Archive for February, 2011

On the brink

February 26, 2011

One week from now, March 4, 2011, two unavoidable  occurrences will happen.  One is the NFL will lock out it’s players, sending America’s most popular sport into the abyss and making me look like a genius for warning everyone two years ago about this.  This will throw the NFL season into extreme limbo and could be the Mother of all sport work stoppages.

The other is, of course, the shutdown date of the American Economy.  A date marked in Republican Red since last November.  Which, if it happens, will send everything out the door.  The Dollar:  Worthless.  Gas:  unbuyable.  Your money: gone.  Stocks and Bonds: Pieces of wallpaper.  The world economy will come down faster than the house of cards it’s built up on.  Ever wonder why gold and silver are trading at a all-time high?  This is why.  This will make what happened in 2008 look like a minor pop compared to the whole pinata being cracked open.

And yet, in this impending doom on two fronts, one truth sticks out.  They are both inner-connected and both avoidable.  Avoidable in the simplest of ways that even a Koch-loving Tea-Bagger can understand.  They don’t have to happen.

Last week, the House passed a spending bill that slashes 61 Billion out of the budget.  Included in those cuts are the de-funding of Planned Parenthood, National Public Radio and Public Broadcasting.  Now, those aren’t going to happen, but to mollify its base, the GOP did it anyhow.  The problem becomes that after Thursday, if no deal is reached (highly likely) this country will be broke, unable to pay its’ bills or anything else.  The other problem is, as we have seen is the newly-elected Freshman class isn’t going along with the program, so to speak.  They don’t want the debt ceiling to be raised anymore.  Period.

These 60 or so newbies are being true Tea Partiers to their core, but they don’t understand that the budget isn’t fixed overnight.  Or by March 4.  The President’s budget slashed 1.1 Trillion out, but somehow that’s not enough.  Because it doesn’t include entitlements, like social security or medicaid/medicare, so they dismiss it as “cosmetic cuts”.    Well, we will see what happens, but i’m not holding my breath.

On the National Football League front, it’s all about money.  How to split up the annual 9 Billion the NFL generates per year.  The owners want to take another Billion off the top.  And add two games to the regular season.  And a rookie salary cap.  The players want more money for veteran players, better equipment and protection, better benefits for retired players and the same 16 game schedule.

In 2008, the owners opted-out of their contract, which was signed in 2006, under the last President of the NFLPA, Gene Upshaw.  Upshaw was known to be agreeable and also a bit of a lackey during his term as Executive Director.  Now, with a get tough commissioner and a new Union boss, it seems that both sides are dug in for a long, drawn-out battle.  Kind of like with what’s going on in Washington.  Which is where this all ties together.

The NFL wants to do this for one reason.  Their new Stadiums are costing them too much money.  Gone are the days of cities, counties and states paying or subsidizing most of the building of new facilities for sports teams.  Everyone knows this.  However, with various teams in trouble and a list of cities willing to accept a relocated team or a expansion team in say 2016 or so, are both sides willing to accept that after five-plus decades in Buffalo or Minnesota, that those teams are now in San Antonio or Toronto?

So, you ask, oh Doctor of all knowledge, what does this have to do with us?  Everything.  If the government shuts down, for say, two weeks, National parks close, unemployment checks won’t come, banks would shut down, your credit/debit cards won’t work, more people will lose their jobs.  Gas will double in price in some cases.  People won’t be able to go to work or school.  Businesses will be cash-only and no checks will be accepted.  Anywhere, by anyone.  When this happened before, it backfired on the Republicans and allowed President Clinton to look like the adult in the room and get the budget and the government back up and running after only a few days.

We have the same kind of leadership in Congress that we had in 1995.  Boehner was there, so were many others.  The Republicans came in promising jobs, so far, not one job bill has been introduced or brought up for a vote.  It’s all about destroying this President and firing up their base.  Here I thought it was about doing right by the American people.  Instead Boehner goes on “60 minutes” and says “I don’t believe in compromise.”  Well, ok.  Sounds like Newt Gingrich in 1995.

In the NFL, just as in Congress, this is a fight over other people’s money.  Our money.  The question is, are we looking over the abyss into a void the likes no one has ever seen, or are reasonable people going to pull back from the brink and say there’s another way to do this without destroying everything.  This isn’t about avoiding the unavoidable, it’s about preventing a catastrophe.

An Odious Importunity

February 22, 2011

It was a month ago today that Keith Olbermann announced he was leaving MSNBC with that evening’s broadcast.  His departure from the network that he came to define was shocking to everyone at first. Rachel Maddow, appearing that evening on “Real Time With Bill Maher,” was a bit taken aback by it and avoided speaking out on it at that fresh “what the heck just happened here” moment.  But on her show the following Monday, she spoke on it as best she could under the editorial constraints of her bosses.

That incident alone could have rated a full 600 words and a strong statement about the consolidation of media, but that pales in comparison to the rest of what’s happened, in the Middle East and right next door in Wisconsin.  And while the events in Egypt, Tunisia and other Middle Eastern outposts are both scary and inspiring, I would rather prefer to opine on Wisconsin.

The protests that our happening right now in Wisconsin don’t look like they’ll be ending anytime soon.  And that’s a good thing.  Another protest is planned in Ohio on Wednesday.  Behind these protests are Tea Party backed Governors who promised to bring jobs and solve their respective state’s budget deficits.  Wisconsin had a surplus handed to Governor Walker, a man who seems intent on destroying Public Employee Unions and demonizing teachers, firefighters, cops and other public workers and their right to collective bargaining.  Now maybe if this guy had a heart and brain, he might be able to see the light and come to a compromise, but he is standing firm on this.

Of course, a year ago, no one knew who Scott Walker was, save a few Tea Party folks and the Koch Brothers.  These brothers who are trying to re-shape America in a odious way, gave $43,000 to his campaign directly and indirectly who knows how much more.  We don’t know because last year, the Supreme Court ruled that Corporations had more rights than ever before in the history of the world and opened the floodgates to the beginnings of the end of America as we know it.

If Governor Walker succeeds in ending the PE Unions’ right to bargain, other states will follow.  Ohio, New Jersey, and several other states will follow suit.  There are discussions to allow states to declare bankruptcy.  The New York Times reported on this: “policymakers are working behind the scenes to come up with a way to let states declare bankruptcy and get out from under crushing debts, including the pensions they have promised to retired public workers.”

The real folks behind this, the Koch Brothers,Charles and David,  (their dad was a founding member of the John Birch Society) are out to turn this country into a plutocracy.  If they accomplish the dismantling of Public Employee Unions throughout the country, they will effectively kill the Democratic Party.  They are also behind the continuing war on climate change and the 2004 Swift Boat smears (along with another oil tycoon, T. Boone Pickens) against John Kerry.

A scary time to be in America right now.  The “evil-doers” aren’t on the outside anymore.  They are here, and they hold elective office and are just puppets for those who would change this country and not for the good, either.  “The real owners of this country” as George Carlin put it during his last HBO special, “they don’t care about you.  They want more for themselves and nothing for you, they want your pensions, your social security. They want it back.”  That’s why “We the people” have to fight these folks.