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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Thanksgiving Madman

December 18, 2007

 

Not So Sexy

"On a seasonally adjusted basis, the CPI-U increased 0.8 percent in November, its largest advance since a 1.2 percent rise in September 2005. The index for energy advanced 5.7 percent and accounted for nearly 70 percent of the overall CPI increase in November. The index for petroleum-based energy rose 9.5 percent and the index for energy services, 0.7 percent. The food index rose 0.3 percent in November. The indexes for food at home and for food away from home each increased 0.3 percent. The index for all items less food and energy advanced 0.3 percent in November, following increases of 0.2 percent in each of the preceding five months. In November, the index for shelter rose 0.3 percent after increasing 0.1 percent in October and the apparel index increased 0.8 percent."
-CPI for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for November 2007, from the US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics

"The U.S. Import Price Index increased 2.7 percent in November, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. The increase was the largest monthly advance since October 1990 and was led by a 9.8 percent rise in petroleum prices. Prices for U.S. exports rose 0.9 percent in November after a 0.8 percent increase the previous month."
-U.S. Import and Export Price Indexes for November 2007, from the US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics

Define "sexy" as it pertains to politics: "Sexy" is standing on a soapbox and claiming to the Religious Right that if you're put in office, or allowed to stay in office, someday, you will make sure that every child from every unwanted pregnancy will be born. Don't fret over how that rape victim will pay for her child's birth, health care and future - we only care about the life UNTIL it's born, not for the remaining four score and several years which might remain. Let that child fight for his own health care from day-one. Let her come home to an empty one-parent home while Mommy works the second of two jobs. After the birth, the burden is on the parent and if he or she cannot keep up with that burden, then the fault lies solely with them.

"Sexy" extends itself to telling the Religious Right that we're going to make a Constitutional Amendment to prevent these women from aborting their unborn children. They're going to put the doctors in jail and keep track of every woman in the nation - all 150 million or so - to make sure that, just in case they get pregnant, they don't leave our borders to get un-pregnant. Promise to spare no expense to make sure no woman of child-bearing age leaves the nation without a pregnancy test and make sure that, if she be with child, she stays put.

Maybe a President Mike Huckabee could make a Pregnancy jail or something, just in case.

"Sexy" is demonizing immigrants who come here for the very same reason that your mother, father, grandparents or great-grandparents came here some "X" number of years ago. It's telling us that you, as the next President, Senator, Congressman or small town, USA Mayor will get these "illegals" out of "our" community, city, state or nation. Forget about the logistics involved which would include, somehow, building an impenetrable border barrier and creating the greatest, longest lasting and most expensive exodus ever since the Jews left Egypt - we're going to get it done, Mr. and Mrs. America! Forget about the "who's" and "how's", including the manpower and cost regarding getting it done - we'll just do it!

What isn't "Sexy" is the economy. For, arguably, the second most important issue to Americans (behind the war in Iraq, according to the latest Los Angeles Times/ Bloomberg poll ending December 3, 2007), the economy remains a jumble of confusing numbers open to the interpretation by whoever (whomever?) chooses to define them. We've seen the Bushies, which include most (yes, "most") of the main stream media, those members of the ultra rich, a.k.a. the Bush "base" of "haves and have mores" and anyone else who still confuses "rosy" with "smoke and fire" on the horizon, define our economy as "strong" when we can't even create enough jobs to make up for the growth in population. We've seen them change the units of measurement to make benchmarks like the unemployment rate appear much lower than it actually is. (There are less Americans employed today, proportional to the number of employable Americans, than there were under George W. Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, even though the latter had an unemployment rate of 7.5 percent. President George W. Bush "boasts" of an unemployment rate of 4.7 percent.)

The two statements above are typical of the economy created by, for and with the very special consent for those considered "special interests" by the administration of George W. Bush. A monthly increase of 0.8 percent CPI (Consumer Price Index, a.k.a. inflation), if figured on a 12-month basis, would increase our cost of goods bought by a staggering ten percent (okay... 9.6) in just one year alone! According to the index that compares prices to 1982 prices, today we are paying well in excess for the same goods and services today that we paid just 25 years ago ($100 in 1982 equals approximately $205 today.) Those of us lucky enough to remember those care free days a quarter century ago will remember what our "fresh out of school" incomes bought us then as compared to now. And although I earn more than three today than I did in 1982, I am not living that "good life" as someone born on third base, and thinking he hit a triple, like President Bush.
My fault, right?

And if that weren't bad enough, the price we're paying for our "cheap" imports isn't that "cheap" anymore. Just yesterday I went to Kohl's, a big-box store chain in New Jersey, looking for a set of knives (I like to cook) for our kitchen. All I wanted was to buy something NOT manufactured in China. (Good Luck to me.) Although there were at least five different manufacturers represented on their shelves, I couldn't find one item - not even a 2 3/4 inch paring knife - made in the USA or even outside of mainland China. Not even the Chicago Cutlery Company and its $200-plus price tagged items fit the "made-anywhere-but-China" bill.

I left purchasing nothing.

And as our US dollar plummets towards the depths of a 1984 Mexican Peso, those goods we used to purchase are costing us more and more. You see, even thought China "owns' much of our nation's wealth, they did the smart thing and trade it for things worth more - like other nation's currency. Those cheap goods aren't so cheap any more. And if you have to purchase them, you know what I'm talking about.

And the Bush answer is to "Stay the Course" because "The Course" is all they have. They had and have no answers and things are not getting any better for us, the American middle class. And that's okay with the Bushies.

Talking about the Economy isn't sexy. And living it is even uglier.

-Noah Greenberg



On Iraq

I believe we can regard Iraq as a failed state. In effect, Iraq has been "balkanized". The country is divided into regions of control along tribal lines. In Baghdad, entire neighborhoods are walled off from each other. The violence is less but there is no sign of a political reconciliation. The bottom line is that as long as the United States continues to occupy Iraq, it's a failure.

The American economy simply can not sustain 12 billion dollars per month to play referee in Iraq. I was appalled listening to Bush say that Congress purposed a "fiscally responsible" 500 billion dollar budget. What exactly is responsible about allocating 200 billion plus dollars for Iraq and expanding our overall defense budget even more? Meanwhile, important social needs are traded away as if they are useless.

-Robert Scardapane


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-Noah Greenberg