Friday, October 03, 2008

Just because it's blackmail

Doesn't mean our congress critters won't pass it.

In fact, the house just passed the bailout bill.

So I am going to go drink some hot cocoa, curl up in a ball, and cry about the kleptocracy that I currently live in.


The Mommy Fetish was in fine form last night during the debate.

Palin was all "But I'm a mom!" through many of her answers. And you all know just how much I hate that.

Lots of people are moms. I can pretty much say that a majority of women in the world have been or will at some point be a mom. Truth is, it's a hard job but it's not actually my only qualification for ANY job, let alone the executive branch. And Joe Biden, I gotta say, pushed the curtain back on Palin's hockey mom fantasy a bit having been a single parent himself for a while.

I always admired that about Hillary. She's a mom, but she never had to fall back on her years of diaper changing experience to fluff up her resume. Being a mom qualifies you for one thing, being a mom. Being a dad qualifies you for exactly the same thing, btw. Anyone with half a lick of sense might use parenthood and it's universal struggles as a way to find deeper insight into the problems of struggling families, and I think that is what Biden tried to explain (albeit a bit inarticulately), or they can be Palin, oblivious to the struggles of families except her own.

Obliviousness is not a qualification for the executive branch. Contrary to the popular opinion of the tiny handful of remaining Bush supporters.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

If you give into blackmail once.......

I think I've figured out something.

There are people who really, truly think that we can avert all economic badness if we give into the bankster's blackmail demands and pay for this bailout.

They don't understand that this crash is a long time in coming and that it is unstoppable. It might be delayed by a few months, maybe even through one entire presidential term with constant and careful finagling of the system. But it is a system with inherent flaws. And it is crashing soon.

And by giving into to the bankster's now, we may postpone for a very brief period the complete freezing of the credit markets. But we will just leave ourselves open to a bigger payment demand from them later. If it worked once, then it will certainly work again.

"But but but, if we don't pay them now then the whole system will collapse."

The system is collapsing in a zillion different ways. Peak oil is here, inflation is climbing because of it. The casino economy means more to the world than the real economy, and it will tear down the homes and jobs and businesses of real people before it gives up one smidge of profit margin. Inequity is growing and with that comes real increased violence as more people crowd the bottom for fight over scraps. More wars for oil and other vital resources. More rioting for food and water. More violence in our own streets as the idea of a job that pays the bills seems as unrealistic as winning the lottery. The country will all look like New Orleans after Katrina, but we won't need a hurricane to blow the people out of their homes. We have the financial sector to do that for us.

The system IS collapsing. We will not put that off by paying the blackmailers to keep our secrets.

The never ending thank yous.

I feel weird about thanking people I haven't seen. It's not that I don't appreciate the hell out of them. It's that I don't know how to express how gushily grateful I am without sounding fake.

So I think I shall do what I always do and just tell you all straight up how things are going with me. And then tell you all thank you so you know just how sincere I am.

My entire income for the month of September was $155. All but $30 of that came from donations. Several of you give $20 or $25 on a regular basis. This money has kept us fed and washed our hair and paid for bus fare. It means everything to us.

I am back at work, but in the long string of never ending work badness, I won't get my first check until October 31. So someone, who knows who she is and how much I love her, sent us $50 to buy toothpaste.

We are inching by on tiny amounts of money and I cannot thank you all enough. We would be absolutely lost with out it. From the bottom of our hearts, the Kid and I thank you.

RQ and Kid

I'm a budget hero!

Fr the record- my super social safety net plan ended up with a budget surplus well past 2070.

The Casino Economy

I grew up in and around Lake Tahoe. Everybody works in some way or another for the casinos there. My mother was an accountant for the Visitor's Authority, the people who come up with those shiny "Come to Lake Tahoe" ads.

She had some close friends, Uncle Bruce and Aunt Deb. Bruce was a bartender at one of the swankiest casino bars, Deb was an office manager for a vacation property business. Bruce was also a gambling addict, and while he was doing well their marriage was fine. He won the money for a down payment on a house. Then for a swimming pool. Then an Audi and a big new truck. New living room furniture. Then a boob job for Aunt Deb.

Then he started losing. Deb had an affair with her boss, then with one of my boyfriends. Then some crazy spiritual guru type. Turns out the boob job was because Bruce had been drinking so much he couldn't get it up, but blamed his lack virility on Deb's flat chest. Deb went a bit crazy with humiliating Bruce in every possible way after that. She could ignore the consequences of Bruce's gambling and alcohol problems as long as he was bringing in big wins.

Seeing close up what gambling does to people, I've never been a gambler. I will spend exactly one dollar on the lottery when the prize climbs over 100 million, and I once gambled $4 on the ponies.

Our entire economy is like Bruce and Deb's marriage, built on winning streaks and crashing on losing ones. It is not an economy based on the real things, like productivity and output. I remember during the heady Clinton economy, when I made a middle wage income, paid taxes, had a little house that the rent was always paid on time, and a car that I paid the loan off early. Back in those days, the stock market used to DROP when the new unemployment numbers came out, because the unemployment number was low. Too low to drive down wages. To low to cut benefits.

And economic system that celebrates high unemployment and mourns low unemployment is broken.

And now we have this huge financial crisis not based on anything real. We have a game of financial chicken where banksters are saying give us money or we will crash the whole system. It's like Bruce and Deb. "gimme more money or we will crash and burn this marriage".

The thing is, Bruce and Deb got divorced. Bruce got help. Stopped drinking and gambling. Deb moved away and stopped sleeping with boys her daughter's age. They were better apart than they were together.

It is time for a divorce from the casino economy. It is time to go back to valuing companies for what they produce over what their latest stock price is. It is time to value homes as a place where people live and can pass onto their children instead of as a commodity to be sliced and diced and repackaged so that every last drop of profit can be squeezed out of it by people who not only don't live in it, but don't even know the address.

Just one thing to say

Fuck you Senators! Fuck each and every one of you.

That is all.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Oh yeah, that's why I love her

Cynthia McKinney on the economic crisis.

Things I would like to do away with

A List:

1)Mrs. or Miss. Can't we all be Ms.? For that matter, if I am filling out a form for say credit or even a fucking magazine subscription, why does my gender matter. Can't we skip that whole box of questions and move on?

2)Uncomfortable underwear. Now I like my pretty girly undies, but there is no reason that pretty girly undies cant also be comfy. Same thing for bras. Why do I have to choose between wearable or pretty. And can we make some underwire that doesn't jack up under my armpits and hurt? Like half an inch shorter with better sewing reinforcement would work to do that.

3)The gawd awful idea that school for children should start at the crack of ass. Kid gets on the bus at 6:30 am to be at school by 7:30. He's exhausted (we had a mini meltdown this afternoon cause I told him he is going back to a 9pm bed time. You would think that I told him video games have been canceled FOREVER). Why can't kids start school at the more reasonable 9am?

4)The idea that where you buy your groceries from makes you more morally righteous than everyone else. I'm talking to you- Whole Foods shoppers. It's a fricken grocery chain started by a libertarian for fucks sake. Just because you overspend on produce does not make you the King of all that is Ethical! Just like people shopping at Walmart are not the scourge of the earth.

5) The lollipop head female ideal that has invaded Hollywood. Go watch some early Friends and check out the women that the guys dated. Still Hollywood pretty, but not severely, concentration camp style, undernourished. Some girls are slim by nature (Kyra Knightly) you can spot them because they don't look like they need a neck brace. This is not true for most of the women in Hollywood or the world for that matter.

6) The stupid stereotyping done by "educated" liberals and conservatives alike that black kids don't read or have books in their homes. If I have to hear one more jackass say that black kids are left to linger in the street while good kids like them read a book, I will punch someone in the face. A) It's not true and B) How stocked is your public library with books where a black kid is the protagonist? Perhaps these kids that you don't think read have already gone through every book available to them that has a character they can relate too.

7) Conversations that include phrasing like "Is Obama REALLY a black man, he's only half" "Is Palin REALLY a feminist" "IS a transwoman/man REALLY a woman/man". YES they are. You can quibble all you like with Obama's condescending attitude towards poor black men or Palin's anti-feminist views on abortion or birth control or transpeople's different experiences from those of the majority of their gender. But people get to identify who they are themselves and you all are gonna have to suck it up and deal.

What do you want to do away with?

RQ Cooks- Roasted corn and squash soup + Finds a possible solution to homelessness

Ruth wandered off to band practice the other night while I was cooking dinner. When her bandmates asked how the whole having people take over your bedroom and small apartment thing went she said "Oh Elizabeth is at home right now making roasted corn and squash soup." Now they want to know if they can have someone invade their home and make them food.

I am thinking the kid and I shall become traveling chefs. In exchange for a comfy bed and the cost of ingredients- you too can have me come make you food. I can cook for anyone- vegans, celiacs, every weird food allergy known to humankind, plus meat. Yummy yummy meat. Right now I'm trying to find a recipe for boneless leg of lamb that doesn't require an oven and gets rid of the slight armpit taste that lamb sometimes has.

Anyone got a bed to spare?

But in the meantime- Roasted corn and squash soup.

This is spicy. Really really spicy. If you want less spice use less chipotle peppers and for god's sake seed them first. I didn't.

5 cups good veggie broth
5 cups winter squash or pumpkin (I used frozen winter squash which cut down on cooking time and eliminated the need to blend the soup- I highly recommend this trick)
half a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (if cooking wheat free make sure you check the label)
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 or 3 cups unsweetened soy milk
5 cups roasted corn (about 5 ears) or a large bag of frozen corn. We had some lovely leftover corn that had been roasted on the barbque so it was all smokey. I supplemented with frozen corn roasted in the toaster oven.
salt and pepper to taste
sour cream (tofutti sour supreme is fine for the vegans) or a good farmers cheese to garnish

In large stock pot, heat some olive oil and cook onions till transparent, add garlic and ginger. Cook for another minute till fragrant

Add stock, squash and diced chipotles. Cook for 20 minutes (if frozen) or until squash is tender (if fresh). If using fresh squash or pumpkin, use hand blander or blend soup in batches till smooth.

Add soymilk and corn & salt & pepper to taste. Bring back to boil. Let cook till the flavors are happily married and serve with a generous dollop of sour cream or cheese.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Doing the kid's homework for him

So the kid has a 100 point geography assignment due tomorrow.

He was supposed to listen to a world pop program on the radio and guess where 4 or 5 of the bands/musicians are from. He did not do this.

So instead he got subjected to some of my favorite world pop. And now you will too.

1) Manu Choa- Me Gustas Tu. I have no idea where he's from. He sings in both Spanish and French.

2) Maria Rita- A Festa. Brazilian jaz/pop. It makes me happy that someone with such a gorgeous voice exists in the world.

3) A remix by the Roots of Zap Mama's Rafike. Zap Mama is from the Congo but currently lives in Belium.

4) Mummy Troll. I have no idea what this sing's tittle is, but the singer was conscripted into the Russian army and has a different song where the entire chorus is a bunch of school boys singing "hoy" (Russian for penis)

5) Julieta Venegas- Casa Abandonada. She's actually from LA and because she speaks Spanish with an American accent I can totally understand her.

6 & 7 are both Gogol Bordello cause we love Ukrainian Gypsy Punk Rock in these here parts.

Start Wearing Purple

Supertheory of Supereverything

Well here's a start

The beginning of step one in my progressive, pragmatic plan.

FDIC asks for hike in insurance cap

My pragmatic, progressive economic solutions

Yay! The crappy bailout failed. But we still need to fix things. Now we have a bit of time to decide on a plan AND we have the authority (from all those good Americans who have been calling their congress critters to say "Hell No!")

So what do we do? It's going to be expensive, no doubt about it.

1) We implement Galbraith's plan to eliminate caps on FDIC insurance and we fund the hell out of it. We also fund the hell out of FBI investigations into Bankster crimes. No one trusts a corrupt financial system and when there is no trust there is no credit. We need to implement measures to instill trust.

2) We put in Hillary's HOLC program. But the mortgages that are most at risk. Keep people in their homes and paying something on them. This keeps property values level because the market isn't flooded with foreclosures while we work all the madness out of the standing loans.

3)Universal healthcare NOW. If we can come up with 85 billion for AIG, we can certainly come up with 85 billion for something that has a much more immediate and comprehensive effect on the health and household budgets of every single person in the country.

4)We have to stop living on credit and start paying people what they are worth. We need a national living wage, not minimum wage. Any person working full time should be able to afford the basics of food, shelter, and transportation. Any business that cannot afford to pay a living wage should fail.

5) Restructure corporate write offs. Corporations can take deductions for two things- wages paid to American workers (not including the golden parachutes of executives) and supplies bought from American companies. There is no reason anyone should get a tax break for spending money outside the US.

6) Tax the fuck out of golden parachutes. There may not be a way to limit the top of the wage scale, but we can certainly make it less profitable to ruin a company and then quit running it.

7) Tax the hell out of profits from dirty energy sources to pay for investment in clean energy. Allow companies to bypass the profit taxation if they put the money into green energy R& D directly.

That's what I got.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The fundamental reason for the bailout failure- fairness.

I've got my philosopher brain working at the moment. Bear with me.

You peeps may have read some of my previous love fest posts on the political philosopher John Rawls and his idea of the veil of ignorance. But that is not his only awesome contribution to society. Rawls wrote about Justice as Fairness. Lemme see if I can give you a quick layman's breakdown.

A society operates on the perception of fairness. Justice is the measures we use to ensure fairness. It is not fair that someone can kill someone and profit from it, so we send them to jail. It is not fair that someone should work and not be paid for it, so we abolished slavery. A lot of people like to dismiss the idea of a fair society (see the quote in my sidebar) as something unrealistic, but when the perception of fairness goes away, society struggles.

This country was built on the idea of fairness (imperfect as it was with slavery, etc). The whole "no taxation without representation" is basically a way of saying "it's not fair of you to take my money and not offer me anything in return".

Since Reagan and the deregulation, trickle down madness has infected our country, inequity has been increasing. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer. Work is not worth as much in pay for those at the bottom while it's worth more for those at the top. We should have been screaming in the streets much earlier, but a lot of that screaming has been dampened by the loosening of the credit markets. You don't notice that your paycheck hasn't kept up with inflation when you can still afford to live the same way you always have by using credit cards and housing equity. Or maybe you notice it a little bit, but you've bought into the whole thing about how your real problem is spending money everyday on Starbucks when the reality is that you make less actual money.

So people have been doing what they have always done in this country to try to survive. They bought homes, another crucial part of the fairness idea that this country was based on. You have to remember that England shipped as many people as they could off to the New World because there was a drastic shortage of space back home. There was no land to buy in England, except for the very rich. So coming to America meant that average people could do something extraordinary. They could own land.

And owning land meant they could pass on their wealth to their children. And their children could spend their income improving or expanding their land. And so wealth was built. And to this day, one of the best indicators of a person's future wealth is the wealth of their parents.

So with the loosening of credit, you have a bunch of people who have been shut out of wealth accumulation for generations who see a chance at owning a home, a tangible thing they can use to increase the welfare of themselves and their children, and they take it. Who can blame them. They are doing exactly what they have been told to do since this little idea of a country started.

At the same time, you have a bunch of banksters who see a way to profit off this. And they do. Who can blame them. But rather than take a little profit, they take a lot of profit. So much that those people who bought houses see their mortgage payment climb to unpayable amounts and the value of their homes decrease so that they are upside down in their loans. And then comes the foreclosures.

And then the fed comes along with a bailout plan that won't save a single home from foreclosure, but will save the golden parachutes of the foreclosure racketeers.

And finally, the American people can't take the unfairness anymore and they say "Stop!" We want justice. We want to right the unfair ways inflicted on us by this type of economic system. Justice is the measures we use to restore fairness. That is why the golden parachutes and banking handouts hurts so much for people who can no longer afford both to put both milk and cereal in their shopping cart. It is unfair, that people and companies who have so completely failed at their jobs should be rewarded with trillions of dollars while people who are competent and hard working struggle for the basics.

We, the American people, don't want to see the economy fail on a massive scale. But we would rather see the entire system crumble and have to be rebuilt form scratch rather than participate in something so fundamentally unfair. There's even science to back up how ingrained the idea of fairness is to us.

This entire election year proves that sometimes there are snowballs in hell

The American people, in their letters and emails and phone calls to congress have shown an unusual display of bipartisanship. We don't want this bailout. Republican, Democrat, liberal, conservative, progressive, all say no. It seems that the American people can still smell bullshit even when it's wrapped up in a shit sandwich. Hooray!

But then there are the actual congress members, and for the first time in my life (and probably the first time in the history of my family) I agree with the majority of the House nay-sayers. And they are Republicans.

The black guy running for president is an asshole. The old rich white guy picks a woman (she's an idiot, but not because she's female) who considers herself to be a feminist (nit pick over that all you like, but it's what she calls herself).

The whole world seems upside down and inside out and backwards.

And it just keeps getting weirder.

Hip hip hooray

The crappiest bailout plan ever to be floated has failed in the House.

Imaginary drinks on me!

RIP Paul Newman

Once upon a time I worked as a receptionist/caterer at a place that can only be described as a gas station for private planes. Paul Newman used to stop at my little workplace fairly regularly. He was always kind to me and to the rest of the staff. As was his daughter. I can't say the same for other famous and powerful people who came through.

Part of my job was to make up box lunches and other treats for our clients. I fried chicken and learned to make my kick ass potato salad there. But the thing I rocked like no one else was the fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. I can proudly say I baked extras for Newman and his crew on several occasions.

He put his money where his heart was. He married a beautiful, talented and smart woman and stayed with her when other Hollywood marriages fall apart like wet kleenex. He was a true gentleman and a brilliant actor.

He will be missed.