends to get people’s attention.  And we have precedent…

 

(name that tune)

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Wednesday: Collateral damage

Even the GOP can't attack the lunch program. Or can they?

The NYTimes reports today that the number of children on the reduced cost school lunch program has spiked recently due to layoffs and homelessness in the family.

That’s just great.

On a related note, Nicolas Kristoff wrote a post last Sunday on how we’re being too hard on Obama.  He’s worried that the recent elections in Spain and other European countries under pressure demonstrate impatience with socialist and other more liberal political parties.  Why that should affect Obama is a mystery.  He doesn’t appear to have a liberal bone in his body.  Then Kristoff goes through the presidential campaign talking points:

In this economic crisis, Obama will face the same headwinds. That should provide a bracing warning to grumbling Democrats: If you don’t like the way things are going right now, just wait.

President Obama came into office with expectations that Superman couldn’t have met. Many on the left believed what the right feared: that Obama was an old-fashioned liberal. But the president’s cautious centrism soured the left without reassuring the right.

Like many, I have disappointments with Obama. He badly underestimated the length of this economic crisis, and for a man with a spectacular gift at public speaking, he has been surprisingly inept at communicating.

But as we approach an election year, it is important to acknowledge the larger context: Obama has done better than many critics on the left or the right give him credit for.

He took office in the worst recession in more than half a century, amid fears of a complete economic implosion. As The Onion, the satirical news organization, described his election at the time: “Black Man Given Nation’s Worst Job.”

The administration helped tug us back from the brink of economic ruin. Obama oversaw an economic stimulus that, while too small, was far larger than the one House Democrats had proposed. He rescued the auto industry and achieved health care reform that presidents have been seeking since the time of Theodore Roosevelt.

{{rolling eyes}}

I noticed that Kristoff was careful to say that Obama signed a fair pay act into law.  That must mean that they have discovered that women are onto the Lilly Ledbetter maneuver.  Raise your hands, ladies, if you feel like your pay with your male colleagues has been equalized.  Don’t worry that you don’t know what their salaries are.  Everything can be quantified.  Compare the cars you have, the houses you live in, working spouse or stay at home, how many kids you have.  Are your male colleagues living your lifestyle?

Then there are things Obama has actually made worse.  Like, setting an example in the White House for the way the Old Boys Network works and then not holding anyone accountable for it.  Don’t think there aren’t guys out there who are now comfortable screwing with their female colleagues’ career in order to get ahead. It happens ALL THE TIME.  Obama is a master of it.  It’s part of the reason why he won the nomination in 2008.  We witnessed it.  Maybe Kristoff doesn’t think this is important.  I notice that he spends a commendable amount of time detailing sex slavery in the developing world.  But what would he find close to home if he started to delve into gender inequality at work?  Nick?  You want to take that on?  Or do you just want to wring your hands in growing panic over Obama’s re-election prospects?  I suppose women are going to hear that their concerns are not that important now that the economy is falling.

Anyway, we’re not that impressed with Obama’s “achievements”.  By the way, Nick, did you know the COBRA subsidy that was to help those of us unemployed afford to cover our health insurance costs expired in September?  Yup.  Do you have any idea how much COBRA costs these days when all you get is unemployment?  Health care reform isn’t going to make those costs disappear, Nick.  There’s no fricking competition from a public option.  Oh, and while he was putting together that pathetic Affordable (you’ve GOT to be kidding) Care Act, he was busy ignoring the recommendation of his economic advisor Christina Romer to dedicate $100 billion to put the unemployed back to work.  Do you know how many scientists in NJ could be put back to work discovering new drugs on even 1% of that money?  And let’s talk about how he handled the termination of the Bush Tax Cuts for the wealthy.  Oh, that’s right, he *didn’t* terminate them.  And he didn’t help families stay in their homes with HAMP.  And he didn’t arrest the bankers.  He didn’t appoint Elizabeth Warren to the agency that she created.  And he hasn’t helped protect womens’ reproductive rights.  Jeez, the list goes on and on.  Some of these things are fairly simple fixes and would have cost very little political capital.  But he didn’t do them anyway.  Why, Nick?  WHY??

Kristoff goes out of his way to blame the circumstances into which Obama’s presidency was born for his failure to really accomplish anything.  Oh, wait, doesn’t that contradict the rest of this column that lauds Obama’s achievements?  Whatever.  As I recall, Obama wanted this job bad.  He wanted it so badly that he was willing to abandon all scruples to get it.  The DNC put itself out for the money men so it could elect pliant, docile Democrats who would do as they were told.  But it was Obama who with a paltry 142 days on the job in Washington, DC decided that he was supremely qualified to be president in the aftermath of the disastrous Bush years.  And let us not be stupid about this, the collapse of the subprime market started to happen in 2007.  You didn’t have to be a Wall Street banker to know that the crash was going to happen.  You just needed to check the real estate section of the local paper.  There was no way in hell that wages were keeping pace with house prices.

But Obama had to have this job.  It’s not like we didn’t have options.  There was another candidate who was more suited to handle an economic catastrophe.  She got the shaft, along with the voters in the big, reliable Democratic states and Obama took the prize.  The Democrats should not be surprised that working class voters in swing states like Pennsylvania are not enthusiastic about voting for him.  They *had* their champion and she was stabbed in the back.  What did they get in return?  How has Obama improved their lives? He was supposed to be the better candidate, right?  Otherwise the party wouldn’t have nominated him, right?  You can’t really expect those voters to believe that now.

Presumably, Obama’s voters were convinced that he was the creme de la creme.  There wasn’t anyone better.  The Democratic party really pulled out the stops when it nominated Obama.  He is the most Democratic and bestest and excellence personified. It simply can not get better than Obama.  He is the most-ut.  If that’s the way they truly felt, they had an obligation to put as much pressure as they possibly could on him to get him to perform.  After all, they stomped all over Clinton voters and women practically screaming, “Shut up and DIE, you stupid, old, uneducated, working class idiots!”  Those Clinton voters were tossed aside and their concerns were ignored in the wake of Obama’s “historic” victory.  He ought to have paid more attention to them and his supporters should have stopped the funky-chicken-in-the-endzone back in 2008.  (Note to Kristoff google + commenters, one of the biggest problems Obama has to deal with is his own obnoxious supporters.  Drop the sarcastic “magic Hillary” remarks.  They’re in extremely poor taste or haven’t you learned anything yet.)

Giving him a pass and making excuses for his poor performance was not the best strategy for winning friends and influencing people.  Nor was writing the non-Obama voters off.  Or calling them racists, or stupid, or uneducated.  Instead of treating him with kid gloves, his supporters should have been whacking him like a piñata in 2009 to make him conform to Democratic party principles.  They would not and he didn’t.  Now, he can do pretty much anything he pleases and data mine the precincts, tweaking his message to squeak a teeny advantage here and there.  Will it be enough?  Does it matter if he doesn’t resemble the president you thought you voted for the first time?

I guess it’s our fault as voters that we do not appreciate him.  We shouldn’t have gotten ourselves unemployed and foreclosed.  We should have taken better care of his legacy.  But it’s a funny thing that happens when you lose everything.  Suddenly, someone else’s hyperbolic frenzy to retain power just doesn’t seem very important anymore. Maybe Obama should have been paying greater attention to the bottom layer of Maslow’s pyramid.  Oh, well, too late now.

Kristoff closes with:

I’m hoping the European elections will help shock Democrats out of their orneriness so that they accept the reality that we’ll be facing not a referendum, but a choice. For a couple of years, the left has joined the right in making Obama a piñata. That’s fair: it lets off steam, and it’s how we keep politicians in line.

But think back to 2000. Many Democrats and journalists alike, feeling grouchy, were dismissive of Al Gore and magnified his shortcomings. We forgot the context, prided ourselves on our disdainful superiority — and won eight years of George W. Bush.

This time, let’s do a better job of retaining perspective. If we turn Obama out of office a year from now, let’s make sure it is because the Republican nominee is preferable, not just out of grumpiness toward the incumbent during a difficult time.

I completely agree with Kristoff here.  There is a choice.  If the Democrats are starting to worry about their chances in November 2012, they could choose to change their lineup.  That would be the sensible, bold, leaderly thing to do.  We Democrats in Exile do not want four more years of Obama.  That is what those poll numbers are telling you, Democrats.  The party that wins next November is the one that has the most motivated voters.  Right now, the Republicans are chomping at the bit.  They’ll fall into line once they have a nominee.  That’s what Republicans do.  They’re good at following orders.

Democrats?  Ehhhhh, not so much.  Right now, I can’t think of one reason why I would voluntarily go to the polls to cast a vote for a guy who doesn’t take a firm stand for *anything* I believe in.  Do I want the Republicans to win?  Of course not.  But that assumes that the Democrats are not going to offer me a better choice next year.  And that infuriates me.  If they aren’t going to offer me a choice, they deserve to lose.  This is a no-brainer, guys.  The Democrats have to motivate the party and give the public options.  Take Obama out of the game and put in another player.  Obama is not the best you can do.  There are at least three candidates I can think of off the top of my head who would be better.  Choose one and stop the hand wringing.  Otherwise, I’m going to find a third party candidate and vote for that person.  I understand the strategic implications of this decision for the Democrats.  The question is, do the Democrats understand that I and millions of others are serious?  What’s important to them?  Maintaining power at any cost and risking it all if they lose or actually doing what is right?

This is not a game.  I’m getting sick of the psychological manipulation techniques and the guilt trips.  All I can see is the number of people I know who are out of work, including me, in a high technology industry that is being decimated by the same smug bonus class that forced Obama down our throats.  And that school lunch program applicant increase?

Disgraceful.

This should be an Olympic sport

You just never know where the next breathtaking display of beauty and athleticism will come from.

This one is even better.  There’s one move towards the end that’s amazing.

Tuesday: Exasperation

How to administer a dope slap

Update:  I didn’t know this but today is “Pay a Blogger” day.  Jeez, is it that time again?  It seems like it comes earlier and earlier each year.  We now have a button in the left sidebar but it may disappear and reappear randomly.  Zhat vay, ve vill train you to hit zhe bar vhen it appears.  Ve haff found zhat habituation leads to disinterest.  Yah?  Zo, hit zhe button vhen you zee it.  Proceeds will help me get to various events and will keep Katiebird in her technical manuals.

I haven’t criticized Paul Krugman for awhile now, and I don’t really like to do it.  I feel like we’re almost neighbors, what with Paul living just down the road a-spell and all.  Theoretically, I could run into him.  {{Paul shivvers at the thought of that and considers hiring body guards}}

It’s not that I disagree with him in any way.  In fact, I don’t.  But one of his latest blog posts bugs the stuffing out of me.  In Mission Not Accomplished, Krugman writes:

Matt Yglesias and Kevin Drum say the right thing about revelations that big banks got very easy terms during the financial crisis: the real scandal isn’t so much that those banks got rescued as that the rest of the population didn’t.

For sure, the Fed and Treasury should have driven harder bargains. I think the political landscape would look different and better right now if the Obama administration had in fact taken at least one big bank into receivership. But in the crisis, money had to flow freely, and the truth is that the gifts bankers received are more a source of annoyance than a source of current problems.

What’s unforgivable is the way policymakers, both at the Fed and elsewhere, basically declared Mission Accomplished as soon as the panic in financial markets subsided and stocks were up again.

This is not news to any of us who have been paying attention.  It’s certainly not news to Krugman either because I read his blog and column pretty regularly.  No, what ticks me off is that we have another example of citing male bloggers as having had a great revelation, in this case Matt Yglesias and Kevin Drum.  Kevin, Paul?  Kevin, “I trust Obama’s judgment because he’s smarter than I am” Drum?  Or Matt Yglesias, who snickered in 2008 that if only the Clinton voters knew how the party powerbrokers were setting things up they’d go with their second choice and stop wasting everyone’s time (but they won’t do that because they’re not that bright)?  Come to think of it, that post by Matt Yglesias in The Atlantic in 2008 has to be the most stunning example of what the Obama contingent was thinking when they decided to f^%& over the Clinton voters that I have ever seen.  Let me cite it for you because it really is that breathtaking:

After all, consider the situation in Pennsylvania. All indications are that a clear majority of Pennsylvania Democrats would prefer for Hillary Clinton to be the nominee than for Barack Obama to be the nominee. But there are few indications that they understand the real structure of the race — that a miracle Obama comeback in PA would mean that Democrats enter May with a nominee and a financial advantage, whereas a sizable Clinton win in PA may mean that Democrats don’t get a nominee until August and that that nominee, who’ll almost certainly be Barack Obama anyway, will have a much tougher time winning in November. I think if voters better-understood the situation, they’d be much more inclined to vote for their second-favorite Democrat in the race, much less eager to do volunteer work for Clinton, much less inclined to donate money to her campaign, etc. But people won’t understand the dynamic unless it’s explained to them by credible party leaders.

Did you catch that?  What Matt said was that he was talking to party movers and shakers and they told him that it didn’t matter if Clinton won Pennsylvania or any other state after that.  The party had already decided that she wasn’t going to be the nominee no matter how many people voted for her and that continuing to vote for her wasn’t going to change this outcome.  I cited this Yglesias post back in March 2008.  MARCH.

So, Yglesias and Drum haven’t had the best judgment in the world and they’re late to the “bailing out the banks was only part of the solution” party.  It doesn’t surprise me.  Neither one of them live in the middle class of the research worker that my friends and I live in.  They don’t know what it’s like to experience a devastation of their industry or see every one of their friends go through a layoff.  They don’t know what it’s like to be unable to find anything but contract work with no bennies in spite of degrees in the hard sciences.  Life is hard out here.  Three days after Thanksgiving, there is no one at the Mall and the parking lots are not full. I haven’t seen Central New Jersey’s retail sector look like this since 2008.  Matt and Kevin are somewhat insulated from that by what Elizabeth Bennett would call “their connexions”.  Why are guy bloggers so much more likely to have “connexions” that lead to jobs that pay?  Can you answer me that, Paul?  Greg?

By the way, in a couple of years, will we be reading Matt and Kevin’s posts that say, “Golly!  We don’t have a research infrastructure anymore.  The finance guys and MBAs with executive hair at all of our research companies gutted their R&D departments in order to extract “shareholder value” and big bonuses.  And now, there are no new therapeutic agents in the pipeline.  Dadgummit! Why didn’t I know this until now?  I thought President Obama, whose judgment I trust more than my own, said we needed more STEM workers.  Why are hundreds of thousands of them destitute or working for Wall Street?”

In any case, Elizabeth Warren was a proponent for bailing out the middle class way back in 2009 in that notorious interview that she had with Adam Davidson on Planet Money, an interview that we and other bloggers have cited on more than one occasion to make the same point that Yglesias and Drum are just now figuring out.  By the way, did you notice the dismissive contempt that Davidson had for Warren in that interview?  I wonder if guys realize they sound like this to those of us who know they are full of it. And if it is true that Matt and Kevin are suddenly discovering that, “Hey! We should have given money to people who weren’t rich so they could keep their jobs and pay their mortgages.  That way, we would have refilled our bank and treasury coffers from the bottom up!”, should Paul Krugman be using them as examples of bloggy enlightenment?  Putting aside whether female voices are underrepresented in the more prestigious online opinion journals, how do Slate and Mother Jones justify putting on their payrolls two people who have been so disastrously behind the zeitgeist, with histories of suspending their own judgments to adopt the clueless or malicious opinions of others, especially now that we know that our own judgment was correct and theirs was wrong?

Over and over again, we have seen male bloggers used as voices of authority in online opinion pieces.  Whether this is just a bad habit or preference doesn’t matter.  It could be that Paul Krugman is surrounded by sycophantic, toe licking, ego-massagers and these people just happen to be male grad student types and Yglesias and Drum seem familiar to him.   But if we want to make sure that voices like Christina Romer’s and Elizabeth Warren’s are not trampled on in meetings with the next president, we need to encourage Krugman and Sargent to go outside of their comfort zone.  We have to make sure that the public gets used to hearing opinions from people other than the toady male grad student types as authority figures at the grassroots level so that future presidents have a harder time ignoring and dismissing them.  Don’t whine about it three years later, Paul.

If Krugman is wondering why it took so long for the powers that be to realize that helping the middle class should have been a priority, he need look no further than Matt Yglesias, Kevin Drum and Adam Davidson.

************************************

A little off topic: I found this clip of John Dominic Crossan, scholar of early Christianity, on the dangers of fundamentalism.  He sounds like what I have been trying to say about the malignant nature of fundamentalist Christianity.  I guess you need to live with it up close and personal to understand how dangerous it is.  When I say malignant, I am saying that fundamentalist Christianity spreads, it doesn’t contribute to the well being of society because it isn’t interested in the survival of that society, it’s harmful to other people that don’t follow its strict interpretation of scripture and the best you can do is suppress it and keep it in check.  You will never be able to eliminate it.  That’s why it has been such a disaster for the country to continue to treat fundamentalism so respectfully.  We must challenge it a lot more strenuously because it is dangerous if it gets out of control.

Monday: The instapaper queue

Turkey Tetrazzini for dinner? hmmm...

How was everyone’s Thanksgiving?  Did everyone get enough to eat?  I brought the desserts this year and much to my surprise, no one in my family likes Lemon Meringue but me.  I’m not complaining but I did find it weird when my sister told me that it was a summer pie and why didn’t I know that??  Not to fear, we had pumpkin as well.  And a custard fruit tart brought by someone else that was also delicious.  It went fast.

My sister and her husband are into this foodsaver gadget and they shrinkwrapped the leftovers into neat little packages.  I have to get one of those suckers.  They gave me a package of turkey (white meat, yummmm) to take home with me.  Guess what’s for dinner tonight?

Anyway, I have a lot to do today.  I need to finish reading some papers, return a coat I decided I could live without and basically take care of some other stuff that I’ve been putting off.  So, I thought I’d let you in on my instapaper queue.  For those of you not familiar with instapaper, it’s an app/utility that allows you to save links to interesting webpages so that you end up with something like your own frontpage.  It comes with a button that you put on your browser bar and when you see something you want to read later, you just click on “read later” and it saves it to your instapaper account.  Later, you can peruse your links at your leisure.  Highly recommended.  They even have a Browse section of recommended links of things you may be interested in reading based on your current selections.

So, here’s a few things in my instapaper queue:

How do you define who’s homeless during a recession?  The Atlantic

All the Angry People- The New Yorker

Estee Lauder Heirs Tax Strategies Typify Advantages for Weathy- The New York Times (I guess they don’t need my money after all.  Did you know that Estee Lauder owns Clinique, M.A.C., and Origins as well?)

Team Obama Gears Up for 2012 – The New York Times (This one is unsettling.  Milk Bars and droogs come to mind)

So, What did Lipitor do for Pfizer? Or its Shareholders?- In the Pipeline (Or, “How the finance MBA executive class screwed the pooch in pharma, destroyed research, set the shareholders up for HUGE losses later and made the entire world hate drug discovery’s guts”  It’s hard to believe a group of arrogant, hierarchical Ivy League educated individuals could botch things this badly but it’s become clear to me that the Democrats have been taking lessons from them.)

More Parents are Opting out of Vaccines – The Atlantic  (Did you know that Raold Dahl’s 7 year old daughter Olivia died from encephalitis because she was not vaccinated against measles?  True story.  It’s hard to believe there are selfish, ignorant and arrogant parents out there who would expose other very young children to that because they won’t vaccinate their own kids.  It’s immoral.)

The Branding of the Occupy Movement- The New York Times (There’s a better article on Kalle Lasn somewhere but I neglected to instapaper it.  Try The New Yorker, New York Magazine or The Atlantic)

Payroll Tax Cut will Top Political Theater- Roll Call (yes, Virginia, they *are* still playing games instead of raising taxes on the rich)

Iran: We’ll Fire 150,000 Missiles at Israel if attacked- YNet (and we’ll turn Iran into a smoking cinder if it does.  I think there was a cold war term for that)

Pakistanis burn Obama in Effigy and US Flag- Sky News Australia (Ok, now I think we know why we have marines stationed in Australia.)

Cozy Winter Recipe: Pasta e Fagioli– The Kitchn (Apartment Therapy)

Charge Separation in Molecules Consisting of Two Identical Atoms: Size Matters – Science Daily (For the hard core polarity fans)

Finally, here’s a video on Pittsburghese, which is a distinct American dialect.  The host of this video is fresh, energetic and cute, but her accent is not anywhere near as heavy as my cousins’.  Still, if you ever wondered what it meant to “red up your house”, pay attention.

She forgot to say “keller” when she really means “color”.  And is it “UM-brella” or “umBRELLa”?

Finally, “Physician, Heal Thyself”.  Digby is absolutely right about dehumanization but it’s really odd that she and the rest of the left had no problem with it when the 2008 elections made old, uneducated, unattractive, working class, racist, latently Republican, menopausal women out of Hillary Clinton voters.  I mean, when you think of them *that* way, no wonder the Obama hooligans piled on.  Who wants to sit at that lunch table?  Dehumanizing those voters made it a lot easier to ignore their votes and violate their delegates with harrassment and threats at the convention.  They almost deserved it. Right, Digby?  Right, Duncan?  Right, Jay?  If you don’t take your own side to task for acting like flaming assholes, then others might find your newfound concern with “dehumanization” a bit hypocritical.  It was an election with far-reaching consequences not only to the economy but to voting in general. (Didn’t you guys ever figure out why Obama is ignoring his voting base now?  The answer is that you let him get away with it in 2008 so he knows he can do it again.) You guys should have been a lot more vigilant.

(No, I am not going to get over it.  If it were Howard Dean’s voters who got the Hillary treatment, you’d be all over this for decades to come. “Oh, but they’re different”, you’ll say. Exactly.  I rest my case.  “An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere”.  Also, Karma is a bitch.)

Saturday: Mustard Seeds

A few days ago, a couple hundred economists signed their names to a letter of support of Occupy Wall Street.  Here’s a video the group Econ4 has produced that explains why they did it:

There are a couple of interesting things to note in this video.  First, it appears like there has been a sort of censorship going on in various academic economics departments around the world in an attempt to suppress  more Keynesian voices.  Paul Krugman has frequently made reference to a related controversy, the Fresh Water vs Salt Water economists. The Fresh Water economists have gained the upper hand in policy matters and appointments in the past several decades.  Then there are the endowed chairs in the various economics departments funded by the friends of the Koch brothers.

Secondly, the economists aren’t suggesting that we dump capitalism.  What they are concerned with is income disparity, the widening gulf between the extremely rich and everyone else, and the basic human rights of working people, of everyone really.  That may manifest itself in a new and improved form of capitalism or some set of rules that level the playing field. Who know, I am not an economist but I’m willing to learn.  They have a new video up on econ4.org.  Check it out.

And by leveling the playing field, I don’t think anyone is talking about communism.  But we must re-establish that work has value and it should be rewarded accordingly.  At the moment, we reward the accumulation of wealth, which may or may not be the result of work of some kind, and we penalize people who work to make an living.

For those of you who aren’t independently wealthy and are still kissing the whip, thinking that your extraordinary virtues are what lead to your continued prosperity, pay close attention: The only reason you walk around smugly with a superior little smirk on your face is because you can pay the masters of the universe who own your mortgage and health insurance policy.  If that job ever goes away, through no fault of your own, you will know what it is like to live somewhere between poor and destitute.  Unless you are making your income exclusively from your investments, you are vulnerable.  Your virtues will not protect you.  If you are old enough to be living on social security and actually believe that you are safe from the people who want to terminate benefits for your adult children, think again.  The people who would reneg on their promises to your children who have worked decades for those benefits they will not see, are not going to spare you.  They will not stop until they get everything they want.  Fraud that is not followed by accountability and punishment is fraud that is just waiting for an opportunity to repeat itself.

More video:

John Dominic Crossan wrote The Historical Jesus (highly recommended).  He gives lectures throughout North America to reintroduce Jesus to people who think they know him.  (For example, Crossan doesn’t think Jesus set out to start a new religion.  Go ahead and laugh but I think he’s right.)  In this video, which is really just audio, Crossan goes over the meaning of the parables and what their purpose was. By the way, I am not religious at all and I think Crossan isn’t making a strictly religious argument.  But even those of us who are not religious can learn something from his study of the “matrix” of 1st century Palestine where Jesus was born.

Crossan starts off with an explanation of apocalypse and eschatology and if you listen carefully, he tells his audience why people who are waiting for the second coming to annihilate the wicked are wasting their time.  In first century Judea, there were plenty of groups that latched on to a “messiah” who prophesied the annihilation of the wicked, expecting that God would rescue them when the going got tough.  But the Romans always massacred them anyway. The authorities made a point of murdering any leader of an apocalyptic group. This is why John the Baptist was captured and beheaded. In this day and age, the political factions simply try to co-opt them.  But that’s not really what this lecture is about.  This lecture is about parables and it’s about an hour long.  The good part is buried in the middle.

Happy Thanksgiving

Freedom from Want, Norman Rockwell

Jeez, it’s only 12:27pm and I already have a buzz.  I blame my sister.  She held me down and poured Jaegermeister shots down my throat.  Dang!  I have to peel potatoes in a moment.

Anyway, I hope you are all having a lovely Thanksgiving.  I’m in central PA.  It’s a beautiful day outside but we’re watching a football game and all of the NYTimes videos for preparing and carving the turkey.  OMG, the singer just forgot the words to the national anthem.  Disgraceful.

By the way, OWS is serving Thanksgiving Day dinner in Zuccotti Park:

This Thanksgiving, Occupy Wall Street is celebrating unity and community with an open feast at Liberty Square. From 2 to 6 p.m. at Liberty Square (Zuccotti Park) we will meet to share food, stories and inspiration. All members of our global community are invited to break bread with us.

“This is all about supporting the 99%,” said Megan Hayes, an organizer with the #OWS Kitchen working group, and a former high end chef. “So many people have given up so much to come and be a part of the movement because there is really that much dire need for community. We decided to take this holiday opportunity to provide just that – community.”

Wait, why does this story sound so familiar?  Damn do-gooders.  What kind of example will they set for the country by sharing?  It will only encourage the young to go into poverty.

Or, a lot of people will have dinner together.  Works for me.

Freedom from Want, Occupy Wall Street